Committee Structure of the Nebraska Legislature
By Dr. Michael Dulaney
Nebraska Council of School Administrators
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|Administrative Rules & Regulations Review||Eliminated in 1986||7|
|Banking, Commerce & Insurance||Current||8|
|Business & Labor||Current||7|
|Constitutional Revision & Recreation||Eliminated in 1986||7|
|Government, Military & Veterans Affairs||Current||8|
|Health and Human Services||Current||7|
|Miscellaneous Subjects||Eliminated in 1986||8|
|Nebraska Retirement Systems||Current||6|
|Public Health & Welfare||Eliminated in 1985||7|
|Public Works||Eliminated in 1986||8|
|Transportation||Eliminated in 2002||8|
|Transportation and Telecommunications||Current||8|
7 Agriculture Committee. The Agriculture Committee is comprised of eight members. Legislative measures referred to the committee include crop development, exports, livestock, brands, auction markets, public grain warehouses, grain storage, farming and ranching, fertilizer, agricultural chemicals, weights and measures, eating facilities, etc.
Education Committee. The Education Committee is one of several standing committees that receive the most referred bills and resolutions each year. The committee reviews legislative proposals concerning school districts, school reorganization, compulsory education, special education, certification, post-secondary education, state colleges and universities, vocational technical schools, public school funding, the State Board of Education and the Department of Education, NETV, ESUs, etc.15Business and Labor Committee. The Business and Labor Committee is one of three standing committees comprised of seven members. The committee accepts jurisdiction over such issues as workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, labor and employment relations, the Commission of Industrial Relations, fair employment practices, health and safety regulations, labor conditions, claims against the State, wages and hours, the Nebraska Elevator Code, etc.
General Affairs Committee. This eight member committee reviews legislative measures concerning the State Electrical Act, liquor and liquor control, gambling and lottery, cemeteries, libraries, trade names and practices, etc.16
Natural Resources Committee. The eight-member Natural Resources Committee reviews issues and legislation concerning water and water rights, irrigation, flood control, the Department of Water Resources, soil conservation, public power, oil and gas, environmental issues, hazardous waste, air pollution, parks, endangered species, boating, etc.20
Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee. The smallest standing committee in terms of membership is the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee, which is comprised of six members. There are so few legislative measures assigned to this committee that the committee has no regular schedule during each session. The committee meets as needed to hold public hearings and to hold executive sessions. The committee reviews all legislation relevant to the public employees' retirement systems (State Employees, School Employees, Judges, State Patrol, and Counties). The Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee is automatically a voting member of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.21Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee consists of eight members and has the distinction of usually having the most legislative proposals referred to it each year. The committee is responsible for so many measures that the committee chair often limits the total allowable time for each public hearing. The committee's subject-matter jurisdiction includes the courts, judges, juvenile code, criminal code, crimes and punishments, criminal procedure, civil procedure, etc.
|Education Commission of the States||3|
|Legislative Program Evaluation||5|
.Board of the Legislature to appoint the six member special committee on Building Maintenance.27 The purpose of the committee is to exercise oversight of the deferred and preventive maintenance activities for state operated buildings, including the Capitol. The selection of members is made on the basis of maintenance interest and knowledge. At least two members must be selected from the Committee on Appropriations, one of whom must be the chairperson. Building Maintenance Committee. It is the responsibility of the Executive
The Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation represents half of the Nebraska Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation, which is composed of ten regular members (five from the Legislature's committee and five individuals appointed by the Governor).Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation. The Special Committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation consists of five senators. The members and the chairman of this committee are elected in the same manner as is customary in the case of the members and chairman of other standing committees of the Legislature. In addition to the regular members, the President (Lt. Governor) and the Speaker of the Legislature serve as ex officio (non-voting) members of this committee.
The Committee functions during the regular sessions of the Legislature and also during the interim periods between sessions. The purposes of the Committee are to: (1) carry forward the participation of the state as a member of the Council of State Governments; (2) encourage and assist the legislative, executive, administrative and judicial officials and employees of the state to develop and maintain contact with officials and employees of the other states, the federal government, and local units of government; (3) endeavor to advance cooperation between the state and other units of government whenever it seems advisable to do so by formulating proposals for facilitating (i) the adoption of compacts, (ii) the enactment of uniform or reciprocal statutes, (iii) the adoption of uniform or reciprocal administrative rules and regulations, (iv) the informal cooperation of governmental offices with one another, and (v) the interchange and clearance of research and information.30
Legislative Program Evaluation Committee. This five-member Committee is comprised of the Chairperson of the Executive.Board, the Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, and three other members of the Legislature chosen by the Executive.Board.31 The Committee is designed to meet as needed for the purpose of selecting programs to be evaluated, approving scope statements and evaluation plans for program evaluation projects, reviewing completed program evaluation reports, and conducting public hearings.
Executive.Board. The Executive.Board consists of a Chairperson, a Vice chairperson, and six members of the Legislature, to be chosen by the Legislature at the commencement of each 90-day session of the Legislature. In addition, the Speaker serves as a voting member of the Executive.Board. The Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee also serves on the Executive.Board but in an ex officio (nonvoting) capacity whenever the board is considering fiscal administration.
During the initial session of the Nebraska Unicameral in 1937, one of the first bills to be passed involved the creation of the "Legislative Council," which currently consists of all members of the Legislature. The principle purpose of the Legislative Council is to consider legislative policies during the interim periods.32 The exact duties of the Council include examining the effects of previously enacted statutes and recommend modifications, and to generally collect information concerning the government and general welfare of the state.33
|Committee on Committees||13|
|Enrollment and Review||1|
Enrollment and Review Committee. The Enrollment and Review (E&R) Committee is unique in that it is a committee of one member, the chairperson. The E&R Chairperson is also unique by virtue of selection since the youngest member of the Legislature, at the time of the election, is considered "nominated" for the position. In the absence of the E&R Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee assumes the duties of the E&R Chairperson.38Committee on Committees. As noted earlier in this document, the members of the Committee on Committees carry a particularly crucial role in the legislative process: selection of members on other committees. The Committee on Committees is expected to provide fair geographic representation on each committee under its auspices, including all standing committees.
This position is perhaps one of the few chairs that is not highly sought by members of the Legislature since it requires an ongoing diligence and awareness of the legislative process. The E&R Chair is responsible for procedurally "moving" for the adoption of E&R amendments to every bill or resolution at every stage of the legislative process. E&R amendments are technical amendments proposed by the Revisor of Statutes (bill drafters) in order to ensure accuracy in punctuation, citations, grammar, spelling, etc. It is not an uncommon sight during a session to witness the presiding officer and the E&R Chair in a continuous, almost mundane, back-and-forth effort to request and receive motions to adopt E&R amendments to facilitate the legislative process.
Reference Committee. The Executive.Board serves as the Reference Committee. The Reference Committee reviews each bill and resolution and then either refers the matter to the appropriate committee (in the case of bills and resolutions to amend the Constitution) or to General File (in the case of all other resolutions and "revisor" bills). The process involves the matching of each measure with the committee which has subject-matter jurisdiction over the issue contained in the bill/resolution or which has traditionally handled the issue in the past.39
2 Bothum, Comer, and Sittig, "Committee Assignments in the Nebraska Legislature," 70.
3 Id., 72.
7 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," LRD 89-25 (September 1989), 29.
8 NEB. RULES OF THE LEG. Rule 3, § 3(a).
9 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," LRD 89-25 (September 1989), 29.
10 NEB. RULES OF THE LEG. Rule 8, § 2.
11 Id., Rule 8, § 7.
12 NEB. REV. STAT. § 79-1031.01.
13 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," LRD 89-25 (September 1989), 30.
14 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," 30.
15 Id., 31.
18 Id., 32.
20 Id., 33.
21 NEB. REV. STAT. § 50-416.01.
22 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," 34.
23 NEB. REV. STAT. § 77-2715.01(2).
24 Legislative Research Division, "Breakdown of Assignment to Committees," 34.
25 Id., 35.
26 NEB. RULES OF THE LEG. Rule 3, § 5(a).
27 NEB. REV. STAT. § 81-185.
28 Id., § 79-1504.
29 Id., §§ 81-816 to 81-824.
31 Id., § 50-1204.
32 NEB. REV. STAT. § 50-401.
33 Id., § 50-402.
34 Id., § 50-401.01.
35 Id., § 50-401.01.
36 Nebraska Legislator's Guide.
37 NEB. RULES OF THE LEG. Rule 3, § 4(a).
38 Id., Rule 3, § 4(d).
39 Id., Rule 3, § 4(e).
40 Id., Rule 3, § 4(f).
41Id., Rule 3, § 4(g).