(AP) -- Conservative Nebraska legislators are expected to just have enough votes Friday to pass a measure that combines a prohibition on gender affirming care for minors and a 12-week ban on abortion.
Since the hybrid measure passed Tuesday with a single vote, the mood at the Nebraska Capitol has been volatile. On the floor of the legislature, lawmakers have exchanged insults and vowed retribution. Protesters have also loudly expressed their displeasure in the days following the vote.
Machaela Cavanah, a senator from Omaha, has been leading an effort to filibuster almost every bill in this session - even those she supports - to protest against the ban on gender affirming care for minors. She has attacked conservatives for voting in favor of the hybrid bill, and warned that businesses, medical professionals and people will leave the state because of it.
Cavanaugh announced in early March she would "burn the session down over this bill," and she has followed through with a few progressive allies. They introduced hundreds of motions and amendments to slow down every bill, at every stage of discussion. This slowed the work of the Legislature.
She clashed the day after the lawmakers combined the abortion limitations with the trans health legislation with Senator Julie Slama who implied that conservatives supported the ban on gender affirming care as a retaliation against Cavanaugh. Slama pointed out that the original ban didn't have the required 33 votes to pass.
Slama: 'Machaela Cavanaugh then got up and started talking because she was so happy that the national media were here to give her more attention.' "So we have 33 votes."
Cavanaugh said that she would be willing to endure the scorn of conservatives.
She said, "But it will cost you something, my colleagues." I will take the entire time. The speaker will need every single minute to determine what is actually scheduled for these final few days.
Early this month, conservatives in the nonpartisan, one-house legislature announced that they would amend a trans health bill in order to include abortion restrictions. This bill would combine the two most controversial measures of the session.
This unconventional action was taken after conservatives failed in their attempt to pass a bill which would have prohibited abortions once cardiac activity is detected. This occurs around six weeks into pregnancy, when many women are unaware that they are pregnant. Nebraska bans abortions beginning at 20 weeks.
According to the rules of the legislature, a bill that fails to overcome a filibuster is deemed unfit for consideration. Conservatives surprised opponents by announcing a 12-week-long ban. Progressive legislators say that it was a sly way to force through a 12-week ban after the topic had failed. Conservatives view it as a reasonable compromise.
To end the debate on Friday, a supermajority vote of 33 is required. Then a simple majority (49 legislators) can pass the hybrid legislation. Republican Gov. Jim Pillen said that he will sign the bill into law. The bill will go into effect immediately because it has an emergency clause attached.