Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, at the request of State Senator Beau McCoy, issued an opinion that municipalities, like Omaha and Lincoln, may NOT expand protected classes beyond what is already contained in state law. This could mean trouble for the new Omaha LGBT ordinance as well as anything Lincoln hopes to pass.
The AG said:
Nebraska law, like federal law recognizes and protects certain classifications of people from discrimination. And, Nebraska’s anti-discrimination provisions may be enforced by both the State and certain local political subdivisions. However, while the pertinent Nebraska statutes authorize local legislation on the same subject matter which is not inconsistent with the state’s civil rights classifications, they do not authorize political subdivisions in Nebraska, including municipalities, to expand protected classification beyond the scope of the civil rights classification created in state statute. (Emphasis added.)
You can read the full opinion in this pdf.
This could be a big deal for the Omaha ordinance, and those who try to eventually find it violates state statute.
And on the political end of things, this has the potential to keep the issue in the focus of the 2013 elections in Omaha.
More coming. Wanted to get this up asap.