Week 3 of the Nebraska Legislature

After the previous week’s marathon hearing on over 58 proposed changes to the legislative rules, senators last week debated seven proposals that were advanced to the floor by the rules committee and eventually adopted the permanent rules with relatively little drama. Perhaps the most publicized and controversial potential change, one that would have done away with the process of electing committee chairs by secret ballot, was not voted out of the rules committee. Maybe the group of senators who had previously spoken publicly in favor of nixing the secret ballot process were satisfied to let this one go for now, in light of the fact that most in that group who wanted committee chairmanships won handily even with the secret ballot intact. Chair Erdman said the committee worked to whittle the list of proposals down to those that were most likely to be widely approved by members, in order to avoid a multi-day debate over proposed rules that some had previously forecast.

If you weren’t glued to your legislative live stream last week, you might have missed a surprise motion from Sen. Conrad to adjourn the session Sine Die. Conrad filed the motion, she said, in response to bills being introduced that were an affront to the rights and safety of trans Nebraskans. The motion was taken up at a time when only eleven Senators were on the floor. Sen. Ballard quickly responded by “calling the house”, which requires all senators who had checked in that day to return to the floor before a vote on the motion can be taken. Interestingly, had Ballard not made that move, I’m told that there would have been enough votes among the majority of the eleven on the floor to adjourn the session Sine Die. Conrad and others who voted in support of her motion noted that in all likelihood, had that happened, Governor Pillen would have quickly called the legislature back into session anyway. But the motion sent a message, she said, and put other legislators on notice that attacks on the rights of Nebraskans will not be quietly tolerated.

Bills of Interest

Now that all bills are in, here’s a quick, non-comprehensive rundown of some that CSN readers might want to have on your radar:


  • LB 753 (Linehan): Provide tax credits for donors to private schools that may discriminate
    against their students; funneling public dollars away from public schools
  • LB 811 (Murman): Allow teachers to use physical force on students
  • LR 24CA (Albrecht): Would ask voters to approve dissolution of the state Board of Education, replacing it with a Governor-appointed Education Commissioner
  • LB 222 (Fredrickson): Would prevent colleges from asking about applicant’s criminal history

Housing & Tenants Rights:

  • LB 248 (Vargas): Prohibits housing discrimination based on source of income
  • LB 424 (DeBoer): Create a state Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the inadequate supply of affordable housing
  • LB 187 (J. Cavanaugh): Provide legal representation for people facing evictions
  • LB 8 (Blood): Eviction protection for mobile home tenants
  • LB 175 (Dungan): Remove evictions from tenant records

Food Access:

  • LB 285 (Walz): Requires schools with more low income students to serve free breakfast and lunch
  • LB 84 (Day): Eliminates an expiration date for expanded SNAP eligibility
  • LB 88 (Hunt): Lifts lifetime ban on SNAP benefits for former drug felons
  • LB 99 (M. Cavanaugh): Would provide free school meals for all students

Alleviating Child Poverty:

  • LB 290 (M. Cavanaugh) and LB 310 (Conrad): Increase the eligibility limit and maximum payments under ADC
  • LB 233 (J Cavanaugh): Disregards child support for ADC benefit determination
  • LB 294 (Conrad): Creates a state Child Tax credit
  • LB 12 (Blood): Creates a public Milk Bank for families in need
  • LB 419 (Wishart): Extends Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 1 year
  • LB 35 (Deboer): Extends the expiration date of the increased Child Care Subsidy rate
  • LB 57 (M Cavanaugh): Would adopt a Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program
  • LB 85 (Day): Would expedite eligibility for children to receive CHIP

Wages & Taxation:

  • LBs 327 (Raybould) and 15 (Briese): Make exceptions and place restrictions on the minimum wage initiative approved by voters
  • LB 588 (Day): Requires minimum wage be paid to all school district employees
  • LB 618 (McDonnell): Allow DACA recipients to be eligible for unemployment benefits
  • LB 367 (Conrad) and 16 (Briese): Increase employment opportunities for people with criminal records
  • LB 641 (Kauth): Accelerates Social Security tax cut and phaseout passed last year
  • LB 754 (Linehan): Would create a 3.99% flat tax rate for all income brackets; disproportionately burdening lower income taxpayers
  • LB 58 (J. Cavanaugh): Sales tax exemption for diapers

Reproductive Rights:

  • LB 626 (Albrecht): Would ban abortion after 6 weeks, before many people know they are pregnant
  • LB 606 (Albrecht): Provides tax credits to donors to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are known to dispense misinformation and discourage women from seeking abortions
  • LB 488 (Hunt): Requires hospital emergency rooms to provide information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors, and dispense it if requested
  • LB391 (Day): Prevents Nebraskans from being criminalized for any pregnancy outcome
  • LR 18CA and 19CA (Hunt), LR 20CA (Conrad): Give voters the opportunity to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution

LGBTQ+ Rights:

  • LBs 169 & 670 (Hunt): Prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • LB 179 (Fredrickson): Prohibit conversion therapy for minors
  • LBs 574 and 575 (Kauth): Prohibits gender affirming care for trans youth and prevents them from participating in school sports
  • LB 371 (Murman): Prohibit minors from participating in or attending drag shows

Voting Rights:

  • LB 535 (Slama): Implementation of voter ID initiative that creates barriers for rural, elderly, and marginalized voters

What’s Next

Bill hearings begin this week, and senators will have to buckle up for a grueling workload over the next month or so during which they must hear nearly 800 bills. Speaker Arch wants the body to be expedient with hearings in order to allow more time on the floor to maximize the number of priority bills that see a vote, he said. In order to accomplish this, he’s decided that the schedule will be as follows: This week will be afternoon hearings, with senators just checking in in the morning on the floor. The following two weeks, January 30-Feb 10, committees will hold both morning and afternoon hearings. I believe he will reassess hearing schedules midway through that period based on how committees are progressing through the bills assigned them.

Governor Pillen will deliver his State of the State address on Wednesday at 10:00am. This is typically where the Governor lays out his priorities and is a good indicator of what measures he’ll back (and maybe some he’ll oppose).

Until Next Week,
Your Capitol Fly on the Wall