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First of all, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Senator Dan Watermeier, newly elected to fill the Legislative District #1 seat in the Nebraska Legislature, representing the counties of Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Richardson and all of Otoe County, except the northeastern half of Nebraska City. I live west of Syracuse, where I am a farmer. I am honored to serve the people of southeast Nebraska in the Unicameral.
The One Hundred Third Legislature, First Session, began on Wednesday, January 9. One of the first items of business was the swearing in of newly elected members of the Legislature by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Michael Heavican. Twenty-six senators took the oath of office following the November elections, of which ten senators were sworn in for the first time.
Following the ceremonial activities, senators got right to work with the election of the Speaker and the chairs of the committees. Senator Greg Adams of York was elected as Speaker of the Legislature. In a very close race, Senator Heath Mello of Omaha was elected to chair the Appropriations Committee. In other contested races, Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton took over the reins of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee and Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege was elected as chair of the Natural Resources Committee.
Every senator is assigned committees to serve on. I was selected to serve on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee. Until mid-March, senators will meet as a body in the mornings and in their designated committees in the afternoons. Every bill that is introduced is referenced to a committee based on the subject matter of the legislation and is then guaranteed a public hearing.
Bill introduction is allowed for the first ten days of the legislative session. Typically, approximately 700 bills are introduced in a 90-day legislative session. The Legislature is predicted to discuss a wide range of issues including Medicaid expansion, incarcerated juveniles, our income tax structure and water issues.
My first week has been very interesting. I spent the first day in the office of former Senator Lavon Heidemann. Newly elected senators were then moved to a hearing room until offices were assigned. The office assignment process is based on seniority. By the end of the second day, I was assigned Room #1404, which is located in the north center hallway of the first floor of the State Capitol.
This year the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 5. While the Legislature is in session, I will drive back and forth from Syracuse to Lincoln every day. I encourage you to contact me about issues that are important to you. Only with your input can I truly represent District #1. My telephone number in the State Capitol is (402) 471-2733 and my e-mail address is email@example.com. My mailing address is: Senator Dan Watermeier, District #1, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509.
If I am in a meeting or on the legislative floor, my staff will be able to assist you. I have hired Tim Freburg as my Administrative Assistant. He will answer your phone calls and set up my appointments. Kim Davis was hired as my legislative aide. She will work on constituent issues and legislation.
I also would like to inform you of the Legislature’s website at NebraskaLegislature.gov. Viewers can read the text of bills introduced, search state statutes, e-mail state senators, view the agenda for the day, read the Unicameral Update online and even watch the Unicameral live.