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May 31, 2011
Thursday, May 26 marked the conclusion of the first session of the 102nd Legislature and the end of my first session as your District 16 state senator. Serving as your state representative is and has been a pleasure. On our final day of session, five senators and I had the esteemed privilege of escorting Governor Heineman into the legislative chambers for his closing remarks. It is an honor to be able to work with 48 other senators on making policy and history and serving the people of this great state.
This session is highlighted by successful passage of momentous legislation. To summarize, we passed a responsible and conservative budget that leaves nearly $300 million dollars in the Cash Reserve fund without any tax increase. Additionally, after negotiations and hard work, groundbreaking legislation was passed to reform the Commission of Industrial Relations, providing a tool for fair wages to public sector employees, yet allowing for fiscal constraint for public sector employers. Another focal point of the session that will have a significant impact in the years to come is a state financial commitment to fund road construction at $70 million a year by utilizing a portion of sales tax revenue. This session the Legislature also had the obligation of fulfilling redistricting lines. Although highly controversial, we fulfilled passage of redistricting proposals, drawing new districts for congressional, legislative, Supreme Court, Board of Regents, Board of Education, and Public Service Commission boundaries.
Another accomplishment that I was personally invested in was passage of LB 690, my priority bill for the session. LB 690 passed into law with the support of 41 senators to require pregnant minors to obtain notarized parental consent for an abortion. It was undoubtedly a humbling experience to debate this emotional issue and see it come to pass and be signed into law. The young girl has always been my focus with LB 690, so that she will have guidance and physical and emotional support for a life-altering decision.
Throughout the course of the session, I was visited by more than a dozen constituents plus students from schools in District 16. If you didn’t have an opportunity to visit the Legislature while we were in session this year, I hope that you will try to join us next session and be recognized on the floor. If you travel to Lincoln during the interim, please know you are welcome to visit my office at the Capitol.
With redistricting officially accomplished, I must say goodbye to wonderful constituents in Stanton and Thurston Counties and welcome into District 16 all residents of Washington County. I look forward to serving new territories and making new friends throughout the district. In fact, over the summer months, I will be traveling the district and scheduling townhall meetings and community coffees that I hope you will plan to attend, so I can visit with you about legislative issues that are important to you. Although I will not compose a weekly column, you can expect that I will drop you a note periodically this summer.
On Monday we honored and remembered those who served, sacrificed, and gave their lives. May we always remember them and pray for their families. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. I look forward to seeing you in our district!
Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16