Nebraska lawmakers propose D.C. statehood resolution 2023

Nebraska politicians are supporting the 51st state movement.

If enacted by the Legislature, Lincoln State Sens. Danielle Conrad and George Dungan’s Legislative Resolution 146 would urge Nebraska’s congressional delegation to endorse statehood for the nation’s capital. U.S. Reps. Mike Flood, Don Bacon, Adrian Smith, Deb Fischer, and Pete Ricketts might benefit from this non-binding suggestion.

On May 11, Conrad proposed the resolution to improve democracy and guarantee equal rights.

“I think that each state has a part to play, as do our federal representatives to try and correct a historic wrong in regards to the legal status of residents in our nation’s capital,” Conrad told the Nebraska Examiner.

Washington, D.C. has one non-voting House delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and no Senate representation.

Encouragement and motivation

Dungan said direct representation helps the area set its own laws without being “mired” in national politics.

Congress can “veto” D.C. legislation, such those approved by the D.C. City Council, like a governor or president.

In February, the U.S. House voted against D.C.’s immigration and criminal punishment policy amendments. Congress also banned marijuana sales and barred the district from utilizing Medicaid funding for low-income abortions.

Dungan said the resolution motivates.

“Obviously, an LR can’t bind people to anything, but I think that the information contained in the resolution, if read, is certainly compelling,” Dungan said.

Former ACLU of Nebraska leader Conrad stated that D.C. had a large Black population, making civil rights a topic.

“I just feel like it’s important to put our politics aside and try and address that historical injustice, because it’s just a matter of fundamental fairness for me,” Conrad added.

Statehood law

The U.S. House has voted two historic resolutions supporting D.C. statehood, first in June 2020 and again in April 2021. Bacon, former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, and Smith voted against both.

Flood, Fischer, and Ricketts have never voted on identical legislation in the Senate.

Bacon stated in 2021 that D.C. statehood had three difficulties, including the Twenty-Third Amendment and a constitutional provision.

The Twenty-Third Amendment gave D.C. presidential electors, but Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 determines federal district size.

Bacon opposed statehood unless that section and amendment were changed.

Conrad claimed historians and legal academics had “unequivocally answered” legal concerns.

Conrad said D.C. citizens deserve full political engagement and representation.

“It’s that simple,” she added.

She advised Nebraska’s congressional delegation to “think deeply” about how to achieve complete and equal voting rights and representation.

Table seating

Bacon called earlier efforts a “liberal political power grab” to add two more Senate Democrats.

Conrad and Dungan, two registered Democrats in the ostensibly nonpartisan Legislature, argued that representation is more important than politics.

D.C. has a population greater than Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, and North Dakota and has voted for statehood in the past.

Before returning to Nebraska, Dungan attended law school in D.C.

Dungan said it stems from a great yearning to hear people’s voices. Making sure people are heard has been my Northstar for a lot of my politics.

Conrad requested that the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee postpone a substantive hearing until 2024 owing to the “dynamics” of the 2023 session, which ends in a week.

“We’ll look forward to digging into the issue more over the interim and trying to build support for that hearing next year,” Conrad added.

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