Nebraska is one step closer to repealing a state constitutional amendment that allows people to be enslaved as punishment for a crime.
Lawmakers advanced the proposed repeal Thursday on a 44-0 vote. Two additional votes are required to place it on the 2020 general election ballot for voters to approve or reject.
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The state constitution has banned slavery and involuntary servitude since 1875, except as punishment for a crime. Supporters say that provision hasn't been used in recent history, but was once invoked to force former slaves back into unpaid labor for private parties, a system known as convict leasing.
The measure's sponsor, Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, says the amendment sends an important message about Nebraska's values.