NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

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Welcome
January 4th, 2023

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 25th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Suzanne Geist

We are currently over a fourth of the way through the 108th Legislature, First Session. This week we started two weeks of all day hearings. This means that we check in for the day and then we head to our committee hearings.

I co-signed LB709 introduced by Senator Wishart and it was heard in the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee this week. This is an important bill for the City of Lincoln. It would provide up to $60 million towards a new convention center, up to $7 million towards the Lancaster County events center and up to $4 million for the Branched Oak Observatory by Branched Oak Lake. This is a one-time request for funds and these funds will help with improvements and to assist with the building of a new convention center. A new convention center and improving the Events Center and the Observatory will help draw more visitors to Lincoln. When we have more tourism in Lincoln, that also helps bring in more funds for our city and state.

My bill, LB50, had a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It has bi-partisan support. My bill is focused on creating a few pilot programs to provide programming, the ability for virtual behavioral health services and incentives for individuals involved in corrections, probation and parole. It also prioritizes payments for restitution and creates a pilot program to establish a technical parole violation residential housing program. This bill includes many items that the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Working group agreed on in 2021. I believe that these items will provide tools to start making changes to our current system and giving additional community support to those transitioning out of incarceration.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week in the Legislature, we debated a few motions on the floor in the mornings and had committee hearings in the afternoons.

Part of my job as the Chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is to meet with agency directors for agencies that my committee confirms. This week, I met with the new director of the Department of Transportation, Vicki Kramer. I am excited to see the direction that she takes the agency.

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard two bills that I think is very important this week. The two bills will continue a program that allows for counties to apply for matching funds from the state to accelerate the repair and replacement of deficient bridges. We have all driven through Lancaster County and had to take detours due to bridges washing out or being unsafe to drive across. I will keep you posted on the progress of this bill.

I am also a member of the Judiciary Committee. Yesterday, we heard a bill that will create a network for transitional housing. There is currently a shortage of transitional housing. This is housing that provides a safe and rehabilitative space for those coming out of the correctional system. This type of housing is set up to assist former inmates in making a smooth transition back into society. We have seen some issues with a few of the transitional houses in Lincoln. This bill would create a network of houses with a board that can help hold operators of transitional housing accountable when issues arise. It will also provide them with resources to create rehabilitative transitional houses.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week marked day 12 of the 108th Legislature, first session. My colleagues elected me to be the chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on the first day of session.

We are only allowed to introduce bills the first 10 days of session. There were a total of 812 bills introduced. I introduced 12 bills this year. Over the next couple of weeks, I will highlight and share about my bills.

LB137 is called the drug induced homicide bill. Unfortunately, we have been seeing more deaths due to fentanyl laced drugs and I have been meeting with families who have unfortunately lost children because their children did not know that they were taking a drug laced with fentanyl. My bill will make it a class IB felony if a person knowingly distributes a drug that causes serious bodily injury or causes death.

LB165 would allow 529 plans to be used to pay for K-12 tuition costs in Nebraska. The Federal Government allowed 529 plans to be used for K-12 tuition costs, but it needed to be passed by each individual state. Nebraska has added every other option that the Federal Government has allowed 529 accounts to be used for except K-12 tuition. I think that we should allow this so that there is no more confusion on what is allowed and what isn’t allowed with our plans.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

Wednesday was the last day of the 2nd session of the 107th Legislature. Normally, we would have time to debate every Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bill. This 60-day session was different. We were not able to debate every priority bill due to the fact that we had so many filibusters. We spent over 45 hours debating just the three budget bills.

We were still able to accomplish many great things this session. We were able to help many communities and Nebraskans in need with the ARPA funding we received from the Federal Government, passed the largest tax relief bill since I have been in office and many other bills that will help Nebraskans.

I will miss my colleagues that are term-limited or have chosen not to run for re-election, but I am looking forward to working with many new senators next year.

This interim, I will be working on two major items for the next session. I will be working on a corrections reform plan and I will be learning more about the mental health issues in the state and trying to find a way to assist with this issue.

This past week we had the last late night debates for this session. We had many late nights and we were able to debate a majority of the priority bills this session. Unfortunately, we were not able to debate all of the priority bills. We have one more day left in this session.

Two of my bills were amended into one of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee bill LB750. My bills, LB714 that creates the Lancaster County Customer Service Center for the DMV and LB1259 which assists the DMV with the increase in the cost of materials to make license plates were amended into LB750 and it passed the last round of debate on April 12th.

My bill, LB1214 which will allow telecommunications companies to come to the table and submit applications for the Broadband Bridge Act was amended into the other Transportation and Telecommunications committee priority bill. This bill was passed on the last round of debate on April 13th.

My bill, LB1215 which provides counseling and grants to very small start-up businesses was amended into Senator McKinney’s bill and was passed on the last round of debate on April 12th.

My bill, LB1184 which I introduced at the request of the Attorney General to clarify the role of the agency council for the State Patrol and when an outside counsel can be hired to represent a state patrol officer or employee when the employee is a subject of a grand jury or prosecutorial inquiry.

My bill, LB1150 which would provide the Legislative Audit Office with additional information that is necessary for them to conduct performance audits like the ImagiNE act to insure that business incentive programs are working was debated on the last round of debate this week too. I was able to add my other bill, LB937 which will appropriate funds to purchase a better version of economic modeling software for the Legislature. This will allow the legislature the ability to estimate revenue generation caused by new investment and employment. LB1150 was passed on the final round of debate on April 13th.

So, in total seven of the nine bills that I introduced this session were passed.

We have had many late nights these past couple of weeks. Multiple late nights often happen as we near the end of session. Friday was the last day for bills to be heard on general file or the first round of debate.

Over the past couple of weeks, the legislature has discussed LB920. LB920 was introduced by Senator Lathrop. It would change many items within the criminal justice statutes. Senator Lathrop claimed that LB920 was the consensus items from the Crime and Justice Institute working group report. I was a member of this working group last year and I was disappointed when I saw LB920. The working group assumed the bill would only include the 18 consensus items from our report. Unfortunately, Senator Lathrop also included the non-consensus items along with consensus items and a couple ideas that were not even recommended by CJI.

The non-consensus items and additional ideas Senator Lathrop included would have greatly compromised public safety. I introduced an amendment that only included consensus items and was willing to negotiate with Senator Lathrop from the time the amendment was introduced until it was debated on the floor. Two weeks ago, Senator Lathrop was willing to begin negotiations on the bill. I thought we were negotiating in good faith. After over 10 hours of negotiating, I offered Senator Lathrop a very good compromise. He would be receiving 85 percent of what he wanted in the bill. He decided that if he could not get the full one hundred percent of what he wanted, he would rather have the bill fail and not advance forward. As we were about to go to a cloture vote which would require 33 votes to end debate on the bill, Senator Lathrop pleaded with the other members of the legislature to advance the bill without adding my amendment and asking them to allow us to negotiate. During debate on LB920, Senator Lathrop had said multiple times that no one was willing to negotiate with him, which was not true. He only received 26 of the 33 votes needed to end the debate on the bill. Even though we were not able to pass the consensus items that would do many great things like providing mental health care for inmates, I have agreed to work during the interim with several other Senators on a corrections package for next session.

Late night debate started this past week. We spent two days debating the budget bills and we still have one more budget bill left to debate.

My bill, LB1259, which would change provisions relating to the issuance of new license plates and license plate fees was amended into the Transportation and Telecommunications priority bill. Just like everything else, the inputs for making license plates have increased dramatically and the Legislature needs to address this issue.

My bill, LB714, will reallocate funds that the DMV receives from five-year documents such as driver’s licenses and state identification cards, was also amended into the Transportation and Telecommunications priority bill. The reallocated funds will go to create a streamlined service center in Lancaster County. The current location has long wait times and it can be very frustrating for citizens to do business at that location. Citizens will be able to take their photo and pay for their 5-year documents at the same time. So they will no longer have go to different counters and stand in multiple lines once this is completed

My bill, LB1184, I introduced at the request of the Attorney General was passed on the first round of debate. LB1184 clarifies that a state trooper or employee of the state patrol could request a private attorney if they are called before a grand jury. It also makes clear the duties of the State Patrol legal counsel.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week was the last week of committee hearings.

On Thursday, my bill LB1215, which creates the Small Business Assistance Act, was amended onto Senator McKinney’s priority bill, LB450. I worked with a constituent on this bill. She brought to my attention there are many hurdles that middle class families face when starting a small business. There are many resources for a small business that produces high paying jobs, but for the person that would like to start an “everyday business” it is hard to find good business resources. My bill will provide grants for small businesses, if the owner makes less than $55,000 a year, has no other interest in a business and has less than $200,000 in assets excluding their home. The state will also contract with a business and provide professional business counseling services to these businesses. The counseling includes human resources information, assistance writing a business plan, financial planning and so many more resources that many new business owners don’t realize are a necessity until it is too late. I am excited to help fill a much needed gap in small business start ups and helping them be successful!

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We have reached the half-way point of session and we have just one week left of committee hearings. We will start late night debates the week of March 7th.

My bill, LB1086 creates the Chemical Abortion Safety Act. It was heard in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday evening. I introduced this bill because chemical abortions make up over 70% of all abortions in Nebraska, and currently there is no prescribed standard of care. My bill requires a physician to see the woman to establish how far along she is, check if she has a dangerous ectopic pregnancy, and check to make sure that she is not Rh negative. If she is, RhoGAM is given to prevent future miscarriages or infertility. This bill also limits the use of chemical agents to the first 7 weeks of pregnancy, as risks of complications increase substantially each week thereafter. Lastly, it sets up a much-needed reporting requirement. Currently, in Nebraska there is little to no reporting of chemical abortions, or any subsequent complications. There is also no accountability or follow up with women who have complications. LB 1086 sets up this standard of care and is a common sense solution that protects women who opt for chemical abortions.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25
Room 1110
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2731
Email: sgeist@leg.ne.gov
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