Racial Justice Legislative Slate

CSN member, Voices for Children, is hosting a Facebook event with JaKeen Fox and other community activists to discuss bills for the first Racial Justice Legislative Slate. The bills and action requests will be outlined in an online event, hosted on Zoom and livestreamed/recorded on Facebook. Here is a list

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All About the Veto

The veto – the elusive decision – is as an important element of our national and state lawmaking framework. In light of the one house Nebraska Legislature, gubernatorial veto power serves as an important check in the system.

I apologize in advance for how many times you are about to read the “v” word. There is truly no appropriate alternative.

The Legislature passes a bill, the Governor can then veto. The end? Certainly not. Last session, the Legislature overrode three vetoes by then newly elected Governor Ricketts – a bill to allow DACA recipients to obtain drivers licenses, a gas tax increase, and a bill to eliminate the death penalty. Notably, the Governor did not use line item veto power to make any changes to the state budget. This year, the Governor also signed the budget bills without any [official] objection in the form of line item vetoes.

In fact, as of now, the Governor has yet to veto any legislation for 2016. With three working days left in this session, there is one piece of legislation rumored (with justification) to be under a threat of veto. That is LB 947 – a bill to allow work authorized DACA recipients or DREAMers to obtain professional or commercial licenses. LB 947 is on final reading, the last stage of debate.

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Nearing the Finish Line

Yes, there is still a little over two weeks left this session – or 6 working days. A few big issues have yet to see the stage. However, there is another cloud looming over the Capitol – term limits. Ahead of the impassioned farewell speeches set for Day 60, I politely ask that you set aside preconceived opinions about term limits as a concept so we can take a moment to assess the landscape.

Here are the Senators that are leaving after this session:

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Saying Thanks

Thank You and Good Night.

During session, senators’ inboxes are flooded with emails pleading them to vote a certain way. But, the emails that shine through – the emails that just might trigger a smile or reinforce a decision – are the “thank you” emails. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare – quite the contrary.

Gratitude may be shown in all caps with a big, bold, THANK YOU in the subject line or a professional, factual, paragraph of recognition.

Looking for a Senator’s email addresses? They are listed on the Legislature’s website.

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Rules, Budgets, and Bills

The Rules of the Nebraska Legislature are similar to the rules we have in this place we call “society”. There is the black and white, written rule and then there is the gray – the room for interpretation, the discretion of “the chair”, and the masterful way each individual rule can be used for one’s advantage or tapped as a hammer when needed.

The Rules of the Nebraska Legislature are so critical to the process that each session, senators must adopt the rules before any other action can take place. Of course, you have to have the black and white before you can even get started. There is a Rules Committee of the Legislature and a Rules Chair. We can go down that road another time, but for now let’s start with the basics. Here are the rules for the 2016 Legislative Session. If you are following floor debate on a specific bill, the answers you seek may be buried in the rules…example:

Germaneness – Is the amendment “germane” to the bill? What is the requirement? Who decides? When can this even come up?

Translation: Germaneness is as much of a rule as a tactic. It is the ultimate “gray”.

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