Nebraska Republicans Plan Another Extreme Legislative Session

Dennis Crawford
4 min readDec 11, 2023
The Nebraska GOP believes that the poor and middle class have it too easy.

The 2023 Nebraska legislative session was marked by partisan rancor and an extreme agenda from the Nebraska Republicans. Pillen and the Republicans jammed through a controversial agenda and ran roughshod over the minority Democrats. However, that wasn’t enough for them — the GOP plans to change the rules to make it easier for them to do it again.

Anytime the GOP has control of all of the branches like they did this year, they make passage of tax cuts for the rich and corporations a high priority. The tax cuts passed in the 2023 legislative session are a river boat gamble. Nebraska’s 2023 tax cuts will cause some of the deepest reductions in tax revenue in the country, threatening state services, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This report indicated that the 2023 tax cuts passed by the unicameral will reduce state revenues by $3.1 billion over the next five years — a 7.6% drop in general fund revenue. That is the sixth steepest cut in state revenue in the nation, said the report. Rebecca Firestone, OpenSky’s executive director, said the cuts in Nebraska threaten the state’s ability to tackle “real challenges” facing the state and endanger current investments in schools, health care and public safety.

The most recent session was also marked by the passage of a ten week abortion ban and restrictions on transgender care for minors. Nebraska Republicans chose to substitute the judgment of career GOP politicians and judges over mothers, doctors and parents. Difficult decisions on abortions and transgender care aren’t going to be made any better, medically or morally, because big government is dictating how that decision should be made.

These radical culture war GOP bills were passed over a vigorous series of filibusters led by Senators Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt. Nevertheless, the GOP would like to make it easier in future sessions to run over the minority. They would prefer that the voters not notice what they are doing in future sessions.

“We’ve got to make some changes, because we can’t do what we did last year,” State Senator Steve Erdman said. As a starting point, Erdman wants to gut the filibuster rule. Currently, it takes 33 votes to end a filibuster. Erdman wants to make it harder in the future for the minority to get to 17 votes.

Erdman would also like to gut the non-partisan nature of the legislature by eliminating secret votes for committee chairs. This proposed rule change would make it impossible for Democrats and even moderate Republicans from chairing committees in the future.

“I don’t care if it takes all 60 days,” Erdman said. “When I leave next year, I want to leave this place better than I found it, and if it takes all 60 days, I want to do it. That’s a big commitment, but we’re the laughingstock of the country.”

The Nebraska Republicans want to change the rules so they can enact an even more radical agenda on a stealth basis. Governor Jim Pillen and extreme state senators have promised to “end abortion” in Nebraska. Pillen stated that he wouldn’t even settle for a six week ban. Instead, he wants a total ban. Pillen said: “I pushed hard to get us to 12, but we’re going to end abortion.” (Nebraska’s law essentially bans abortion at ten weeks.)

Pillen and Nebraska Republicans would like to impose a draconian abortion ban similar to the one in Texas. At the current time, a woman whose fetus has a fatal condition is petitioning the Texas courts to let her override the state’s abortion ban and end the pregnancy.

Attorneys have filed suit on behalf of Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother who learned in November that her fetus has a condition that causes developmental delays so serious that most infants do not survive more than two weeks. The diagnosis meant that the baby is unlikely to survive past birth or much longer. The same medical condition also poses a serious threat to the mother’s health. If she is forced to give birth to the baby, it could end her ability to have children in the future.

Cox’s doctors recommended to her that the best choice in these very difficult and tragic circumstances would be an abortion. However, the Texas abortion ban only allows abortion when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. The trial judge allowed an abortion but the Texas Supreme Court has overturned that decision.

“You can just imagine how crazy it is that in the middle of a medical crisis, she has to reach out to lawyers, run to court, and try to get a court order. It’s really heartbreaking that this is where we are historically.” Attorney Nick Kabat from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“I refuse to allow my daughters to grow up in a country where courts can prevent them access to emergency healthcare. What happened in Texas can happen anywhere. It’s wrong. It must be stopped.” Eugene Vindman.

Texas shows what the Nebraska Republicans want here in our state. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do about Republican control of the legislature in the short term. The cake is already baked for the 2023 session. Instead, we must plan for the 2024 elections.

The 2024 elections will be here before you know it. Already, numerous good Democrats have announced runs for the legislature around the state. I would urge you to invest your time and money in some of the legislative races. The composition of the legislature makes a big difference. Many voters don’t realize how powerful and important the state senators are. A successful election cycle can put a check and balance on the ambitions of the extreme Nebraska GOP.

“Don’t agonize; organize. No whining; just winning.” Nancy Pelosi. Now let’s get it done!

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Dennis Crawford

I’m an aspiring historian, defender of democracy and a sports fan.