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Greetings Northeast Lincoln!
2018 Legislative Session Priorities
2018 will bring a new session of the 105th Legislature, and with it, new opportunities and challenges. Next session, I plan to introduce and continue to support legislation which will reduce overcrowding in our prison system while keeping our communities safe. I will continue to support legislation that empowers our students of all backgrounds and abilities to reach their full potential, and advocate for better wages for our working families. I also plan to introduce legislation that will empower our local neighborhoods and communities. Finally, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to balance our state budget while preserving resources for our most vulnerable citizens. I will continue to update you on these topics throughout session via my monthly e-newsletter and my Facebook page, and I hope you will keep in touch.
Second Session of the 105th Legislature: What To Expect
As the second session of the 105th Legislature is fast approaching, I wanted to provide context on what to expect. Each biennium (or two year cycle), the Legislature holds two sessions. The current biennium began in January 2017. The first session of the biennium is a “long” session, or a 90-day session. It usually lasts from the beginning of January through early June, though we recessed early in May this year. The second session is a “short”, or 60-day session. It is scheduled to begin on January 3rd, 2018, and conclude on April 18th. In both sessions, the first ten days are reserved for introducing bills. Bills can only be introduced during the first ten days of session, and then will be referenced to the committee which holds jurisdiction over the topic the bill covers. Once a bill is in committee, it has a public hearing, and is voted on by the senators on the committee after the hearing. Each bill introduced has a public hearing in a committee, where anyone can come to share their thoughts. This is unique to Nebraska, and truly allows the citizens of our state to act as the “second house” of the Legislature. During this time, the Legislature will convene in the morning to debate bills, and hold hearings in the afternoon. After all bills have received a public hearing, the Legislature will meet all day to debate and pass legislation until the end of the session. If a bill makes it out of the committee, it is placed onto general file. During the general file stage, senators consider amendments proposed both by committees and individual senators. A majority vote of the Legislature, or 25 votes, is needed to move a bill from general file to the next stage of debate, called select file. Select file is the second debating and voting stage where additional amendments can be added and voted upon. Once a bill is approved on select file, it moves to final reading, where it cannot be amended further, and is constitutionally required to be read aloud in its entirety by the Clerk of the Legislature. A proposed constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths vote of the elected members (30) to place it on the general election ballot and a four-fifths vote (40) to place it on a primary or special election ballot. A bill with an emergency clause requires a vote of two-thirds (33 members) of the Legislature. All other bills without an emergency clause require a simple majority vote before going to the governor. After the Legislature passes a bill on final reading, it goes to the governor for consideration. The governor has five days, not including Sundays, to decide what to do with a bill. If the governor signs a bill or declines to act on it, the bill becomes a state law. The governor may veto a bill, and he has the authority to strike specific budget appropriations (line-item veto). The Legislature may override any gubernatorial veto, although it takes a vote of 30 senators to do so. If you have any questions about a bill’s status, the Nebraska Legislature’s website, http://nebraskalegislature.gov, is a great resource. If you need assistance navigating the website, my office would be happy to help. I’m excited to hit the ground running in January!