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It has been an exciting, educational and slightly frustrating start to the session. I was warned that things move slowly at first, but I am surprised at the pace so far. Hopefully the Unicameral will be able to move on from debating updates to the rules that govern debate to substantive legislation soon.
But while the Unicameral floor may look like a glacier, the Committees which meet in the afternoons are charging full speed ahead.
The Business and Labor Committee, which I chair, meets on Mondays and it has been fascinating work so far.
I’m looking forward to a busy and productive year in the Business and Labor Committee and so far we have had just that. We have 32 bills under the Committee’s jurisdiction this year, and the issues and subjects span from bills requested by the Department of Labor, bills regarding workforce development, and bills dealing with wages and labor conditions to name just a few areas.
When I became Chair of the Committee, I expressed my commitment that every bill would receive a fair hearing and consideration by the Committee.
We’ve had two hearings so far. During those hearings we heard testimony regarding bills like LB 203 introduced by Senator John Kuehn, which dealt with benefits for employers leaving a job without good cause, LB 248 introduced by Senator Burke Harr which creates the Youth Opportunities in Learning and Occupations Act, and my bill, LB 264 which updates a section of the Boiler Inspection Act to account for changes in boiler inspection industry terminology and changes Nebraska’s language to match the industry’s standard language.
In the coming weeks, we will be hearing a bill which deals with the Family Medical Leave Act. We will also hear about a bill which provides protections for employees with family care responsibilities under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act.
Following our hearings, committee members meet in what is known as an executive session, which allows us to discuss each bill further and in more depth, to make necessary amendments if needed, and to possibly advance a bill to the Unicameral floor for debate before the full body.
We have had one executive session so far and voted to move several bills, including LB 264 to the floor. Over the next few weeks, as we hear more bills in committee, it is my goal to work with my colleagues who have legislation before my committee to move the legislative process along in an efficient manner as possible. While I can’t guarantee a bill will have the support necessary to pass through my committee, each bill will get consideration.