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A New Legislative Session

At the start of Nebraska’s 104th Legislature, new senators will be sworn in, committee chairs will be elected, and the legislative process will begin.  We will be tracking introduced bills containing issues important to children and families. To find out who your Senator is or track the progress of particular bills, visit the State Legislature’s website.

Here is a reminder of how bills move through Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature:

After an idea for a bill is proposed, which could come from Senators’ constituents or organizations such as ours, it is introduced, numbered, and assigned to one of fourteen committees organized around a particular public policy issue area. All bills are introduced within the first ten days of the legislative session. Upon receiving its referral to a specific committee, the bill is given a public hearing during which anyone is welcome to come and provide testimony for or against the bill.

A bill then moves to General File where all of the legislature debates the bill and can make amendments. The bill must receive 25 votes to reach Select File, the second stage of debate. Final amendments are made in Select File before moving to Final Reading. If the bill does not receive final legislative approval, it may be returned to Select File for further changes. Otherwise, the bill is given to the Governor to sign. The Governor may sign the bill into law, veto it, which the Legislature can override with 30 votes, or do nothing allowing the bill to become law after 5 days without a signature. The legislature may indefinitely postpone the bill at the public hearing, General File, Select File, or Final Reading stage, effectively ‘killing the bill’.

With the Legislative session starting tomorrow, we expect that there will be an ongoing debate about taxes.  As the debate unfolds, it will be important to keep in mind that we have to both ensure that our tax system is fair to working families and that we have the revenue needed to pay for things that keep our communities strong like quality schools.  We also expect that things left unresolved in the previous year, like prison reform and Medicaid expansion, will carry forward into the new Legislature.  On the kids and families front, we can also expect ongoing conversations about improvements to our juvenile justice system and continued conversations about how to ensure that children in economically disadvantaged families have the best possible opportunity to succeed.

We’ll be going into further detail on some of these things in the coming weeks, and we hope that you’ll stay engaged with us as we continue working to make Nebraska a better place for all our kids and families.

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