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The legislative process is well underway during the third week of this 90 day session of the 104th Legislature. The ten day window for bill introduction at the beginning of the session has closed and the legislature has begun the process of consideration for each.
Each of the 663 new bills brought forth will be referenced to one of the 14 standing committees to have a public hearing. The Reference Committee, made up by members of the Legislature’s Executive Committee, makes the ultimate decision regarding the assignment of a bill to a specific committee. A bill’s time in the committee brings a great deal of depth to the conversation, providing an opportunity for supporters and opposition to present testimony to the committee. Amendments can be made at this time to the bill. Public are welcome to provide their testimony on specific bills during committee hearings. The committee hearing schedule is published and available on the Legislature’s website.
Committee members meet in executive session to consider and then vote on each bill. If a bill advances to General File, it is then presented to the legislature where every member has a chance for floor debate on the particular piece of legislation. This is often considered to be the most crucial stage of the process. During this time, amendments can continue to be added. Each bill advanced will be debated again on Select File, voted to advance to Final Reading, and heard a third time before final passage.
Over the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will spend the majority of our mornings debating the bills that have advanced to the floor and our afternoons in committee hearings to continue to listen to the concerns of the people of Nebraska on each piece of legislation.
In Appropriations, the committee on which I serve, the process operates on a slightly different schedule. A week ago, we began working through the proposals from each state agency as they present their piece of the budget for consideration. In two weeks, we will complete the agency budget reviews and begin hearings with each agency. My time and work in Appropriations has been educational and instructive in the operations of all aspects of state government.
In addition to my placement on the Appropriations committee, I was recently named to the Performance Audit Committee, where I will serve as Vice Chair, and the Homeland Security Policy Group.
It has been an honor to serve you this far and if you have any questions on the legislative process, bills before the Legislature, or the Appropriations process, I urge you to check out nebraskalegislature.gov or call my office at 402-471-2732. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter @JohnKuehnDVM.
Senator John Kuehn, District 38