Nonpartisan Nebraska, a grassroots organization, has been formed this week to work to stop the erosion of civility and to reduce partisanship in the Nebraska Legislature.
Nebraska is the only state in the United States that has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature. With 49 members, it is also the smallest legislature in the country.
We elect our state senators in nonpartisan elections, but a divide between Republicans and Democrats has become increasingly evident in Lincoln in recent years.
That especially was true this year as partisan bickering made it extremely difficult for the Legislature to get anything done, even though the senators’ constituents had made it clear that they demanded action to provide property tax relief.
Nathan Leach of Kearney is the executive director of Nonpartisan Nebraska. He is joined by a politically diverse board of directors, including former state Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis and Tami James Moore, a city councilwoman from Kearney.
“My stint as a Nebraska state senator was a great lesson for me in how good government can be when much of the partisan bickering is stripped away,” writes Davis.
He calls Nonpartisan Nebraska “one of the most exciting new organizations serving Nebraskans,” saying that he believes the George Norris vision that went into creating the state’s unicameral legislature is being threatened by partisanship.
Moore, a registered independent and the first woman on the Kearney City Council in more than 20 years, writes, “The political division nationwide is alarming and the partisanship in our Unicameral has reflected that in recent sessions.”
Currently, there are 30 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the Nebraska Legislature.
When Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island announced his candidacy for a second term representing District 35, he emphasized the effect of partisanship on the Legislature.
“There’s been too much partisanship in my first three years, and people are tired of the bickering,” Quick said. “People care about the real problems they face every day, such as high property taxes on their home, safe neighborhoods and more opportunities for their families.”
Nonpartisan Nebraska is promising to educate Nebraskans about how the Legislature operates and provide a forum for organizations across the state to seek nonpartisan reforms.
A virtual launch of the organization, with guest speaker Charlyne Berens and several former state lawmakers is scheduled for the end of October. People interested in joining the organization can sign up at nonpartisanne.com.
Let’s hope the time-honored concept of nonpartisanship regains momentum for Nebraska’s greater good.
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