Legislature overrides Governor’s veto

By: Megan Palera

It was a debate that divided Nebraska Republicans, restoring prenatal care for illegal immigrants. The Governor vetoed the bill last week, but today's 30 votes in the legislature spoke louder.

It was an exciting day to end this year's session. One of the most highly contested bills that was fought hard by the Governor overridden by the exact number of votes needed.

It's a victory party for the supporters of LB 599, restoring prenatal care to low-income women, including illegal immigrants. Wednesday's final count: 30 to 15, it takes 30 to get it done. But it came long after one final debate among senators.

“What I can't make myself do is to forcibly take taxpayer money from someone to pay for the obligations of one who is breaking the law to be here,” said Senator Tony Fulton.

“It's not the person who broke the law to begin with. It's not the unborn child. THe most innocent of human life. That's where the injustice is,” said Senator Jeremy Nordquist.

The program was eliminated two years ago when the federal government ordered Nebraska to stop offering benefits through Medicaid. About 1,600 women relied on it, half are illegal immigrants. Now the state will use $650,000 annually, plus nearly $2 million in federal funds to restore prenatal care benefits.

The Governor, who vetoed the bill last week, released this statement after the vote, “I strongly disagree with their decisions. Providing preferential treatment to illegals while increasing taxes on legal Nebraska citizens is misguided, misplaced and inappropriate.”

But Senator Kathy Campbell who  fought hard to get the 30 votes to override the Governor's veto, calls it a victory. “We want healthy babies. We want children to have the best start that they can have in life. And we are spending a large amount of money in NICU units because children didn't have prenatal care,” said Campbell.

Some pro-life senators worry that money will end up at Planned Parenthood. Right now, the organization doesn't provide pre-natal care here in Nebraska.