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Weekly Legislative Update
Last week was the final full week of this session, and now we have only one session day remaining. The Legislature will remain adjourned until Thursday, April 17, when we will debate the override of Governor Heineman’s last vetoes, if there are any, before we adjourn sine die. The final week was certainly full of twists and turns as several senators were amending bills to include introduced legislation that did not successfully proceed through the traditional stages of consideration. On several occasions, because it was questionable whether certain amendments were “in a natural and logical sequence to the subject matter” it was necessary to invoke motions as to germaneness. Overall, this this week was indeed an important, interesting, and valuable exercise in applying our Legislative Rules.
Two of my five bills from this year (LBs 964 and 1093) and my resolution, LR395, passed through the Legislature for Governor approval. LB964 makes the bankruptcy homestead exemption apply to all claimants and updates the statutory language; LB1093, which was amended into LB464, provides for a more streamlined funding process for the Nebraska Supreme Court to fund its juvenile conferencing services; and LR395 recognizes February 10, 2014 as the 60th Anniversary of the addition of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe these are all important pieces of legislation, and I hope to have the opportunity next year to re-introduce those issues and others that did not pass through the Unicameral this year. LB964 was signed by the Governor, and LR395 was adopted on April 10.
Governor Heineman held signing ceremonies for two key bills this week that favorably affect our district and state. LB1067 extends the Nebraska Advantage Act, our major comprehensive economic development tool for expanding or relocating businesses to Nebraska for another two years. LB1067 helps create more certainty for businesses utilizing these job-creation and investment incentives. Included in the package were extensions of the angel investment credit, the microenterprise credit, and the R&D Act. LB96, which exempts farm machinery repairs and parts from our state sales tax and which is implemented in neighboring states, was signed by the Governor April 2. LB 96 makes agriculture implement businesses in Nebraska more competitive and is expected to provide $47 million of tax relief for ag producers over the next five years.
LB526, which expands the scope of practice for optometrists in Nebraska, was placed on Final Reading Wednesday. Discussion from constituents on this bill turned out to be more disputed than I had expected. Both opponents and proponents provided solid arguments to support their positions. In the end, I believe that greater Nebraska will have the potential for more ready access to these simple procedures, whereas people from rural areas currently have to travel to bigger cities such as Omaha to have them done.
We enjoyed welcoming FFA students from Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Wisner, and Blair High Schools Wednesday. Thursday, we welcomed West Point FFA students as well. It is encouraging to see our Future Farmers of America and their dedication to continue the tradition of Nebraska’s significant agricultural importance in the world. Fourth graders from Fort Calhoun and Bancroft-Rosalie also visited. Their high energy and spirit of excitement and wonder are always very contagious, beneficial, and welcome to everyone!
We have had a fantastic presence from District 16 clergy who have travelled to Lincoln to offer morning prayers before the Unicameral convenes. Thank you to Pastor Jonathan Ripke of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hooper for joining us as Chaplain of the Day on Tuesday, April 8 and to Pastor Lewis Miller of Beemer Mennonite Church in Beemer for joining us as Chaplain on April 9.
As the session is almost over for the year, I recommend you contact me early in the interim to share your thoughts on any issues you would like addressed next year. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.
Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16