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Dear friends and neighbors,
At the start of each biennium, before the Legislature can begin our work to address issues to move our state forward, we must first agree upon internal rules to govern our legislative session. This is a point of contention this year, as the new conservative supermajority has signaled their intentions to alter our rules to sway the balance of power further in their favor and remove the nonpartisan safeguards we have had in place since the inception of the Unicameral. As a defender of our institution, above all else, I am committed to upholding our norms, rules, and procedures – but I need your help.
The public hearing on proposed internal Legislative rule changes has been scheduled for Thursday, at 1:30 pm in Room 1525 of the Capitol. As Nebraska’s Second House, we need to hear from you. If you can, come testify during the rules hearing and ensure lawmakers hear directly from you that you value our unique nonpartisan institution – and that the public deserves more notice and involvement in this process.
There are 52 proposals on the table that have been submitted to the committee. Among them are measures that threaten to eliminate the political balance on the redistricting committee; to make committee executive sessions closed to the media; to change the balance of members on committees; and an arbitrary cap on the amount of bills senators can introduce. One of those measures I’m most concerned about is a proposal that would do away with our 86-year tradition of using “secret ballots” to elect committee leaders. This process has been used since the unicameral was created in order to eliminate partisan pressure on senators and allow them to anonymously make decisions about who is the best person to lead a committee. These efforts are a clear, direct attack on our institution, our unique method of lawmaking, and our long-held traditions.
Don’t be fooled, these attacks won’t stop here. We need your help to protect the nonpartisanship of the Legislature. I hope to see you testifying in room 1525 on Thursday.
All the best,
The list includes the top line of each of the 52 proposed rule changes that will be discussed this session. A more detailed list, containing exact wording will be released soon.