The Real Deal
Without the real deal, the policy making process can miss the mark.
Every bill in the Nebraska Unicameral has a public hearing. This tradition is baked into the process and (most) Senators attend all hearings, listen to hours of testimony, and ask thoughtful questions.
You will almost always hear a thank you to the mother who shared her story through tears in the Health and Human Services Hearing, an acknowledgement to the correctional officer who came before Judiciary to tell his story from the day-to-day grind, and a thoughtful question or two proposed to the well prepped high school student who went before the Education Committee. These are small, but not trivial things. They are part of what makes the Unicameral tick.
Every. Person. Has. A. Chance. To. Be. Heard.
Sometimes hundreds of Nebraskans show up for a hearing and the process can get messy. What was that saying about how the sausage is made again…? In Nebraska – this may seem idealist – it’s actually not just the back room where decisions are made.
As Senators consider heavily debated topics like motorcycle helmets and medical cannabis, the weight of these issues doesn’t just come from the policies being considered, it comes from the hundreds of Nebraskans who have and continue to physically communicate with Senators and their offices.
Yes, both the motorcycle folks and the medical cannabis fighters both have paid lobbyists on hand, but it does not in any way diminish their work to get there. Their steps, their voices, and their determination will never be forgotten by the Capitol walls. Yes, these are two very different issues – apples and oranges – but the passion behind them is substantial.
There are so many battles that have been waged by walking the Capitol halls and the Unicameral is better for it. Even the biggest cynic of the cynical around the building can be moved or inspired every once in a while.
The advocates pushing the Nebraska data, the individuals sharing their stories, and even the paid lobbyists, are all part of the real deal.
See below for how to make your voice heard!
Logistics for newcomers:
Click here to find your senator. Once you enter your address and the Senator’s picture pops up, just click and it will take you to their page with all of their contact information.
Click here to look up legislation by the bill number. Once you get to the bill’s page, it will list the hearing date and the committee referred. Later on, all information related to that bill will be on this page.
Click here to view the list of committees and navigate to their information pages. Each page will have information about what room they meet in, at what time, and any other special instructions. Under “resources” on the right side of the page, click on “hearing schedule” to go to the date you are looking for.
Click here for more details about testifying in a public hearing on a bill.
Testifying in person is not the only way to make your support or opposition known on a bill. You can email or mail a letter to the Chairperson of the Committee in which the bill will be considered and the members of the committee both of which can be found on the Committee’s page. Under Committee Members, click on the Chairperson’s name and you can find their contact information. If you would like your letter to be included in the official record of the public hearing on a bill, you must indicate that in your email or letter. The best way to accomplish this is to email your letter to the Chairperson and request that it be “read into the record.” Even better is to email the letter to the committee clerk. Unfortunately, there is not a way to submit a letter electronically other than email. Committee Clerk email addresses can be identified by calling the Chairperson’s office and asking or referencing the paper “roster” that can be picked up in the Clerk of Legislature’s office.