Last year, supporters fell one vote short of the total they needed to overcome a filibuster. This year, they fell three votes short.
“It’s very disappointing to be that close and I’m sad for the motorcycle riders across the state,” Sen. John Lowe, Sr. of Kearney tells reporters.
Lowe sponsored Legislative Bill 368, which would have lifted the requirement that motorcycle riders 21 and older wear helmets. It would have kept the requirement in place for those under 21. Children under six would have been prohibited from riding a motorcycle.
Lowe says a count on Monday indicated he had the 33 votes needed to end a filibuster and go to a vote on the bill. A year ago, Lowe got 32 votes with a senator who supported the measure absent. Lowe convinced Speaker Jim Scheer to allow the bill to return for further debate Wednesday afternoon. But, when the vote on cloture took place, 30 senators voted to end debate, 15 voted to uphold the filibuster, and three senators abstained.
Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha says he wasn’t sure he had the votes to uphold his filibuster until the tally was actually taken.
“Well, I wasn’t sure where that vote count was to be honest with you and I knew it was going to be very close,” Hilkemann says.
The issue might well be dead this session, but it will return, according to Lowe.
“I believe the motorcycle riders will find somebody to carry the bill next year, whether it’s me or somebody else,” Lowe says. “They want their freedoms restored to them.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]