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Week 3 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of days 8 through 11 this session.
The Legislature did not convene on Monday, January 15th in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Week three of the 2018 session began on Tuesday and marked the first day of committee hearings. Committee hearings require a little shuffling of the normal schedule, so until the end of February Senators will meet in the mornings for floor debate of bills that have made it out of committee and reserve the afternoons for public hearings on new bills introduced this session. We encourage our “Second House” to attend, testify in person, or send written testimony in support of, or in opposition against, bills that come before the 14 standing committees of the legislature. To be considered by the committee, written testimony must be submitted before 5:00 pm the day before the bill’s hearing.
One of the first orders of business as the Agriculture Committee Chair was the consideration of a new Director of Agriculture. Steve Wellman was unanimously recommended for confirmation by the Agriculture Committee and, if confirmed, will replace former Director Greg Ibach who was nominated to serve as the USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Mr. Wellman is a third generation family farmer operating a diversified grain and livestock farm near Syracuse. As a former President of the Nebraska Soybean Association, past Chairman of the American Soybean Association, a member of international trade missions, and various other services on state and federal level agriculture advisory boards, Mr. Wellman brings valuable experience to the Department of Agriculture.
Additionally, the Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to recommend confirmation of Tyler Weborg to the Beginning Farmer Board. Tyler and his family are Cuming County cattle feeders who are very active in the community. It was a wonderful feeling to recommend one of our own from District 16 to this important board. Tyler’s great grandfather and great, great grandfather both served as State Senators in our legislature and I believe Tyler pays a wonderful tribute to them by serving on this board. He will provide excellent leadership for District 16 and the State of Nebraska.
On Wednesday, Jan 17th I introduced LB 1069 to change provisions relating to the Committee on Americanism. This bill is a combination of LB 308 and LB 155 which I introduced last year. Although the Committee on Americanism exists in current statute it is not enforced in its current form. This bill would ensure that Social Studies are taught in a way that encourages patriotism, civic duty, and financial literacy. All of which are required for a well educated, informed, and responsible citizenry. Furthermore, this bill would require that all schools administer the civics portion of the naturalization examination administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We hold our youth to high standards in Nebraska and they must be properly prepared in order to contribute to a vibrant and flourishing state. This bill ensures that all youth in Nebraska will be equipped to do so.
District 16 was fortunate enough to receive a visit from the Young Cattlemen’s Conference who were recognized on the floor of the legislature on Thursday, January 18th. These future leaders expressed their desire to see continued growth in beef production that, depending on the year, ranks Nebraska as #1 or #2 in the nation.
Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican delivered the State of the Judiciary on Thursday, touting the effectiveness and efficiency of Nebraska’s drug courts. The Chief Justice also highlighted a pilot program called Restorative Justice that requires juvenile offenders to take a proactive approach in restitution to their neighbors and communities. You can find a transcript of the State of the Judiciary here.
The legislature adjourned on Friday, January 19th after advancing LB 321 to Select File during morning debate and holding committee hearings in the afternoon.
Please contact me; my Administrative Aide, Courtney McClellen; my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell; or the Agriculture Committee Research Analyst, Rick Leonard, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit my office, Room 1022, in the Capitol.