The nonpartisan Nebraska State Capitol
The Nebraska State Capitol building. Photo by Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service

The University of Florida’s Faculty Senate approved a no-confidence vote on Thursday, Oct. 27, on the university president selection process that led to the naming of a sole finalist: U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Faculty voted 72-16 in an emergency meeting on the resolution, with some criticizing the search process and past statements Sasse made on issues, including LGBTQ rights. The resolution states the search process “undermined the trust and confidence” of the selection, with only a sole finalist named.

Sasse is expected to resign from Congress later this year if approved for the position — which could come on Tuesday, Nov. 1, when the UF Board of Trustees considers the position.

Read more from The Gainesville Sun’s Gershon Harrell here.

Herbster, Slama drop defamation lawsuits

Both former Nebraska GOP gubernatorial candidate Charles W. Herbster and State Sen. Julie Slama have dropped duel defamation lawsuits.

Herbster had sued Slama in April, accusing her of defamation over public allegations he had touched her inappropriately during a 2019 fundraising dinner. Slama counter-sued days later regarding the incident, which she confirmed earlier in an April 14 Nebraska Examiner story.

Eight women told the Examiner of Herbster’s behavior — which he denied — with Slama, and later another woman, speaking out by name.

Herbster and Slama did not comment on the matter, admit fault or discuss settlement terms if there were any.

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford here.

Lawsuit against UNL dismissed, deadline to appeal passes

The deadline to appeal a lawsuit alleging deliberate indifference in how University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials investigated a report of sexual misconduct has passed, and the case has been dismissed.

Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Rossiter Jr. ruled in September that a 2020 lawsuit failed to provide sufficient evidence that UNL violated its duty to guard students against sex-based discrimination. This is required under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX. 

Rossiter granted summary judgment to UNL and dismissed the case. The deadline to appeal the ruling passed earlier in October.

In recent years, multiple women have alleged UNL has systemic failures in how it investigates sexual misconduct on campus. However, most claims in similar lawsuits have been dismissed.

Read more from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Chris Dunker here, including the background on the case Rossiter decided and others.

Nebraska congressional delegation addresses attack on Pelosi family

Nebraska’s congressional delegation of five Republicans has offered prayers and well wishes for Paul Pelosi, the husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in the House. Paul Pelosi was attacked in his home on the morning of Friday, Oct. 28.

The state’s  U.S. House members — U.S. Reps. Mike Flood, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith — each offered prayers to the Pelosi family. Smith added he was troubled by the attack, and Bacon called for the attacker to be held accountable and put behind bars.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer also offered prayers that Paul Pelosi have a “speedy recovery” and added “violence of any kind is unacceptable and should be condemned.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse warned people must be cautious of anger and conspiracy theories — with the suspect arrested for the attack appearing to have made racist and rambling posts, including those that question the results of the 2020 election and that echoed QAnon conspiracy theories.

Sasse, too, offered prayers and said “every single American needs to be lowering the temperature. This is increasingly obvious: Disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage — the consequences are bloody and un-American.”

Read more from the Omaha World-Herald’s Jenna Ebbers here.

Republicans, Democrats optimistic for legislative wins

There is a larger-than-normal number of “hotly contested” legislative races in Nebraska, the Nebraska Examiner reports, with multiple candidates raising more than $100,000 in donations.

On top of deciding Nebraska’s future on issues like abortion and concealed carry of firearms, senators could also play a role in the selection of a new Clerk of the Legislature.

Both Republicans and Democrats remain optimistic of their hopes to expand their margins in the officially nonpartisan chamber of 49 senators. While they don’t organize by party, the senators are each registered as either a Republican (32) or Democrat (17).

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Paul Hammel, including the status of key races here.

Nebraska has an official state reptile: the Ornate Box Turtle

The state now has an official state reptile: the ornate box turtle.

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday, Oct. 28, signed the proclamation with students from Arbor Day Park Intermediate School in Blair. 

Due to single hinge shells, ornate box turtles can completely enclose their bodies from predators. Ornate box turtles are also Nebraska’s only terrestrial turtle, found in grasslands and prairies of Western Nebraska.

The ornate box turtle won a 2017 vote contest by the Game and Parks Commission for the recognition.

Read more from KETV-7 Omaha’s Josh Kristianto here.

Looking ahead
  • The University of Florida Board of Trustees will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 1, whether U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska should be the university’s next president. 
    • This follows protests after he was named the sole finalist for the position in early October. The University of Florida’s Faculty Senate also approved a no-confidence vote in the selection process 72-16 on Thursday, Oct. 27.
  • The Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations, Revenue and Health and Human Services Committees will host multiple hearings on Friday, Nov. 4, in the Nebraska State Capitol.
    • A joint Appropriations/Revenue hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 1113.
    • A Health and Human Services hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 1510.
    • An Appropriations hearing will begin at 11 a.m. in Room 1113.
    • A second Health and Human Services hearing will be at 1 p.m. in Room 1510.
    • A Revenue hearing will begin at 1 p.m. in Room 1524.
  • The upcoming election is on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
    • Nebraskans will decide, among many issues, the next governor; congressional, legislative and education leaders; whether Nebraska’s $9 minimum wage should be increased incrementally to $15 by 2026 and whether photo identification should be required to vote in Nebraska elections.
Zach Wendling is a senior journalism and political science double major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln focused on political, policy and governance reporting. He is the spring 2023 intern for the Nebraska Examiner and has been published in publications across the state as part of the Nebraska News Service. Wendling interned for The Hill and The News Station in Washington, D.C. and worked for The Daily Nebraskan at UNL. He is one of the founding members and inaugural president of UNL's new campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.