No special session, but plenty to discuss next year
As predicted, there will be no special session of the Nebraska Legislature to introduce bills and set policies to address systemic racism.
At the urging of a number of social justice groups in the aftermath of demonstrations—some of them not so peaceful—in Lincoln and Omaha, a group of 11 urban lawmakers signed a petition for said special session. After Secretary of State Bob Evnen polled all 49 senators, only 14 said they wanted the session.
Proponents told a group of eight senators participating in listening sessions in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis that they didn’t want to have to wait until next year. The senators and many of the rest of us sincerely believe the law needs to value every citizen so they know their life is respected, regardless of color, age, economic background or legal standing.
The 35 who said “no” to a special session had a variety of reasons for not returning to Lincoln.
For some it’s probably a belief that it’s strictly an urban problem. Others might have been concerned about the coronavirus danger meter being in the orange in Lincoln, its highest mark since the pandemic began. Still others didn’t want a repeat of the rancor that marred the end of the regular session last month.
With a statewide election looming, some probably didn’t want to give their opponents ammunition if they disagreed with the incumbent’s comments.
I am NOT surprised that the session was a no-go. But six Democrats in the officially nonpartisan Unicameral have introduced study resolutions that could be the fodder for bills when lawmakers meet again in January. Such resolutions are designed to gather information on problems and look at solutions.
The recent death of Lincoln Police Detective Mario Herrera—the first active duty death of a Lincoln police officer in 52 years—could change the debate.
But it’s quite possible that Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne’s bill to create police standards boards in cities and villages with full-time police officers will be introduced again. The late entry died at the end of the 2020
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