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With only two months left until 2019, I am beginning to prepare for another legislative session. I need to build strong relationships with the newly elected senators and also continue to reinforce the relationships I have with my returning colleagues. Committees and senators are researching legislative ideas and beginning to draft bills. My time spent in Lincoln from now until January 9th will increase so that once the session begins I can hit the ground running working on the important issues facing Nebraska, and especially those of the 44th District.
Last legislative session I was selected to sit on the committee that was created by LR 437. The purpose of this committee is to study the current standing committee structure of the legislature and explore ways to make our system more efficient.
Committees are the first step in the legislative process for each introduced bill. Currently, the legislature has 14 standing committees. Each committee meets every week, and most meet either two or three days a week. Every bill introduced is assigned to a committee which handles that bill’s subject matter. The committee then schedules a hearing for every bill referred to them. These hearings allow experts as well as the public to come speak as a proponent, opponent, or in a neutral capacity on each bill. Under the current format, some committees have a higher number of bills referred to them than others. For example in 2018, the Judiciary Committee had 101 bills referred to it, while the General Affairs Committee only had nine. The goal of this special committee is to help balance out some of that workload.
We are looking at a few different options on how to streamline the procedures in the legislative process. One way would be to consolidate the committees. Consolidating would seem to make the committee structure more efficient by spreading the workload more evenly across committees and senators. Another option would be looking more closely at the subject matter of certain bills and trying to find a way to divide the workload so one committee is not hearing 60 to 70 bills while some others may only be hearing five.
It is important to look at the structure of the legislature from time to time. When the legislature is running efficiently, that means we are doing the best we can for our state. With a fewer number of committees, chairpersons and committee members can become more knowledgeable in the subject of their committee. Chairpersons will also be able to dedicate more time to their committee as well. With a more streamlined legislature everyone benefits; senators, staff, and all Nebraskans.
I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.