As we drove around the state capital, Lincoln, I noticed a very tall structure in the distance, Kimmer informed me that the building was the Nebraska State Capital building and was actually the tallest building in Lincoln, one of the tallest in the state and was the second tallest state Capital building in the United States, and we were gonna see it from the ground floor up.
While the building was cool, in fact very interesting, what was more compelling to us was the Nebraska legislature itself. Nebraska legislature is the only unicameral body in US state or federal government.
Uni-what? Uni-cameral which means simply one-chamber. So, Nebraska does not have a house and senate, they don’t even have a formal two-party system. In regional elections for state government, the top two candidates to receive votes in the primary – whether they are Republican, Democrat, Green or Whig – run against each other in the open election.
They were not always unicameral. The state made the change during The Great Depression as a cost-saving effort. Apparently, this model is also more efficient.
And, we know what you are thinking – because we thought it too. How can they keep the checks and balances in place with only one house? The people that’s how! The residents of the state have a voice on all proposed bills, and the state maintains an open, easy-to-follow procedure that leads to greater public awareness.
Now, we’re not proposing a new form. Though we all know that our federal two-party system has proven itself to be flawed – no matter with which side you align yourself. We just feel lucky to have stopped to see this unique government structure in person. It really opened our eyes to a different way of legislating FOR the people.