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Nebraska State Senator Will Use Filibuster to Protect Abortion

You surely knew that the U.S. Senate has a filibuster, but did you know that 13 states also have it in their state Senates? These are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont. In Nebraska, (Democratic) state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh plans to filibuster every bill until the Republicans drop their plan to ban abortion (and also to outlaw gender-affirming health care).

Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, but the members are known as state senators due to its history. Originally, Nebraska had a bicameral legislature, but the two chambers often fought with each other. In 1931, then-senator George Norris argued that the bicameral legislature is a copy of the British parliament, with its unrepresentative House of Lords. He said one chamber ought to be abolished. In 1934, the voters approved a constitutional amendment abolishing the state House and transferring its powers to the state Senate.

Cavanaugh, one of just 17 Democrats in the 49-member chamber, said: "If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful; painful for everyone. Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body."

Specifically, Cavanaugh wants Republicans to withdraw two bills. One bans almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The other, called the "Let Them Grow Act," bans health-care professionals from providing gender-affirming care to anyone under 19.

Whether the filibusters succeed depends on how much stamina Cavanaugh has and whether any of the other 16 Democratic state senators join her. If no other senators join her, it is very unlikely that she could stand and talk for even 48 hours, let alone indefinitely. In that case, they Republicans could just let her talk until she dropped, then call for a vote. However, if all 17 Democrats filibustered every bill, they could really gum up the works. (V)

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