Public Input Options
Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process.
The following options provide ways for citizens to share their views on a bill with the Legislature.
Please read each option carefully, as each has a different outcome as to how your input is recorded.
As always, persons attending a public hearing in person will have an opportunity to present verbal testimony to the committee and be subject to questioning by the committee members. In-person testimony is generally limited to at least 3 minutes although the chair of each committee has discretion to modify that time limit.
Persons verbally testifying will be listed as a testifier on the committee statement as has been the practice, and have their position included within the official committee hearing record
The Legislature has established an ADA accommodation of public hearing written testimony for qualified individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (as defined in Title I of the American with Disabilities Act, C.F.R. 35.108).
Qualified individuals are eligible to submit written public hearing testimony via an online portal. As an eligible individual submitting written testimony, the person’s name and position will be listed on the committee statement for the legislative bill, gubernatorial appointment, agency budget, or amendment, with a notation that the testimony was submitted as ADA Accommodation Written Testimony.
If you are a qualified individual and would like to submit ADA Accommodation written testimony on a legislative bill, gubernatorial appointment, an agency budget hearing, or an amendment scheduled for public hearing, go to the “Committees” heading on the left side of the home page. From there you will go to “Hearing Schedules” and select the specific hearing to find a link to submit ADA Accommodation written testimony. ADA Accommodation written testimony is allowed once the public hearing has been scheduled and must be submitted and verified prior to 8:00 a.m. CST on the morning of the public hearing.
The hearing schedule may also be reached by going to the online calendar and selecting the date of the public hearing, then selecting “Hearing Schedules.”
In order to facilitate public input, the Nebraska Legislature's website now allows submission of written comments on pending legislation. Two options exist for online submitted comments - comments for the public hearing record as an exhibit and ongoing comments.
To leave an online comment, please visit the corresponding Legislative bill page. To search for a bill, go to our Search Bills and Resolutions page.
Comments for the public hearing as an exhibit are limited to one and are in lieu of in-person testimony.
Ongoing comments are unlimited and may be made throughout the session on the same bill. A bill's content may change significantly as it is amended during the various stages of debate and ongoing comments allow the public to provide commentary throughout the session. Please keep in mind that online comments are not direct communication with a specific senator and responses should not be expected. Complete names and addresses are required and anyone submitting a comment for the public hearing will not be allowed to also testify at the public hearing.
Comments for the Public Hearing Record
Online submitted comments for the public hearing record as an exhibit provide senators with insight into public sentiment on proposed legislation and can be referred to as senators further research and consider an issue. Although a valuable indicator of public opinion, they are not a replacement for in-person testimony because they are not subject to questioning by a legislative committee.
When is it submitted?
Online submitted comments for the public hearing record as an exhibit may be submitted once a bill has been scheduled for public hearing up until 8:00 a.m. CST on the day of the public hearing. Comments must be verified through a confirmation returned from the email address provided by the submitter. Verification must be completed prior to the 8:00 a.m. deadline.
Who sees it?
At the conclusion of the in-person testimony on a bill, committee chairs often read into the record the number of online comments for the public hearing record received. Additionally, all senators and all legislative staff have access to an internal portal to view online comments. With the 2024 session, a separate statement of public comments for the hearing record will be posted on the bill page when a bill is placed on general file. The new statement will list the names of individuals submitting comments and their posision on the bill. The comments also are archived as an exhibit in the committee book, or official committee record. Any person can see the online comments for the public hearing record for a bill by contacting the Clerk of the Legislature's office and requesting a bill history with exhibits, once the full committee book is ready after the session ends.
Ongoing online comments are intended to provide the public with a way to voice their opinions on legislation throughout the life of a bill and for them to provide senators a concise, organized perspective on public sentiment. Because a bill can change from the introduced version at every stage of consideration, the ongoing online comments provide a way for the public to share their views on changes to the bill.
When is it submitted?
Ongoing online comments are allowed once a bill has been scheduled for public hearing. They can continue to be submitted after the hearing as the bill progresses through the legislative process. There is no limit to the number of ongoing online comments, but each comment must be verified through a confirmation returned from the email address provided by the submitter.
Who sees it?
Both senators and legislative staff have access to an internal portal to view online comments. These comments are accessible for the remainder of the legislative biennium but do not become part of the the official legislative record. Any comments submitted with incomplete names or address will not be made available for senators and staff to read.
Annotated Committee Hearing Guidelines
For hearings with large crowds, committee chairpersons have the option to utilize “Annotated Committee Hearing Guidelines” in order to streamline the hearing process and provide consistency. The public hearing schedule will indicate if Annotated Committee Hearing Guidelines will be followed for a specific bill. The Annotated Committee Hearing Guidelines are as follows:
- Individuals who have the opportunity to testify are guaranteed 3 minutes to present their testimony.
- Questions do not count towards overall time
- The principal introducer may arrange some initial invited testimony, but these testifiers are also limited to the 3 minutes, plus questions.
- Testimony will alternate between 1 hour of proponent testimony followed by 1 hour of opponent testimony. There will be some time provided for neutral testimony.
- After the cycle is complete, the committee will recycle back through the proponents and opponents, alternating every hour
- Seating in the hearing room will be divided with one side proponent testimony and one side opponent testimony to avoid the need to fully clear the room when changing to the next hour of debate.
- The Sergeant-at-Arms will serve as an usher to indicate the next testifier.
- Overflow attendance to be seated in a nearby overflow room, if applicable.
- Please verify the hearing room of the committee, as they may have relocated hearing rooms to allow for additional testifiers. additional testifiers.
- Admittance to the hearing room as testifiers exit the room will be managed by the Sergeant-at-Arms and come from persons seated in the overflow room. If you intend to testify but both the hearing room and overflow room are full, please report to the overflow room and the Sergeant-at-Arms will direct you.
- Location of green testifier sign-in sheets and gold non-testifier attendee sign-in sheets will be located in the hearing room and overflow room. If you intend to testify, please fill out a green sheet. Those in the overflow room should bring their sheets with them into the hearing room and be prepared to hand them to the committee clerk upon testifying.