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Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

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Weekly Column – January 22nd
January 22nd, 2021

The 107th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 6 in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. As elected representatives, we believe that it is important that the state’s elected legislators are on the field during this time to represent our constituents. I support the speaker in wanting to find ways to engage the public while still keeping us safe from the continued threat of the pandemic.

Families, businesses, and other governmental entities have had to change and adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The Legislature is no different. On January 25, the Legislature will convene public committee hearings. Public committee hearings are one of the most important parts of our legislative process–a critical time in which the “second house” can be heard. To ensure that the committee hearings are safe and we are appropriately responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Legislature has modified its traditional hearing process.

Here are four ways that the process is changing this year:

  1. Morning and afternoon hearings. In order to minimize the chances of having to suspend our session, the Legislature will have both morning and afternoon committee hearings rather than floor debate during January and February.
  1. Expanded options to voice your opinion without testifying in person. The Legislature has developed a process for “written submitted testimony.” During the 2021 Session an individual may hand deliver the morning of the hearing their testimony which will be provided to the committee members during the public hearing. This will allow someone who has health concerns to limit their exposure to others by not having to sit in the hearing room for an extended period of time. The option of submitting a position letter for the hearing record via email is still available. In addition, the Legislature has implemented a new feature allowing the online submission of comments on a bill at any stage of debate. The comments will be accessible by all Senators and staff to read. You can learn more about how to take advantage of these public input options at https://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/public-input.php.
  1. Limited physical space. To accommodate social distancing, seating in the hearing room is limited. And because of the restricted physical space caused by the ongoing HVAC renovation of the State Capitol, there will be no overflow rooms available.
  1. Modified hearing protocols. Hearings will look and feel different. These include a number of procedures, including extra sanitization efforts, masks, and social distancing.

This is a unique year with unique challenges. We look forward to doing you work in the Legislature and appreciate your understanding of these modified procedures.

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room 2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
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