Returning back to work in January started on a sad note in our office and the Capitol. On January 3rd we learned of the unexpected death of the father of our newly hired Legislative Aide, Tom Venzor. His father was a great man, husband and father who will be dearly missed. At this time, Tom is needed by his family and will be joining us once again in our office when able. We were also saddened to learn on January 8th, a loved, valued and respected Legislative Aide, Chris Keetle unexpectedly passed. As we start this year with heavy hearts and prayers of comfort for these two families, we realize we must move forward in a renewed spirit of hope and promise for the many days ahead.
Day 1, Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 our First Session of the One Hundred Fourth Legislature convened. I was among 49 State Senators, families, friends, staff and others gathered to participate or witness the traditional swearing in ceremony. Following came the business of the adoption of temporary rules, election of permanent officers, election of a new speaker, oath of officers, election for chairpersons for the committee on committees, executive board, vice-chairperson of the executive board and election of standing committee chairpersons. Senator Bill Kintner rose to announce he will bring before the Rules Committee a motion to make voting for chairmanships public and not by secret ballot. We were reminded voting for chairmanships has been by secret ballot only since 1973. I believe in transparency and will support this motion.
Following my re-election I announced my bid in late November for the Chairman of Agriculture Committee and knew it was going to be a steep uphill climb as Senator Jerry Johnson, LD 23, announced his bid following session in the Spring of 2014. Although he won by just one vote, I know he is a man of exceptional experience and abilities and be an excellent chairman. Should I have been elected, I would have been the first woman to serve our Unicameral as an Agriculture Chairwoman in its 78 year history. The standing committees I will serve on are the Revenue Committee and Transportation and Telecommunications, on which I will serve as Vice-Chair.
Day 2 began with introduction of new bills and adoption of our temporary rules. The Inaugural Oath of Offices took place in the afternoon, where swearing in took place for many including the Board of Regents, State Board of Education, Public Service Commission, Attorney General-Elect, State Auditor-Elect, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor-Elect, and the Governor-Elect.
It was a great pleasure and honor to be named as one of 5 escorts to lead, at that time, Governor-Elect Pete Ricketts to be sworn in as our new governor. Governor Ricketts’ Inaugural Address was outstanding and his vision for leadership is innovative and inspiring.
Day 3 was another day of bill introduction with only 10 days that are allowed for new bill introduction. January 21st is the final day of bill introduction. Once our office is fully staffed we will resume introducing our legislation.
The Inaugural Gala took place on Saturday, where Lee and I were greeted by many familiar and dear faces from across our District and State. It was a joyful celebration that will be long remembered by many.
In our office Tom Venzor is my Legislative Aide and Katie Wattermann is my Administrative Aide. Tom is from Schuyler and has an extensive background in various legal work. Katie is from West Point and knows the district like the back of her hand. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me and my office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 402-471-2728; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.