As the 2014 State Legislative Session gets underway, it’s was a good time for a reminder of how the state legislative process works. The State Legislature’s website a good resource for finding your Senator, learning more about the legislative process, or following the progress of a bill online.
Our handy illustration shows the typical path of a bill through the Nebraska Legislature:
Here’s a little more information on each step that a bill goes through.
Idea — Ideas for bills come from many places, and are often generated by problems that are brought to a State Senator by one of his or her constituents. Voices for Children will sometimes bring bills to a Senator and these are often based on best practices from other states.
Introduction — All bills are introduced in the first ten days of the legislative session. Once they are introduced, they are referred to a committee.
Committee Hearing — Every bill introduced gets a public hearing and anyone is welcome to testify. Testifiers are typically limited to about 5 minutes.
General File — General File is the first round of debate by the full legislature. It requires a minimum of 25 votes to move a bill forward from General File. A bill can also be amended on General File.
Select File — Select file is the second round of debate. Bills can be amended on Select File as well.
Final Reading — This is typically the final step of legislative approval for the bill. No amendments to a bill can be made on Final Reading.
Governor — Once a bill has received legislative approval, it goes to the Governor to be signed. The Governor can sign the bill into law, veto it or it automatically becomes law in five days without his signature. If the Governor vetoes the bill, the Legislature can override the veto with 30 votes.
As always, Voices for Children is happy to be a resource on the legislative process and current bills. If your organization is interested in having a staff member come for an advocacy training or talk in more detail about bills impacting Nebraska kids, comment below or contact us at voices @ voicesforchildren.com.