NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Mike Hilgers

Sen. Mike Hilgers

Speaker of the Legislature

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A few notes this morning regarding upcoming deadlines:

First, the deadline to submit a letter requesting a speaker priority bill designation is Thursday, February 17, prior to adjournment. I will announce my speaker priority bills on February 23rd. The memo you will receive this morning outlines the process for designating a priority bill and for requesting a speaker priority designation.

Second, the deadline to designate committee and senator priority bills is by adjournment on Tuesday, February 22.

At this point, 17 senators have designated their 2022 priority bill and only 5 committee priority bills have been designated. Priority bills which receive an early designation and are advanced to general file early will have a better chance to be debated than those bills which come later in the session when there are more priority bills on general file competing for our limited floor time.

Third, I want to remind you that today at 3:00 p.m. is the deadline for requesting a consent calendar bill for the first of several smaller, more frequent consent calendars I will be scheduling this session. The first consent calendar will be next Tuesday. If you have requested that your bill be on consent but it is not on the agenda for Tuesday, it does not necessarily mean that your request has been denied as we may be doing additional work to follow up on the request; if you have a question please find me and ask.

As we review these requests, I want to remind the body that consent calendar requests that touch on a potentially controversial topic, even if the bill may not be itself controversial, will generally not be chosen to be on consent calendar.

Consent calendar request letters delivered to my office after 3:00 p.m. today and through Thursday, February 10th by noon will be considered for the second consent calendar.

We continue to move quickly through the available session days and are now over one-quarter of the way through session. I will continue to prioritize 2022 Priority Bills when setting the agenda. At least for the near future, senators who have their 2022 Priority Bill designated (i.e., hand-delivered notice to my office and letter request read into the journal), and reported to general file, will have their bills scheduled right away. For next week, we will continue with Senator Kolterman’s priority bill, LB767, followed by the select file debate of Senator Machaela Cavanaugh’s LB376. When Senator Briese’s priority bill, LB986 is reported to the floor, we will be debating that bill as well. Also, I generally will look to the end of the week to schedule bills for final reading.

As noted previously, I am scheduling 2022 priority bills as they become designated and are available for general file debate. We have two newly designated 2022 priority bills listed for debate, Senator Lindstrom’s LB 825, and Senator Briese’s LB 723. Those have been scheduled right away. In addition, Senator McKinney informed me of his intention to prioritize LB 450, a bill to adopt the Nebraska Innovation Hub Act. Once the designation is formalized I will schedule LB 450 for general file debate. As I have mentioned, to the extent we complete 2022 priority bills we then will turn to 2021 carry-over priorities. I appreciate your continued flexibility as we work through these first few weeks of debate where scheduling will reflect the available designated priority bills.

In addition, I will be scheduling some smaller, more frequent consent calendars again this year. On Monday, I will begin accepting consent calendar request letters from the principal introducer of a potential consent calendar bill. The deadline for consideration of a bill for the first consent calendar will be prior to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 3, 2022. For the criteria I will use to select bills for consent calendar please see the separate consent calendar memo.

It is my intention to again utilize a few smaller, more frequent consent calendars during the 2022 session to allow the body to address some non-controversial, non-prioritized bills in an efficient manner. This memo serves as a guideline to the criteria I will rely upon as I evaluate the consent calendar requests from members.

As a reminder, the procedures for consent calendar are outlined in Rule 5, Section 6 of our Legislative Rules. As stipulated in this rule, only bills advanced out of committee with no dissenting votes are eligible for consent calendar.

The consent calendar procedures outlined in the rules provide that bills on consent calendar may be removed from the agenda by the written request of three or more senators. Additionally, the rules provide that bills remaining on consent calendar will be voted on at the expiration of 15 minutes or when debate ends, if less than 15 minutes. Similar to cloture, the consent calendar rule provides for a vote to be taken on the pending matter(s) under discussion, followed by a vote on the advancement of the bill.

Because our rules provide for a guaranteed vote on consent calendar bills, I will select bills for which the debate is anticipated to take less than 15 minutes. To that end, I have established additional guidelines pursuant to my authority in Rule 5, Section 6(a). A bill that fails to meet each of the following guidelines will not be placed upon a consent calendar.

1. Bill is non-controversial. Generally, bills do not fit consent if anyone testified at the committee hearing in opposition, and a committee amendment does not take care of the testifier(s)’s concerns.

2. Topic the bill opens up is non-controversial. For example, a bill which makes a small change implicating a charged social issue is not consent material. The bill itself may not be controversial, but the topic opened up is controversial. This judgment shall be made at my sole discretion.

3. Bill does not add a lot of changes. A bill adopting a new act or making several changes to an existing law is generally not consent material.

4. Bill does not have a general fund impact. Bills which appropriate general funds resulting in a net loss, bills resulting in the reduction of revenue to the General Fund, and all tax expenditure bills are not consent material.

5. Bill has been reported to general file before a letter of request has been delivered to my office.

Although consent calendar bills may have a committee amendment, consent calendar bills will not be allowed to be used as a vehicle for other bills. While I cannot prevent the body from adopting amendments to a consent calendar bill, if any amendments are adopted on the floor which add new subject matter, the bill will not be placed back on the agenda. Floor amendments which clean-up the original provisions of the bill are acceptable.

On Monday, January 24th, I will begin accepting consent calendar request letters from the principal introducer of a potential consent calendar bill. The cutoff date to have a bill considered for the first consent calendar will be by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 3rd. I will provide deadlines for additional consent calendars as I make plans for scheduling. If you have a bill which you believe meets the eligibility criteria for consent calendar, please hand deliver a letter to my office prior to each deadline I provide.

I will evaluate each request and develop my list of bills to place on consent calendar. Pursuant to past practice, the list of consent calendar approved bills will be published on the agenda prior to the day we take up consent calendar.

As was my practice last year, I will provide weekly notice (to the extent possible) of bills which will be debated the following week in an endeavor to provide early notice to the body to allow senators time to prepare. On Tuesday, we will debate Senator Hilkemann’s DNA bill, LB 496 on select file. LB 496A is still on general file and we will take that up following the select file debate of LB 496. Please keep in mind my announced change to last year’s cloture practices. This year I will allow one hour of debate on an “A” bill to be considered “full and fair debate” for purposes of cloture in most circumstances.

The select file debate of LR 14 will be scheduled following the conclusion of LB 496A.

Also, we will be debating Senator Cavanaugh’s 2022 priority bill LB 376, a bill to authorize services and supports for children with developmental disabilities and their families, and Senator Pansing Brooks’ LB 568, a juvenile truancy bill, which is a 2021 Judiciary Committee carry over priority bill.

If bad weather necessitates a time change, members will be notified and the change will be announced via the Legislature’s website.

January 7
• Convene at 11:00 a.m.
• Bill introduction
• Adjourn around noon or when introduced bills have been processed by the Clerk’s office

January 10
• Convene at 11:00 a.m.
• Bill Introduction
• Begin debate of carry over legislation (2022 priority bills, if any, 2021 carry over priority bills, and worksheet order bills)
• Recess at noon for lunch, reconvene at 1:30 p.m. and adjourn no later than 5:00 p.m.

January 11 and 12
• Convene at 9:00 a.m.
• Bill introduction
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Recess at noon for lunch, reconvene at 1:30 p.m. and adjourn no later than 5:00 p.m.

January 13
• Convene at 9:45 a.m.
• Bill Introduction
• Governor Rickett’s State of the State Address – 10:00 a.m.
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Adjourn no later than 1:00 p.m.

January 14
• Recess day
• (Tentative) Last day to submit bill requests to the Revisor of Statutes/Bill Drafting Office

January 18
• Convene at 10:00 a.m.
• Bill introduction
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Adjourn around 12:00 p.m.
• Public Hearings begin at 1:30 p.m.

January 19
• Convene at 9:00 a.m.
• Bill introduction
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Adjourn around 12:00 p.m.

January 20
• Convene at 9:00 a.m.
• Last day of bill introduction
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Adjourn around 12:00 p.m.

January 21
• Convene at 9:30 a.m.
• Chief Justice Heavican’s State of the Judiciary Address-10:00 a.m.
• Continue debate of carry over legislation
• Adjourn around 12:00 p.m.

February 17, Prior to Adjournment
• Deadline to submit a letter to the Speaker requesting the designation of a bill as a 2022 speaker priority bill

February 22, Prior to Adjournment
• Deadline for designation of committee and senator priority bills

February 23, Prior to Adjournment
• Speaker will announce 2022 speaker priority bills

March 3
• Date to complete committee public hearings on introduced bills

March 8
• Full day floor debate begins

March 14 through April 12
• Senators are requested to keep their session day evenings open beginning March 14 and throughout the remainder of the session for extended floor debate.

Please note that during the months of January and February the Legislature will convene at 10:00 a.m. on the first day of the work week and at 9:00 a.m. on the other days of the week, unless otherwise announced.

           With the reconvening of the 2022 session, I want to inform everyone how I will handle certain procedural motions under our current rules. Additionally, I want to announce how I will handle the carry over bills which were designated last year as a 2021 priority bill and have not lost their designation status due to failure to advance, a failed cloture motion, or a similar action.

            To begin, I want to let you know I intend to follow the same practices I utilized last year for handling certain procedural motions under our rules with a few minor differences.

            For cloture motions I will continue to follow the “full and fair debate” guidelines of ruling that “full and fair debate” has occurred after 8 hours of debate on general file, 4 hours on select file, and 2 hours on final reading. Rather than have a standard of “full and fair” debate requiring 4 hours of debate on final reading when no motion for cloture was adopted on general file or select file, I will be implementing a 4-hour standard of debate on these bills only when in my estimation the nature of the debate warrants more than 2 hours prior to the body entertaining a cloture motion. The “full and fair debate” guideline for appropriation bills accompanying a substantive bill (“A” bills) will be one hour of debate at each stage of debate unless in my estimation that additional time is needed to debate a substantive issue, in which case the time for “full and fair debate” will be 2 hours.

            Additionally, I intend to continue the practice to not reschedule any bill that fails to advance from general file or from select file, unless the bill is subsequently designated as a priority bill. Additionally, if a motion to invoke cloture fails, I will consider the bill finished for the year, unless the bill is subsequently designated as a priority bill.

           This same general rule of not rescheduling a bill will apply to any bill bracketed during debate (to a date certain or without a specified date) and any bill for which the principal introducer chooses to lay over following the filing of a motion to indefinitely postpone pursuant to Rule 7, Section 3(a) and Section 6. In other words, if a principal introducer chooses to lay over their bill during the midst of debate due to the filing of a motion to indefinitely postpone the bill, I will not reschedule the bill on the agenda without subsequent designation of the bill as a priority bill. A bracketed bill may also be rescheduled if subsequently designated as a priority bill.

            When scheduling worksheet order bills for debate, I will be passing over the 2021 priority bills which were completed as a priority last year. These bills include priority bills which are being held at the request of the principal introducer, failed a cloture motion, failed to advance, were bracketed, failed to be placed on general file pursuant to Rule 3, Section 20 (d), were amended into another bill or resolution, and any priority bill held in committee as of adjournment sine die last year (LBs 88, 132, 215, 241, 258, 281, 364, 375, 376, 399, 408, 409, 454, 474, 488, 522, 529, 542, LR11CA, LR14, and LR18CA).

             Some of the 2021 priority bills I consider eligible for scheduling during the 2022 session as a 2021 carry over priority bill. These bills will have priority over carry bills taken up in worksheet order. Please note, however, that these bills will not be rescheduled for use as a vehicle for another measure. The 2021 priority bills which fall within the category of eligible for scheduling include any 2021 priority bill on general file or select file yet to be debated at that stage of debate and any 2021 priority bill which was held by the principal introducer. (See list at the end of this post for specific bills which may be scheduled during the 2022 session as a 2021 carry over priority bill.) Also, I want to provide early notice that Senator Briese’s bill to adopt daylight savings time year-round will be scheduled March 14, the morning following the 2022 “spring forward” change in time.

              Any 2021 priority bill may be designated as a 2022 priority bill and will be treated as a new debate. The order of priority I intend to follow when scheduling a bill is:

First:                2022 priority bills
Second:           2021 carry over priority bills eligible for scheduling; and
 Third:              worksheet order bills.

As is the usual practice, at some point in the session we will move to debating only 2022 priority bills and when available, the budget bills. At that time, we will leave debate of bills in worksheet order and the 2021 carry over priority bills until such time as all 2022 priority bills available for debate have been debated. This will occur regardless of what stage of debate the bill sits at the time we turn to debating only 2022 priority bills.

            Additionally, I want to remind you that I will be following the same policy as last year of restricting the use of the Point of Personal Privilege motion to the purposes outlined in our rules (Rule 2, Sec 11). Please know that I will be ruling all instances of personal privilege out of order unless the member wishes to address the “rights, dignity, and integrity of the Legislature collectively” or the “rights, reputation, and conduct” of an individual member. I highly encourage members to approach me before using a point of personal privilege to discuss whether it would be held in order by the presiding officer.

            I will continue to accommodate the “good news” announcements (births, birthdays, anniversaries, and community accomplishments), by again incorporating into our daily schedule up to six minutes of announcements each morning following any “Messages, Reports, and Announcements” by the Clerk. Each announcement will be limited to one-to-two minutes dependent upon the number of announcement requests for that day. For inclusion on the personal announcement schedule, please remember to provide notification to Laurie Weber in my office by 5:00 p.m. the day prior. Please note, I reserve the right to postpone any scheduled announcements to another day in order to accommodate pressing business before the body or to accommodate the day’s schedule.

            For the discussion of policy concerns, I ask that members look for appropriate bills before the body to address those issues.

 

 

2021 Carry Over Priority Bills Eligible for Scheduling During the 2022 Session:

LB 283 (Briese) Provide for year-round daylight saving time

LB 54 (Lathrop) Change immunity for intentional torts under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act and the State Tort Claims Act

LB 298 (McDonnell) Redefine public benefits and change provisions of the Employment Security Law relating to the disqualification of certain aliens

LB 496 (Hilkemann) Change provisions relating to postconviction relief and require collection of DNA samples from persons arrested for crimes of violence or burglary

LB 568 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to truancy, juvenile courts, the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program, the Commission Grant Program, and compulsory education

Norris Legislative Chamber Access
Starting with the changes in the special session, we are continuing to reinstate normal procedures to the chamber although some restrictions remain. Specifically:

• The glass doors to the Rotunda will be accessible during session, in addition to the south door outside the Speaker’s Office. Both the north and south cloak room doors will be inaccessible.

• The delivery of notes from the rotunda by the Sergeants will resume although some modifications may be implemented.

• There will be no members of the public or distinguished visitors allowed in the rear of the Chamber.

• Individuals permitted to enter the legislative Chamber will continue to be restricted. The list of persons who will have access to the Chamber will be limited to:
         o members of the Legislature,
         o the Clerk and necessary Clerk’s Office staff
         o the Sgt. at Arms
         o the legislative pages
         o the State Patrol
         o the Legislative Services Coordinator
         o the Chairman of the Executive Board’s staff
         o the Speaker’s staff
         o any Legislative Technology staff when needed
         o the Director of the Legislative Fiscal Office and other necessary division staff

• Legislative staff permitted on the floor, other than those identified earlier, will be contingent upon each bill under consideration or the immediate needs of a senator. This list has been broadened from previous practice:
          o The following staff will be allowed in the Chamber for the current bill and the next two bills on the agenda:
          √ the appropriate legal counsel
          √ one staff member of the Principal Introducer of the bill and the Member who prioritized the pending bill        
          √ one staff member of an introducer of the present amendment/motion and the next 2 amendments/motions immediately following the present amendment/motion. 
           o When a committee confirmation report on a gubernatorial appointment is being heard only the appropriate  Committee Legal Counsel will be permitted in the Chamber.
           o Additionally, staff may be permitted onto the floor for specific needs that arise with a member. Examples of specific needs include the distribution of physical information or picking up and dropping off personal belongings. Staff permitted under these circumstances are not to remain in the Chamber and should leave the Chamber after the immediate need has passed. Only staff who are directly responsible for the present agenda item or the next 2 agenda items immediately following the present agenda item will be allowed under the balconies. Sergeants within the chamber will be asking staff sitting under the balconies who do not fall within the above criteria to leave the floor.

Media Access
• Media will continue to be allowed on the floor in a limited capacity. Once the daily limit of 5 media members on the floor has been met, subsequent media will be asked to conduct business from either balcony.

Balcony Usage
• Members who have been directly exposed to Covid-19 will be allowed to participate in debate from the east balcony. A microphone will allow these members to engage in the debate.

• The north and south balconies will be open to members of the public and members of the media. Signs will be posted encouraging social distancing and mask usage by those seated in these areas.

Doctor of the Day
• The Doctor of the Day Program will resume normal operations.

Prayer
• The Visiting Chaplain program will resume operations with some additional caveats. Chaplains are expected to check-in and remain in the sponsoring member’s office when they first arrive. It will be the responsibility of members and their staff to escort the chaplain to the Norris Chamber no earlier than 5 minutes before the start of session. Once outside the Norris Chamber, the Sergeant at Arms will escort the chaplain to and from the legislative floor. Once the visiting chaplain has concluded daily prayer, the Sergeant at Arms will escort the chaplain out to the waiting staff of the sponsoring member.

Technology Issues
• Legislative Technology staff will not be sitting on the floor each day. For technology assistance, senators will need to notify Dick Brown, or another member of the Clerk’s floor staff who will contact the manager of the Technology office who will then provide assistance to the senator.

Coffee, Tea, Water and Sponsored Food
• Pages will resume getting coffee, tea, and water for members.

• Food sponsored by groups or senators can be distributed to members of the Legislature in the Chamber.

Hearings and Executive Sessions
• The hearing rooms procedures, such as mask requirements and social distancing, will be enacted based on the discretion of the committee chair after consultation with the members of his or her committee.

• There will be no public usage of hearing rooms until the conclusion of the hearing room phase of session.

Submission of Testimony
• The practice of submitted written testimony for public hearings on a bill or resolution will be discontinued. Only in-person testimony will be accepted and appear on the committee statement.

• The submission of public comments to the online bill database will continue.

• The procedure for submitting position letters for inclusion as a permanent record of the public hearing record has changed. The submission of public comments to the online bill database will allow for the person submitting comments to request the comments to be part of the permanent hearing record if submitted prior to 12 p.m. CST the workday prior to the hearing. This is a new feature of the online bill database. The online bill database will be the only way to submit comments for inclusion as a public hearing exhibit. Letters and comments submitted via email or hand-delivered will no longer be included as part of the hearing record.



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.

 

Sen. Mike Hilgers

Speaker of the Legislature
Room 2103
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2673
Email: mhilgers@leg.ne.gov
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