Monday, January 31, 2011

Mixed prospects ahead for LB 566 in committee

Nebraska’s Legislative Bill 566 (LB 566), which would create a system for online initiative petition-signing in the Cornhusker state, faces mixed prospects of success in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

On the one hand, according to Christy Abraham, legal counsel for the committee, the committee chair, Senator Bill Avery, is “generally in favor of using technology to advance electoral processes.” In fact, Senator Avery introduced a bill in the last session that would have set up such a system for online, electronic signing of initiative petitions.

On the other hand, that bill failed to get out of committee. Also, according to Ms. Abraham, given the financial situation in Nebraska and throughout the country, “anything that’s going to cost any money will have trouble getting out of committee.”

Just how much LB 566 would cost the state will be the subject of research and calculation by the unicameral legislature’s Legislative Fiscal Office, which will release a report on the bill’s fiscal impact the day before the bill’s public hearing.

That public hearing, according to Ms. Abraham, will take place “sometime in February or perhaps early March.”

The Nebraska legislature is in session until “mid-June.” In order to be approved by the body, bills need to be approved by their respective committees by March 17th.

Ms. Abraham told Etopia News that it would be hard to gauge committee support for the bill at this point because the committee has a lot of new members.

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