Hello from the
Nebraska State Capitol! my home office where I’m streaming legislative proceedings! Bill introduction has concluded, and your Nebraska Legislature is busy as ever. Senators introduced 684 bills and 31 resolutions in the first 10 days of this long session, 29 of which have at least something to do with elections and voting.
Some of those bills, like Sen. Tom Brewer’s LB285, are just good, non-controversial updates or mechanical fixes to our election law.
Others, like Sen. Justin Wayne’s LR18CA (changing legislative tenure from two to three consecutive terms) and LB332 (changing the size of some city councils), are technically related to elections and voting but not really within the scope of Civic Nebraska’s work.
And then there are the classics which, if you’ve been following us, will sound very familiar. Here are a few of the bills we’ll be paying closest attention to in 2021:
LR3CA – voter ID
Civic Nebraska has led the opposition against voter ID for more than a decade, and we will continue to do so. LR3CA will add a new requirement to the voting process and spend significant taxpayer money with nothing to show for it. This particular approach requires senators to commit to a voter ID law without any knowledge of the specifics.
LR14 and LB195 – Article V convention of states
This is a weird one, but an initiative we consistently oppose. Some people want Nebraska to join a call for a convention “to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
As voting rights advocates, our primary concern is that any version of this convention could expose the Department of Justice, the voters’ last line of defense against state infringement of voting rights, to serious cuts or limitations. As people who live here, we oppose this because it would decimate the state budget.
LB158 (Wayne) and LR10CA (M. Cavanaugh) – felony disenfranchisement
There are two 2021 proposals trying to improve Nebraska’s archaic felony disenfranchisement laws. Sen. Wayne is trying to remove the additional two-year ban on voting Nebraska inexplicably tacks after someone has completed their sentence, including parole.
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s proposed constitutional amendment seeks to do away with the entire notion of felony disenfranchisement, except for treason. Felony disenfranchisement policy has an undeniably nefarious and racist history and continues to have a negative impact. We can find no policy justification for felony disenfranchisement, and we support both of these proposals to improve our current situation.
LB577 – Election Day holiday, paid postage for early ballots, AVR
This is a big bill full of good ideas! We support everything in this proposal, but we’re particularly looking forward to the Election Day Holiday, which the legislature has not seriously discussed in a long time. Making Election Day a state holiday would improve the in-person voting experience, but is also a great symbolic gesture.
Those are just some of the bills we’ll be watching this session – if you have questions, thoughts, concerns, or want to get involved with any of this legislation, please let us know!