LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A lawmaker on Thursday proposed a measure that would end Nebraska’s status as the only state with an officially nonpartisan legislature.
The move by Sen. Julie Slama of Peru would violate Nebraska’s constitutional requirement that state legislative candidates must appear on ballots without party affiliation.
Voters would have to approve the constitutional amendment in 2022 if lawmakers vote to put it on the ballot, but he faces an uphill battle in the Legislative Assembly.
Many conservatives favor the idea, saying it would promote transparency and help Republicans push through major tax cuts and stalled gun rights measures, though they are very popular in Nebraska, favorable to the GOP. Progressives and some moderate lawmakers say Nebraska’s decentralized legislature allows lawmakers to think for themselves and protects people with minority beliefs.
Slama, a Republican, said it was time to end “the idolatrous practice of celebrating Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral simply because he is unique.”
Although the Legislative Assembly is officially nonpartisan, the political leanings of Nebraska legislators are widely known, and many of their votes approximate party lines. Republicans hold 32 of the 49 seats in the Legislative Assembly, one vote short of what is needed to overcome a filibuster.