Voters to be asked about "historic" horseracing; ban on sex orientation job discrimination fails

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April 7, 2014 - 6:46pm

Nebraskans will be asked in November if they want to legalize a new kind of betting at the state’s horseracing tracks. And a ban on job discrimination based on sexual orientation falls short. Fred Knapp of NET News has details in this legislative update.


Nebraska voters will be asked to add two crucial words to the state constitution in November: "Or replayed." – as in allowing betting on live or replayed horseraces. Those replayed races – video clips of unidentified previously-run contests -- would displayed on betting terminals opponents say amount to slot machines. Supporters say the proposal will help revive Nebraska’s struggling horseracing industry. When they tried to get the amendment on the ballot last week, they fell one vote short. Monday, Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski changed his vote and supported putting the amendment on the ballot. "I felt like I was voting for the people voting, not for an expansion of gambling, to the degree that I’ll walk into a voting booth when this comes up and vote against it myself," Kolowski said.

The approval came on the second attempt at final passage for the proposal, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh.

Lawmakers spent most of Monday morning and afternoon debating a proposed ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The debate occurred on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case from New Mexico based on a similar law. New Mexico’s Human Rights Commission fined a photographer there $6,600 for refusing to photograph a commitment ceremony between two women. The women later waived the fine.

Omaha Sen. Health Mello supported the proposal. Mello said his wife asked him an important question about their 9 week old daughter: "Don’t you want to be able to explain to your daughter 16 years from now that you did the right thing? That you were on the right side of history when it comes to dealing with discrimination?" Mello recounted.

Omaha Sen. John Nelson opposed the bill. Nelson said just because people object to adding sexual orientation to the list of legally protected groups does not mean they are bigots. "Sexual orientation differs from non-behavioral, non-morally relevant characteristics such as race, sex and national origin. Those are defined. Those are visible. They have a proper in statute because they’re not subject to interpretation," he said.

Late Monday afternoon, senators supporting the proposal tried to shut off debate and vote on the bill. They attracted 26 votes, to 22 opposed. But it would have taken 33 to break the filibuster and move ahead with the bill.








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