Go Vote, Omaha! Faith Community Response to Climate Change

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha, Barb Thompson, host and a member of the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, speaks with Rev. Kim Morrow, Senior Associate of Verdis Group, about the Faith Communities’ Response to the threats posed by climate change.  

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube. You can also listen to these episodes as podcasts on Podbean.

League of Women Voters Urges Support for HR4

March 21, 2019

TO:               Members of the U.S. House
FROM:         Chris Carson, President
RE:               Support the Voting Rights Advancement Act, H.R. 4

The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to support and pass HR4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to modernize and repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

The legislation responds directly and responsibly to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder and subsequent decisions by state and local jurisdictions to implement discriminatory practices connected to our elections. This legislation will update the coverage formula for preclearance to ensure it is based on contemporary acts of discrimination and provide mechanisms to prevent discrimination in voting nationwide.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) outlawed racial discrimination in voting and established procedures to protect equal access to the vote for every American citizen. But in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the key provision of the VRA that triggered careful review of voting changes in political jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting before they could take effect. Since that decision, politicians in states, counties, cities, and towns across the country have passed laws and adopted practices that discriminate against voters of color and language minorities — making it harder for them to register and more difficult to vote and has shown the continued need for these protections.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would accomplish three major goals:

1)    It re-establishes preclearance coverage for states and localities with a pattern of discrimination in voting with a contemporary look back period.
2)    It provides preclearance nationwide for political subdivisions with substantial minority populations for a limited number of voting changes based upon evidence of historic discriminatory, such as changes to election methods, changes to the qualifications to vote, and deviant polling location consolidation.
3)    It provides for greater transparency and public notice for late-breaking voting changes just before an election, changes in polling resources, and use of demographic and electoral data. 

For decades, ensuring that all eligible Americans have equal access to the ballot is a long-standing value supported by all sectors of our country. It is a value that has united our nation for more than 50 years and is why the League of Women Voters urges you to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act.  

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of April 1

All the bills listed below will have hearings during the week of April 1. Unless otherwise stated, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports these bills.

Find your senator via the Unicameral website, and contact them to urge them to support these bills. Follow the Unicameral Update to find out what happens next with these bills.

Hearings on Tuesday, April 2

Select File

  • LB 217 – Prohibit discrimination against an employee for communicating about employee compensation

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of March 25

All the bills listed below will have hearings during the week of March 25 through March 29. Unless otherwise stated, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports these bills.

Find your senator via the Unicameral website, and contact them to urge them to support these bills. Follow the Unicameral Update to find out what happens next with these bills.

Hearings on Monday, March 25

Business and Labor Committee

Committee members are Senator M. Hansen (Chair), Senator Chambers, Senator Crawford, Senator Halloran, Senator B. Hansen, Senator Lathrop, Senator Slama.

  • LB 19 – OPPOSE – Allow withholding from public of reports of injury under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act as prescribed and provide duties for the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court

Hearings on Tuesday, March 26

Appropriations Committee

Committee members are Senator Stinner (Chair), Senator Bolz, Senator Clements, Senator Dorn, Senator Erdman, Senator Hilkemann, Senator McDonnell, Senator Vargas, Senator Wishart.

  • LB 226 – State intent relating to appropriations for the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Geneva
  • LB 485 – OPPOSE – State intent relating to an appropriation for the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney

Hearings on Wednesday, March 27

Judiciary Committee

Committee members are Senator Lathrop (Chair), Senator Brandt, Senator Chambers, Senator DeBoer, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Slama, Senator Wayne.

  • LB 578 – Provide for venue of legal proceedings challenging laws regarding redistricting

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of March 18

All the bills listed below will have hearings during the week of March 18 through March 22. Unless otherwise stated, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports these bills.

Find your senator via the Unicameral website, and contact them to urge them to support these bills. Follow the Unicameral Update to find out what happens next with these bills.

Hearings on Tuesday, March 19

Education Committee

Committee members are Chair Senator Groene, Senator Brewer, Senator Kolowski, Senator Linehan, Senator Morfeld, Senator Murman, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Walz.

  • LB 351 – Provide for school district levy and bonding authority for cybersecurity and violence prevention
  • LB 683 – Provide for a work plan under the Class V School Employees Retirement Act relating to a one-time lump sum payment to certain retirement system members (oppose)

Hearings on Wednesday, March 20

Judiciary Committee

Committee members are Senator Lathrop (Chair), Senator Brandt, Senator Chambers, Senator DeBoer, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Slama, Senator Wayne.

  • LB 209 – Require information regarding reversal of medication abortion (oppose)
  • LB 503 – Eliminate requirement that physician be physically present in same room when an abortion is performed

Hearings on Thursday, March 21

Health and Human Services Committee

Committee members are Senator Howard (Chair), Senator Arch, Senator Cavanaugh, Senator B. Hansen,Senator Murman, Senator Walz, Senator Williams.

  • LB 629 – Provide criteria for recipients of Title X grant funds

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of March 11

All the bills listed below will have hearings during the week of March 11 through March 15. Unless otherwise stated, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports these bills.

Find your senator via the Unicameral website, and contact them to urge them to support these bills. Follow the Unicameral Update to find out what happens next with these bills.

Bills Being Debated on Tuesday, March 12: General File

  • LB 400 – Change the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuities
  • LB 217 – Prohibit retaliation against employees for communicating about wages

Hearings on March 12

Banking, Commerce and Insurance

Committee members are Senator Williams (Chair), Senator Gragert, Senator Howard, Senator Kolterman, Senator La Grone, Senator Lindstrom, Senator McCollister, Senator Quick

  • LB 295 – Adopt the Unsecured Consumer Loan Licensing Act and clarify licensing provisions under the Delayed Deposit Services Licensing Act and the Nebraska Installment Loan Act (oppose)
  • LB 379 – Change provisions under Delayed Deposit Services Licensing Act (OPPOSE)

Education

Committee members are Senator Groene (Chair), Senator Brewer, Senator Kolowski, Senator Linehan, Senator Morfeld, Senator Murman, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Walz

  • LB 702 – Change provisions under Delayed Deposit Services Licensing Act

Hearings on March 13

Appropriations

Committee members are Senator Stinner (Chair), Senator Bolz, Senator Clements, Senator Dorn, Senator Erdman, Senator Hilkemann, Senator McDonnell, Senator Vargas, Senator Wishart

  • LB 531 – Creates Motor Voter Fund for improvement of voter registration process

Judiciary

Committee members are Senator Lathrop (Chair), Senator Brandt, Senator Chambers, Senator DeBoer, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Slama, Senator Wayne

  • LB 164 – Prohibit electronic transmission or online posting of certain photographs or videos, redefine sexual exploitation, & provide registrable offense under the Sex Offender Registration Act
  • LB 173 – Define/redefine terms of coercion & w/out consent & provide for applicability with respect to sexual assault
  • LB 475 – Create offense of sexual extortion, redefine sexual exploitation, & provide registrable offense under the Sex Offender Registration Act
  • LB 519 – Change statutes of limitations for certain sexual & trafficking offenses & authorize interception of communications relating to such offenses
  • LB 630 – Create offense of sexual extortion & change elements & penalties for sexual offenses

Hearings on March 14

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

Committee members are Senator Brewer (Chair), Senator Blood, Senator M. Hansen, Senator Hilgers, Senator Hunt, Senator Kolowski, Senator La Grone, Senator Lowe

  • LB 687 – Provide for voter registration of applicants for driver’s licenses and state identification cards

Health and Human Services

Committee members are Senator Howard (Chair), Senator Arch, Senator Cavanaugh, Senator B. Hansen,Senator Murman, Senator Walz, Senator Williams

  • LB 555 – Adopt the Sexual Assault Emergency Care Act and provide for disciplinary action against hospitals

Hearings on March 15

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

Committee members are Senator Brewer (Chair), Senator Blood, Senator M. Hansen, Senator Hilgers, Senator Hunt, Senator Kolowski, Senator La Grone, Senator Lowe

  • LB 709 – Provide for a place to express breast milk in the State Capitol

Judiciary

Committee members are Senator Lathrop (Chair), Senator Brandt, Senator Chambers, Senator DeBoer, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Slama, Senator Wayne

  • LB 176 – Eliminate certain mandatory minimum penalties

Revenue

Committee members are Senator Linehan (Chair), Senator Briese, Senator Crawford, Senator Friesen, Senator Groene, Senator Kolterman, Senator Lindstrom, Senator McCollister

  • LB 535 – Prohibit employment discrimination by qualified businesses under the Nebraska Advantage Act

Urge Your Representative to Vote Yes on HR1 This Week

Voters across the country voted for democracy reform up and down the ballot in 2018, sending the 116th Congress a clear message that the country is ready for bold, comprehensive democracy reforms.

And now, HR1, the For The People Act is on the verge of passing the House of Representatives – THIS WEEK the House will vote on this historic piece of legislation.

Call your Representative TODAY through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to vote to pass H.R. 1 – the  “For The People” Act.

HR1 is the biggest democracy reform agenda many of us have seen since the Voting Rights Act. This bill will revamp our voting system, implement fair redistricting, and crack down on dark money in elections so that voters have a stronger voice at the ballot box.

We must get this bold, transformative set of reforms to strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people over the finish line but we cannot do it without your help!

Call your Representative TODAY through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to commit to vote YES on  H.R. 1.

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of March 4

Bills Being Debated on Monday, March 4: General File

The following bills will be on general file starting Monday, March 4:

  • LB 627 – Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity
  • LB 141 – Provide for the offense of assault by strangulation or suffocation
  • LB 400 – Change the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuities
  • LB 217 – Prohibit retaliation against employees for communicating about wages

Hearings on March 4

Business and Labor Committee

The following bills will have hearings in the Business and Labor Committee on Monday, March 4. Committee members are Senator M. Hansen (Chair), Senator Chambers, Senator Crawford, Senator Halloran, Senator B. Hansen, Senator Lathrop, Senator Slama.

  • LB 526 – Change provisions relating to compensation for temporary disability under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act
  • LB 487 – Require the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary (oppose)

Hearings on March 5

Education Committee

The following bills will have hearings in the Education Committee on Tuesday, March 5. Committee members are Chair Senator Groene, Senator Brewer, Senator Kolowski, Senator Linehan, Senator Morfeld, Senator Murman, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Walz.

  • LB 534 -Require public postsecondary educational institutions to conduct an annual sexual assault climate survey

Hearings on March 6

Health and Human Services Committee

The following bill will have a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, March 6. Committee members are Senator Howard (Chair), Senator Arch, Senator Cavanaugh, Senator B. Hansen, Senator Murman, Senator Walz, Senator Williams.

  • LB 518 – Adopt the Support for Trafficking Survivors Act

Judiciary Committee

The following bills will have hearings in Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 6. Committee members are Senator Lathrop (Chair), Senator Brandt, Senator Chambers, Senator DeBoer, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Slama, Senator Wayne.

  • LB 179 – Authorize the appeal of certain motions as final orders (oppose)
  • LB 231 – Change provisions relating to legal defense of juveniles
  • LB 690 – adopt the healthy pregnancies for incarcerated women act

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

The following bills will have hearings in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 6. Committee Members are Senator Brewer (Chair), Senator Blood, Senator M. Hansen, Senator Hilgers, Senator Hunt, Senator Kolowski, Senator La Grone, Senator Lowe.

  • LB 163 – Opens vote by mail for any sized county in lieu of establishing precincts.
  • LB 711 – Change provisions relating to voting qualifications for any person convicted of a felony
  • LB 211 – Make elections for county offices non-partisan (oppose)

How Bills Become Laws in Nebraska

Ever wonder the steps required for an introduced bill to become a Nebraska law? We’ve got a quick explanation below. We hope to empower Nebraskans to be active observers and even participants in the process!

Unicameral 101: How Bills Move through the Lawmaking Process

An Idea Becomes Introduced Text

Each Senator has 10 days from the start of the session to introduce as many bills as they would like. The deadline this year was Jan. 23, so all the bills that will be considered in this session have been introduced. You can find them all on the Nebraska Legislature website.

Bill Gets Assigned to a Committee

The Reference Committee assigns each bill to one of the Standing Committees.

Bill Gets a Hearing

Every bill gets a public hearing at the committee level. You can see the schedule for hearings on the Nebraska Legislature website. (The weekly schedule even has a handy “Add to Calendar” button.) You can watch hearings live or on-demand via NET.

Committee Considers the Bill

You can attend committee hearings in person (the calendar has location information) and optionally participate to support or oppose the bill.

You can also express support or opposition to a bill (while it’s in committee) by submitting written testimony to the committee chair.

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

from the Nebraska Legislature website

The committee hears testimony about the bill and then can vote to:

  • indefinitely postpone the bill (“IPP” in the graphic below), effectively “killing the bill” as it won’t advance to general file this session; or
  • take no action; or
  • amend the bill; or
  • advance the bill to general file, meaning that all senators will vote on it.

(To be clear, they can vote to advance without amending, or can amend and then advance, or even amend but not advance.)

Bill Gets to General File (and Possibly Floor Debate)

If the introduced and/or amended bill gets sent to general file by the committee, then it may or may not be debated and voted on by all the senators from across the state.

The speaker can decide to block the bill from floor debate, meaning no action is taken, or can advance the bill to floor debate.

Senators can offer floor amendments during discussion of a bill. Amendments to bills are voted upon separately. A bill will move to select file if at least 25 senators vote to advance it.

Bill Gets to Select File (and Possibly More Floor Debate)

Once at the select file stage, senators can continue floor debate before voting again to advance, or not advance, the bill.

Bill Gets to Final Reading

Final reading is usually non-controversial. The clerk reads the entire bill, or, if a bill is unusually lengthy, the senators may vote to dispense with reading the entire bill.

If, following the final reading, a majority of senators vote for the bill, the bill passes and then goes to the governor.

Bill Goes to the Governor

The governor has 5 working days to sign the bill, veto the bill, or let the bill pass without his signature. If the governor vetoes the bill, the legislature can override the governor’s veto with 30 votes.

Bill Becomes a Law

If a bill has an “emergency” clause, it becomes law immediately upon the governor’s signature. If not, a bill becomes law 90 days after the last day of the session.

Legislative Process: The Flowchart

Download this graphic as a PDF: Bill-to-Law Process

For even more info, see all of our Unicameral 101 posts, including a video explanation of how a bill becomes a law.

LWVNE Testimony in Support of LB 182

On Feb. 11, the League of Women Voters of Nebraska submitted written testimony in support of LB 182, a bill to adopt the School District Local Option Income Surtax Act.

The revenue committee will hold its hearing on LB 182 at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in Room 1524 at the Unicameral.

Read LWVNE’s testimony below.

Re:  LB 182 (Bolz) Adopt the School District Local Option Income Surtax Act

Dear Senator Linehan and Committee Members,

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska believes in a public educational system financed by a combination of local and state revenues.  Since state government has created the public schools by law, it has a responsibility to aid local school districts in providing adequate and equitable school financing while letting school districts maintain local control (adopted 1981).

Further, the League supports shifting the tax burden from heavy reliance on the local property tax to increased state support while maintaining local control of school district budgets.  The League also supports the provision of adequate revenue from sales and income taxes, both individual and corporate, to support educational services.

On this position, the League endorses Senator Bolz’s LB 182 which lets school districts maintain local control of their budgets while proposing a means of raising revenue that provides relief to property owners tax burden.  It should be stressed that increasing a sales tax to provide relief must be approved by a vote of the electors of those school districts, putting this effort squarely in the hands of the local school district residents.

Real property tax relief has eluded the senate for several years.  This seems to be one common sense step toward providing some relief to those most closely affected by high property assessments.

We urge you to advance LB 182 to General File for debate by the full Senate.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherry Miller, President

Mary Ann Sturek, Education Director