’49 states — can they all be wrong?’: Nebraska senator proposes bicameral legislature

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A constitutional amendment introduced on Thursday would switch Nebraska’s Legislature from unicameral to bicameral.

Nebraska’s unique unicameral Legislature is something we’ve had since 1937.

But now, Sen. Steve Erdman said it’s not the best option because it gives urban areas too much power.

“The chance for us to have a bicameral and have representation from rural Nebraska more than we have now is advantageous for us,” he said.

The unicameral Legislature means there is only a Senate in Nebraska.

Erdman’s proposal would bring back a House of Representatives with 63 members to Nebraska and would shrink the Senate to 31 members.

Sen. Danielle Conrad, who opposes the amendment, said it would create more problems than solutions.

“We see the partisan dysfunction that cripples our sister states and our federal government,” Conrad said. “We should more closely work together to protect our unique system of government.”

Erdman said that there’s already implicit partisanship and noted 29 of the 49 senators are from just three counties: Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy.

But Conrad said the representation is reflective of demographics in the state, giving one person one vote as intended.

Conrad agrees with Erdman that there is growing partisanship, but she doesn’t agree with his plan of action.

“Even the most casual observer will see a creeping partisanship in our state government,” she said. “But to be very, very clear, the solution to that isn’t to double down on partisanship.  The solution to that is honoring our state constitution, is honoring the will of the people.”

Erdman said he’s aware that his amendment likely won’t make it to the floor for debate because so many people are in favor of the unicameral system.

He said his main goal was just to start the discussion.

“We just hear one side of it: how wonderful the Unicameral is,” he said. “And if it is so wonderful, why are we the only state that has it? One has to begin to think about that; 49 states — can they all be wrong?”

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