The first session of the 104th Legislature is underway and as expected it has been a busy few days. While we knew we would be seeing a changing of the guard there were still some surprises as the members of the legislature elected our leadership for the next two years.
As normal in an odd year, the session begins with the election of the speaker and committee chairs. Senator Galen Hadley, of Kearney, was elected to replace Senator Greg Adams, of York, as speaker. Ten of the fourteen standing committees have a new chairperson. The Agriculture Committee is now chaired by Senator Jerry Johnson, of Wahoo. The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee is now chaired by Senator Jim Scheer, of Norfolk. Senator Burke Harr, of Omaha, leads the Business and Labor Committee. The General Affairs Committee has new leadership, our neighbor to the west, Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill. Senator John Murante, of Gretna, is the new chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. For the first time in eight years the Judiciary Committee has much needed new leadership with Senator Les Seiler, of Hastings. It is my hope that under Senator Seiler the Judiciary Committee will no longer be a black hole for legislative bills. Senator Ken Schilz, of Ogallala, decided to leave the Agriculture Committee chairmanship to lead the Natural Resources Committee. The Revenue Committee is now chaired by Senator Mike Gloor, of Grand Island. Senator Jim Smith, of Papillion, is the new chairman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. And Senator Sue Crawford, of Bellevue, is the chairperson of the Urban Affairs Committee.
The following four committees will continue under the leadership that they previously had. Senator Heath Mello, of Omaha, continues to serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee; Senator Kate Sullivan, of Cedar Rapids, is once again the chairperson of the Education Committee; the Health and Human Services Committee continues under the direction of Senator Kathy Campbell, of Lincoln; a single vote keeps Senator Jeremy Nordquist, of Omaha, as chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.
In addition to the standing committees a new chair was elected to serve the Executive Board. I ran against Senator Bob Krist, of Omaha, for this position. I was unsuccessful in my bid.
After the election of the committee chairs the Committee on Committees, which I am now a member of, started the process of assigning members to the committees they will serve on. For the last two years, I served on the Agriculture, General Affairs and the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. I will continue to serve on the Agriculture and the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committees but will no longer be serving on the General Affairs Committee; I have made a move over to the Business and Labor Committee. I will be seeking the vice chairmanship position of this committee.
In addition to electing new leadership and finding out committee assignments we also have the opportunity to move offices. My office will stay in room 1206 and my office phone number will remain the same.