LINCOLN — Nebraskans concerned that partisan influences are growing in the State Legislature have formed a group focused on preserving the body’s nonpartisan structure and traditions.
Nathan Leach of Kearney, the group’s founder, said Nonpartisan Nebraska aims to combat “eroding civility and increased partisanship” in the Legislature through dialogue, education, reform efforts, and historical and scientific research.
Leach, who will serve as the group’s executive director, said the idea grew out of his experience with partisan politics while working as a page in the Arizona State Legislature in 2015.
“Everything lawmakers did was determined by the ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to their name, not what was best for their constituents,” he said, comparing that with the Nebraska Legislature, where political parties are not part of the legislative structure and senators are elected without party labels.
The group’s board of directors includes former State Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis and Kearney City Councilwoman Tami James Moore.
In a statement, Davis said the Nebraska Legislature has been a model for how people can work together without “the iron shackles of partisan politics.” But he said he believes that vision is under threat.
“Educating both the public and those in power about the strengths and virtues of Nebraska’s unique approach to civil discourse, genuine problem solving, and putting the needs of Nebraskans ahead of those of party bosses is essential,” he said.