Sen. Ernie Chambers today reminded colleagues he’s back, declared he’s no Martin Luther King, Jr. and succeeded in amending legislation he’s trying to kill.
Chambers has launched a filibuster against LB 52, a bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial that would allow inmates at the McCook Work Camp to work for non-profit agencies.
Chambers claims the bill simply would allow organizations to use slave labor.
During his filibuster, Chambers stated he would have his say about the legislation no matter what his fellow senators might think.
“Even if the people in the immediate audience don’t pay attention; I don’t care whether you listen or not,” Chambers said. “There is a charge to keep, I have, and I’m going to do it. You all didn’t put me in this legislature. People like you all put me out through term limits. But, I came back, didn’t I?”
Legislative term limits forced Chambers to leave the Unicameral. But, after sitting out a term, Chambers successfully ran for his former Omaha legislative seat.
Chambers served notice he wasn’t interested in compromising on the bill.
“And I will not give my enemies the pleasure of walking on me; and they are my enemies,” Chambers stated. “Look how they treat us and I’m supposed to say like Martin Luther King I love them. My name is not Martin Luther King. My name is Ernie Chambers. And I’m not Martin Luther King. I am me.”
Chambers has offered amendment after amendment in an effort to kill the legislation. One amendment won approval. It would prohibit any agency that discriminates based on sexual orientation from participating in the program.
Chambers insisted the amendment would merely follow the logic of current state law.
“The hate crime law makes it a hate crime to commit a bad act against somebody based on sexual orientation. Oh, you all didn’t know it was already in the statute books. Something got slipped by you in the night when you were doing what you shouldn’t have been doing,” Chambers said, before singing to bring home his point, “’When you were slippin’ where you shouldn’t have been slippin’, yeah.’ Then somebody else was putting things on the books that needed to be there.”
The amendment passed on a 29-5 vote. Three members of the Unicameral abstained from voting. Twelve senators were not in the chamber to vote.
AUDIO: Sen. Ernie Chambers offers LA 15 to LB 52. [10 min.]