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This will be my final weekly update until the beginning of the 2016 legislative session. Since we adjourned on May 29, I shared two update summaries to better explain where we ended this session. In 2016, new legislation will be introduced along with many carryover bills. With that said, I encourage you to stay engaged and express your views as you are the State’s “Second House.”
As always, it is good to be back in our district and speaking with constituents on a regular basis. To see everyone on our main streets, in places of business, during parades, at church, and at county fairs is truly refreshing. There is almost always something happening throughout the district I enjoy participating in. So far this interim I have attended Cargill’s Blair 20th Anniversary Celebration and the Pilger Flag Raising Ceremony. I have also enjoyed resuming work with my private consulting business.
Some may remember last year I was honored to be accepted into the the 2014 Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellowship Program. It is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government, bringing together 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government for an intensive six-day “intellectual boot camp.”
This year the Toll Fellowship Program selected a dozen graduates, from various years, to participate in a first-ever Global Affairs Academy. They generously and graciously paid most of our expenses for travel to and lodging in Washington D.C. for three days of intensive study. We were briefed on key current events affecting the 195 sovereign countries around the world, their relevance to the U.S., and what individual states can do to prepare their governments and economies.
We were also briefed on our current top five foreign policy issues. Key staff members of the Departments of Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs shared a number of potential concerns on topics ranging from ISIL to cyber warfare. Notably, cyber security is crucial for protecting constituents. While big businesses and government typically have solid firewalls, we must be aware of vendors being unknowingly utilized because of their less secure computer networks. Critical agencies must be watchful and prepared for cyber attacks from those who would wish us harm. The importance of heightened security for our infrastructure and energy systems was also stressed.
We also learned about the negative effects of decreasing foreign aid. For example, countries in need are often courted or overtaken by enemies of the U.S. It was remarked that another attack, such as 9/11 is most likely on someone’s drawing board somewhere. Included in foreign aid is the need to assist other countries with their health epidemics which, if not controlled, can become pandemic, such as the Ebola crisis or, more recently, the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
We also focused on the global economy and how we simply cannot shut out the rest of the world. We rely on international businesses and there are an increasing number in the U.S. that are good for jobs and our national economy.
With so much to think about from the last week, all I can say is it is truly good to be back home!
As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16