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2024 Nebraska Legislative Session Recap

The 2024 Legislative session ended on a frustrating note, as the Legislature’s final vote saw them narrowly passing LB1402. This is a blatant attempt from Legislators to undermine the will of the 117 thousand Nebraskans who signed the referendum petition to put the decision on funding private school vouchers through public funds in the hands of the voters. It is clear that lawmakers were threatened by our power and rather than try to win the fight at the ballot box, they are trying to silence us. It is completely unacceptable for Nebraska Legislators to pick and choose when people get to make their voices heard. However, the fight to keep public money in public schools isn’t over. We will continue to work with our partners to support efforts to stop LB1402, LB753, and any other voucher schemes.

We are thrilled to write that LB20 was passed into law on Thursday, April 18th. This will restore the right to vote for thousands of Nebraskans who were impacted by the arbitrary two-year waiting period. Starting on July 18th, any Nebraskan who has completed a felony sentence will be able to register to vote immediately after they are ‘off paper’, having completed any probation or parole. This is the culmination of years of organizing and activism. The Nebraska Table is proud to be part of the Voting Rights Restoration Coalition that advocated in support of LB20. We also want to recognize the efforts of our Policy Fellow with RISE, Olivia Larson, whose work on this bill was invaluable. Check out getmyvoteback.org for more on voting rights restoration. 

Alongside LB20, we saw lots of other exciting momentum from the Nebraska Table’s Policy Fellows. Andrew Farias with the Asian Cultural and Community Center worked hard to pass LB2 and create a Nebraska Commission on Asian American Affairs; Schmeeka Simpson with the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation successfully amended state recognition of Malcolm X’s birthday into LB1102; Jaden Perkins with the Heartland Workers Center led programming to train his team and laid the groundwork for efforts to expand professional licensure in the upcoming session; and Aleyah Smith with I Be Black Girl helped to introduce LB 1278 to provide reimbursement for doula services. We thank Andrew and Olivia for their dedicated service to our network and we look forward to seeing our second cohort of Policy Fellows continue their success next year. 

After a 2023 session dominated by attacks on trans youth, it was a huge relief to see LB575, a bill that would have prevented transgender students from playing sports and using school facilities in the way that is safest to them, swiftly defeated in a cloture vote on general file. At the same time, we know that there are Senators dedicated to bringing back this bill and other attacks on LGBT+ Nebraskans. It is critical that we keep organizing in the interim to protect LGBT rights in our state. 

The end of the 2024 session will perhaps best be remembered for the failure of the Governor’s attempt to pass a major property tax relief bill. It was immediately clear upon the introduction of LB388 that this effort would face a major uphill battle, as Senators and advocacy groups across the ideological spectrum derided the bill as a regressive tax shift that would disproportionately harm working Nebraskans. In particular, a proposed one-cent sales tax increase received a great deal of pushback. An attempted compromise on LB388 got the bill to final reading. However, provisions of the bill, including removing tax exemptions on products like pop and candy and digital advertising ultimately were too unpopular to overcome a cloture vote, and it was pulled from the agenda. While LB388 died on final reading, the property tax issue is far from over. 

In his final remarks, the Governor promised to call as many special sessions as it takes for the Legislature to deliver property tax relief. We can expect many of the same fights and negotiations that we saw this session to return to the forefront. Property taxes aren’t the only issue that might come up in a special session. After Charlie Kirk’s tweets prompted a national conversation around Nebraska’s electoral votes, the Governor has made it clear that he will call a special session on winner-take-all all if he can find the 33 votes to do it. At this time, he seems to be short of that threshold, but we are closely monitoring the situation and will be ready to activate if needed to protect the ability of Nebraskans to make their voices heard.

It was an honor to work alongside all of you to support policies that strengthen our communities this session. From protecting our Legislature’s nonpartisan rules to passing the largest expansion of voting rights in the country this year, we showed that we are stronger when we act together and fight for our values. Whether it was working to introduce a bill, calling your Senator, attending a Lobby Day, or showing up at a hearing to testify, your voice had an impact. As we look ahead to a critical election and a 2025 Legislative session where over a dozen new Senators will be sworn in, it is more important than ever that we stay connected and ready to take action. For now, take care of yourself, get some rest, and we’ll see you in the special session!

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