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MORE VETERANS NEWS FROM 2019 SESSION: Reflecting once again on the sacrifices made every day by the women and men who served in the high performing branches of our military, I feel compelled to continue my review last session and look ahead to how we might serve them in the upcoming session. In addition to those bills I wrote about last week, in the 2019 session I was proud to introduce LB223, which specifies duties of the state with regard to state-sponsored insurance programs for members of the Nebraska National Guard. The measure passed on March 21, 2019 and was signed into law by the Governor.
Also passed was my resolution, LR150, recognizing National Poppy Day and the work of veteran poppy makers that help us celebrate and remember the lives lost in World War I. My resolution noted that National Poppy Day is celebrated in memory of all veterans who have given their lives, the ultimate sacrifice; and red crepe paper poppies have been made, worn, displayed, and distributed for fundraising efforts by veterans’ groups such as the American Legion Family and American Legion Auxiliary for decades to serve as a powerful reminder of the cost of our country’s freedom. Among those named as veteran poppy makers committed to our renewed remembrance throughout the country, is Wayne’s own Dennis Otte. Our thanks to service members and those who help us remember should always remain unending.
STATE EARNINGS LOOK GOOD: In my August 2, 2019 Weekly Update, I let you know about the $131.4 million in revenue exceeding April 2019 forecast for General Fun receipts for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19. As required by state law, those additional earnings went to the State’s “Rainy Day” fund. At the time, we did not yet know how that increase in earnings would impact FY 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 projections. I promised to update you after the October meeting of the Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB).
I am happy to report that the Board has raised the revenue forecast for FY 2019-2020 by $161 million and for FY 2020-2021 by $105 million. This significant increase over the next two fiscal years provides the Legislature with a greater opportunity to achieve meaningful property tax relief as we go into the 2020 session.
LOOKING AHEAD: As the 2020 Legislative session gets closer, I continue to work with other senators to focus on property tax relief. The Revenue Committee has been meeting regularly as a committee, and with senators, to work towards meaningful relief. The increased forecast provides good news towards the efforts. On November 21, 2019, the Revenue Committee hopes to unveil a Revenue bill for review by senators at the Legislative Council meeting in Nebraska City.
I also continue to work and monitor work on issues like vaping, caps on out-of-pocket expenses for one or more types of medication, on potential changes to the ImagiNE Nebraska Act (LB 720) discussed in last week’s update, and more. I also continue to listen and learn so that I am able to legislate for you more effectively.
OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN: As many of you know, I enjoy meeting and visiting with constituents and groups during the interim. As part of my efforts in this area, this week I had opportunity to share the inside workings of getting a bill from an idea to the Governor’s desk for a signature. It was good to use a recent bill as we discussed presentation of the idea, associated research, bill drafting, communication with colleagues, committee hearings, and debate and then, if successful, to the Governor for a signature. The engagement by attendees was reassuring. Looking ahead, my office has been working diligently to research and keep abreast of several suggested and/or issues that may or may not become bills in the upcoming session. We have been taking calls, researching history locally and across state lines, in order to determine the viability, policy impact, and potential results of proposed legislation.
On another front, it is important that, as a citizen and as a member of the Legislative Branch, I and others be aware of how the three branches work together for the good of our state. While legislators at times have frequent interaction with the Executive Branch, especially when bills are being passed on to the Governor for signatures, the Judicial Branch also plays a vital role in review and oversight of laws we pass. I am looking forward to witnessing the Nebraska Supreme Court in action during oral arguments on two cases at South Sioux City Middle School at 10:00 a.m. on November 1, 2019. The event is opened to the public, but is designed for high school students as part of the Nebraska Supreme Court High School Outreach Argument Program.
As always, 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