Sen. John Lowe of Kearney thought he had the 33 votes needed Wednesday to stop a filibuster on his motorcycle helmet repeal bill.
Monday, debate had closed after three hours and Speaker Jim Scheer agreed to allow more debate and a vote Wednesday. Those two days, when senators have time to reconsider, were the death knell.
Wednesday, senators voted 30-15 on a motion to stop debate, and the bill (LB368) is now dead for this session. Helmets will continue to be required for Nebraska motorcycle riders and those passing through the state.
Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann, who led the opposition to the bill, said he knew the vote would be close. In the end, senators voted in favor of safety and people's lives, he said.
"I get the whole thing with the liberty thing, but the fact is that when people ride motorcycles with a helmet they ride with more safety than when they do not have that helmet in place," he said.
Lowe questioned during a short debate whether government should allow people to make their own choices, even if their choices could lead to bad outcomes. Nebraskans have enough common sense to decide what risks they are willing to take, he said.
"I believe this to be a quote by Ronald Reagan: Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves," he said.
Lowe said it's possible he could bring the repeal bill back next year.