|Dear friends and neighbors,
A lot has happened in the first 15 days of the 2023 legislative session. The first of which is that we have moved offices to the 12th floor. To visit my office, you’ll have to schedule a meeting or call (402) 471-2722 to be escorted up since the elevators require an access card to reach our new floor. This is only temporary because of construction in the Capitol. Starting in June, we will be back in a more accessible office on the second floor near the clerk’s office.
Frankly, it’s been a rough start. Before bill introduction even began, this legislative body threw out our norms in favor of partisan goals and blatant power grabs during the election of new committee leadership (view full committee list). The political majority made decisions based on what would benefit them, not the Legislature as an institution, and certainly not the people of Nebraska.
The Legislature then debated internal rule proposals, many of which threatened the nonpartisanship of our institution. Of the 55 proposed changes, three uncontroversial changes were officially adopted along with five technical changes. I will savor this win on the rules debate. It was against all odds, and we beat the most powerful interests in the state. A BIG thank you goes out to everyone who testified, emailed, called, and commented on these changes.
Public hearings on the 812 bills introduced this session have started this week. Keep an eye out for these early hearing dates because several controversial and substantive bills will be heard in the next two weeks. This is the time to be contacting your senator, contacting committee members, and getting your testimony ready! We will hold all-day public hearings from Jan. 30th – Feb. 10th. Beginning on Feb. 13th, things will go back to normal, with floor debate in the morning and public hearings in the afternoon.
A LOT of you have been reaching out, asking how you can help this session, which is amazing. Supporting and following local advocacy organizations is a great way to make sure you don’t miss calls to action or important alerts. Nebraskans for Abortion Access and OutNebraska, for example, will be heavily involved in mobilizing Nebraskans against an abortion ban and against bills that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. We will need a lot of help from people willing to testify, attend rallies, or just be physically present at the capitol. There is no wrong way to contact lawmakers — reach out to members of the committee the bill has been referenced to, submit comments online via the Legislature’s website, send an email (and cc me), write a letter, call, and TESTIFY!! There are ways to support bills outside of the Legislature too. You can write a letter to the editor, host mini-advocacy events with your friends or community members, educate your peers on certain bills, and attend advocacy workshops/trainings.
This steady undercutting of the rights of Nebraskans is unacceptable and we will fight it every step of the way. I hold hope for this session because of the advocacy I have seen from countless Nebraskans across the state who are ready to make lawmakers listen to the second house. My office is always here to answer any questions you may have or help you navigate the Legislature. Don’t hesitate to reach out and I hope to see you at the Capitol soon!
All the best,