LINCOLN — Chaos erupted on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature on Thursday following a final-minute work to take into consideration an “olive branch” amendment on a bill to restrict some gender-affirming care for minors.

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, who introduced LB 574, speaks on her bill on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Legislative Bill 574, proposed by State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, would restrict puberty blockers, hormone therapies and genital or non-genital surgeries for minors with gender dysphoria. 

An amendment provided by Kauth, which she described as an “olive branch,” would have restricted only surgeries. Nevertheless, senators voted 11-28 against the amendment at Kauth’s request. 

All 32 Republican legislators and State Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha, a Democrat, voted 33-16 to finish debate and to advance LB 574 following Kauth committed to negotiating a final reading amendment. The Legislature is officially nonpartisan.

Chaotic ‘olive branch’ amendment

The 2023 legislative session has been defined by LB 574, with senators making use of the bill as a catalyst to bring the session to a close to standstill.

Senators have been scheduled to debate LB 574 for 4 hours ahead of Kauth could introduce a motion to finish debate. 

State Sens. George Dungan of Lincoln, John Fredrickson of Omaha, Megan Hunt of Omaha, Danielle Conrad of Lincoln and Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha, from left to appropriate, huddle togehter on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Nevertheless, with significantly less than 30 minutes remaining, State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha unexpectedly withdrew 3 priority motions that would postpone or kill the bill. This forced instant consideration of Kauth’s amendment.

“Let’s see the olive branch,” Hunt told Kauth.

But Kauth told Hunt, “We have our votes” for the major bill. She mentioned supporters would move ahead regardless of the “all of a sudden” adjust.

State Sen. John Arch of La Vista, speaker of the Legislature, place the Legislature into a 15-minute pause, and then State Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln referred to as for the Legislature to recess for an further 30 minutes.

This led to confusion, silence and huddles amongst crucial senators, casting doubt on the bill’s future. A adjust in help from just one particular senator would be sufficient to kill the bill.

State Sens. Jana Hughes of Seward and Tom Brandt of Plymouth, observed as achievable swing votes on LB 574, have been amongst these referred to as into conversations.

State Sen. John Arch of La Vista, speaker of the Legislature, speaks on the legislative floor on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

When senators returned, Arch mentioned he believed Kauth could take away the amendment and wanted to pause to counsel Kauth, a freshman legislator, on what selections she had with the legislation. 

Arch mentioned he asked Kauth not to withdraw the amendment and to take a vote.

“I do appreciate your patience with this,” Arch told legislators. “This is a complicated time. This is a complicated difficulty. And as they say, it impacts not only the public but also proceedings of the Legislature.”

Kauth mentioned the adjust from opponents was a “welcome surprise.” All through the very first round of debate, opponents blocked consideration of any amendments.

She encouraged senators to vote against her amendment Thursday. In exchange, she promised to negotiate probably a distinctive amendment for the third and final stage of debate.

State Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha mentioned the adjust is “better late than never” and improved than nothing at all, but he cautioned senators that any amendment on final reading will involve further procedural actions and further time.

Changed votes

Seven Democrats, who all oppose LB 574, took the olive branch, voting for Kauth’s amendment: State Sens. Carol Blood of Bellevue, Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha, Jen Day of Omaha, Jane Raybould of Lincoln, Tony Vargas of Omaha, Lynne Walz of Fremont and Anna Wishart of Lincoln.

State Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service)

4 senators who have cast pivotal votes for cloture indicated help for an amendment: State Sen. Myron Dorn of Adams, Brandt, Hughes and McDonnell.

Brandt, Dorn and McDonnell have been amongst 11 who voted for the amendment Thursday. They also mentioned they are open to thinking of a future amendment.

Hughes voted against the amendment in hopes of a distinctive, “better” measure. She mentioned this could involve a higher concentrate on mental wellness.

State Sen. Jana Hughes of Seward listens to debate on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

“I believe we can come collectively and make it improved,” Hughes mentioned. “You can just take out surgeries but you are nevertheless not addressing the difficulty.”

State Sen. Ray Aguilar of Grand Island also voted for the amendment but told the Nebraska Examiner he mistakenly believed Kauth was in favor of the measure. He mentioned he will take into consideration a future negotiated amendment.

‘We’re sick of it’

Supporters and opponents produced their pitches earlier in the day on LB 574.

Kauth mentioned the bill is made to prohibit “experimental” and “irreversible” procedures for minors whose brains are nevertheless increasing. She mentioned there are also restrictions for minors relating to tattoos, automobile seats, alcohol, smoking, helmets and particular films, and the procedures outlined in LB 574 need to fall into the identical category.

Physicians who present gender-affirming care have pushed back on the notion the procedures are “experimental” and “irreversible.”

State Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte tends to make a telephone contact through a mid-afternoon recess on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

State Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte criticized opponents for making use of LB 574 as the catalyst to filibuster all legislation. As of Thursday, the 61st day of the session, no bills have passed final reading.

“Frankly, we’re sick of it,” Jacobson mentioned.

State Sen. Christy Armendariz of Omaha, who voted for cloture but against the bill in the very first round of debate, told the Examiner that she holds off on deciding how to vote till following debate ends.

She mentioned that supporters, in this round of debate, came with a “better story” that was “more convincing.” She mentioned she lost trust in some opponents’ language a couple of weeks ago and was unable to decipher arguments they have been creating.

“When I’m attempting to evaluate the truth, due to the fact I do not have a dog in this fight, I have to go with my gut as a parent,” Armendariz mentioned. “As a parent, I’ve constantly told my little ones, ‘Don’t do something permanent to your physique, no matter what it is, till you are old sufficient to make that selection and your brain is completely created.’”

Armendariz mentioned she would not commit to voting one particular way or yet another in future debate. 

Prospective legal jeopardy

State Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha speaks on the floor of the Legislature on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

State Sens. George Dungan of Lincoln and John Cavanaugh mentioned the bill could be in legal jeopardy if passed, on Initial and Fourteenth Amendment grounds, for discriminating on the basis of sex.

John Cavanaugh mentioned a equivalent law in Arkansas, which is in the identical federal court circuit as Nebraska, is presently held up in court.

“[LB 574] will fail the identical test as the underlying law on the constitutional basis of discrimination in the federal court,” he mentioned.

He mentioned particular procedures would be prohibited for young children with gender dysphoria but not for cisgender young children. For instance, breast augmentation would be permitted for cisgender girls but not transgender girls.

State Sen. George Dungan of Lincoln speaks on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Dungan, relating to a future amendment, mentioned he accepts the notion of moving forward but that performing so “cannot involve harming people’s physical particular person or infringing upon their rights.”

“I do not believe that you are malicious,” Dungan told supporters of LB 574. “I believe you are attempting to aid. Please listen: do not be sympathetic or pity folks. Be empathetic and realize exactly where folks are coming from.”

By Editor

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