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Special Session called for

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State Senator Megan Hunt pushes for a special session:

Dear friends and neighbors,
Today I proudly joined 10 of my fellow senators in beginning the process of convening a special session to address the racial inequity in our criminal justice system, racial inequity in employment and housing, and the racial inequity of the impact of COVID-19.

Many people, including some of my colleagues, have asked me “Why not just wait until next session? It’s only four months away…We just got done with a very intense legislative session…There’s an election this fall…wouldn’t it make more sense to wait…” …etc., etc.

My answer to the question of “Why not just wait?” is simple: Nebraskans who are impacted by systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic cannot wait.

  • Black and brown people who are subjected to disproportionate and higher rates of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration cannot wait.
  • Latinos and immigrants and workers who are forced to work in dangerous conditions at meatpacking plants, without adequate protection from infection of the coronavirus cannot wait.
  • Minority workers who are subjected to systemic racism on the job—deliberate and subtle—cannot wait.
  • People who lost employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing evictions cannot wait.

 

So “Why not wait?” is not the question that should be asked. The question that should be asked is “WHY are WE waiting?”

All of us Senators were sent here to serve our constituents. To serve them we need to address the problems they actually face when they face them.  Our constituents should not have to wait for us to do our job. Nebraskans want us to act because they need us to act. And we say, they cannot wait.

The inequity in nearly all parts of life for people of color is here, TODAY, whether we wait or not. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, is here, TODAY, whether we wait or not. The Governor and some of our colleagues would like to pretend these problems do not exist. They think we can ignore them until they go away. They think that nonprofits and friendly neighbors will be able to pick up all of the responsibility. And in our legislative session, when we came back in the middle of this pandemic and racial crisis, instead of addressing the problems that our constituents are asking us to resolve, the Governor and his supporters passed an unconstitutional abortion restriction bill.  They passed a make-believe property tax solution bill.  They passed a business tax incentive bill for big corporate interests.  All while ignoring the poor, people of color, and those suffering from economic uncertainty because of this unprecedented pandemic.

Whether it was blocking Senator Cavanaugh’s LB 1060 to help black people who experience discrimination on the job just because of the texture of their hair, or blocking Senator Vargas who was merely asking for a hearing to listen meat packing plant workers who have been laid out by COVID-19, the Legislature failed Nebraskans time and again.

In our recent session, the Legislature failed to address the real immediate problems many Nebraskans face in housing, unemployment, dangerous and unhealthy conditions of employment, and systemic racism.  That is why we should go into special session now.  This is a tool in the toolbox. And when there are tools in the toolbox, I use them.

What matters is that the people who are asking for help know that their voices are being heard.  And that their voices are being heard now.  And that is why we must act now by going into special session to enact legislation to help them. Nebraskans should not have to wait any longer.

 

All the best,
Meg

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