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We are down to our final day for this 90-day session. Yesterday on Thursday, May 30th, my priority bill, LB 209, which would expand the information required to be provided during a medical abortion passed while on final reading. This legislation will simply strengthen Nebraska’s informed consent law. I believe that women deserve to know all of the medical information before receiving a chemical abortion. A medication abortion is a two pill process and my bill requires a woman be informed that it may be possible to continue their pregnancy after taking the first pill. The required information will direct the woman to the Department of Health and Human Services to be referred to a medical professional who can assist her in continuing the pregnancy. This was the longest that I have debated a bill before. The debate for this bill took all of the allotted time that it was given at every stage. We debated 10.5 hours on LB209. The vote was 36 to 12. I am very pleased that this pro-woman bill is headed to Governor Ricketts’ desk.
Even though I was a no vote on this year’s budget I am pleased that we took a step in the right direction by getting the great people of the state of Nebraska some needed property tax relief. This year’s budget had a 2.9% average two-year increase in spending. The increase rate in spending was irresponsible which is why I voted in opposition of the budget. I want to cut spending not increase it. However, I am pleased that the budget will deliver $550 million in direct property tax relief over the next two years.
LB720, known also as the ImagiNE Act, did not pass. The ImagiNE Act is a replacement package for the Advantage Act for business incentives designed to keep Nebraska competitive. I was originally in favor of the bill but that changed once I saw the amendments that were put on the bill. I believed that the amendments hurt the bill rather than helped it. The amendments did not help bring any additional property tax relief which is what led several rural Senators to pull their support from LB720. We still have another year before the Advantage Act sunsets in 2020 so I am confident that we will see some form of this bill again next year.
On May 24th we had a reading of LR150 recognizing National Poppy Day. The Poppies were given to each Senator for the recognition of Memorial Day. U.S. Army Veteran, Dennis Otte, of Wayne, NE handmade the Memorial Poppies. In attendance for the reading were the Department Officers of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Beverly Neel is the Nebraska Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary. She serves as my Administrative Assistant and has been the assistant in District 17 since 2010. Her work this year has been exemplary and I am happy to have her as a part of our team.
In addition to the excitement of the end of the Legislative Session, our office is delighted to welcome a new staffer to our team! Mackenzie Martin-Fisk has joined our office as our new Legislative Aide. She will be your main contact at the Capitol office. Mackenzie has worked in both the Missouri State Capitol and the Nebraska State Capitol. She worked in the Missouri State Capitol in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for a few years before moving to Nebraska to work for a local nonprofit. After two years in the nonprofit sector, she chose to get back into state government and worked for Senator John Kuehn in District 38 for more than a year. Mackenzie and her husband, Shayne Fisk, live in Lincoln, NE with their three year old corgi, Athena.
The Governor’s Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) is also now accepting applications. Applications are available on the NE Children and Families Foundation at www.projecteverlast.org/councils/gyac.html or by calling 402-817-2003.
The First Session of the 106th Legislature is ending a week sooner than scheduled. We were set to Sine Die on June 6th but Speaker Scheer choose to end on Friday, May 31st. I am excited to head back to District 17 and to be with you, my constituents, again. I will be planning town hall meetings for June so stay tuned for that. It has been a true honor and one of my greatest privileges to represent District 17 during this 90 day session.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org