Nebraska Legislature passes Voter ID bill on final day of session
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska lawmakers have adjourned for the session, officially calling it quits around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
This has been a controversial and contentious session. Democrats, the minority party, filibustered every bill since late February as a way to slow down the legislative process over what Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha called “bills that legislate hate,” like the ban on abortion and gender-affirming care.
In the end, Speaker John Arch of La Vista said out of the 800-plus proposed bills this year, lawmakers passed 291 of them -- a number similar to past 90-day legislative sessions.
“I’m incredibly honored to be here in this unbelievable chamber marking one of the most impactful sessions in this body’s history,” Gov. Jim Pillen said. “Over the last five months, we’ve all been incredibly challenged.”
Pillen said what some people described as controversial bills that he termed were more like common-sense reforms. He also told senators he promises to push for even stricter abortion legislation in Nebraska.
Before the session ended, lawmakers decided how Voter ID will roll out in Nebraska, despite a final filibuster of the session.
This time around it was a Republican who was responsible -- Sen. Julie Slama of Sterling -- who was essentially filibustering her own bill.
In the end, lawmakers approved Voter ID. Slama was the only “no” vote.
“LB514 does not pass muster for me, so I’m doing what I need to do,” she said.
Slama led the petition initiative that led to Nebraska voters overwhelmingly voting in favor of a Voter ID bill but left the details to legislators as to how it would work. Slama voted against what the government committee pushed through with Secretary of State Bob Evnen’s help.
“I’m building a legislative record for when we have an obvious, forthcoming court challenge to this bill,” Slama said. “My objection -- the problems inherent in ignoring the will of the people in passing a bill for Voter ID that has no Voter ID.”
Slama felt mail-in ballots should have tighter scrutiny, such as being notarized. One fellow Republican colleague didn’t appreciate her continued filibuster. He has a 400-mile drive home after the session wraps, and will now spend the night, he said, in Lincoln.
“What she’s done is put two hours of our life to waste for nothing,” said Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard. “It’s disrespectful, for her own personal gain.”
So, what does the Voter ID bill do? It essentially requires in-person voters to show a state-approved photo ID, such as a driver’s license, college ID, nursing home ID, or passport.
The bill passed with an emergency clause, meaning it goes into effect as soon as the governor signs it.
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