Lawmakers divided over proposed changes to filibustering

Posted By: Brent BonFleur

The legislature voted 25-19 Wednesday to adopt an amendment to the chamber rules.

The amendment – sponsored by Senator Tyson Larson would make it harder for the minority to halt a bill, while making it easier for the majority to invoke cloture – in other words, halt the debate on that bill.

"During the last 4 years of the legislature, we’ve seen – not just one member – but a few members continually hold the legislature hostage and, in my view, the people of Nebraska hostage from good legislation," Larson said.

Senator Adam Morfeld says the proposed amendment would make it harder for lawmakers to find a middle ground.

"Senator Larson’s reasons for changing the rules have been disingenuous and often times not truthful," Morfeld said.

"It’s a power-grab that impacts the ability of the legislature to find common ground on issues and also protect rural and urban minority interests."

Currently, 33 votes are required to end a filibuster.

The proposed rule would lower that number to 30, unless 17 other members vote to keep the filibuster alive.

Morfeld says he along with several other senators plan to debate the proposal all session long if changes are not made.

"When the majority – the super majority that they have already – wants everything their way so they can bulldoze it all, it’s grossly unfair because you only get one opinion," said Senator Ernie Chambers.

"So I am greatly opposed to that and I will punish them by making them suffer the rest of the session if they get what they’re trying to."

First-term senator Tom Brewer says he voted for the proposed changes because he believes nothing will get done otherwise.

"Without changing that, we’ll continue to not be able to move forward with the business of the people," Brewer said.

"So, we think that by changing that to 30, it will give us the number needed so that we have enough votes to not live in a constant filibuster world."