NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at sgeist@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 8th, 2020

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

This week we started committee hearings in the afternoons. We debated non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

The hearing for my bill, LB879 which would eliminate funding for the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act and change the termination date for applications. The bill will sunset a program that is not used very much and provide funding to expand the Business Innovation Act.

This past Fall, one of my constituents, Annie Crimmins, invited me to an Invest Nebraska networking event. Annie and her husband are co-founders of a startup called CanaryBox. CanaryBox integrates music with data to help reduce the risk of distraction in the operating room and provides alerts when a critical event happens. CanaryBox received funding from Invest Nebraska through the Business Innovation Act and Annie shared their story with me. Her enthusiasm inspired me to learn more about Invest Nebraska and tour a couple of startup businesses that have received funding. All of the companies have inspirational stories to share. The companies have worked to recruit, plan to recruit Nebraskans or have helped draw employees from other states to live in Nebraska. One of my favorite stories has come out of a company called Matma here in Lincoln. Matma was able to recruit an employee to move from New Jersey and she was able to convince her parents and her sister to eventually move to Nebraska.

According to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, the overall economic impact from the startups was $ 284.3 million a year and the state has only invested $19.9 million in the program since 2012. This is a great return on our investment as a state. Invest Nebraska conducts it’s due diligence on each company to decide if they will move the company forward in the investment process.

These companies are creating high wage jobs in areas where there may not be the opportunity for students to stay in Nebraska. Invest Nebraska ran out of funding in November of last year and I believe that the extra funding would be very helpful in decreasing the brain drain and also will encourage others to move to 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.

This week we have been having all day floor debate. We have been debating bills that are Senator Priority bills and non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

I introduced LB975 that will change provisions relating to reports of child abuse or neglect. The federal government changed their regulations regarding reports of child abuse and neglect and adult abuse and neglect. Nebraska was not in compliance with these regulations and my bill would bring the state into compliance so that we would not risk losing funding from the federal government.

Throughout my time serving as a state senator, I have learned about drug courts and how they have changed the lives of so many people. My interest in drug and specialty courts in Nebraska led me to learn about mental health courts. I introduced a bill this week, LB1017 which will provide funding to the Supreme Court to fund a pilot program for mental health courts. The purpose of mental health courts is to provide an alternative for people who have mental health issues and have committed a crime that stemmed from their mental illness. Rather than incarcerating this individual they can be redirected to Mental Health Courts. This court will give the judge the ability to give this person a second chance by allowing them to go through strict programming that would help get them the medication, education, programming and services they need. This will not be easy option and the program will last for two years. If the person does not comply with the rules and regulations of the program they would end up being sent to jail to serve their sentence. The Supreme Court has meticulously worked on standards that are to be followed by judges and the mental health courts. This is a small, but important tool that helps address the needs of those who suffer from severe mental illness in our communities.

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

The One Hundred Sixth Legislature, Second Session officially began on Wednesday. I am the Vice Chair of Transportation and Telecommunications committee, a member of the Natural Resources committee and the Chair of the Legislative Performance Audit committee. So far this week, my fellow senators and I have introduced a total of 199 bills.

This week we have been focused on introducing new bills for this session. Next week, we will begin all day debate. The Speaker of the Legislature has promised that we will begin all day debate by debating the priority bills that we were not able to debated last session.

I have introduced two bills so far this session. The first bill that I introduced was LB814 to ban the brutal method of dismemberment abortions during the second trimester between 13-24 weeks. I think we can all agree that no living human being should be torn apart limb by limb.

The second bill that I introduced was LB879 which would eliminate the funding for the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act and change the termination date for applications. This bill would allow the tax credit to sunset or expire this year and provide funding for the Business Innovation Act which provides funding for small start-up businesses in Nebraska.

I look forward to providing you with a weekly legislative update at the end of the week this 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.

Today the Legislature adjourned sine die for the first session of the 106th Legislature. We passed many good bills, but unfortunately, we were not able to come to an agreement on property taxes. I hope that we are able to accomplish this next session.

My interim will be spent working on interim studies, spending time in the district and researching ideas for bills to bring next session. I look forward to updating you during the interim on the interim studies that come before the Natural Resources and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees.

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

The weeks continue to be busy in the Nebraska Legislature. We entered into our second to last week of session on Monday. The week was filled with several late nights and a lot of floor discussion.

This week we passed my bill, LB561 to adopt updated audit standards under the Legislative Performance Audit Act, on final reading. It’s a simple cleanup bill for the Performance Audit Committee. The vote was 45 to 0. Final reading is the third and final stage at which a bill is considered by the full Legislature. The clerk reads the entire bill aloud, unless the final reading is waived, and the senators vote without debate on whether to submit the bill to the governor. I am very pleased that LB561 is headed to Governor Rickett’s desk.

The Nebraska State Budget was also passed during final reading. Overall, I was pleased with the budget and commend the diligence of the Appropriations Committee. There were some concerns expressed during the debate, of further trimming our spending. I agree with that concern. However, I am very supportive of the funding we provided the University of Nebraska and State Colleges. I was also pleased that this year’s budget provided the funding for four additional specialty courts across the State of Nebraska. I believe they are a great addition to our justice system because they will provide Nebraskans with an option for diverting people from incarceration.

One of the most intensely debated bills from this week was LB720. LB720 introduced by Senator Kolterman is the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. It provides business incentives that are targeted toward economic development for the entire state of Nebraska. I was fully supportive of the bill. I believe that business incentives are extremely important for Nebraska to be competitive in the Midwest Region. Every surrounding state has a business incentive package. LB720 is written narrowly and it requires rigid standards of job growth. It also limits the amount of credits that are awarded to businesses each year. In addition, LB720 creates a review board that meets annually in order to gain transparency and accountability. The bill was filibustered on select file and failed to get 33 votes to break the filibuster. We will probably see this bill coming back in some form next 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.

 

It has been yet another busy week in the Nebraska Legislature. We continued with our late nights this week as we debated the budget and some other major bills.

One of our most important accomplishments as a body was passing the Nebraska State Budget. Overall, I was pleased with the budget and commend the diligence of the Appropriations Committee. There were some concerns expressed, during the debate, of further trimming our spending. I agree with that concern. However, I am very supportive of the funding we provided the University of Nebraska and State Colleges. I was also pleased that this year’s budget provided the funding for 4 additional specialty courts across the State of Nebraska. I believe they are a great addition to our justice system because they will provide Nebraskans with an option for diverting people from incarceration.

In addition to the budget we also tackled the discussion of medical marijuana, LB110 introduced by Senator Wishart to Adopt the Medical Cannabis Act. I appreciate Senator Wishart’s hard work on this bill for the past three years. However, I am not in favor of a Legislative solution to medical marijuana. I have deep compassion for the suffering, for those looking for answers, and for those needing different treatment options, but I have many concerns regarding this bill. I come from a medical family (my father is a physician) and I also was a Pharmaceutical Salesperson in the area of neuro sciences, which included medications for anxiety, depression, and pain, so that history forms my opinions.

Among my concerns are, that LB110 places no limit on THC levels, this is the component of marijuana that is responsible for the “high” that can be dispensed. For example, industrial hemp’s THC levels are around .3%, marijuana of the 1960’s and ‘70’s was around 5%. Today’s recreational marijuana is around 20-30% and lab created THC can be as high as 90+%. There is also no limit on how often some people could get access to the drug. I believe that medical marijuana should be handled by the FDA. The Legislature is not a group of medically or scientifically minded people, we are a group of regular citizens with drastically different backgrounds. I truly believe this a job for scientists and not for a citizen legislature.

There are so many unknown risks when it comes to approving a drug and I don’t feel comfortable putting those who are suffering, as well as their families, through a process that could come with unforeseen pain and risks, in addition to what they have and are experiencing.

These are some of the reasons that I choose not to support LB110.

We wrapped up the week on Thursday, May 16th and during that session day, Speaker Scheer announced that we will be ending the Legislative Session earlier than expected. This year’s Legislative Session will be ending on Friday, May 31, 2019.

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

It has been yet another busy week in the Nebraska Legislature! We began late night debates this week which will continue on and off throughout the rest of the legislative session.

The theme of this week seemed to center around our state finances. We began this legislative week on Tuesday, May 7th and the debate centered on property tax relief that afternoon. We began discussions on LB289 introduced by Senator Linehan and the amendment from the Revenue Committee to make changes to property taxes in the state by raising the sales tax and eliminating sales tax exemptions.

Once debate on LB289 began it went on for a total of 3 hours. I am hesitant to raise sales taxes and unfortunately raising sales taxes is a part of the bill. There are still discussions and negotiations about the bill going on and I believe that it will come back up before session ends.

On Wednesday, May 8th we began our Nebraska State Budget debate. When it comes to the budget it is often hard to predict how the conversation will go. I am very happy to say this year it went very smoothly. There were a few tweaks made in the budget which allowed us to give our constituents some property tax relief. We passed an amendment that added $25 million more to the property tax credit relief fund. I was very pleased with how the budget turned out and how well the debate went.

Today, Friday, May 10th we discussed our consent calendar bills. The consent calendar is a portion of the agenda in which relatively noncontroversial bills are considered and quickly advanced to the next legislative stage. Usually, a bill on consent calendar can be debated for no more than 15 minutes.

My bill, LB561 to adopt updated audit standards under the Legislative Performance Audit Act, was placed on the consent calendar. I introduced this bill because I am the Chair of the Legislative Performance Audit committee. The bill made simple updates to the auditing standards for the Legislative Audit Office. It assists the Audit Agency in maintaining its compliance with Federal Audit Standards. There was no opposition to the bill and it passed 35-0.

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 were able to pass quite a few bills on final reading this week and I have an update about two of my bills.

As the chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, I introduced LB560 as the Legislative Performance Audit Committee’s priority bill. This bill would make changes to the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act. The Legislative Performance Audit Committee audits programs in statute to make sure that they are following the original intent of the statute and the Performance Audit found an issue with this program. The Performance Audit Committee voted to let the Revenue Committee decide the best policy choice for bringing the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act into compliance with the audit. The Revenue Committee had two options to choose between my bill, LB560 and Senator Williams’ bill, LB623. The Revenue Committee decided to amend in Senator Williams’ LB623. LB560 passed on the first and second rounds of debate.

The Governor signed my priority bill, LB252 into law on May 1st. LB252 requires the Nebraska Lottery to disclose the odds of winning the prize with the largest value on advertisements. The requirement would include all print advertisements, including billboards and in-store wobblers to have the disclosure be no less than thirty-five percent of the largest font. Online advertisements are required to have the odds disclosed in a ten point font before the ad is scaled down to fit the online advertisement. LB252 was advance on the second round of debate and we passed it on final reading today.

The Revenue Committee voted out an amended property tax bill yesterday afternoon. The amendment is very long and I plan to spend my recess days reading and studying the new amendment.

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 has been another busy week in the Legislature. We were able to debate quite a few bills including passing my priority bill LB252 on final reading.

LB252 which requires the Nebraska Lottery to disclose the odds of winning the prize with the largest value on advertisements. The requirement would include all print advertisements, including billboards and in-store wobblers to have the disclosure be no less than thirty-five percent of the largest font. Online advertisements are required to have the odds disclosed in a ten point font before the ad is scaled down to fit the online advertisement. LB252 was advance on the second round of debate and we passed it on final reading today. The next step is to send the bill to the Governor for him to sign the bill into law.

LB44 introduced by Senator Chambers to eliminate the death penalty and change provisions relating to murder in the first degree was debated yesterday. We debated the bill for almost three hours and then voted on the bill. I voted no on repealing the death penalty because the voters spoke loud and clear in 2016 when they voted to keep the death penalty. As an elected official, I feel it is my duty to uphold the will of the people.

We also debated LB 616 introduced by Senator Hilgers that provides for build-finance projects under the Build Nebraska Act and the Transportation Innovation Act for the second time. LB616 would help speed up the process for the South Beltway and save an estimated $25 million in costs and $7 million in interest. The South Beltway has been talked about for decades and is needed in our community. I am proud to say that I voted in favor of this bill.

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
Phone: (402) 471-2731
Email: sgeist@leg.ne.gov
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