Civic Nebraska @ the Statehouse: Christmas in July

Following COVID-19 shutdowns, the Nebraska Legislature is reconvening on Monday, July 20, to pick up right where we left off.

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Remember when I told you this was a short session and we would wrap up in April?

Oops.

As the Nebraska Legislature reconvenes to finish its 2020 business, I’ve been morbidly amused recalling the number of times I assured supporters that our legislative victories were “a done deal, unless we’re interrupted by an act of god.”

Scary theology aside, the 2020 legislative session was going extraordinarily well for our pro-voter agenda, but the interruption of everything, including the session, by COVID-19 made for a tense and uncertain summer. 

Westin Miller

Fortunately, I have good news: The Legislature is reconvening on Monday, July 20, to pick up right where we left off – Legislative Day 44 (of 60). You can find the new legislative calendar here

Neither of the legislative efforts we opposed this year – voter ID and an Article V constitutional convention/convention of states – advanced from committee. This marks the 10th year Civic Nebraska has successfully defended against unnecessary voter ID legislation. The hearing against voter ID was packed, including with many of you reading this. We can’t thank you enough for your constant vigilance. 

While Civic Nebraska defends Nebraska voters against potentially harmful legislation, this year we also have good news to report on the proactive, pro-voter front. LB1055, a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer, is well on its way to becoming law. LB1055 would guarantee in-person voting options for counties or precincts who conduct elections entirely by mail.

If you follow us at all you know that Civic Nebraska is very supportive of voting by mail and supports its expanded use. But the preservation of in-person voting options is essential for voters who need translation assistance, who need to use an ADA-compliant voting machine, or for Nebraskans who just really like the tradition of voting in person. 

Given the Legislature only ever meets for 60 or 90 days a year, many committees will designate a “Christmas tree bill,” on which senators can “hang” smaller, non-controversial legislation for expedited passage (I’m trying to coin the phrase “legislative salad” instead into which bills can be mixed and chopped. It’s not catching on). LB1055 has become the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee’s “Christmas tree bill” this year, and included is another bill we’ve also worked hard on, LB1086. That bill would codify some important protections for our election observer program

Two days before the session was postponed, LB1055 advanced from General File on a 45-0 vote. It’s high on the agenda for July 20, and we are hopeful it will be discussed and advanced again in the first five days. But if there’s one thing this session has taught us, it’s that relying on calendars is so 2019. 

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