Politics of Nebraska - Law and Government - Legislative Branch

Legislative Branch

Further information: Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska State Capitol

Nebraska is the only state in the United States with a unicameral legislature. Although this house is officially known simply as the "Legislature", and more commonly called the "Unicameral", its members call themselves "senators". Nebraska's Legislature is also the only state legislature in the United States that is nonpartisan. The senators are elected with no party affiliation next to their names on the ballot, and the speaker and committee chairs are chosen at large, so that members of any party can be chosen for these positions. The Nebraska Legislature can also override a governor's veto with a three-fifths majority, in contrast to the two-thirds majority required in some other states.

The Nebraska Legislature meets in the third Nebraska State Capitol building, built between 1922 and 1932. It was designed by Bertram G. Goodhue. Built from Indiana limestone, the Capitol's base is a cross within a square. A 400-foot domed tower rises from this base. The Sower, a 19-foot bronze statue representing agriculture, crowns the Capitol. The state Capitol is considered an architectural achievement and has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects.

Nebraska state insignia
Motto Equality Before the Law
Slogan Nebraska, possibilities...endless
Bird Western meadowlark
Animal White-tailed deer
Fish Channel catfish
Insect European honey bee
Flower Goldenrod
Tree Cottonwood
Song "Beautiful Nebraska"
Quarter
Released April 7, 2006
Grass Little bluestem
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Fossil Mammoth
Gemstone Blue agate
Rock Prairie agate
Soil Holdrege series

When Nebraska became a state in 1867, its legislature consisted of two houses: a House of Representatives and a Senate. For years, prior to 1934, US Senator George Norris and other Nebraskans encouraged the idea of a unicameral legislature, and demanded the issue be decided in a referendum. Norris argued:

The constitutions of our various states are built upon the idea that there is but one class. If this be true, there is no sense or reason in having the same thing done twice, especially if it is to be done by two bodies of men elected in the same way and having the same jurisdiction.

Unicameral supporters also argued that a bicameral legislature had a significant undemocratic feature in the committees that reconciled House and Senate legislation. Votes in these committees were secretive, and would sometimes add provisions to bills that neither house had approved. Nebraska's unicameral legislature today has rules that bills can contain only one subject, and must be given at least five days of consideration.

In 1934, due in part to the budgetary pressure of the Great Depression, Nebraska citizens ran a state initiative to vote on a constitutional amendment creating a unicameral legislature, which was approved. In effect, the House of Representatives (the lower house) was abolished; today's Nebraska state legislators are commonly referred to as "Senators".

Read more about this topic:  Politics Of Nebraska, Law and Government

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