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Nonpartisan Nebraska Seeks Fair Legislative Rules

Nonpartisan Nebraska Seeks Fair Legislative Rules


December 28, 2023

Kearney, NE—Nebraska’s Unicameral is set to convene January 3 at the Nebraska State Capitol for the second session of the 108th Legislature of Nebraska. As the senators return from a tumultuous session last year, one of the first items on the agenda will be proposed changes to the legislative rules. Both Speaker of the Legislature John Arch and Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard, chair of the Rules Committee, have put forward proposals, but more may be introduced in the early days of the session. 

After the adoption of the permanent rules during the first session, lawmakers may amend the rules with a three-fifths majority vote (or 30 of the 49 members), but changes must first go before the Legislature's five member Rules Committee, have a public hearing, and be placed on the schedule by the Speaker before any vote can occur. 

Nathan Leach, founder and executive director of Nonpartisan Nebraska, underscores the significance of safeguarding the Unicameral’s nonpartisan process: "Lacking a second house, the Unicameral was carefully calibrated to balance the rights of its members to ensure legislation is well-crafted and moves forward based on merit, not simply the party of whoever brought the legislation.” Leach said.

Nonpartisan Nebraska encourages lawmakers to carefully consider the impact of changes. Former state senator Al Davis of Hyannis, (2013-2017), a member of Nonpartisan Nebraska’s board, recommended that lawmakers use former senators as a resource. "People who have actually served in the Unicameral have experience and institutional memory that can be invaluable to addressing today's challenges," he said. 

Charlyne Berens, author of two books about the Unicameral, said legislative rules may seem like a small matter but that they are vital to assuring the legislative process is fair and that it remains true to the institution’s goals and purposes. “The Unicameral’s rules can have a lasting impact on how well the Legislature serves the interests of all Nebraskans,” she said.

Nonpartisan Nebraska supports changes to the rules that are fair, supported by lawmakers from across the political spectrum, seem likely to improve the legislative process, and are consistent with parliamentary law.

Nonpartisan Nebraska is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit founded in 2020. Currently operated by volunteers, the organization’s mission is to preserve the nonpartisan structure of the Nebraska Legislature through public education, providing resources to lawmakers and legislative staff, and promoting political science, historical, and rules-based research focused on Nebraska’s unique one-house legislature.

Nathan Leach 

Phone: (308) 627-8111

A .pdf version of this press release for printing or downloading is available here.




Hartley Burr Alexander | Nebraska State Capitol


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