NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

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Welcome
January 6th, 2021

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 debated the budget for the second time this week. The debate lasted wo days and we were finally able to pass the budget. We are scheduled to debate the budget for the last time next Tuesday.

My bill, LB 500, that clarifies offenses when electronic communication is involved, passed the second round of debate. It only has one more round to go until it is sent to Governor Ricketts for him to sign it into law.

Next week, we will be starting late night debate. Speaker Hilgers announced that we will be going until at least 7 pm on late night debates, but we could go until 11:59 pm. Late night debates are scheduled to help us get through all of the Speaker, committee and Senator priority bills before the end of session.

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

During the first session of the biennium, we debate the budget for the state for the next two years. This week we spent half our week debating the budget. I want to make sure to share that the budget included the triggers that we passed last year through LB1107 to provide more property tax relief to Nebraskans. Property taxes are too high and we are trying to do our part to help provide property tax relief.

LB274 which had my bill, LB 72, to provide mixed to go drinks amended into it passed the second round of debate. There is only one more round of debate before mixed to go drinks will be law and we will be able to provide much needed relief to small businesses.

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 continued with all day debate this week and we start debating the budget next week.

Speaker Hilgers chose my bill, LB500, which provides venue for prosecution of offenses committed using an electronic communication device, as a speaker priority bill. My bill just provides clarity when crimes are committed with an electronic device. We debated it on Tuesday and it passed with 40 votes in favor of my bill.

My bill LB72, which would allow mixed to go drinks to continue after the State of Emergency ends, was officially amended into LB274. We worked with Senators John Cavanaugh, Lowe, and Briese to address Senator Cavanaugh’s concerns regarding local control when Class C, Y and I liquor licenses serve mixed to go drinks.

I have heard from many constituents and I want to remind you that tomorrow at 9am the State Board of Education will be holding a meeting at the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Lincoln. They will be listening to public comments regarding the proposed health standards. I encourage you to attend and voice your concerns.

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 session is continuing to go very quickly. We have reached the point in session where we will only have time to debate the budget and Senator, Speaker and committee priority bills.

LB507 was introduced by Senator Bostelman to address the issues with AltEn Enthanol in Mead, Nebraska. The Natural Resource Committee prioritized LB507 and it was unanimously passed through the first round of debate.

The Natural Resources Committee prioritized the bill because the ethanol plant in Mead was using treated seed. Some of the residents have been having adverse health issues and this is a concern to the Legislature. LB507 would ban the use of treated seed corn in the production of ethyl alcohol to keep communities and livestock safe.

Senator Sander’s LB389 requires the issuance of teaching certificates and permits to military spouses passed on the final round of debate this week. This bill updates Nebraska’s Teacher Certification for military spouses and makes it easier for those who are teachers in military families to continue teaching when their family is transferred to Nebraska. This bill will help to keep Nebraska a military friendly state.

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 started all-day debate this week and we are over half way through the 2021 session.

LB487 and LB83 were debated on the floor and made it through the first round of debate. LB487 was introduced by Senator Arch and it will make certain that insurance companies would not charge more for individuals receiving mental health assistance if they were to use telehealth services.

LB83 was introduced by Senator Flood and would amend the Open Meetings Act. This bill would allow public bodies to hold meetings using video conferencing during a state of emergency.

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 final week of committee hearings for this year. The Judiciary Committee heard our last bill on Friday morning. We will start all day floor debate next week.

My bill, LB 72, which would allow mixed to go drinks to continue after the pandemic, was added to be a General Affairs priority bill. The bill was debated on the floor on Tuesday. There was a lively debate about the bill. Currently, I’m working with Senator John Cavanaugh to satisfy some concerns he had with the bill. I anticipate it will be on select file once we settle on that compromise language.

The Nebraska Department of Education has announced a draft proposal to change the health education standards for the state of Nebraska. Schools would start teaching children in the first grade to define gender, gender identity and gender-role stereotypes. Children in the third grade would be taught ways to “promote dignity and respect for people of all genders, gender expression and gender identity including other students, their family members, and members of the school community.” These same children would also define sexual orientation and discuss the range of ways people express their gender and how gender-role stereotypes may influence behavior. Children in fourth grade will be asked to differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity and distinguish between sex assigned at birth and gender identity and how they may or may not differ. Children in sixth grade will be asked to define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive and gender identity and define sexual identity and explain a range of identities related to sexual orientation.

If educators are adequately teaching good character then there is no reason to teach young children different sexual orientations with the goal of being inclusive. They do not need to be taught what adults do behind closed doors to learn kindness and to be inclusive. These are adult concerns that do not need our public school educators to champion in elementary classrooms.

I encourage you to contact your local State Board of Education member to vocalize any concerns that you may have. You can also submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

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 wrapped up the last week of all day hearings. There were some days that the Judiciary Committee heard 11 bills. Next week, we will be having floor debates in the mornings and the Judiciary Committee will continue to finish up our hearings in the afternoons.

I was honored to once again be voted the Chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee. This committee audits different parts of statutes to make sure agencies are following the intent of bills after they become laws. Right now our committee is working on an audit of correctional services. There was a question with the prison overcrowding and why more inmates were not being paroled even though they are given the opportunity for parole when they have completed clinical programming. Though we found these programs to be highly accessible, 70% of inmates failed to complete these programs due to behavior issues or termination from the program. This information will be very helpful as we move forward to solve prison overcrowding issues and find solutions for shortcomings in our programs. Feel free to read more about the report here: nebraksalegislature.gov/reports/audit.php

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 we debated a few bills on general and select file in the morning before committee hearings.

I introduced LB166 to create the “Josh the Otter Be-Safe Around Water” specialty license plates in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this week. This was brought to me by Blake & Kathy Collingsworth who established a memorial in memory of the loss of their son, Joshua, in a drowning accident. Their mission is to teach water safety to young children. Water accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. The proceeds from the license plates would be used by Game and Parks to provide grants to non-profits in the state to teach children about water safety.

LB167 which protects religious freedoms as prescribed and provides for certain tort claims was heard in the Judiciary Committee this week. Religious organizations are a vital part of the health and welfare of our state. I brought this bill because I saw what has happened in other states this past year. Religious organizations were treated differently than other organizations and businesses. The religious organizations faced more restrictions, and this concerned me. This bill does not regulate or change the government’s ability to protect public health and safety, but it simply seeks to ensure neutral health, safety and occupancy requirements on all businesses and services during a state of emergency, natural disaster or pandemic.

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

I am on the Judiciary Committee and we had some long days for hearings. Next week, we will have floor debate one morning and all day hearings the rest of the week. I would like to share with you two more of my bills and the reason why I introduced them.

While talking with owners of local bars and restaurants in my district it was no surprise to hear that they had been hit hard by the pandemic. Most of these businesses were able to stay open thanks to the Executive Order allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to go. This is why I introduced LB72, which would allow establishments with Class C and Class I liquor licenses to sell mixed drinks to go. It will no doubt take time for businesses to recover after the pandemic and this bill would help do that. I would like to thank everyone that came to testify in favor of this bill. The support was overwhelming.

My bill LB74 will sunset the Microenterprise Tax Credit Act. The money that would come from the elimination of the Microenterprise Tax Credit Act would be used towards the Department of Economic Development for the Business Innovation Act. I introduced this bill last year because a constituent of mine was able to successfully start a business thanks to the funding and help she received from Invest Nebraska. I have talked to other startups that have received funding from Invest Nebraska and they all agree that their businesses would not be where they are today without the start up funding. These startup businesses create high paying jobs and help stop the brain drain in Nebraska.


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 had all day hearings in the Legislature this past week. I would like to update you on two of the bills that had hearings this week.

I brought LB73 to help the Lancaster Event Center and subsequently other Ag Societies in Nebraska where racetracks are present. Seventy percent of Nebraska’s Gambling Tax Revenue goes to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. Of the remaining 20% that is split between the city and county, 10% will go to the local Ag Society. My bill would help the Lancaster County Event Center by giving them a steady stream of revenue in order to keep their property maintained for the many events they host.

My bill LB663 would provide a highlight or flag in the NCJIS (Nebraska Criminal Justice Reform System) to make 911 dispatchers aware if someone has been adjudicated mentally ill. This will help law enforcement provide someone going through a mental health crisis the help they need!

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 2000
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2731
Email: sgeist@leg.ne.gov
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