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Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope everyone was able to spend time with loved ones during the Christmas season.
The 106th Legislative Session kicked off on Wednesday, January 9. This year we will conduct a 90-day session, also known as the long session, with the expected adjournment date in early June. There are many changes to the makeup of the legislative body. We welcome 13 new Senators in the freshman class, and 8 of the 14 Standing Committees will have new chairpersons leading the way.
Senator Jim Scheer of Norfolk was re-elected as Speaker of the Legislature. Other notable chair races include Mike Groene of North Platte defeating Rick Kolowski of Omaha for chair of the Education Committee and Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn defeating Brett Lindstrom of Omaha for chair of the Revenue Committee. Other Chairmanships of note were John Stinner of Scottsbluff being re-elected as Appropriations Committee Chairman, Steve Lathrop of Omaha being elected as Judiciary Committee Chairman, and Matt Williams of Gothenberg being elected as Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee Chairman.
Without opposition, I was unanimously re-elected as chairman of the Retirement Committee. Moving forward in my role, I intend for the Retirement committee to continue its work in protecting the plans assets, responsibly managing taxpayer dollars via the State’s contribution to the plans, while fulfilling the promised return to our retirees.
This year I will continue to serve on the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee and I will be a new member of the Revenue Committee, a committee tasked with taxes and revenue. I am also excited to announce that I have been selected by my peers to serve on the Executive Board of the Legislature, which supervises all legislative services and employees.
The Legislature faces many challenges this year, the greatest being a budget shortfall to the tune of roughly $95 million. Governor Pete Ricketts and the Legislature will have to work together in order to make difficult, yet appropriate funding cuts to balance the budget while maintaining the state’s statutory duties. The Legislature will examine tax reform while taking a close look at ways to relieve property tax burdens. I know taxes are an important issue to all Nebraskans and we will work diligently to find solutions to our tax challenges.
In Nebraska, the first ten days of session is the only time Senators are allowed to introduce legislation. While I do not know all the bills that will be introduced at this time, I foresee that some of the bills and issues to garner attention this year are property tax reform, corrections reform, medical marijuana and the funding of Medicaid expansion.
This year, I am excited to welcome Tyler Mahood to my team. Tyler will serve as my legislative aide, assisting me with legislation, constituent issues, and communications. Tyler comes to my office via Senator Merv Riepe’s office, where he served as committee clerk for the Health and Human Services Committee for the previous two years. We are excited to have Tyler as part of our team and I look forward to him getting to know the wonderful constituents of District #24.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.