Greetings Northeast Lincoln!
Early Adjournment & Budget Bills
The first session of the 105th Legislature was scheduled to adjourn sine die on June 2nd. To adjourn ‘sine die’ means to adjourn without setting a future date for reconvening, finishing the legislative session for the year. However, Speaker Scheer announced that we would adjourn early, on May 23rd. During this long session year, we are constitutionally required to accomplish our session in no more than 90 days, but it is up to the discretion of the speaker to schedule our agenda within those 90 days. Speaker Scheer announced that we would adjourn sine die early, in large part due to having heard all of the priority bills and finalizing the budget.
Over the last few weeks, the Legislature was busy passing bills and holding a few final committee hearings to approve appointments and pass legislative resolutions. This month, the legislature also voted to advance the budget bills to the Governor’s desk. It has been a long process balancing the budget while experiencing a budget deficit. I am grateful for all of the hard work of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to bring us a balanced budget, and the work of my fellow senators on the bills once they were on the floor.
My priority bill, LB259, was advanced to the Governor’s desk on May 8th, and approved by the Governor on May 12th. LB259 aims to eliminate unnecessary financial burdens on our counties by allowing individuals who are sitting in jail in order to pay off debts the opportunity to pay via an installment plan or perform community service. Often, people who commit a crime that carries no jail time are sentenced to pay a fine and court costs. When they are unable to pay this fine, they “sit out” the fine in jail, and are credited $90 a day. This creates a burden on the jail and the county, as they end up losing money. I introduced LB259 in order to rectify this expensive public policy, and I am grateful to my colleagues for their support on this issue.
My bill, LB519, was placed on the consent calendar this year. Consent calendar is a term for a portion of our legislative agenda that is set by the Speaker, and includes generally non-controversial legislation. The idea behind the consent calendar is to pass consensus bills which do not need much debate more efficiently. I introduced LB519 in order to treat government employers the same way as private employers in regards to paying the unemployment benefits of a newly hired employee. I am very glad this legislation was included on the consent calendar agenda, and appreciate my fellow senators’ votes on LB519. LB519 was delivered to the Governor’s desk on May 16th.
My staff and I have selected a few issues to study in more depth over the interim, in order to inform our legislative proposals for the next session. To that end, I have introduced three legislative resolutions, LR219, LR220, and LR221. LR219 is an interim study to examine the effectiveness of the Nebraska state statute that relates to the imposition of bail, and the relevant statutes which relate to the imposition of fines, fees, and court costs. Our hope is that an interim study will help us propose legislation to enhance the effectiveness of these programs. LR220 is an interim study to investigate the purpose and benefits of creating conviction integrity units in Nebraska. Conviction integrity units, or CIUs, are divisions which work to prevent, identify, and correct false convictions. Finally, LR221 is an interim study to examine possible reforms to Nebraska’s sentencing laws to accommodate an option of deferred judgment probation.
In May, I had the pleasure of speaking to several groups of students. First, I visited with the Dawes Middle School Student Council while they were at the Capitol as part of their Capitol Experience Day. They had several impressive questions for me, and I was happy to have a dialogue with them about important issues facing our state. I also had a chance to visit with fourth and fifth grade students at Faith Lutheran Elementary School on one of our recess days.
Finally, this month I also had the opportunity to visit a Culler Middle School classroom. I am appreciative of these schools for inviting me to speak with their classrooms, and I enjoyed visiting with these students.
Thanks to everyone who has called, sent letters, e-mailed, or stopped by our office to share your views! We hope you’ll continue to let us know what is important to you. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (402) 471-2610 or email us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you! As always, thanks for reading.