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Happy New Year, District 1! 2019 brought the costliest natural disaster in Nebraska’s history, while 2020 brought an unprecedented pandemic. Let’s pray that 2021 provides reprieve and recovery for our region.
This column will be the first in a two-part series to preview the upcoming legislative session, which begins on January 6. We are at the start of a new Legislature, which means that, this year, we are in a long session that will last for 90 legislative days beginning in January and ending in June.
The first day of every two-year session has a very busy schedule. New members are sworn in after the presentation of colors. Then, the Legislature must vote to adopt temporary rules for the session, which are the rules that the previous Legislature followed. These are the rules of the Legislature until new ones for 2021-2022 are debated and adopted after the first few days of floor debate.
Elections for permanent officers follow, such as the Clerk of the Legislature and the Chief Sergeant at Arms, and election for the Speaker of the Legislature. These officers will take an oath of office administered by the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
The Legislature then elects Chairpersons and members of both the Committee on Committees and the Executive Board. The Committee on Committees appoints senators to the remaining vacancies in the standing committees, while the Executive Board supervises all legislative services and employees.
After electing the Executive Board, the Legislature elects the chairmen for each of the Legislature’s eleven standing committees. Finally, the Legislature elects the chairmen of Special and Select Committees, which includes the Rules, and Enrollment and Review Committees.
The first 10 days of session are focused primarily on bill introduction. During this time, senators submit their proposed bills, which will then be referenced to an applicable committee for a public hearing. After these 10 days, no new bills can be introduced.
This year is unique because it is a redistricting session. At the start of the new decade, the Executive Board appoints the members of the Redistricting Committee. This committee’s primary goal is to help the Legislature update their districts in response to the federal census numbers. The committee will adopt guidelines, and present them for the Legislature’s approval. They also will formulate redistricting plans for congressional and other districts. In layman’s terms, redistricting means that we re-draw the statewide political boundaries based on the new census population counts.
Next week, we will review how a bill becomes a law in the State of Nebraska.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604; telephone 402-471-2733; email: email@example.com.