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The last two weeks in the legislature saw a flurry of activity. The deadline passed for designating priority bills, and three of my bills were designated as priorities. But first, let me explain what that means.
In a short 60-day session like the one we are in this year, four to six hundred bills can be introduced. Even accounting for the number of bills which are never advanced out of committee, there can be upwards of three hundred bills placed on general file, eligible for debate by the whole body. Obviously, between procedural motions, long debates, and filibusters, the requirement to hold three separate rounds of debate and voting in order to pass a bill is not possible to meet for every bill. This makes prioritization, especially in a short session, almost the only way a bill has a chance.
Each senator may designate one bill as his or her personal priority, which I did for my own LB 1084. The senator need not prioritize one of his or her own bills, and in fact this year Speaker Scheer designated my LB 845 as his personal priority bill. Each of the 14 standing committees, plus the Executive Board and Performance Audit Committee may designate two priority bills, and the State-Tribal Relations Committee gets one. The Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee designated my LB 1015 as one of their priority bills. Finally, the speaker may designate up to 25 bills as Speaker Priority bills.
For those of you keeping track at home, we’re now up to 107 priority bills, and during some years, not even all priority bills get the chance to be heard. However, I am deeply grateful to Speaker Scheer and the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee for giving a fighting chance to two pieces of common-sense legislation designed to protect Nebraskans.
LB 845 would protect parents with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of their disability in circumstances in which they would face losing custody of their children. My staff and I spent much of the last year working with many good people in the disability rights community in Nebraska, and I hope to see that work pay off.
LB 1015 would prevent the unauthorized disclosure of a person’s private medical information when he or she has been involved in a workplace accident.
I have several other bills which still have a chance at passage, and I will explain the circumstances surrounding those bills in a future column.
Lastly, I’d like to remind you that my office is accepting applications for a temporary administrative assistant over the summer. If you know someone who would be interested in this, please pass the word along to them! Inquiries can be sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, using the subject line “Assistant.” If you have questions on this, or any other issues pertaining to your Legislature and state government, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office at (402)471-2631.