Nebraska Lawmakers Begin Session With Abortion, Gun Bills

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers kicked off a new session Wednesday with contentious abortion and gun-rights measures and an expected focus on how to spend more than $1 billion in pandemic relief aid that has left the state flush with money. The 60-day short session will feature debates over taxes, prison policy, state spending and social issues. Lawmakers introduced 107 bills and two proposed constitutional amendments on their first day, foreshadowing a busy and likely heated session. “We have a lot to do this year,” said Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers, of Lincoln. Lawmakers will consider a “heartbeat bill” similar to laws in place in 15 other states, although courts have blocked such measures in all except for Texas and Oklahoma . The measure would bar anyone from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Current medical technology can sense flutters as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when an embryo isn’t yet considered a fetus by the medical profession and doesn’t have a heart. “Nebraska is a pro-life state,” said Republican Sen. Julie Slama, who introduced the measure with 20 cosponsors. Slama said the bill “is an absolute necessity to protect innocent life.” Proponents in Nebraska and across the country hope for a legal challenge that will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, where they see the court’s conservative majority ending the nationwide right to abortion that was established by its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Another state lawmaker, Democratic Sen. […]

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