107th Legislature First Session
On January 6, the 107th Legislature first session will begin. The first session of the Legislature is filled with much activity including electing leadership for the 107th Legislature, introduction of many bills, setting the biennial budget, and crafting of new district boundaries for the Legislature based on the 2020 Census numbers. This year, eight of the 49 State Senators will be in their first session while 17 State Senators were reelected in November.
First thing on January 6, the newly elected and reelected Senators will be sworn in. Following the swearing in, they will move to vote on the Speaker of the Legislature and all committee chairs for the two years of the 107th Legislature. In addition to electing leadership, there will be a debate on the rules, which could be interesting this year to determine how the Legislature will handle the pandemic and the fact that every bill introduced during the session gets a public hearing on the bill. It is important to note the first session of each Legislature is the “long session,” the 90-day session. This includes 90 days of the Legislature meeting, and not like some other states where it would be 90 calendar days.
During the first 10 days of the session, Senators are allowed to introduce bills they want to be debated during the session. One never knows how many bills may be introduced during the session. In the past, I have watched as anywhere from about 700 to 1,000 bills are introduced. I will be interested to watch this session to see if there is a limit on number of bills to be introduced and how the rules debate will be handled.
In Nebraska with our one-house Unicameral, the people are to be the second-house of government. It is our duty as the second-house to engage with our Legislature and hold our elected representatives accountable. The Nebraska Legislature is available to all citizens of Nebraska in many forms.
The website for the Nebraska Legislature, www.NebraskaLegislature.gov, provides much valuable information. This site will give you a list of all of the bills introduced where you can see a summary of each bill and easily click to read the bill. You will also find the link to the calendar for the agenda for each day the Legislature is in session and the calendar for the hearings for the bills. Most importantly, you can find your State Senator, their contact information, the bills they have introduced and also their committee assignments.
The Nebraska Legislature also has every hearing and every minute of the session broadcast where you can watch it on Nebraska Educational Television. You can stream it on your computer, through the app on your phone, or on your broadcast television channel, NET2. The ability to watch the debate on bills and the testimony on hearings is valuable for the citizens of Nebraska.
Upon completion of the bill introduction phase of the session, LIBA will meet with our Legislative Action Committee to review bills and determine recommendations for the LIBA Board of Directors to consider our stances on legislation proposed. I encourage you to follow the introduction of legislation closely and the process. As members of the second-house, our voice must be heard. If you see bills introduced in the Legislature which you believe have impacts on business, please contact the LIBA office and let us know so we can go through our process to review the legislation.