I thought I would take some time this week to share a bit about the importance of hearing from constituents in the district and how important it is for me to connect with you on a regular basis. With Nebraska’s unique unicameral system, it’s always been widely accepted that the people are the second house in our state. I truly believe that and have tried throughout my legislative career to keep the constituents as the focus of my service. Each day I have many opportunities to connect with constituents who visit the legislature.
Today, as an example, I started my morning connecting with rural superintendents and administrators at the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association breakfast, and I finished my evening at a dinner with teachers from the district who are members of the NSEA. At both meetings we visited about education policy as well as the much discussed topic of education funding as it relates to property taxes.
Last week I was able to spend time with members of the Leadership York class, Educational Service Unit 7 representatives, and the Bottlerocket Boys from Bottlerocket Brewery. Each of these visits were productive in that we were able to discuss legislation that will impact each of these groups in some way. Constituents shared their views on the legislation with me and I was able to provide them feedback about where I stood on the issues. These are only a sampling of the types of meetings that take place regularly each and every week the legislature is in session. It’s not uncommon for me to be invited to two or three events for breakfast and lunch every day. I always try to attend when I know constituents will be present, as it gives me a great opportunity to connect with them and learn about the bills that are important to them, the legislation that might impact them, or emerging issues in their industries or businesses. It’s often difficult to be at all of the events, but I do try to attend as many as I can.
Another way I try to connect with constituents is by visiting with them when they stop by the State Capitol. In addition to the many school classes that visit on a regular basis, we also have groups and organizations who hold special days visiting the session. If you are part of those groups or are just passing through, you can always give a note to the “red coats” who are positioned right outside of the legislative Chamber. They will bring the note to me, indicating you are present. If I am not engaged in an issue on the floor, I may be able to step outside the Chamber for a few minutes. This is a good way for an impromptu conversation or just to say hello. People visiting the state Capitol are also welcome to stop by my office in room 2004 and visit with my staff. Katie and David can help you set up an appointment with me or answer questions about legislation. If you have specific questions about the Retirement Committee, my legal counsel Kate Allen is a wealth of knowledge and great at working through retirement issues with citizens who have inquiries.