A Uniquely Nebraska Holiday: George Norris Day

Murray, NEB- Most Americans, even most Nebraskans, aren’t aware of the uniquely Nebraskan holiday celebrated every year on January 5th. January 5, 2022 marks the 85th George Norris Day celebrated in the State of Nebraska. It also marks the Nebraska Unicameral’s first day of session for the new year.

Norris is considered to be the father of the unicameral, a champion of nonpartisanship, and a progressive firebrand.

Nebraska revised statute details the accomplishments for which Norris should be recognized by Nebraskans and all Americans. Accomplishments include the establishment of “a nonpartisan unicameral legislative body for the State of Nebraska,” creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, work in rural electrification, and passage of the 20th amendment to the United States Constitution.

Though he has many accomplishments both in the state and federally, Norris’s unique vision for the state legislature is the most widely renowned. In 1934, several ballot initiatives drafted and backed by the U.S. Senator Norris, created a nonpartisan unicameral legislature. The unicameral portion meaning it would only operate with one house instead of a house and a senate. Nebraska is the only state in the union to do this. Nebraska is also the only state to have a completely nonpartisan legislature. This means Senators or candidates aren’t sorted as republicans or democrats but as 49 independent leaders. As the unicameral marks another year in session and begins to debate the issues of the state, George Norris day reminds us of our uniquely Nebraska values.