The Nebraska legislature gave cigar smokers a bit of good news today, voting 34-2 in favor of LB 118, the bill that would reinstate the exemption to allow smoking in cigar shops and cigar bars.
The vote came out of what is called the General File, which is the first time the full Legislature has the opportunity to debate and vote on bills. It’s widely considered to be the most crucial stage of the legislative process because it is where amendments are considered and most compromises are reached. It also provides a signal that the Legislature is willing to consider the bill seriously, since it requires a majority vote of the Legislature–25 votes–to advance it through the process.
The bill now heads to Enrollment & Review, or E & R, a process by which previously adopted amendments are incorporated into a bill, and the bill is checked for technical and grammatical accuracy. Once that is completed, it will be entered into Select File and given its second debate and vote. Amendments may again be made here, and if passed, the bill gets another round of E & R before being reprinted for Final Reading.
Once the bill is ready for Final Reading, a 24-hour waiting period must occur before any vote can be held, and there must be at least five days from the time the bill was first introduced. Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it requires a vote of two-thirds (33 members) of the Legislature to pass, at which point it would head to the governor’s desk. He has up to five days to sign or veto it, and assuming he doesn’t do the latter, the bill would become law and cigar smokers would once again be able to light up in cigar stores and cigar bars.
Last week, the bill passed the General Affairs Committee by a vote of 7-0 with one abstention.
In an email sent to its constituents, the Cigar Association of America said it was pleased with the bill’s progress to date.