The Executive Board heard testimony May 6 on a proposed resolution that would “reaffirm” state senators’ oath of office and outline legislative positions on a list of perceived threats posed to the U.S. Constitution by the federal government.
Introduced by North Platte Sen. Mike Groene, the proposal would request cooperation from a number of state and federal office holders in “defending” the U.S. Constitution from what it characterizes as federal overreach into, among other matters, religious liberty, the right to bear arms, individual property rights and local control of elections.
Groene said the proposal would affirm that policy decisions should be made at the state level rather than the national level whenever possible. Several states are considering similar resolutions, he said, and Nebraskans want reassurance that senators are protecting their rights.
“[This is] a document to memorialize to the federal government our grievances of perceived and known federal encroachments on sovereign rights reserved to the 50 individual states … and against assault by the federal government on the individual liberties of the people of Nebraska,” he said.
Jennifer Hicks testified in support of the proposal, saying it’s “imperative” that Nebraska senators go on the record in defense of the U.S. Constitution. She said President Biden’s recent assertion that gun ownership is a public health crisis is an example of a threat to liberty.
“LR107 is necessary as a response to the clearly stated threats that have been posed to our Second Amendment rights,” Hicks said.
Also in support was Kathleen Kauth of Omaha. She said LR107 would help ensure the state’s ability to control its own elections and bolster religious liberty.
“This resolution is essentially a statement on where Nebraskans stand on the insidious erosion of our constitution by the Left,” Kauth said.
Ben Stangl of Fort Calhoun also testified in favor of the resolution, which he said would demonstrate “unified support” for the U.S. Constitution by Nebraska residents. Legitimate power at the federal level is derived only from consent of the governed, he said.
Dr. Michelle Walsh, a Lincoln pediatrician testifying on behalf of the Nebraska Medical Association, expressed concern that the proposal could encourage vaccine hesitation in the state. The resolution contains a section stating that lawmakers “explicitly reject the idea of vaccine passports.”
Walsh said the resolution could give the impression that the Legislature does not support existing school vaccine requirements in state law.
“It would be unfortunate if the Legislature decides to further politicize public health,” she said.
Mar Lee of OutNebraska also testified in opposition, saying that a section of the resolution seeking to protect “traditional religious beliefs” regarding the “sanctity of life and sexual mores” is especially problematic.
“Nebraska, like the rest of the United States, is a pluralistic state and not a theocracy,” Lee said. “There is not one religious tradition, but many — each with its own set of values. Whose traditional values do you purport to uphold?”
The committee took no immediate action on the proposal.