NSBA Legislative Program
Educating our Members
As lawyers, it is imperative that we are up-to-date on changes to the law. The NSBA’s Legislative Program helps to keep you informed of these changes. NSBA Legislative Counsel review every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature (between 500-800 bills every year) and identify proposed legislation that may be of interest to a particular NSBA Section or Committee or to the profession in general. Once these potential bills of interest have been identified (typically between 100-120 a year), they are summarized and made available to the NSBA membership by topic area, so that NSBA members can easily identify proposed legislation impacting their area of law (e.g., juvenile law; real estate, probate and trust; business law, family law etc.). Click here to access the NSBA’s Practice Trackers and Updates, which is sent out weekly while the Legislature is in session with updates on bills of interest, along with reports on legislative actions and hearing dates.
Supporting the Profession
Like other professions (doctors, dentists, bankers, accountants, realtors, etc.), the NSBA Legislative Program also serves to represent and protect the professional interests of the profession. Poorly drafted bills with legal implications that have not been thought through are regularly introduced. Worse, senators may threaten to introduce legislation on behalf of a constituent who is angry at a lawyer or the legal system. We as lawyers need to be represented, and heard, in these situations. Other times, bills are actively introduced on behalf of the NSBA to positively impact a certain area of law. For example, LB 942, introduced and passed in 2012, amended the newly adopted Nebraska Uniform Limited Liability Company Act to require that the published Notice of Organization contain only the information the Certificate of Organization was required to contain – a small change that streamlined the process for business law and general practice attorneys forming LLCs in Nebraska. Similarly, a bill sponsored by the NSBA repealed the requirement that proof of publication of a trade name be filed in the county of the principal place of business of the entity reserving the trade name. This requirement inadvertently remained in statute after other such notices were required only to be filed with the Secretary of State. ??To this end the NSBA has worked to introduce and pass legislation:
- Ensuring legal services are not subject to sales tax;
- Adopting and updating of laws including the Probate Code, Commercial Code, Trust Act, Business Corporation Act, Power of Attorney Act, and the Limited Liability Company Act;
- Improving laws including the Parenting Act and the guardianship and conservatorship statutes and court rules;
- Adopting changes to the rules of civil procedure, rules of evidence, and the Administrative Procedures Act;
- Ensuring the confidentiality of communications with clients;
- Retaining the current statute of limitations for lawyer malpractice; and
- Protecting the public from non-lawyers practicing law.
Serving the Public
A less visible, but still important, part of the NSBA Legislative Program serves to protect the public, who rely on the Bar Association’s legal expertise. A poignant example of this service came last session after a bill was introduced intending to address social security benefits for issue conceived after death. However, the bill as introduced would have resulted in ALL estates being kept open for three years. After testimony by attorneys practicing in the area, the bill now remains in the Judiciary Committee while its legal implications continue to be ironed out. It is in instances like this one that the Association, as experts in the court process, should and did weigh in. Through this function the NSBA created and continuously defends the Commission on Public Advocacy which assists counties in providing representation for indigent criminal defendants in serious criminal matters. The NSBA also spearheaded the establishment of a grant fund for Civil Legal Services which provides funding for civil legal services across the state.??
Improving the Court System
Because lawyers are major participants in the court system, one of the most important functions of the NSBA Legislative Program is the work done to protect, support, and improve the court system in Nebraska. Over the years the NSBA has sponsored major legislative initiative in this area as well and defended the court system against attacks. Examples of such legislation are:
- Creation of 11 new judgeships since 1995, 1 county court judgeship, 5 district court judgeships and 5 juvenile court judgeships;
- Opposition to the closing of courts in 30 rural counties of Nebraska;
- Creation of the Judicial Resources Commission to ensure that all Nebraskans have access to the courts of Nebraska – and ensure that judgeships remain in judicial districts across the state – keeping courthouses, and lawyers’ offices, open;
- Establishment of merit selection and retention of judges;
- Updating the procedures of judicial nominating commissions;
- Requiring that jury pools be updated regularly throughout the state. Before the legislation passed, many counties had not updated their jury pools in decades;
- Establishment of the Court of Appeals.
When does the NSBA take a position on Legislation?
The NSBA Legislative Program and Policy Statement, reviewed and adopted by the House of Delegates, provides that the position of the Bar is established by the House of Delegates upon the recommendations of the Legislation Committee and the Executive Council. The Program and Policy Statement also provides a process for positions to be established or changed should that be necessary after the House of Delegates has met. Finally, the Legislative Program and Policy Statement includes the following examples of issues the NSBA would potentially take a position on:
- Regulating and disciplining lawyers;
- Regulating lawyers trust accounts;
- The education, ethics, competence, integrity and regulation of the legal profession;
- Safeguarding and promoting the proper professional interests of the members of the Bar;
- Improving the functioning of the courts including issues of judicial independence, fairness, efficacy and efficiency;
- Issues involving the rules of practice, procedure and evidence in federal, state and local courts in or affecting Nebraska;
- Issues involving the duties and functions of judges and lawyers in federal, state and local courts in or affecting Nebraska;
- Issues involving the allocation of and access to judicial resources; Issues involving judicial compensation and benefits, selection and retention;
- Issues involving budget appropriation for the court system;
- Issues involving the availability of legal services;
- Providing recommendations and assistance to elected and appointed government officials pertaining to existing or proposed legislation; or
- Safeguarding the public from the unauthorized practice of law.
NSBA Legislative Counsel
Senator Contact Sign-Up Sheet -- pdf Format