State government

The first state constitution was adopted in 1866; a second, adopted in 1875, is still in effect. A 1919–20 constitutional convention proposed—and voters passed—41 amendments; by January 2003, the document had been revised an additional 219 times.

Nebraska's legislature is unique among the states; since 1934, it has been a unicameral body of 49 members elected on a nonpartisan basis. Members, who go by the title of senator, are chosen in even-numbered years for four-year terms. Legislative sessions begin in early January each year and are limited to 90 legislative days in odd-numbered years and to 60 legislative days in even-numbered years. Sessions may be extended by a four-fifths vote of members. Special sessions, not formally limited in duration, may be called by petition of two-thirds of the legislators. Legislators must be qualified voters, at least 21 years old, and should have lived in their district for a year prior to election. The legislative salary was $12,000 in 2002, unchanged from 1999.

Elected executives are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and attorney general, all of whom serve four-year terms. The governor and lieutenant governor are jointly elected; each must be a US citizen for at least five years, at least 30 years old, and have been a resident and citizen of Nebraska for at least five years. After serving two consecutive terms, the governor is ineligible for the office for four years. In 2002 the governor's salary was $65,000, unchanged from 1999.

A bill becomes law when passed by a majority of the legislature and signed by the governor. If the governor does not approve, the bill is returned with objections, and a three-fifths vote of the members of the legislature is required to override the veto. A bill automatically becomes law if the governor does not take action within five days of receiving it.

A three-fifths majority of the legislature is required to propose an amendment to the state constitution. The people may propose an amendment by presenting a petition signed by 10% of total votes for governor at last election. The amendments are then submitted for approval at the next regular election or at a special election that can be called by a four-fifths vote of the legislature.

Voters in Nebraska must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, and state residents. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those officially found mentally incompetent.