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The legislature reconvened this Tuesday following Martin Luther King Jr. Day and picked up on debate of carry-over bills. A majority of the week’s floor discussion focused on two bills by Senator Larson, LB469 and LR18CA. LB469 would adopt the Fantasy Contests Act by codifying in statute how fantasy contest operators are to be licensed and regulated in Nebraska. No vote was taken on the bill. LR18CA would propose a constitutional amendment to change the age of eligibility for public office. This resolution would propose a change to tie the age of eligibility to all public offices to the federal voting age, currently age 18. In Nebraska there are currently differing age limits for different offices. No vote has been taken on the resolution.
Committee hearings started this week on newly introduced legislation. One of my own bills, LB902 had a public hearing on Thursday, January 18th in the Government, Veteran and Military Affairs Committee. LB902 would provide an additional exemption to the public records statute 84-712.05 for information obtained by a government entity regarding certain firearm permit documents. Such information would still be made available to any law enforcement agency.
Chief Justice Heavican delivered the State of the Judiciary on Thursday, January 18 to the legislature. He emphasized the judicial branch’s focus on its work to make the state’s court and probation systems more effective. He also highlighted the great work of creative problem-solving courts including two new veterans’ treatment problem solving courts. The implementation and increasing use of technology within the court system was detailed in the speech. The Chief Justice concluded by expressing the judicial branch’s commitment to an open and fair court system.
All bills for this legislative session have now been introduced and will have a chance to be heard in committee. 482 bills were introduced this session for the legislature’s consideration. There is around 28 bills that deal with agricultural issues including property tax and around 18 bills proposing other tax related changes. I will be watching each of these bills closely as they proceed through the hearing process. I wanted to notify any constituents who may be interested in providing a letter for the record on a piece of legislation in committee on the new committee procedure. Beginning January 23rd letters for the record must be submitted to the Committee Clerk of that Committee by 5:00 P.M. the business day prior to the hearing or they will not be read into the record. You may still send written opinion on legislation throughout the legislative process but if you want your letter read into the formal record at the hearing it must be in by 5:00 P.M. the day before. I look forward to discussing all issues and legislation as each moves through the legislative process and welcome all constituents to contact my office with thoughts on legislation as the session continues.
Things are picking up at the legislature in its second week as we began floor debate and continued introduction of new legislation for this session. Over 300 new bills have already been introduced this session and more are expected until the deadline for new bill introduction on Thursday, January 18th. The legislature began discussion this week of carry-over bills from last session including one of my own bills LB177. LB177 was a bill I introduced last year on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles which would make necessary updates to portions of DMV statutes. LB177 advanced to select file.
One 2018 senator priority bill has already been debated this session. LB368, a bill introduced by Senator Lowe last session was reprioritized this year by Senator Krist. LB368 would repeal the helmet law for motorcycle riders. After several hours of discussion on the bill LB368 failed to advance.
The Governor delivered the Stated of the State to the Legislature on Wednesday, January 10th. The Governor reported that the state of Nebraska is strong and growing and highlighted economic development projects, international trade deals, and legislation aimed at streamlining government. The Governor also unveiled his new budget and tax plans which include a focus on property tax relief. The Governor’s proposal will be one of several property tax relief bills that the legislature will look at this session.
Committee hearings start next week on legislation introduced this session as new bills will begin to move through the legislative process. I remain on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee as well as Vice Chair of the Natural Resource Committee.
The legislature will not meet Monday, January 15th in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will reconvene on Tuesday January 16th. I look forward to continuing to work on legislation and issues that affect Nebraskans and constituents of District 23 this year and will keep everyone updated throughout the session.
Greetings again from the legislature to all constituents of District 23! I hope everyone had a safe and blessed holiday season. The legislature convened January 3rd for the first day of the 105th Legislature, 2nd Session. As a short 60 day session, the legislature will be very busy working to tackle several key issues.
Over the interim I continued work with constituents, groups and agencies to address the concerns of Nebraskans and the constituents of District 23 as well as participated in several legislative interim study hearings across the state. Since last session I have spoken with numerous groups and individuals regarding the need for real property tax relief and what that may look like in this state. I anticipate several legislative proposals this session aimed to address property tax concerns.
I worked with individuals to address title and licensing concerns and other DMV related issues as well as infrastructure projects and matters within the District. As a member of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee as well as the Nebraska Information Technology Commission I attended a NCSL Wireless U Conference last September aimed at working on telecommunications updates and policy including information on rural broadband expansion.
I also spent time over the interim working with law enforcement, juvenile justice and human trafficking groups to keep updated on the issues within those areas and better understand what may be done to combat such issues. One of the greatest ways we can combat issues like Human Trafficking is by raising awareness so I wanted to share with you information on the Attorney General’s “Demand an End” public awareness campaign to address minor sex trafficking in our state. The “Demand an End” initiative will be launched on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th, 2018 with a press conference at the Capitol. More information can be found at http://www.streetgrace.org/demand-an-end/.
The first 10 days of session are spent introducing new legislation as well as continued debate from 2017 carry over bills. With a short session and budget concerns of approximately $200 million, I believe the legislature will have to focus a majority of its efforts on key issues such as the budget, prison reform, and tax reform. I have introduced several new legislative bills this session and I look forward to sharing more information on those bills with you as the session moves along.
Go to the legislature’s website https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ to keep track of new legislation and I encourage you to reach out to my office with any comments, thoughts or concerns. I look forward to continued work on legislation and issues this year on behalf of the constituents of District 23. Have a safe and Happy New Year!
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