Better 149 years late, than never.

The state, on Friday, finally got around to ratifying the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment it had spent nearly 150 years -- since statehood was proclaimed -- ignoring.

The amendment had reached the goal of ratification by three-fourths of the states in 1992, even without the Cornhusker state signing on. 

The 27th Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next term of office.

So, not a life-changer.

It was part of the original set of 12 proposals in 1789 in the Bill of Rights. The first 10 were ratified. But the 27th Amendment took 202 years, 7 months, and 12 days to be ratified by those three-fourths of states.

Nebraska was added to the union in 1867 and as of this year was one of five states that still hadn't ratified the amendment.

Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, who has taught American government on the college level and has some expertise in the U.S. Constitution, stumbled on the ratification information doing research on another resolution. 

So she decided to put an end to the state's avoidance of ratification with a resolution (LR381).

No-harm, no-foul, she said. It's part of the Constitution already. And by passing it on Friday, Nebraska has bragging rights to saying it wasn't the last state to do so.

"This is really a ceremonial thing," she said. "James Madison wrote this. It would be kind of neat to go ahead and have Nebraska ratify it."

The resolution passed on a 46-0 vote. Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook was present not voting.

Cook, who is African-American, said the resolution followed too quickly on the heels of another (LR35) by Ebke calling for a convention of states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. That one has been shelved for the year.

"I just don't want to wake up in five years and it's like some apocalyptic, weird tea party thing," Cook said. "It was just too close to that convention of the states thing where I go back to being a slave."

Besides, she said, since the 27th Amendment is already ratified, her vote wasn't needed.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.


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