The Nebraska Legislature Wednesday advanced to final consideration a bill requiring DNA samples from criminal defendants when they’re charged instead after they’ve been convicted, but the vote followed lengthy debate and parliamentary maneuvering.
Omaha Senator Robert Hilkemann said he proposed the bill as a way to help clear up cold cases, such as rape, by getting DNA from newly arrested individuals not in the existing DNA data bank.
Opponents were led by Justine Wayne, another Omaha senator and one of just 2 blacks in the Unicameral, who said both liberals and conservatives should oppose the bill because it’s government overreach that disproportionately affects minorities.
When supporters tried to end debate with a cloture vote, they could muster only 31 votes – 2 shy of the number needed.
They finally got the last 2 when Senators Rob Clements and Patty Pansing Brooks switched from no to yes, each saying the major reason was to give Hilkeman more time to try to reach a compromise with opponents.
After the cloture vote, the bill advanced to final round 26–15 with neither flipper voting for it. Pansing Brooks, who is term-limited and running for Congress, warned that she’ll oppose the bill and cloture on its final reading if it’s still in its present form.