Executive Council – Unicameral Update

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Broadening access to legislative activity, ending nonpartisan elections to the state Legislature, and creating a commission of inquiry were among the proposals considered this session by the Council of administration.

Nebraskanians would have had expanded access to video of legislative proceedings under a bill advanced to the general record by the committee.

Nebraska Public Media currently broadcasts and broadcasts live video coverage of legislative committee hearings and floor proceedings. LB777, as introduced by Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer, would have required the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission to develop and maintain an indexed, publicly available digital archive of this coverage, beginning in January 2023.

The archive would not have been considered the official record of legislative debates and archive videos from previous years would have been added as soon as they became available.

A committee amendment would instead have required the Board to create and maintain the archive. NETC would have been required to provide closed captioning for live video coverage of parliamentary debates and hearings. Historical video coverage would have been added only for previously captured videos that could be captioned.

The bill has been advanced to the general record but has not been scheduled for debate this session.

A move to consider repealing a constitutional requirement that members of the Legislative Assembly must be elected on nonpartisan ballots was considered by the Executive Council, but did not advance from committee.

The Nebraska Constitution currently requires that state senators be nominated and elected on ballots that do not state their political party affiliation. If approved by the Legislature, LR282CA, sponsored by Senator Sterling Julie Slama, would have placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in the 2022 general election to remove this provision.

The Executive Council also considered a proposal that would have required the Legislative Assembly to appoint a special committee to study and investigate operations at the AltEn ethanol plant in Mead.

The now closed ethanol plant used treated seeds as feedstock, leaving behind toxic by-products – known as wet cake – that could have contaminated water, soil and the air surrounding the installation.

Under LR159, sponsored by Bellevue Senator Carol Blood, the proposed committee would have been made up of nine members of the Legislative Assembly, appointed by the Executive Council. The committee would have been authorized to hold hearings and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of accounts, documents and testimony.

LR159 did not advance any committee.

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