Lawmaker pauses filibuster on agreement to debate trans bill

Mar 17, 2023, 12:07 PM
State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh prepares to speak before the Nebraska Legislature Monday, March 13, 2...
State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh prepares to speak before the Nebraska Legislature Monday, March 13, 2023, at the Nebraska State Capital in Lincoln, Neb. Cavanaugh is in her third week of an effort to filibuster every bill that comes before the Legislature this session — even the ones she supports. The effort is a protest against conservatives' advancement of a bill that would outlaw gender-affirming therapies for those 18 and younger. Cavanaugh has declared she will "burn the session to the ground" in an effort to stymie the bill. (AP Photo/Margery Beck)
(AP Photo/Margery Beck)

A lawmaker who has been holding up the work of the Nebraska Legislature for weeks to protest a bill that would ban gender-affirming therapies for minors has paused her persistent filibuster in a deal that will see lawmakers debate the bill next week.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, of Omaha, had been staging a filibuster of every single bill before the legislative body — even ones she supported — since late February to protest the bill. Introduced by a freshman lawmaker and supported by hard-right conservatives, the bill would outlaw gender-affirming therapies such as hormone treatments and gender-affirmation surgery for those 18 and younger.

Cavanaugh launched her effort when the bill advanced out of committee, introducing amendment after amendment and spending as much time as Nebraska rules allowed on the microphone to hold bills hostage on the legislative floor. She said she would continue to do so through the end of the 90-day session.

“I will burn the session to the ground over this bill,” Cavanaugh said at the time.

By the halfway point of the session Wednesday, not a single bill had passed, and only a handful had advanced from the first of three rounds of debate, thanks to Cavanaugh’s relentless filibustering.

But on Thursday, Speaker of the Legislature Sen. John Arch announced that an agreement had been reached to break the filibuster after Cavanaugh approached him seeking a compromise. Cavanaugh agreed to pause her filibustering if Arch agreed to push the trans therapies bill to the front of the queue. Debate on the bill will now start Tuesday when the Legislature reconvenes from a long weekend break.

“We both agreed that it would be best to stop talking about the issue on other bills, but rather just debate the bill itself,” Arch said.

Cavanaugh had said early in the process that she hoped to keep the bill from making it to the legislative floor for debate. But by Wednesday, she wanted a vote to put on the record of which lawmakers would “legislate hate against children.”

The deal is likely a sign that Cavanaugh thinks she has the votes to kill the bill when a vote is taken, expected Thursday. If the bill advances, she will resume filibustering every bill for the remainder of the session, she told several news outlets.

The Nebraska bill and another that would ban trans people from using bathrooms and locker rooms or playing on sports teams that don’t align with the gender listed on their birth certificates are among Alabama have bans that were temporarily blocked by federal judges.

A sweeping bill in Kentucky that bans gender-affirming care in minors was rushed through the legislative process this week by Republicans and passed Thursday. It is expected to survive a promised veto by the governor.

As in those states, conservative lawmakers dominate in Nebraska. But the Nebraska Legislature is unique in a couple of ways: It is officially nonpartisan and a one-chamber body with only 49 lawmakers. Although bills can win approval with a simple majority, it takes 33 votes to overcome a filibuster. The Nebraska Legislature is currently made up of 32 registered Republicans and 17 registered Democrats — just enough for the minority to block bills they don’t like if they stick together.

LGBTQ advocacy group OutNebraska has put out a call for opponents of the bill to show up en masse at the state Capitol next week, wearing purple, blue, pink and/or white, to fill the chamber’s gallery.

Arch issued his own call ahead of next week’s debate, noting that passions on both sides will be high.

“Colleagues, these issues will challenge us to conduct ourselves with decorum during the remaining days,” he said. “The public expects nothing less, and we should expect nothing less of each other. Let’s measure our words carefully and demonstrate statesmanship in the days ahead.”

United States News

Law enforcement officials work at the scene along Wooding Road on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, east o...
Associated Press

Deaths of woman, girl raise issues over boyfriend’s release

SEATTLE (AP) — Kirkland Warren was out on bail pending a long-delayed murder trial in Arkansas. But when he was arrested in southwestern Washington state early this month on charges that he assaulted his ex-girlfriend and fired a gunshot into her apartment, he quickly posted bond and was released again. Just a few days later, […]
23 hours ago
Irma Reyes struggles as she recalls the details of her daughter's ordeal with trafficking and the f...
Associated Press

Sex trafficking plea deal unending ‘nightmare’ for Texas mom

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Irma Reyes changed clothes in the back seat of the pickup: skirt, tights, turtleneck, leather jacket. All black. She brushed her hair and pulled on heels as her husband drove their Chevy through predawn darkness toward a courthouse hundreds of miles from home. She wanted to look confident — poised but […]
23 hours ago
FILE - A chair sits in the execution chamber at the Utah State Prison on June 18, 2010, after Ronni...
Associated Press

Is bringing back firing squads for executions a good idea?

CHICAGO (AP) — The image of gunmen in a row firing in unison into the chest of a condemned prisoner may conjure up a bygone, less enlightened era. But the idea of using firing squads is making a comeback. Idaho lawmakers passed a bill this week seeking to add the state South Carolina. Fresh interest […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Gwyneth Paltrow expected to testify in ski collision trial

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Gwyneth Paltrow and the man who broke four ribs after the two collided at a Utah ski resort seven years ago are both expected to testify on Friday in a trial over his claims that the movie star’s recklessness caused his concussion and lasting physical injuries. Paltrow and Terry Sanderson, […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, of Calif., right, speaks about the proposed legislation...
Associated Press

GOP sets vote on ‘parents rights’ in clash over schools

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans will press forward Friday with a midterm campaign promise by voting on legislation to give parents greater say in what is taught in public schools, even as critics decry the “parents’ rights” bill as a burdensome proposal that would fuel a far-right movement that has resulted in book bans, rewrites […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Cooling towers release heat generated by boiling water reactors at Xcel Energy's Nuclear Gen...
Associated Press

Radioactive water leaks at Minn. nuclear plant for 2nd time

MONTICELLO, Minn. (AP) — Water containing a radioactive material has leaked for a second time from a nuclear plant near Minneapolis and the plant will be shut down, but there is no danger to the public, the plant’s owner said Thursday. A leak of what was believed to be hundreds of gallons of water containing […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Lawmaker pauses filibuster on agreement to debate trans bill