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Immigration Timeline

February 17, 2011

Immigration issues were thrown to the center of public attention with the passing of Arizona’s hotly debated law, SB 1070, in April. The following timeline is a refresher, or a primer, for those trying to keep tabs on the issue nationally and in Nebraska.


Nebraska is one of 15 states considering bills for Arizona-style laws. LB48 awaits the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which could kill it or send it to the full legislature for debate.

Parts of SB 1070 are being enforced while the law faces legal challenges; the Fremont ordinance is not being carried out while its lawsuit is pending.


In Nebraska, there are six steps for any bill to become a law. This is the path LB48, Sen. Charlie Janssen’s Illegal Immigrant Enforcement Act, will have to follow to become state law.

1. A Public Hearing of LB48 is conducted by the judiciary committee (Sens. Ashford, Lathrop, Coash, Council, Harr, Larson, Lautenbaugh, McGill) allowing proponents and opponents to discuss the merits of the bill, after which the committee has four options:

  1. Kill the bill—indefinitely postpone
  2. Advance the bill to General File—it is put up for debate by the entire Nebraska Legislature
  3. Advance the bill to General File with amendments—it is advanced to the Nebraska Legislature with attached amendments for consideration
  4. Hold the bill—no further action is taken

If there is a tie, the bill may not be advanced and is considered “deadlocked.” In order for a bill to advance it needs a majority of 5 votes.

2. General File is the first round of legislative debate concerning the bill. During this stage opponents, proponents and those undecided have the opportunity to debate the intricate details of the bill.
Senators have the option to:

  1. amend the bill
  2. kill the bill
  3. delay the bill
  4. advance the bill to the second round of debate
  5. refuse to advance the bill

**A majority of 25 votes is needed to advance the bill

3. Select File is the second round of debate for the bill, during which all options available to senators during General File are also available

4. Final Reading is a stage in which debate is not allowed, however, senators may file motions to return the legislation to Select File for a specific amendment. If there are no motions, 25 votes are needed for the bill to pass.

5. The Governor now has five days, excluding Sundays, to decide what to do with the bill. If he signs the bill or declines to act on it, the bill becomes a state law. The governor may also veto the bill. However, the senators may override the veto, with 30 votes.

6. Effective Date: Most bills passed and approved by the governor become law three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns for the year. However, some bills may take effect before that date if they contain the emergency clause.

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