State lawmakers Thursday rejected a motion from Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt to reassign a resolution objecting to federal government overreach to the Legislature's Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
Hunt sought to rereference the resolution (LR107) from Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte from the Executive Board, saying the subject matter of the document was the responsibility of the government committee.
The resolution, co-signed by 30 senators, objects to incursions by the federal government into everything from religious freedom and Second Amendment rights to elections, land usage and vaccinations.
Hunt said the majority of the issues raised in Groene's resolution were subjects typically referenced to the Government Committee, and argued lawmakers should adopt her motion to move the bill there.
Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, who sits on the Government Committee alongside Hunt, said the Omaha lawmaker wanted to send it to a committee where it would not be advanced to the floor.
He said during a debate last week to pull his resolution (LR14) adding Nebraska to the list of states calling for a constitutional convention of states from committee and onto the floor, Hunt discussed how the Government Committee was set up to kill many bills that came before it.
"I suggest she wants to send it back to Government so a 4-4 tie can kill it," Halloran said.
Hunt said the 4-4 break occurs on bills that affect election procedures and voting rights, where senators on the committee have fundamental differences in how to proceed.
Other senators said they supported Hunt's effort and were concerned that the resolution had been referenced to the Executive Board in the first place.
Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said the Executive Board, under the rules of the Legislature, doesn't have purview over the issues raised in Groene's resolution, and warned that lawmakers were diminishing the integrity of the institution.
According to the Legislature's website, the Executive Board has authority over constitutional amendments that govern the legislative process, the eligibility of candidates, senator salaries, term limits, legislative ethics and other matters that involve the Legislature.
"What we're doing here now is trying to pick a committee where this particular resolution will receive favorable treatment," Lathrop said. "This isn't how we ought to operate in this body."
Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh said he had concerns with the language in the resolution, which he said incorrectly quoted passages from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that would need major corrections.
"Words have meaning, words matter and we are subject to those words," Cavanaugh said.
After about a half-hour of debate, the Legislature voted down Hunt's amendment on a 24-14 vote.