Heated debate continues Wednesday after bill stalls Tuesday night

LINCOLN, Neb. — In a Tuesday night debate that occasionally turned personal, a bill proposed by Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh in the Nebraska Legislature stalled out, falling three votes short of halting a filibuster led by Sen. Julie Slama.

Cavanaugh pleaded with Nebraska lawmakers to not "hurt these kids if you don't like me," before a 30-11 vote ensured the fate of LB376, which aimed to expand services to 850 families of developmentally disabled children. Supporters of the bill needed 33 votes to end Slama's filibuster.

The bill would have allowed the state to seek a federal waiver for a pilot project to provide respite care and other services to help keep developmentally disabled children at home instead of placing them in paid care centers.

The proposal, Health and Human Services Committee, would have provided about $10,000 worth of services per family, and would have reduced the state’s long-running waiting list for such services, now containing 3,000 children and adults.

Slama said that while addressing the waiting list was a worthy goal, the $11.6 million cost of the bill over two years didn’t rise to among the state’s top priorities. She also questioned why the new services weren’t needs based.

Cavanaugh accused Slama of “disingenuous” opposition. Cavanaugh and some other senators also complained that tax cuts were taking a higher priority than helping families and disabled children.

The debate spilled over into Wednesday morning's session, with Cavanaugh accusing senators of pulling their support of the bill due to their personal opinions of her.