At the Unicameral, the ACLU of Nebraska has put together our strongest advocacy team to date to implement our diverse and wide ranging civil rights agenda. Our client is the Constitution and our work impacts our most cherished rights, fundamental freedoms, and the civil liberties of all Nebraskans. We are effective due to our hard work, policy and legal expertise, and the strong voices and unyielding activism of thousands of supporters.
Working together we scored critical victories for civil rights and civil liberties in the 2016 legislative session. Thank you for letting your voice be heard and for making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of Nebraskans!
- Over 861 messages were sent directly to lawmakers from ACLU supporters that live in every legislative district and that stretch across our great state from Omaha to Scottsbluff.
- Over 4,281 signatures of online activists were collected on our petitions to advance civil rights for LGBT people, protect reproductive freedom, reform our prisons and end solitary confinement for youth.
Thanks to strong leadership from across the political spectrum Nebraska's unique Unicameral Legislature once again made incredible strides towards ensuring that the rights of all Nebraskans were respected by all Nebraskans. Here's a brief recap of our historic victories and a brief list of some unfinished business we will recommit our energies to next session and beyond.
Here’s just a few of the victories that were possible thanks to your support:
Blocking a license to discriminate
Opponents were well funded and well organized, but in the end we helped lead the fight to stop a bill that would give child welfare agencies a license to discriminate against LGBT foster and adoptive parents.
Blocking restrictions on abortion
Nebraska already has some of the most severe restrictions on abortion. That didn’t stop lawmakers from introducing several bills that would have banned specific methods of abortion or placed burdensome regulations on abortion providers. Once again we led the way to stop these state level attacks on abortion and reproductive health, and working together we kept politicians out of the exam room this session.
Reforming Juvenile Solitary Confinement
Amongst other important reforms in the juvenile justice system, lawmakers responded to the ACLU’s groundbreaking report on juvenile solitary confinement by creating a uniform definition for solitary confinement of youth and requiring oversight and data reporting every time a child is placed in solitary.
Ending Policing for Profit
The ACLU was the undisputed leader in organizing an impressive and diverse coalition of state and local organizations from across the political spectrum to reform Nebraska’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Nebraska's law is being hailed as among one of the strongest reforms in the country and properly restores balance. The reform ensures law enforcement must secure a criminal conviction before seizing the private property of our citizens and visitors. The measure also established a robust reporting requirement to ensure transparency in the system moving forward.
Reforms to Police Practices & Criminal Justice
Body-worn cameras have been a hot issue around the country and when Senators wanted to establish first-of-their-kind minimum guidelines for law enforcement agencies, they called the ACLU. Working side by side with law enforcement we negotiated successful polices for body worn cameras and supported long overdue reforms to make the grand jury process more transparent. Finally, we scored another victory to ensure that law enforcement must use modern best practices for eyewitness identification.
Taking Control of Our Privacy
Four Senators from across the political spectrum stepped forward and introduced state level privacy protections for students, workers, and to curb mass surveillance joining a nationwide campaign to transform America’s privacy laws. We scored a key victory for employee privacy by passing a law that prohibits an employer from asking for your personal electronic account and social media information.
Protections for Working Women and Moms
Nebraska has lagged behind sister states in closing the pay gap. This year lawmakers added to last year’s resounding victory for working moms by strengthening our state level equal pay laws.
Professional Licenses for Dreamers
The Nebraska Legislature overrode Governor Ricketts’ veto of a bill that will allow work-authorized young immigrants to obtain professional licenses. Communities around Nebraska will benefit from more teachers, social workers, medical professionals and other employees needed to grow our state! Other attacks based on intolerance and Islamophobia, like a bill impacting refugee agencies, were also defeated.
Defeated Voter ID
Once again, we defeated voter ID and have helped to maintain a robust democracy in Nebraska!
The following bills received strong support in the public and in the legislature but failed to make it across the finish line. No legislative session would be complete without a few areas where we still need to show lawmakers that Nebraskans support fundamental fairness & basic rights!
Equality Agenda for LGBT Rights
While more business and faith leaders have supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Nebraskans than ever before, we must continue to educate lawmakers about the need to ensure no one is fired for who they are or who they love.
Not only must we hold back against further restrictions to reproductive freedom, we must roll back the restrictions that make Nebraska hostile to abortion access and double our efforts to enact common sense policies for comprehensive sex education and contraception access.
Thousands of Nebraskans will continue to go without compassionate care as the medical marijuana bill was narrowly defeated on procedural grounds.
In addition to thanking senators for defending civil rights and liberties, consider writing a letter to the editor to let your neighbors know that you want freedom defended.
Over the summer, we will be participating in interim studies to further explore these civil liberties issues and more. You can support this work by joining the over 2,000 Nebraskans who make gifts to the ACLU. The more donors and activists that make gifts, contact elected officials and speak publicly about critical civil rights issues, the more ambitious our 2017 legislative agenda can be!
Using a sophisticated program of integrated advocacy we will continue our work in the courts and in community education as well. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news, ways to engage, and all the latest updates.
Defenders of freedom tuned into our Facebook live Q&A with Executive Director Danielle Conrad and Government Liaison Spike Eickholt to ask questions about the 2016 legislative session.