The Legislative Process

When the 109th Nebraska Legislature convenes on Jan. 3, NSEA will be there to advocate for bills that will benefit Nebraska students and educators. Senators have spent the past few months preparing for the 60-day session and so has your professional association.

Anyone may suggest an idea for a new law, but a senator, a group of senators or a legislative committee must introduce the idea before the Legislature can formally consider it. Outlined below is the process a bill must undergo before it becomes a law.

Research & Drafting
First, senators and their staff research issues and explore legislative solutions. Bills can be introduced to establish new laws or modify (even repeal) existing ones. Extensive research occurs in the interim as committees delve into issues outlined in interim study resolutions.

A senator then collaborates with a bill drafter to convert their idea into the appropriate legal format for a bill.

Bill Introduction
Typically, bills are introduced during the first 10 days of a regular legislative session. To introduce a bill, a senator files it with the clerk of the Legislature. Bills introduced in Nebraska must contain only one subject. The clerk then reads the title of the bill into the record, assigns a bill number, prints copies and posts the bill on the Legislature's website.

Every bill must receive a public hearing before a legislative committee. Fiscal notes outlining the cost of the legislation are prepared before the committee hearings. Committees may decide to indefinitely postpone the measure, hold it for more discussion or advance it to the full Legislature.

General File
General file is the first time the full Legislature can debate and vote on bills. Bills on general file may be amended, indefinitely postponed, sent back to committee or advanced to the next stage. After a bill is advanced from general file, it undergoes the process of enrollment and review or "E&R."

Select File
Select file offers another opportunity for amendments and debate. Bills on select file may be amended, indefinitely postponed, sent back to committee or advanced. If advanced, the bill and its adopted amendments are sent to enrollment and review. Once all amendments are incorporated, the bill is then printed for final reading.

Final Reading
During final reading the clerk of the Legislature is required to read every bill aloud in its entirety. A three-fifths vote of the Legislature can waive this requirement. A bill may not be amended on final reading but may be returned to select file.

No bill can be passed on final reading until at least five legislative days after the bill is introduced and one legislative day after it is placed on final reading but may be returned to select file for amendment.

To the Governor
If the Legislature passes a bill on final reading, it goes to the governor. The governor has five days to consider the bill. If the governor signs a bill or declines to act, it becomes law. If the governor vetoes the bill, it returns to the Legislature. A three-fifths vote by lawmakers is needed to override a veto.

Nebraska Law
Bills approved by the governor become law three months after the Legislature adjourns. Bills may take effect earlier if they contain an emergency clause. Thirty-three votes are needed to pass an emergency clause.