BEATRICE – A bill that would turn History Nebraska…..the former Nebraska Historical Society…into an agency under control of the governor, has advanced to final reading. But not before it was amended.

LB 1169 was sponsored by Senator Steve Erdman, over concerns about past mismanagement of the agency.  Lawmakers approved an amendment offered by Senator Danielle Conrad on a vote of 35-0 vote…before advancing the amended bill on a 31-0 vote. Conrad’s amendment sought to ensure preservation of records and exhibits of Nebraska’s history are handled in a way that protects freedom of expression and academic freedom.

The bill’s sponsor, Erdman had spoken against Conrad’s amendment contending its provisions were already in the bill.  "For the life of me, I don't understand what the disconnect there, is. If you've read the bill...if you see what the language is, in the bill...why you would introduce such an amendment that is already included in the bill, makes no sense. This amendment is not needed."

Senator John Cavanaugh acknowledged there have been past management problems with History Nebraska, but pointed out that only hours earlier, the legislature approved a new director of the Nebraska Health and Human Services system despite evidence of past problems with the nominee.  "We had a whole conversation about an agency head, with an agency that has had problems with lack of oversight....and we had concerns that were raised, and everyone wanted to just move on, from them. Maybe the problems that were experienced at History Nebraska are akin to the problems we're experiencing at HHS because the folks on the board are behaving much like the folks here on HHS....and we just kind of want to move on from stuff and not stare directly at our flaws."

Under LB 1169, the board of History Nebraska would be appointed by the governor as a code agency, subject to legislative confirmation and a director of the agency would oversee its operations.  That director would be barred from serving on any charitable group that supports History Nebraska.

Erdman brought the bill as an attempt to bring accountability to the agency.  LB 1169 needs to clear a final vote of approval before being sent to the governor for a signature.