Unicam's out for summer: Nebraska Legislature wraps up early after a session dominated by filibusters

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-01 19:38:20-04

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — It is safe to say that most of the senators, from the experienced multi-term lawmakers down to the freshman in their first session, think this session was unlike any other they had seen in the Legislature.

“As a senior member of the Legislature, now wrapping up my ninth year of service, there is no doubt that this session was challenging,” said Sen. Danielle Conrad.

If you had to describe the 2023 session in one word, that word would be “filibuster”.

A session-long filibuster looking to kill a bill banning gender-affirming care slowed debates to a crawl.

And, true to form, the last debate on the floor over voter ID ran out the clock with a filibuster.

“People have been coming up to me and saying, why don’t you sit down and shut up? That's a fair point. I really don’t want to be filibustering for two hours,” said Slama, while filibustering a bill on voter ID.

The filibuster will likely be a focal point of next year’s session as well.

Every senator 3 News Now spoke to said they expect some kind of rules change when the legislature reconvenes, but what those changes will look like remains to be seen.

“Absolutely, I think it's gonna happen. There is gonna be a look at the rule book over the interim, and even into January, and we will see where it goes,” said Sen. Beau Ballard, who just finished his freshman term.

Despite the slowdowns, this legislature did pass bills that will have a big impact on Nebraskans.

Constitutional carry, bans on abortion and gender-affirming care, funding for North and South Omaha and voter ID were the big talking points. But there were plenty of other changes found in several omnibus bills.

“We wanted broad support consensus bills. We wanted bills with low fiscal impact and we wanted bills that really made a difference in the state of Nebraska. Those bills have come through those committee packages and those bills passed,” said Speaker John Arch.

After 88 days of debate, lawmakers are officially out for the summer but all of the senators we spoke to agree — there is still plenty of work left to do.

"We definitely have more work to do when it comes to criminal justice reform and we definitely have more work to do when it comes to workforce challenges,” said Conrad.

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.