Nebraska State Constitution Article III-1

Article III-1


Legislative authority; how vested; power of initiative; power of referendum.

The legislative authority of the state shall be vested in a Legislature consisting of one chamber. The people reserve for themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the Constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the Legislature, which power shall be called the power of initiative. The people also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section, or part of any act passed by the Legislature, which power shall be called the power of referendum.



1. Grant of power

2. Limitations on exercise of power

3. Delegation of power

4. Miscellaneous

1. Grant of power

The statutes which give the Court of Industrial Relations jurisdiction over public employees are not unconstitutional. American Fed. of S., C. & M. Emp. v. Department of Public Institutions, 195 Neb. 253, 237 N.W.2d 841 (1976).

A grant of administrative authority is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. Blackledge v. Richards, 194 Neb. 188, 231 N.W.2d 319 (1975).

The right of the people to exercise the initiative and referendum is specifically reserved to them. Klosterman v. Marsh, 180 Neb. 506, 143 N.W.2d 744 (1966).

The Legislature, subject only to the initiative and referendum, and constitutional inhibitions, and provided that legislation is for a public purpose, has an unlimited field within which to legislate. Power Oil Co. v. Cochran, 138 Neb. 827, 295 N.W. 805 (1941).

Right of local self-government in cities and towns existed prior to present Constitution, is vested in people of respective municipalities, and cannot be taken away by Legislature. State ex rel. Smyth, Attorney General v. Moores, 55 Neb. 480, 76 N.W. 175 (1898), overruled in Redell v. Moores, 63 Neb. 219, 88 N.W. 243 (1901).

2. Limitations on exercise of power

Under this provision, a legislature may not attempt to restrict the constitutional power of a succeeding legislature to legislate. State ex rel. Stenberg v. Moore, 249 Neb. 589, 544 N.W.2d 344 (1996).

In the creation of a new executive department, a two-thirds majority of all members elected to the Legislature is required. State ex rel. Howard v. Marsh, 146 Neb. 750, 21 N.W.2d 503 (1946).

Restrictions and limitations of the Constitution apply with equal force to legislative proceedings under the unicameral system as they did under the bicameral system. Mekota v. State Board of Equalization & Assessment, 146 Neb. 370, 19 N.W.2d 633 (1945).

Constitution does not define, but limits, the powers of the Legislature; otherwise as to powers of city council under home rule charter. Consumers Coal Co. v. City of Lincoln, 109 Neb. 51, 189 N.W. 643 (1922).

The 1934 amendment to this section giving all legislative powers to the Unicameral applied to Article IV, section 15, of the Constitution so as to require all orders, resolutions, and votes of the one house Legislature to be presented to the Governor and this controlled procedure as to the 1969 resolution retroceding jurisdiction over Indian reservations. Omaha Tribe of Nebraska v. Village of Walthill, 334 F.Supp. 823 (D. Neb. 1971).

3. Delegation of power

The power of the Legislature to create a body with power to deal with labor relations of governmental entities and departments does not depend upon Article XV, section 9, of the Nebraska Constitution, but it exists by virtue of Article III, section 1. Orleans Education Assn. v. School Dist. of Orleans, 193 Neb. 675, 229 N.W.2d 172 (1975).

Sections 79-486 and 79-4,102 do not unlawfully delegate legislative authority and are not unconstitutional. Mann v. Wayne County Board of Equalization, 186 Neb. 752, 186 N.W.2d 729 (1971).

Adoption of existing law or regulation by reference does not delegate legislative power to administrative officer to create criminal offenses. State v. Workman, 186 Neb. 467, 183 N.W.2d 911 (1971).

Nebraska Clean Waters Commission Act did not delegate legislative authority in violation of this section. State ex rel. Meyer v. Duxbury, 183 Neb. 302, 160 N.W.2d 88 (1968).

Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967 was not an unlawful delegation of legislative power to the United States. Anderson v. Tiemann, 182 Neb. 393, 155 N.W.2d 322 (1967).

Statute authorizing transfer of land from a nonaccredited to an accredited high school district did not violate this section. De Jonge v. School Dist. of Bloomington, 179 Neb. 539, 139 N.W.2d 296 (1966).

Legislature cannot delegate to administrative agency powers conferred solely upon Legislature. Terry Carpenter, Inc. v. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, 175 Neb. 26, 120 N.W.2d 374 (1963).

Legislature cannot delegate its legislative power to define a criminal offense to an administrative or executive authority. Lincoln Dairy Co. v. Finigan, 170 Neb. 777, 104 N.W.2d 227 (1960).

Fair Trade Act was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority. McGraw Electric Co. v. Lewis & Smith Drug Co., Inc., 159 Neb. 703, 68 N.W.2d 608 (1955).

In absence of adequate standards, delegation of rule-making power to Superintendent of Public Instruction was unconstitutional. School Dist. No. 39 of Washington County v. Decker, 159 Neb. 693, 68 N.W.2d 354 (1955).

Legislature can delegate to administrative agency power to make rules and regulations covering the details of the legislative purpose. Board of Regents v. County of Lancaster, 154 Neb. 398, 48 N.W.2d 221 (1951).

Reclamation Act did not violate this section. Nebraska Mid-State Reclamation District v. Hall County, 152 Neb. 410, 41 N.W.2d 397 (1950).

Housing authority acts granting administrative functions to city council are not unconstitutional delegation of authority. Lennox v. Housing Authority of City of Omaha, 137 Neb. 582, 290 N.W. 451 (1940).

The extraordinary session of the Legislature of 1935 was properly constituted. Steinacher v. Swanson, 131 Neb. 439, 268 N.W. 317 (1936).

The Legislature may not delegate legislative powers to an administrative board or to any outside agency such as the United States Congress. Smithberger v. Banning, 129 Neb. 651, 262 N.W. 492 (1935).

Proviso of law relating to organization of new school districts is not invalid as attempt to delegate legislative functions. Rowe v. Ray, 120 Neb. 118, 231 N.W. 689 (1930).

4. Miscellaneous

Statutory provisions authorizing initiative petitions should be construed in such a manner that the legislative power reserved in the people is effectual and should not be circumscribed by restrictive legislation or narrow and strict interpretation of the statutes pertaining to its exercise. Christensen v. Gale, 301 Neb. 19, 917 N.W.2d 145 (2018).

Act establishing Court of Industrial Relations does not violate any constitutional provision and the standards for its guidance are adequate. Orleans Education Assn. v. School Dist. of Orleans, 193 Neb. 675, 229 N.W.2d 172 (1975).

L.B. 1003, Eighty-second Legislature, First Session, sections 23-2601 to 23-2612 does not contravene this section. Dwyer v. Omaha-Douglas Public Building Commission, 188 Neb. 30, 195 N.W.2d 236 (1972).

Rural Cemetery District Act violated this provision of the Constitution. Anderson v. Carlson, 171 Neb. 741, 107 N.W.2d 535 (1961).

Conditions and restrictions upon former Bicameral Legislature apply to the Unicameral Legislature. State ex rel. Caldwell v. Peterson, 153 Neb. 402, 45 N.W.2d 122 (1950).

Constitution relating to referendum contemplates that actions brought under law be speedily disposed of so that elections be had at time specified. Barkley v. Pool, 102 Neb. 799, 169 N.W. 730 (1918).

Office created by Legislature may be abolished by it. State ex rel. Topping v. Houston, 94 Neb. 445, 143 N.W. 796 (1913).