Future unclear for proposal that could expand Legislature

February 5, 2020 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A proposal that could lead to the expansion of the Nebraska Legislature faces an uncertain future after lawmakers failed to reach a vote on it Wednesday.

Senators passed over the measure after a three-hour legislative debate. It will only return for a vote if the sponsor, Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer, can show that it has at least 33 supportive senators required to overcome a filibuster.

Scheer said he plans to continue discussing the issue with senators but doesn’t know whether he has the votes he needs.

Nebraska currently has 49 state senators in its one-house Legislature, and the Nebraska Constitution sets the maximum number at 50. Scheer’s proposal would increase the maximum number to 55, if voters approve. Lawmakers would then need to pass a separate bill to add senators.

Scheer said he introduced it to ensure that lawmakers are responsive to their constituents as rural districts become larger due to population losses. Opponents raised concerns about the cost and the already limited space within the Capitol.