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WISHING YOU A JOYOUS CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Alice and I would like to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season this year! We hope your next year is filled with many blessings.
NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE HEARING
In addition to gearing up for the start of the 106th Legislative Session, I have had the opportunity to continue to participate in interim committee hearings since the last session adjourned in April.
On Friday, November 30, the Natural Resources Committee met in Omaha to discuss LR464, Sen. Justin Wayne’s interim study to review public power.
Prior to the hearing, the members of the Natural Resources Committee were given a tour of the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Energy Plaza in Omaha. As you may know, I worked for the Grand Island Utilities Department at Platte Generating Station for 28 years before retiring to serve as a state senator, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from OPPD about their current practices. It was a nice chance for other members of the committee to learn more about public power as well.
That afternoon, we then heard testimony on Sen. Wayne’s LR464. I’m thankful to all who came out to discuss the current state of public power in Nebraska.
MIPRC AMTRAK VISITS
Derrick James, a regional official for Amtrak, visited Nebraska this month to meet with state and local officials to discuss Nebraska’s membership in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (MIPRC).
I currently serve as one of two legislative commissioners for MIPRC, which brings together state leaders in the Midwest to advocate for passenger rail improvements.
I joined Mr. James for many of his meetings. We met with Sen. Mike Hilgers, who represents District 21; Sen. Suzanne Geist, who represents District 25; Mayor Corey Stutte of Hastings; and Mayor Doug Young of Holdrege. Mr. James also had meetings with Sen. Dan Hughes, who represents District 44 in southwest Nebraska, and Mayor Mike Gonzalez of McCook.
It was nice to speak to so many individuals across Nebraska about developing and improving passenger rail systems in the state.
THANK YOU, SARAH!
On Wednesday, December 19, I got to show Sarah, my Legislative Aide, around the district in Grand Island and meet with folks at Grand Island Public Schools, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Heartland United Way. I’m glad she could see what makes Grand Island so special and discuss policies that can benefit the district and the state!
LEGISLATIVE SESSION STRUCTURE
One of my main goals for my monthly update is to help my constituents feel more connected to the Nebraska Legislature and make it more accessible to understand how the lawmaking process works in the state. So, this month I’d like to take the opportunity to explain the structure of the legislative session itself and how bills become laws in Nebraska.
This year, the 106th Legislature begins on January 9, 2019. Bills can be introduced by state senators or by committees during the first 10 working days of the session, so this year all bills must be introduced by January 23.
After being introduced, all bills are then assigned to a committee and given a public hearing. Based on the testimony given during the hearing, committee members debate the bill and either vote to advance the bill to General File with or without amendments, to indefinitely postpone the bill, or to take no action on it.
If a bill makes it out of committee, it must then go through two rounds of debate and be voted on three times.
The first time the full Legislature debates and votes on a bill is called General File. The second time is called Select File. During the two rounds of debate, state senators can propose amendments to the bill. The last round of votes is called Final Reading, and during this stage a bill cannot be debated or amended.
If a bill is advanced from Final Reading, it is given to the Governor, who has five days either to sign it into law, to decline to act on it (in which case it also becomes a law), or to veto the bill.