Posted by Samantha Serrano on June 19, 2015 at 5:10 PM
Learn with the Intern: Nebraska Makes a Statement
Recently, the state of Nebraska passed new legislation that caught major attention in its political realm. The Midwestern state is known to be a very red, conservative area. However, with some debate and discussion, it has recently been producing a more liberal agenda. How is this possible? Nebraska has a very unique structure that devises its State Legislature.
Nebraska is both unicameral and nonpartisan. Instead of dividing primaries to select Republican, Democratic, and other partisan candidates, Nebraska uses a single, nonpartisan primary election, wherein the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Nebraska’s Legislature has no formal party alignments or groups, and coalitions form issue by issue. It is currently the only state in the nation with this system.
In the year 1934, after a push for Nebraska to move from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature, a positive change was seen in government efficiency. Under the new system, the unicameral session was only 98 days as opposed to 110, 22 more bills were passed, and the cost was cut by almost $100,000.
This style of political organization allows for both left and right minded leaders to have their ideas heard and enacted through the legislative process. From increased support for repealing the death penalty and raising the fuel tax to calls for legalizing medical marijuana and expanding the protections for gay and lesbian workers, lawmakers spent a lot of time on left-leaning legislation last month, despite having a Republican majority.
The Legislature is made up of 35 Republicans, 13 Democrats and one independent, yet there is a relatively equal balance of power in Nebraska when it comes to law making. In an article published in The Washington Times, Sen. Dan Hughes, a Republican from Venango, Nebraska said,
Every issue has a champion, and depending upon how dear that is to you as an individual, how hard you are willing to work for it makes a difference on what we spend our time on.”
Rather than placing emphasis on the issues of importance to the majority party, politicians instead focus on solving issues of the majority as a whole.
Nebraska is making a statement with a system that cannot be beaten. With gridlock and party dissatisfaction on the rise in America, it might be worth the while for our other 49 states to jump on board this political train of thought.
Originally from New Jersey, Samantha Serrano is currently a rising sophomore at The George Washington University located in Washington, DC. Samantha has had a passion for government and politics throughout her educational journey, which sparked her interest to intern at Open Primaries Inc. in Manhattan. In high school, Samantha was very actively involved in extracurricular activities as the Student Government President, Class Council Secretary, and Treasurer of the New Jersey Assoc. of Student Councils while maintaining her GPA to graduate in the top 2% of her class. Now attending one of the most politically active schools in the country, Samantha plans to take the experience she gains from interning at Open Primaries Inc. and apply it to her future endeavors at school as well as her future career.