Advice to the Legislature

“Get government off our backs” has been a rallying cry of the 1980s, but fifty years ago there

were similar calls to reduce the number of laws on the books. A 1931 editorial at the

beginning of the legislative session suggested:

“The Legislature ‘sits’–if they will just remain ‘sitting,’ sign the payroll bill at the end of the

session and busy themselves in the meantime in wielding the pruning knife on the foot-thick

statute book, they will please us mightily.

“But we have no misapprehension about the program. We are entirely confident that of the

hundred members in the house there will be ninety-nine who have a pet bill which he will

duly present to the sifting committee. It is a certainty that a large number of this number will

sift through the sifting committee and eventually, in all probability, be added to the long list

of laws now in the big book.

“We have heretofore discussed various senseless laws now in the books and suggest their

immediate repeal. There are laws which never have been enforced, because they are silly

laws. Why permit them to remain on the books? And there is a reason why these laws

should be repealed. The wise farmer culls poor producers out of the cow herd. The culling

process is carried further and includes innumerable articles, even reaching the home and

applying to carpets, rugs, furniture, and dishes. A broken-down chair goes into the discard

because it is a useless, room-taking article. A broken-down law is far worse than the other.

“It is presumed that law-abiding citizens will respect and obey ALL laws. There is no other

choice. We cannot pick out our favorite laws and obey them and refuse to obey others that

do not meet our personal approval. A law is defined by Mr. Webster as ‘a rule of action

established by authority,’ or an ‘edict.’ We must obey governmental edicts or the whole fabric

of our government is torn apart and chaos reigns.

“A disregard of any kind of law breeds disrespect for other laws and eventually disrespect for

government itself. It is not hard to follow the primrose path once one has taken the first step.

The other steps are increasingly easy. It is just that way with respect to the observance of


“We do not propose any laws for the consideration of the present legislature and we will be

glad to O.K. the payroll at the end of the session if they will just start right in now with the

culling process and fail to stop until the job is well done.”

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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