Despite a last minute filibuster by the bill's opponents, Nebraska's LB 671, a legislative bill by state senator Ernie Chambers to permanently end the state's mountain lion hunting season just two years after it was approved, successfully passed out of the state senate with a 28 to 13 vote today.
LB 671 now heads to Governor Dave Heineman's desk, who has up to five days to act on the bill. Jen Rae Wang, the governor's communications director, declined to say Monday what action Governor Heineman might take.
The bill's supporters fell short of the 33 votes needed to pass LB 671 with an emergency clause, which would put it into effect as soon as Governor Heineman signs it or his veto is overridden. They were also unable to meet the 30-vote minimum that would be needed to override the Governor's veto.
LB 671's opponents argued the bill could open the door to national animal welfare groups that want to push for new hunting restrictions on other animals.
"I think that's a very slippery slope for us to be heading down," said Senator Beau McCoy, (R-Omaha) who was one of the Senators that participated in last week's filibuster.
Senator Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha) introduced the bill because he said the state has a duty to protect mountain lions, which are native to Nebraska but were virtually wiped out by settlers.
Nebraska's Game and Parks officials estimate that 22 mountain lions live in Nebraska's Pine Ridge area, where 102 hunting permits were issued during this year's lion hunt.