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Weekly Legislative Update
Legislative Days 44-47 followed the final day of District 16 Town Hall meetings where policy and remaining priorities were discussed. With only 13 session days remaining late legislative nights will be the new normal until Sine Die on April 17. On Thursday, March 20 I was invited to serve as presiding officer during the evening hours. Presiding as “Madame President” added some much needed smiles as colleagues inadvertently addressed me as “Mr. President.” It was a delight and honor to serve in that capacity.
The Unicameral finally approved the Appropriations bills for the Nebraska state budget, which, by legislative rule, must be approved by the 50th day of the 60-day session (March 26). The Legislature passed LBs 905e, 906e, and 130 on Final Reading Monday, March 24. I voted against these bills because I believe they inadequately address tax and budget concerns in Nebraska. The tax cuts are too small.
LB987 advanced from Select File last week. The bill requires the tax commissioner to annually index state income tax brackets for inflation, and it will reduce the amount of Social Security benefits that are taxed and allow recently retired military personnel to keep more of their retirement income. The Legislature also considered other bills on Final Reading, including LB740, which allows veterans and their family members to qualify for in-state tuition. LB740 passed 48-0-1.
My bill that allows election candidates who have been defeated in a primary by a tiebreaker to write in to the general election, LB144, passed and was delivered to the Governor for his approval Thursday. This bill does not apply to federal office elections or those such as Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.
LB887, the Medicaid expansion bill, was debated for eight hours last week. After a motion to invoke cloture was filed (cloture forces a vote on the bill after eight hours of debate), the motion failed with a vote of 27-21-1, effectively killing the bill. Proponents of Medicaid expansion vowed to bring legislation next year in another attempt to expand Medicaid in Nebraska.
Four of my bills in Judiciary Committee (LBs 962, 963, 964, and 1093) were referred to the Speaker’s office for Consent Calendar, but only LB964 was approved by the Speaker for Consent Calendar. Consent Calendar is a portion of the agenda where non-controversial bills are advanced to the next legislative stages without debate. LB964 provides a homestead exemption for claimants under sixty-five years of age and not married, effectively allowing all Nebraskans to keep a certain amount of equity in their home if they have to file for bankruptcy.
Keep Nebraska Beautiful is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, and to commemorate that milestone, they are asking everyone to display their Husker spirit and their pride in Nebraska’s beauty by planting red flowers throughout the state. For more information contact Keep Nebraska Beautiful at 402-486-4562 or www.knb.org/growbigred.html.
This week, we celebrate National Agriculture Week! Nebraska is a national and world leader in growing food, feed, and fuels. Our 2012 exports total $7.2 billion in ag products. It is important to remember to appreciate the work of our ag producers, the agribusiness men women who work to keep the good life growing in our state.
Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Joe Neuhaus, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or by email at email@example.com; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.
Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16