The Natural Resources Committee is responsible for processing legislation involving the following subject areas:
During session, the Natural Resources Committee meets on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in Room 1525 on the 1st Floor of the Capitol.
Public Hearings—How to share your views with senators
Nebraska’s unique Unicameral Legislature relies heavily on the “second house” – the citizens of the State of Nebraska. Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique health and safety concerns. The Legislature has considered and adopted expanded methods by which the public can provide input into the legislative process so that citizens who have safety concerns about in-person testifying have multiple opportunities to have their voice heard as part of the legislative and committee process.
The following options provide ways for citizens to share their views on a bill with the Legislature. Please read each option carefully, as each has a different outcome as to how your input is recorded.
As always, persons attending a public hearing in person will have an opportunity to present verbal testimony to the committee and be subject to questioning by the committee members. In-person testimony is generally limited to 5 minutes although the chair of each committee has discretion to modify that time limit.
Persons verbally testifying will be listed as a testifier on the committee statement as has been the practice, and have their position included within the official committee hearing record.
Written Testimony In Lieu of In-Person Testimony for Public Hearings during the 2021 Session:
As part of the Nebraska Legislature’s procedural modifications in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, during the 2021 Session, the standing committees will be accepting submitted written testimony for public hearings on a bill or resolution when the following specific procedures outlined below are met.
The intent of this option is to create a substitute for those who are concerned about safety by testifying in person but wish to have their testimony submitted, name recorded on the committee statement, and included in the formal committee hearing record as if they had testified in person. Please note that the committee statement will note that the testimony was provided in writing with no opportunity for the committee members to question the testifier.
In order to take advantage of this option, the following four requirements must be met:
Failure to meet all of these procedures for submitted written testimony will result in the person providing the testimony to not be listed on the committee statement as a written testifier, however, the testimony will be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit.
An individual with a disability, as defined by the federal Americans with Disability Act of 1990, may have his or her written testimony submitted in person by another individual between 8:30 and 9:30 on the day of the hearing in the respective hearing room.
The individual delivering the testimony will be authorized to sign the written testimony record on behalf of the individual with a disability, after signing a statement that to the best of their knowledge, the individual whose testimony he/she is delivering has a disability as defined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
This exception is allowed because COVID-19 often presents greater risks to individuals with a disability.
In order to be included on the committee statement as submitting written testimony, all remaining requirements (numbers 1, and 3-6) must be met.
If you are not testifying in person on a bill or resolution, or submitting written testimony in person on a bill (Option 2), but would like to submit a position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, you must deliver your letter to the office of the committee chair or emailed to the committee’s email account at firstname.lastname@example.org by 12:00 p.m. CST on the last work day prior to the public hearing.
Letters emailed (and not hand-delivered) will not be included as part of the public hearing record if sent to any email other than the committee’s email account at email@example.com.
Your letter must identify the bill or resolution, include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral, on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.
Please note that mass communications will also not be included as part of the official hearing record as an exhibit regardless of delivery time or requests to have the communication included.
In order to facilitate public input on legislation, a new feature has been added to the Nebraska Legislature’s website for submission of written statements on pending legislation on the Legislature’s website at any stage of the process. (To access this feature, search for the bill you wish to submit a statement on and click the corresponding button near the top of the bill page.)
These submissions will not be considered testimony or part of the public hearing record, but the submitted statements will be available on the UniNet for access by senators and staff throughout the session. Please note, there should be no expectation of privacy regarding comments submitted in this format. If a citizen uses the database to submit his or her views prior to the public hearing on a bill or resolution, this option will allow input to the members of the committee prior to any committee votes.
Explanation on How to Prepare Written Testimony In Lieu of In-Person Testimony for Public Hearings held during the 2021 Nebraska Legislative Session
This document provides an explanation of the “how to” for preparation of written testimony in lieu of in-person testimony for public hearings held during the 2021 Session. The six requirements which an individual must follow for their submission to be treated as written testimony—with the testifier listed on the committee statement and the testimony scanned so as to be included as part of the hearing transcript—are outlined on the Nebraska Legislature’s website at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/public-input.php.
While most of the requirements are self-explanatory, requirement number five has presented some confusion which this document is intended to clarify. This requirement reads:
Since the written testimony will be included as part of the hearing transcript (and will not be treated as an exhibit), the written testimony you submit needs to be a written statement that if read at the public hearing would fit within the standard protocols of oral testimony. In other words, when your written testimony is scanned into the public hearing transcript, someone reading the finalized transcript should not be able to tell from your testimony that you were not at the hearing in person unless you mention in your testimony you are providing it via the written format. (Note, however, that the Committee Statement will identify the written submitted testimony so as to communicate that the testifier was not present to respond to questions at the hearing.)
Your written testimony should start with a greeting to the committee chair and members and then introduce who you are, just like each oral testifier at a public hearing must do. Second you will want to identify if you are representing yourself or a principal(s). And then you will state your argument in support of or opposition to the measure. No handouts or exhibits will be accepted with written testimony. Maps, charts, letters and similar handouts are classified as exhibits and not included as part of the hearing transcript when shared with the committee during oral testimony. For written testimony, nothing considered an exhibit will be accepted except as described below. (Please keep in mind that you may always deliver exhibits directly to a senator in addition to submitting written testimony.)
Letters from a principal will be accepted as part of written testimony, if an individual incorporates the letter into the text of their testimony and the total length of written comments and the letter fit within the requirement of no more than 2 single-spaced, typed pages or 4 double-spaced, typed pages (a letter will count as a full page if submitted on letterhead). You may choose to incorporate statements from your principals rather than an actual letter. Please note, this practice of allowing a letter as part of your testimony only applies to written testimony. This does not mean you may now read a letter from a principal during in person testimony. In-person testimony guidelines are decided by each committee chair.
For an example, I want to share with you testimony provided to the Business and Labor Committee last year by a lobbyist on behalf of two principals in opposition to LB 963 (2020), a bill to change workers’ compensation provisions for injuries to first responders and frontline state employees. The lobbyist’s in-person testimony from last year reads:
Chairman Hansen, members of the committee, for the record, my
name is [FIRST NAME LAST NAME]. It’s spelled F-i-r-s-t N-a-m-e L-a-s-t N-a m-e. I’m appearing today as a registered lobbyist on behalf of the American Property Casualty Insurers Association [SIC] and Nebraskans for Workers’ Compensation Equity and Fairness in opposition to LB963. There are two primary concerns with the legislation, some of which [previous testifier] dealt with. Number one is the broad list of providers that may not have the requisite
education or experience to treat or diagnose PTSD. As you heard from the proponents themselves, that the number of practitioners who can help people with PTSD is rather limited, even in areas like Lincoln and Omaha. Our second concern is the clear causation between the injury, the mental health injury and the job. We feel that it would be a departure from existing workers’ compensation law to allow for, for a presumption. I want to give you an aside. . .
If the testifier presented this testimony as “written testimony,” the spelling of her name would not be needed, however she would still have an introduction and greeting to the committee members. Additionally, since she would not know the proponents’ comments shared at the hearing, she might, however, want to address some of the “for” arguments that she believes will come up during the hearing. And she could include a letter from one of the two principals she is representing by stating something along the lines of, “additional concerns that Nebraskans for Workers’ Compensation Equity and Fairness have with LB 963, are best articulated in a letter from their president.” With this introduction and reference to the letter in her written testimony, the testifier could now include a letter from that principal as part of her written testimony as long as the length of the testimony with the letter does not exceed the maximum page length.
Additionally, the committee statement would reflect that the testifying lobbyist provided written testimony, representing both of the principals she mentions in the testimony. You will need to indicate who you are representing on the Written Testimony Testifier’s Sign-In Sheet you fill out when submitting your written testimony.
Individuals who testify in-person are allowed to testify only once in the proponent or opponent category. Similarly, written testimony may be submitted only once for a bill. If you are representing multiple principals, you will be identified as representing more than one principal as long as you identify them on the Written Testimony Testifier’s Sign-In Sheet which you will fill out when you submit your written testimony.