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Instead of writing about the week’s happenings at the Capitol, I wanted to take some time and update constituents of the region on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting this session currently and how it may continue to affect the session. I’m writing this as of March 16th, 2020.
We ended last week by voting to pass the budget on its first round of debate. As you may know, each bill must pass through three rounds of voting: General File, Select File, and Final Reading. Our state budget now sits on Select File. Speaker Scheer announced the potential for a break in the session depending on how the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the state. We adjourned under the impression that we would be back this week, but that a break may be possible.
Over the weekend senators were updated about a community spread case in Douglas County, which then triggered further discussion and debate about a break in the session. On Sunday, March 15th, senators were notified of an upcoming announcement and advised not to travel to Lincoln until after the announcement. Today, March 16th, Speaker Scheer in concert with Senator Mike Hilgers who serves as Chair of the Executive Committee, announced a break in the session. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends gatherings be limited to 10 or fewer people and Governor Ricketts recommended the same. Our leadership decided it was in the best interest of the state to abide by this recommendation and “pause” our session until further notice.
At this time I am unsure when we may be returning to the Capitol for business. We’ve been advised that senators may be called in for an emergency appropriation if further funds are needed to prepare for or combat the spread of this virus, but we are unsure if or when that may be. My staff is currently working from home, but is available by email and will be checking the phones regularly. We will still be available to the constituents of Legislative District 16.
For the time being, please “like” or follow my Facebook page for the most up-to-date information regarding changes in the Legislature and other news. I will try to post important information to that page as it comes in. This is certainly a strange time right now in world history. We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of this virus and keeping its impact to a minimum. I hope that it will pass over quickly and that we will be able to return to normal life; visiting our local restaurants, businesses, and returning to our seasonal and community traditions. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed with accurate information. Thank you all for your calm approach to this odd time in all of our lives. I’m happy to serve you.
As always you can contact me at email@example.com or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell. To read all introduced legislation please visit nebraskalegislature.gov. You may watch the live stream of the session when available at netnebraska.org