District 17 Weekly Report
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
It has been an exciting few days here in Lincoln!
Since my election in November, I have been working diligently to prepare for the 105th Session of the Nebraska Legislature.
I have had a number of meetings with constituents in Legislative District 17, and I’ve been able to attend briefings by Attorney General Doug Peterson and the Nebraska Legislature’s Speaker Jim Scheer.
Through these meetings, it became clear to me that there are a number of challenges facing our state. I decided I wanted to do my part to confront these hurdles face on.
After many conversations with my colleagues and my family, I choose to run for Chair of the Business and Labor Committee. This wasn’t an effort that I took on lightly.
I will make sure the Committee works for the benefit of Nebraska businesses, as we grow our economy, both in urban and rural areas.
I’m going to take a fair, hard look at every bill which is referenced to our committee. The Business and Labor Committee oversees legislation relating to workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, labor conditions, fair employment practices, health and safety regulations and claims against the state. We meet on Mondays, beginning January 23rd in Room 2102 in the Capitol Building in Lincoln.
Other Senators serving on my committee include Sens. Ernie Chambers (Omaha), Sue Crawford (Bellevue), Steve Halloran (Hastings), Matt Hansen (Lincoln), Sara Howard (Omaha), and John Lowe (Kearney). It is a good mixture of rural and urban Senators and we span the ideological spectrum.
Besides my chairmanship, I will be serving on the Agriculture Committee, chaired by my good friend Sen. Lydia Brasch, and the Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Dan Hughes. All three committees will be very active and I look forward to taking up the issues before each.
Committee hearings begin the week of January 17th, and will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.
The first week of session is reserved for leadership elections and procedural matters. Bills will begin appearing on the floor of the Unicameral once the committees have begun.
One of the major issues facing us this year is the nearly $900 million budget gap looming. Over the past several months, tax receipts have been lagging, and Governor Ricketts, in an unusual move, has unveiled his budget proposal earlier than normal. With only six months left in the fiscal year, the Legislature must act to put forth a responsible budget. This is a topic I will write more on in the future, but rest assured I will do everything I can to help put together a responsible budget package to the Governor this year.
Finally, I am here in Lincoln to represent you. I am blessed to have a wonderful, experienced staff helping me navigate my first session in the Unicameral.
Beverly Neel of Wayne, who has served Legislative District 17 for six years working with my predecessor Sen. Dave Bloomfield, will continue serving as my Administrative Assistant and Committee Clerk. She will handle my schedule and will usually be the first person constituents talk to when they call. Charles Isom has started as my Legislative Assistant and, having worked for Sens. Nicole Fox and John Murante, he brings a wealth of knowledge about the Unicameral and the legislative process. Finally, Meghan Chaffee has agreed to remain with the Business and Labor Committee as Legal Council, a roll she has had since 2015.
I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at:
Sen. Joni Albrecht
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509-4604
I look forward to hearing from you!