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Badass Nebraska Filibuster Lady Joined By ANOTHER Badass Nebraska Filibuster Lady!
It's double your nice time!
Nebraska state Senator and early lock for Wonkette Legislative Badass of the Year Machaela Cavanaugh and other Democrats in the state's weird unicameral legislature are continuing to shut the 2023 session doooown, despite Republican attempts this week to make the multi-tactic filibuster harder. Cavanaugh vowed early in the session that she wouldn't let any bills move forward in the body until Republicans drop Legislative Bill 574, which would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. And so far, the resistance to the bill, led by Cavanaugh and by fellow Democratic state Sen. Megan Hunt — whose son Ash Homan, 12, is trans — hasn't budged.
On Tuesday this week, Republicans in the Legislature passed changes to the body's rules, limiting some of the parliamentary tactics that the Democrats have used to slow and stop debate on everything. As the nonprofit news outlet Nebraska Examiner — god we love all these state and regional journalism nonprofits! — explains, the new rules
restrict how often senators can seek to pause debate, send a bill back to a committee or indefinitely postpone discussion. Only one of each type of motion per day, per round of debate can be filed.
Sen. Steve Erdman — a Republican, although the Nebraska Lege is nominally nonpartisan; everyone just knows who's who — said the rules change was needed to allow open debate on bills. He claimed the change was perfectly fair, to allow the body to "have full and fair debate on the bills as presented." Erdman added, very nonpartisanly, "Listen to who is in opposition [to the rule changes], and you can quickly conclude why we’ve wasted 50 days."
Cavanaugh and Hunt weren't fazed by the rule changes in any case. They said they'd use any and all means available to keep the filibuster going, because what part of You Shall Not Pass (your stinking anti-trans bill) didn't you understand? After the rules change was voted in, they and a third Democrat, state Sen. Danielle Conrad, spent Wednesday filing every single slow-down motion they could, and by the end of the day, the three had
filed 742 motions on the bills that have come out of committee, taking up each of the three slots senators have under the new rules to file priority motions. They promised to do so on every bill that reaches the floor.
“We are blowing up this session,” Hunt said. “The session is over, and it’s on your terms. The terms were made clear to you for the last four to six weeks. Hating trans kids is more important to you than the rest of this session. … Human rights are hanging by a thread.”
Conrad said the majority could go ahead and try to rig the rules, but that "a filibuster will flow like water" around efforts to move the anti-trans bill forward.
To thank them, an Omaha bakery sent them a nice cake with "742" on top. Hunt added that some fourth graders also gave her a bouquet of flowers as she went into the state Capitol that morning.
“Yesterday we filed 742 motions on the remainder of the bills for this session, which allows us to control a significant portion of each debate. Today Angela at Goldenrod Pastries brought us this gorgeous cake!!! Are you kidding me??”
— Senator Megan Hunt (@Senator Megan Hunt) 1680198166
Hunt also pointed out Wednesday that if just one member of the Legislature would change their vote, they could finally kill LB 574 and the session could move forward. She asked who that might be — possibly Mike McDonnell, who "is hoping to be Omaha’s next mayor?" Or possibly it could be "one of the Rs who privately confessed that they hate this bill [and] don’t support it?" That ought to at least get the Republicans looking at each other and wondering who'll cave first.
With the filibuster still going strong, students across Nebraska are walking out of class to demonstrate against the bill today, as part of the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. That includes a rally on the steps of the Capitol in Lincoln planned for this evening.
And here, kids, is how you turn around the One Joke that wingnuts have about trans people, and use it to flip them. We love us some rhetorical jujitsu.
“Good morning from the Capitol on National Trans Visibility Day! Please support our trans fam today (and every day) at the rally at the Capitol at 5: 30pm tonight! 🏳️⚧️”
— Seeing Red Nebraska (@Seeing Red Nebraska) 1680272661
The sign reads
RESPECT MY TRANS HOMIES
OR I'M GONNA iDENTIFY
AS A FUCKING PROBLEM
We endorse this kid making Good Trouble.
Finally, check out this New York Times story on the filibuster effort (gift link), which looks at the very personal stakes in this legislative fight, for Hunt, whose son Ash is trans, and for her friend Cavanaugh, who's righteously pissed on his behalf. Ash himself testified against the bill early on, and the article notes that
The story of one lawmaker’s family became a central, if largely unspoken, reason that Democrats in the state have gone to war in a bid to block the bill, which seeks to criminalize medical care for people under 19.
On the whole, it's a very sympathetic story, despite the Times 's annoying habit of both-sidesing everything. Ash seems like a pretty neat kid who has been socially transitioning over the past few years. Pointedly, the profile says,
Most everyone in his life has been supportive. He said that the only invalidating messages he had heard have come from some of his mother’s colleagues.
“It’s pretty much been other lawmakers,” he said. “People at school have been very nice, my friends are very nice, my mother’s friends have been very accepting, too.”
Before Ash transitioned, Ms. Hunt said her child was often depressed, but in recent years he has flourished. He’s popular in school, has a busy social life and recently started a club for fellow students who are aspiring authors, Ms. Hunt said.
Check out the whole thing free from the paywall — it's far better than suggested by the terrible headline the Times slapped on it, "Nebraska’s Fight Over Transgender Care Turns Personal and Snarls Lawmaking," which sounds like the supporters of the filibuster have been getting snippy. Freaking New York Times.
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