Civic Nebraska @ the Statehouse: Day 1 of 2022

Jan. 5 marks the first day of the second session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature. Director of Public Policy Westin Miller sets the table for what he expects to be a tense and turbulent 60-day session.

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Y’all, this is a weird one! 

Today marks the beginning of the 2022 legislative session in Nebraska, the second half of the weirdest biennium anyone can remember. 

Westin Miller, Civic Nebraska’s director of public policy.

A quick primer if you’re new: Nebraska’s legislative sessions are divided into bienniums – they’re two-year events. The first year, the “long session,” is 90 legislative days. The second, the “short session,” is 60 legislative days. This is a “short session,” which means everything carries over from last year, plus a bunch of new bills will be introduced. Essentially, we’ve just finished the halftime show. But instead of a break, the halftime show was a special session about redistricting. Yeah.

Here are some things to know. 

New legislation is introduced

Legislation carries over from a long session to a short session within the same biennium, but new bills can also be introduced in the first 10 legislative days (days the body actually meets, not calendar days). That means this year, bills can be introduced until Thursday, Jan. 20. 

There are some huge debates heading our way

The Legislature will be taking up a full menu of high-profile, high-tension debates this session. Abortion, the Nebraska prison system, and property taxes are sure to dominate most of the session. Time, not votes, is the most prolific killer of legislation in Nebraska, and the more controversial bills introduced, the slower the session will move. So we’re expecting this session to move at a glacial pace.

Where does that leave voting rights? 

The insidious actors actively undermining faith in our elections have not calmed down, so we are expecting some harmful legislation to be introduced. The rhetoric has taken on a slightly different flavor since last year, with many of the conspiracy theorists targeting Republican elected officials, calling them cowards for not completely caving to Mike Lindell-style nonsense. We’re fortunate to have few (though certainly not zero) members of the Legislature really compelled by this evidence-free bullying, but we’ll be ready for whatever proposals appear in the next 10 days.

Convention of States, again

One issue we know to be making an early appearance is Sen. Halloran’s LR14, a resolution adding Nebraska to the list of states calling for an Article V constitutional convention. You can read our perspective on “ConCon” here. The Legislature is closely divided on the issue, so it’s going to be close. Never too early to call your senator and ask them to oppose this risky resolution.

OK, time to read some bills! I’ll be back with an update when bill introduction is finished, or if we have any big voting rights news in the meantime. Thanks, as always, for your vigilance and interest. Stay tuned! 

Westin Miller
Director of Public Policy

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