NFFV Action Request

Upcoming Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing

Friday, February 24, 2023

1:30 PM, Room 1507


LB637 Require Public Comment Time at All Public Meetings

Why LB637? Doesn't current laws cover this?

LB637 would "Require a public body to allow members of the public an opportunity to speak at each meeting". The right of the People of Nebraska to speak and be heard is under attack. LB637 helps correct what the Attorney General's office has termed a "badly written law" - a law which stifles your voice in a way that was never intended.

Current law, Statute 84-1412, says the public is not entitled to speak at every meeting, Section 2, and does not define when you can speak. That means you have no voice until elected officials decide to let you speak. A governing body has almost unlimited power to control all public feedback.

Why is public comment needed?

The University of Minnesota Extension has an informative article on "Five reasons to involve others in public decisions". The article discusses the importance of public involvement in government body's decision making. Here is a quick look at their five reasons:

  1. It helps meet regulations and requirements
  2. It adheres to democratic principles
  3. It can create more substantive decisions and outcomes; more information, more perspectives, increased mutual understanding, and free consultations
  4. It can identify problems that can and should be solved
  5. It can enhance future problem-solving capacity.

A key concept from the article: "Engaging the public as decisions are made leads to informed decision-making and stronger solutions to problems. It also has multiple benefits and is worth the investment of government, community groups and organizations who work for the common good".

So the real question is, why wouldn't a governing body want feedback from the public?

Is public feedback actually being suppressed?

Yes, unfortunately there are examples of public comment time being removed from Nebraska public meetings. One recent example is, Nebraska State Board of Education did not allow public comment in their meeting before the general election.

Another example is a City Council that meets twice each month. There is an open public comment section before the last meeting starts but it contends that is the ONLY time the city is required to let the public speak. So basically the public is not allowed to speak as matters come to the Council, they can only speak after everything has been decided.

Making LB637 Stronger

While LB637 goes a long way into fixing our current legislation, more can be done. The public deserves the right to place or remove items from a public agenda and governing bodies would still be able to limit public comment to the beginning or end of the meeting. The public deserves the right to speak on every issue, not just when a government body decides.

Look for amendments to this bill to further strengthen it.

Using our voice

As we represent our cause and ourself, we must also remember to model our faith. As Scripture tells us, Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen".

We also need to feel good about our opportunity to speak. Don't get discouraged or frustrated if you feel you're not being heard. You are in good company - Jeremiah 6:10 "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it." We need to keep professing what we know to be true.

How to be heard? 

Take action, your voice is powerful make it heard. LB637 committee hearing is scheduled for Friday, February 24, 2023.

How to be heard? Here are three ways:

  • Most EffectiveTestify in person. Going to the Committee hearing and sharing YOUR story with committee member Senators is very impactful. For first time in person testifier here are some helpful hints
  • Very EffectiveSubmit written testimony. If you can't be there in person then submit written testimony. Not sure how to do that, click hereNote; written testimony needs to be submitted by noon the business day before the committee hearing.
  • EffectiveEmail your position letter to the Committee Senators and CC your own Senator. For a listing of the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee Senators click hereNote; emails need to be sent by noon the business day before the committee hearing. It's not likely these emails will be included in official hearing minutes though there is a better chance Committee Senators will see your comments. You can request they be added to meeting minutes in your email to Committee Senators.

Not sure what to say?

Listed below are thought starters. Build your story around one or two of them. Quantity is not as important as a short heart felt personal story.


Here are three arguments for supporting this legislation:

  • Restores transparency to government at all levels and protects the voice of Nebraska's people.

  • Legal counsel is increasingly hostile to the people's right to speak. They are employed by the governing body and often support that body when it wants to bypass the people. When asked, their job is to find the "work around" to the current laws and legally limit public comment time. This law removes some of the "work around".

  • Under current law, you could be allowed to speak only every 3 months, 6 months, or whenever the body decides! Current Government bodies are becoming more embolden by limiting public comment.
Board of Directors Team