Nebraska state senators will deliver a cosigned statement to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office, initiating a formal call for a special session dedicated to racial justice.
The action comes one week after a coalition of local racial and social justice organizations urged state senators to return for a special session.
Senators Machaela Cavanaugh, Ernie Chambers, Matt Hansen, Sara Howard, Megan Hunt, Rick Kolowski, John McCollister, Adam Morfeld, Patty Pansing Brooks, Tony Vargas and Justin Wayne cosigned the statement.
The letter lists the following specific purposes for reconvening:
- To adopt statutory modifications to criminal law and criminal procedure relating to police power, police practices, and the scope and authority of peace officers to detain, arrest, and use force against civilians;
- To adopt statutory modifications to criminal law and criminal procedure relating to creation or modifications of crimes or offenses or the penalties for such any such crimes or offenses to ensure individuals and civilians are protected from discrimination based on race or traits or features historically associated with race;
- To adopt statutory modifications to provide for civilian oversight over police agencies of the various political subdivisions and the state;
- To adopt statutory modifications to employment law to ensure that employees and individuals are provided with protection from coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) at workplaces and that such protection is provided to all employees regardless of employees’ race or ethnicity;
- To adopt statutory modifications to ensure that testing, personal protection, and related services for COVID-19 are provided to all employees and individuals in a manner that avoids or prevents disparate treatment to employees and individuals based on their race or ethnicity;
- To adopt statutory modifications to employment law to ensure that those individuals who become unemployed due to COVID-19 receive adequate unemployment compensation as a disparate number of such individuals are people of color;
- To adopt statutory modifications to employment law and anti-discrimination law to ensure that employees and applicants are protected from discrimination based on race or traits or features historically associated with race;
- To adopt statutory modifications to housing and landlord-tenant law to minimize the racial disparity against those who are subject to evictions and homelessness;
- To reduce or eliminate appropriations or re-appropriations approved by the 106th Legislature to appropriate funds necessary to implement any of the statutory modification made as described herein this Proclamation;
- To appropriate funds for the necessary expenses of the extraordinary session herein called.
The statement effectively sets a deadline for a potential special session.
Once Secretary of State Bob Evnen receives the statement, he will relay the senators’ request to the other members of the Legislature. If 33 or more senators support the special session request – state law requires that Gov. Ricketts convene the Legislature within five days of receiving the certified information.
Although state law allows Gov. Ricketts to convene the Legislature for a special session by executive decision, a spokesperson for the governor has said the governor will not do so