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Nebraska Legislature

The Legislature of Nebraska is the U.S. state of Nebraska's legislative branch, seated at Nebraska's capital, Lincoln. It is unique for it is the only American state legislature that is unicameral.

Nebraska originally operated under a bicameral legislature. In 1934, an amendment was passed combining the House of Representatives and Senate into a single chamber. The new Legislature met for the first time in 1937. Though the name of the body is simply "the Legislature," members continue to be known as Senators.

The Nebraska Unicameral, as it is commonly known, includes forty-nine members, each chosen by a single-member district or constituency. Senators are chosen for four-year terms, with one-half of the seats being up for election every second year. No person may be a Senator unless he or she is a qualified voter, over the age of twenty-one, and a resident of the district for at least one year. Currently, Senators are limited by law to two terms.

The Unicameral is unique in another way: it is the only American state legislature that operates on a non-partisan basis. Rather than separate primaries held to choose Republican, Democratic, and other partisan contenders for a seat, Nebraska uses a single non-partisan primary, in which the top two vote-getters are entitled to run in the general election. There are no formal partisan alignments or groups within the Legislature.

The Legislature is presided over by a Speaker, but the day-to-day matters of the body are dealt with by the Executive Board. The Board includes the Speaker, a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and six other Senators. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson are chosen for two-year terms by the entire legislature. Senators are classified into three geographically based "caucuses"; each caucus elects two Board members. Finally, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee serves, but cannot vote on any matter, and can only speak on fiscal matters.

The Legislature is responsible for law-making in the state, but the Governor has the power to veto any bill. The Legislature may override a veto by a vote of three-fifths of its members. The Legislature also has the power, by a three-fifths vote, to propose a Constitutional Amendment to the voters, who decide upon it through a referendum.