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Nebraska Legislature committee votes to advance bill that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT employees

February 26, 2017 GMT

LINCOLN — Nebraska lawmakers appear headed for another floor debate on a bill that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted 5-1 with one member abstaining to advance Legislative Bill 173 to the floor.

Assuming the bill is scheduled for debate this session, it would mark the fourth time since 2014 that senators have discussed such a measure on the floor. Opponents have been able to narrowly stop similar measures in the past by using a filibuster or narrowly passing a motion to kill the bill.

This year’s version would prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the workplace. It was introduced by State Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, who sponsored similar legislation the past two years as well.

The senator said he has committed to prioritizing another bill this year, but several of his colleagues have told him they are considering making LB 173 their priority. Bills without a priority designation are less likely to be scheduled for floor debate.

Dozens of supporters and opponents delivered more than three hours of testimony during a public hearing Wednesday in the Judiciary Committee.

Voting to advance the bill Friday were Sens. Bob Krist of Omaha and Patty Pansing Brooks, Matt Hansen, Roy Baker and Morfeld, all of Lincoln. Voting against was Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings. Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, chairwoman of the committee, abstained.

joe.duggan@owh.com, 402-473-9587