- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 20, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker who’s worried about the spread of the coronavirus called Wednesday for a legislative rule change that would allow state senators to vote on bills remotely when this year’s session resumes on July 20.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln, sent a memo to her fellow lawmakers arguing for the change. Legislative leaders have said the Nebraska Constitution requires state lawmakers to vote in-person.

Pansing Brooks made a similar argument in March, just before lawmakers briefly reconvened to approve emergency state funding to fight the coronavirus.

Lawmakers still met in-person those days, but Speaker Jim Scheer imposed rules to restrict their movement and limit access to the legislative chamber. A few senators chose not to attend, and Pansing Brooks argued that the constituents of those lawmakers need to be represented.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced earlier this week that local city councils, county commissions and school boards will have to meet in-person starting in July. He previously issued an executive order to let them meet through online video-conferencing, but said he will let that order expire at the end of June.

The last time lawmakers met for non-coronavirus-related issues was March 12.

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