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I want to announce how I will be handling certain procedural motions under our current rules during the upcoming special session. As a reminder, the call is limited to the adoption of redistricting maps for the Legislature, the Public Service Commission, the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, the State Board of Education, the Nebraska Supreme Court, and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as a limited appropriation for the expenses related to the special session. In addition, confirmation reports will be addressed during the special session as those are administrative in nature.
While many of the floor procedures and activities during a special session are similar to a regular session, there are a couple of important distinctions. First, unlike many of the bills we debate during traditional sessions which do not have to pass; the purpose of the special session is to pass redistricting bills. Second, unlike a regular session in which we have up to 90 or 60 workings days to work on legislation and conclude floor debate, we have significantly reduced time during this special session. Third, unlike a regular session, we have no other priorities from other senators or committees to complete—the adoption of redistricting maps is our focus.
The floor procedures I followed during the 2021 session (and based upon the practice of former speakers) were designed with a regular session in mind. Specifically, the procedures allow the body to dispense with legislation after initial debate if the body indicates a lack of support. In addition, these floor practices and procedures were intended to provide time for all priorities bills to have floor time.
In the upcoming special session, my role is to facilitate the full and fair debate of the redistricting measures to allow each to become law in a form agreed to by a majority of the Legislature. To that end, the following procedures for special session will apply:
First, I will be following the “full and fair debate” guidelines I established for the 2021 session. Specifically, debate will be “full and fair” after 8 hours on general file, 4 hours on select file, and 2 hours of debate on final reading. Note that for the special session, a motion for cloture will be in order after 2 hours of debate on final reading, regardless as to whether a motion for cloture was adopted on a previous round of debate.
Second, because we are in special session to pass redistricting plans, if any redistricting plan fails to receive the required 33 votes to adopt a cloture motion it will not be considered completed. Instead, I will be following the practice outlined in Rule 7, Sec 10 which directs the debate on the bill to end for the day but allows the bill to be rescheduled. If the bill fails to receive the needed votes for cloture, it may be rescheduled on the following legislative day. In such an instance, per the rule a cloture motion will be in order after two additional hours of debate (at any stage of debate).
Third, for the legislative appropriation bill funding the expenses of the special session—a narrow bill within the call of the special session—a motion for cloture will be in order at 2 hours on general file, 1 hour on select file, and 1 hour on final reading.
Furthermore, bills failing to advance from general file or select file will be rescheduled unless they have been indefinitely postponed due to failing to advance three times from general file or two times from select file pursuant to Rule 6, Sec 3(i) and Rule 6, Sec 5 (h). Additionally, any bill bracketed also will be rescheduled for debate either when eligible for rescheduling in the case of bracketing to a date certain or after a motion to unbracket the bill is filed.