Civic Nebraska @ the Statehouse: Week 1

Week 1 of the 106th Nebraska Legislature is in the books. Committee chairs and members have been chosen, and bills that Civic Nebraska has identified as important have been introduced.

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With Jan. 11’s adjournment of the Nebraska Legislature, the first week of the 2019 session has already come to a close. So far, the mood at the statehouse has been positive. The results of the committee chair elections capture the nonpartisan spirit of our unicameral Legislature. 

Here are some fast facts to take you into the weekend.

Committees are set

Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon

As we look toward the Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee, we congratulate Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon on his election as committee chairman. He will be a great partner and we look forward to working with him. We believe he will see the wisdom in several of important bills addressing election reform and how they will directly help his rural constituents. As a 36-year military veteran, his commitment to our country is worthy of celebration and respect. We are fortunate to have Sen. Brewer’s experience as chairman.  

In addition to Sen. Brewer staying on the Government committee, senators Carol Blood of Bellevue, Mike Hilgers of Lincoln and John Lowe of Kearney also will remain. Congratulations also are in order for newly appointed Sen. Andrew La Grone of Gretna. He is a familiar face on the committee — last year he was the committee’s legal counsel under Sen. John Murante of Gretna, whom Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed La Grone to replace. 

Senators Matt Hansen of Lincoln, Rick Kolowski of Omaha, and Megan Hunt of Omaha are new faces on the committee in 2019. We welcome them and look forward to working with all the members of our favorite committee to modernize Nebraska’s election system, and to stop those that would create unnecessary barriers to the ballot.

Three important bills in particular have been introduced.

We’re pleased that four important pieces of legislation have already been introduced and will be assigned to their respective committees with the first batch of bills this Legislative session.

Here’s the long and short of each of them.

LB83, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne, would provide for the immediate restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation for a felony. This bill would ensure that nearly 8,000 Nebraskans who have served their time but who are currently barred from voting can fully rejoin our democracy and become more engaged members of their communities.

LR2, introduced by Sen. Carol Blood would rescind any previous resolutions calling for an Article V U.S. constitutional convention, removing Nebraska from the list of states with open applications that call for a dangerous constitutional convention.

LB211, introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford, provides for the nonpartisan election of county officers. This bill would help counties focus on policy, rather than parties, for local elections.

LB163, introduced by Sen. Megan Hunt, will encourage local control in elections by allowing counties of any size to take advantage of a vote by mail standard in one or more precincts, with the secretary of state’s permission. 

For the complete Nebraska state senator roster, click here.

For 2019 committee assignments, click here.

Defend democracy. Become a Voting Rights Advocate.

As the session progresses, consider signing up to be a Voting Rights Advocate if you haven’t yet. That way you can get alerts, information, and calls to action from Civic Nebraska on important legislative items.

Have a fantastic weekend, Nebraska!

— John Cartier, J.D.
Director of Voting Rights

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Kimberly Sherwood

From my own personal experience I disagree with LB83. How did we get on the list that LR2 will undo.? LB211 I’m not really familiarly with. LB163 I’ll have to check into it.

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