We are in “the interim” on the Legislative calendar. It is that time between legislative sessions.

Most senators have jobs, farms, ranches and businesses to attend to. It’s time to go home and reconnect with family too. It’s important to remember we have a part-time citizen legislature. Each of the 49 senators are ordinary citizens with families, lives and professions. Many have re-election campaigns to run as well.

The interim is also the time to work on bill ideas and prepare for the coming session. This year the interim will be shorter than usual because we will have a special session in September. It’s purpose is to prepare the new political district maps.

The constitution requires this to be done once every 10 years after the census, so political boundaries can be drawn according to the population counted in the census. Unfortunately, the federal government is in violation of federal law because they are delinquent in providing the states with this data. It was due in April, but we won’t receive it until August. We cannot have another election until this is done. 

The special session will be contentious because this process creates a map everyone will have to live with for the next 10 years. Three short months after the special session, the second session of the 107th Legislature will meet. Second sessions are always more contentious than first sessions because of the looming election in 2022.

It’s my sincere hope that the heated debates in the special session don’t carry over into the regular session.

Big ideas are won or lost during the interim. The groundwork senators do during the interim is a good indication of the type of bills you can expect to see them introduce in the coming session. The way that is done is called “an interim study.” These studies are done by the many committees of the legislature during the interim.

More than 100 interim studies were introduced by senators this past session. Each one is referenced (assigned) to a committee. It is up to the committee chair to decide whether or not the committee will hear the interim study. In the government committee that I chair, we received several interim studies. 

We are working with a very compressed timeline for interim study hearings this year because the redistricting special session happens in the middle of the interim. Most of the committee chairs apply a simple test to interim study proposals.

If the idea was a bill being heard by the committee, and it’s clear the idea wouldn’t receive enough votes to advance from the committee to general file, it’s not very likely to be heard. 

The Nebraska Legislature is going to be a very busy place for the remainder of this year and the next. 

Tom Brewer represents dist. 43 — most of the Sandhills — in the state legislature. Contact his office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email tbrewer@leg.ne.gov, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call (402) 471-2628.

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