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The One Hundred Third Legislature, Second Session, began on Wednesday, January 8 and got right down to work. This is considered the short session of the Legislature, lasting 60 days, and is tentatively scheduled to adjourn on April 17. During the 90-day legislative session in even-numbered years, the biennial budget is the Legislature’s primary responsibility. Only minor budget adjustments and deficit requests will be dealt with during this session.
Senators began introducing legislation on the first day of session and can introduce bills through the tenth day, which falls on January 22 this year. We will meet in full day session, discussing carry-over bills beginning on Monday, January 13. The public hearing process will start on January 21, lasting through the end of February. Every bill that is introduced is guaranteed a public hearing, allowing for the input of the residents of Nebraska.
Although it is just a short session, we will have many important issues before us this year. Tax reform is foremost on most senator’s mind, following the interim study on taxes, which was the direct result of the Governor’s proposal last year to eliminate the income tax, making up the lost revenue by repealing several important sales tax exemptions. Public hearings were held throughout the state and the senators on the Tax Modernization Committee heard repeatedly of frustrations with high property taxes. Two senators, who are also gubernatorial candidates, have already introduced several bills on tax relief.
I served on the Water Funding Task Force, attending a couple dozen meetings across the state over the interim. A package of bills will be introduced as a result of our efforts to recommend a permanent, stable source of funding to ensure that Nebraska’s water resources are managed effectively and efficiently.
Also this year, the Legislature will deal with prison reform, juvenile justice reform, funding for our K-12 schools and early education, seat belt and texting laws, taxing of retirement income, and whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
I want to remind you of the Legislature’s website at NebraskaLegislature.gov. Viewers can read the text of bills introduced, search state statutes and past and current legislation, e-mail state senators, view the agenda for the day, read the online version of the Unicameral Update and watch the Unicameral live.
If you call my State Capitol office, I will be happy to visit with you if I am available. If not, my staff will be able to assist you. Tim Freburg is my Administrative Assistant. He answers the phone and handles my calendar. Kim Davis is my Legislative Aide. She works on constituent issues and legislation.
I encourage you to contact my office with your views and opinions on the legislation that is introduced by senators during this session. Only with your input, can I effectively represent the residents of the 1st district. My email address is email@example.com. My telephone number at the State Capitol is (402) 471-2733 and my mailing address is Senator Dan Watermeier, District #1, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509.