American civics bill stalls; senator says she has votes to advance
Lawmakers moved onto other business Wednesday morning after three hours of debate on a bill to update Nebraska’s Americanism statutes.
The bill’s (LB399) sponsor, Sen. Julie Slama of Peru, said she has the votes needed to end a filibuster by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, meaning it will likely come back later this week.
Slama’s bill, as well as the pending Education Committee amendments to it, would require Nebraska students to take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam, attend a public meeting and write a report about it, or complete a research paper or project about a person or event from American history.
Chambers, who criticized the bill as requiring students to learn one version of American history, filed several motions repealing words or entire sections from Slama’s bill during Wednesday’s truncated debate.
Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz also sought to strike language from the bill allowing school boards to remove teachers or other school employees from their positions if judged to have not completed the requirements under the statute.
“I think school board members may have different opinions about what it means to implement this statute,” Bolz said, adding some disputes may arise over interpretation of the law.
Slama said taking that section out of the bill “removes the teeth and accountability” in the law. Bolz’s amendment failed by a 27-19 vote.
There is an opportunity for three more hours of debate Friday, but Slama said she has the 33 votes needed to invoke cloture and force a vote to move the bill to the second of three rounds of consideration.