A state senator today killed his bill that would expand where inmates at McCook Work Camp could work after an amendment was added that would prohibit participation by any agency that discriminates based on sexual orientation.
Sen. Mark Christensen gave notice early in the legislative day at the Capitol, telling Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams of York his intent for LB 52.
“Just lay the bill over. It’s dead.”
With that, Christensen ended debate on the bill that had been subjected to a prolonged filibuster by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha.
Chambers had stalled a vote on the bill for days, holding the legislature captive as he offered amendment after amendment and delved into varied philosophical musings.
Then, an amendment Chambers offered stuck.
The legislature voted 29-5 to add an amendment to LB 52 that would prohibit any organization that discriminates based on sexual orientation from participating. Three members of the Unicameral abstained from voting. Twelve senators were not in the chamber to vote.
Christensen failed to fight the amendment and did not immediate react after its approval yesterday. But, he said today he heard plenty about it after the legislative session.
“I’ve got text messages, stuff saying, you know, ‘Your bill’s gotten away from you. Kill it. It’s not worth saving anymore,’” Christensen told Nebraska Radio Network. “I had calls from pastors all over my district and others saying we just don’t need to go down this road. This is a road that Iowa went and ended up with gay marriage and just didn’t want to go that direction.”
Christensen said the bill is dead for this year. He said it would have allowed the inmates at McCook to expand their working environment and would have allowed non-profit organizations in the area, such as hospitals, to access needed labor.
Chambers had claimed the bill would have sanctioned slave labor.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]