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Today I was pleased to attend a luncheon hosted by Mentor Nebraska. Mentor Nebraska’s mission is to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships, strengthen collaboration, and advocate for mentoring. The major topic of the lunch was LB511, which was introduced by Senator Tom Brewer and Co-sponsored by myself and Senators Gragert, Linehan Halloran, and Murman. LB511 would allow state employees to request a work schedule adjustment of 1 hour per week to participate in youth mentoring programs. It is crucial that our youth have the mentors and support needed in order to equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to be successful in their life. Dr. Tom Osborne was the keynote speaker for the event and he explained the importance of mentors and guidance in the development of our youth. Young adults and kids who participate in mentor programs are more likely to graduate high school or college. Dr. Osborne also explained the need for more youth mentors in our state.
Work on the Capitol HVAC project has begun and my office has moved up to the 8th Floor. To access my office visitors may take the North Elevators up to the 8th Floor. My staff offices are located on the North Side of the 8th Floor in Room 807. These are shared office spaces but signs will help direct you to my staff. You may still contact my office using the same phone number (402-471-2719) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have any questions or have trouble locating my new office please let my office know and we would be happy to assist you.
I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards in La Vista this week on the evening of Tuesday, May 8th. The Governor’s Arts Award ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate Nebraska arts organizations, arts professionals, and the people and businesses that support the arts in Nebraska. Two of the honorees this year are from District 23. Anna Nolan and Allen Covault of David City. They received the Thomas C. Woods III Partner in the Arts Award for their support and work in the arts and the Bone Creek Museum. The awards highlighted the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art which opened in 2008 and brought national attention to the art of David City native Dale Nichols and others. Anna and Allen formed the Nolan Covault Foundation to assure future growth and success of the museum’s mission to connect people to the land through art. I appreciated the opportunity to witness the well-deserved recognition of these District 23 constituents and others for their contribution to the arts.
The legislature has less than 15 days left of this short 60 day session. The focus for the remainder of session will be on debate of priority legislation and passage of the budget bills.
The package of budget bills include LB944, LB945 and LB946. LB944, introduced by the Speaker at the request of the Governor, is part of the Governor’s 2018 midbiennium budget adjustment recommendations for the 2017-2019 biennium. The bill makes adjustments to appropriations and reappropriations for state operations, aid and construction programs, provides for transfers, and modifies intent language and earmarks accompanying appropriations for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 and the next fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
The Appropriations Committee advanced their budget recommendations for LB944 on a unanimous 9-0 vote. LB944 includes a 2 percent reduction this year and another 2 percent cut the following year for state agencies. The Committee chose to prioritize higher education and hold the second year reduction to the University of Nebraska to 1 percent. To balance the budget, LB944 transfers $100 million from the Cash Reserve Fund. The budget seeks to protect funding for K-12 education, obligations for pension funds and the property tax credit. LB944 was discussed on general file on Tuesday, March 13th. After several hours of discussion on the amount of money transferred from the Cash Reserve Fund as well as a Title X provision, LB944 advanced to select file on a vote of 38-6 with 4 present and not voting.
The other two bills in the budget package LB945 and LB946 were also discussed. LB945 contains the Appropriations Committee recommendations as to fund transfers, creation of funds and changes governing the administration and use of funds, in those instances where statutory changes are necessary or desirable. LB946 provides for a transfer from the Cash Reserve Fund to the General Fund and changes a transfer from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Nebraska Capital Construction Fund for use in the Capitol HVAC project. Both bills advanced to select file. I will continue to keep you updated on the budget package as it makes its way through the legislative process.
I remain committed to real property tax relief this session and have been working with Senators and others toward advancement of legislation and policy that will aid in property tax relief. I will continue to work on property taxes and will keep you updated on any legislation.
As the legislature draws near the end of session, we will be working on moving priority bills through the legislative process. One of my own bills, LB901, was selected as a Speaker Priority Bill and was debated and advanced to select file. LB901 would protect historic Terrain Flight Training Areas for the National Guard and give them a voice in the permitting process in these crucial training areas to help them remain mission ready.
I will continue to keep you updated as we work on priority legislation for the remainder of session.
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