On Friday, May 31, the Nebraska Legislature adjourned until January 2020. Civic Nebraska supported a host of bills at the statehouse on which advocates dedicated many hours to advocacy for strong voting rights. This took the form of hearing testimony, calls, letters, advocacy training, and much more.
Several bills did not advance from the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee to the floor of the Legislature. These included LB687 (Sen. Tony Vargas, Motor Voter); LB253 (Sen. John McCollister, Redistricting); LB83 (Sen. Justin Wayne, Reinfranchisement); and LB163 (Sen. Megan Hunt, Vote-by-Mail Permissions). Particularly unfortunate was the lack of movement on LB163 and LB83. Both of these bills maintain strong support from the community – and in the case of LB163, election officials from across the state.
On June 4, the governor also returned LB436 (Sen. Matt Hansen). The bill would have established a census commission to ensure as complete a count in 2020 as possible. We are disappointed that the governor has chosen to return this important legislation without action. Around the nation, such commissions are considered best practices by the U.S. Census Bureau. For rural states like Nebraska, which can potentially have hard-to-count populations, an efficient count is especially important to our overall interests. We will continue to work with all parties involved to make sure the 2020 census is as complete as possible in our state.
Some good news: We were able to successfully help pass a version of LB733 (Sen. Rick Kolowski, ADA Polling Place Accessibility). This year was also a record-setting one in terms of our reach through digital media, which many of you helped in accomplishing. Through our network of advocates, LB83: Katrina’s story garnered tens of thousands of views on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We appreciate all who helped spread Katrina’s story to reach new audiences, extend our message, and help educate our fellow Nebraskans!
We are now looking forward to 2020. We have doubled down on our organizing efforts in anticipation of a highly active Legislative year, as well as the upcoming presidential election. By now many advocates have received a call from Civic Nebraska, asking if you’re interested in creating a Voting Rights Advocacy chapter in your neighborhood or community. We have dozens of advocates already lined up to make that a reality. If you are unable to help lead, please do consider joining and working closely with a chapter near you.
Finally, stay tuned this summer for more advocacy training around the state. You are a major force in this fight, and we appreciate your dedication to standing up for our most sacred of rights.
Thanks for all that you do,
John Cartier, JD
Director of Voting Rights