Greetings Northeast Lincoln!
This last month has been full of meetings and research as my staff and I work through the interim on issues and studies for next year’s session. Several committees I serve on have been busy holding hearings on interim studies, which I’ve detailed below. I hope this newsletter finds you well, and provides a helpful update on some of the things I have been up to during the interim.
Urban Affairs Committee Hearing-North Platte
The Urban Affairs committee, of which I am vice-chair, had the opportunity to travel out to North Platte for a hearing last month. We heard testimony on two legislative resolutions, LR 160 and LR 60. LR 160 was introduced by Senator Hughes and studied the ability of municipalities in Nebraska to offer relocation incentives to attract new residents. LR 60 was introduced by the Urban Affairs committee, and studied issues related to the use of tax-increment financing. We are conducting a series of interim hearings across the state to hear from different communities on how they utilize tax-increment financing. I’m appreciative of all those who came out to share their knowledge on these matters, and to North Platte for hosting us.
State senators and staff present at the Urban Affairs hearing. From left, Senator Groene, Urban Affairs Committee legal council, myself, Senator Wayne, Senator Quick, Senator Crawford, and Senator Williams.
Listening to testimony at the Urban Affairs hearing in North Platte. Images courtesy of League of Nebraska Municipalities.
Judiciary Committee Hearing
This month, the Judiciary Committee held its first interim hearing. We heard testimony on four legislative resolutions: LR 114, LR 191, LR 198, and my LR 221. LR 114 was introduced by the Judiciary Committee to examine Nebraska’s statutes relating to geriatric or compassionate release laws for elderly inmates. LR 191 was introduced by Senator Ebke, and studied possible legislative reforms to Nebraska’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws. LR 198 was introduced by Senator Pansing Brooks and studied the impact of incarceration on children in Nebraska. Finally, I introduced LR 221 to examine possible reforms to Nebraska’s sentencing laws to accommodate an option of deferred judgment probation. The hearing was full of excellent information about all of these important topics, and I am appreciative of everyone who came out to share their thoughts.
I introduced legislative resolution 221 to examine possible reforms to Nebraska’s sentencing laws to accommodate an option of deferred judgment probation. Deferred judgment probation can take many forms, but is typically a type of probation that allows for the individual to be sentenced to probation, and come back before a judge after completing the requirements to then set-aside, or dismiss, that conviction. This practice is currently in law in a majority of states, and is often seen as a positive option for both the prosecution and defense. I introduced this legislative resolution to further study the availability of deferred judgment probation for first-time offenders and for non-violent crimes, without replacing regular probation for more serious offenses and subsequent offenses. This concept of deferred judgment probation is consistent with other components of our justice system that the Judiciary Committee has considered, such as expungement and support of problem-solving courts, such like the drug courts, veterans’ courts, and mental health courts which have shown success here in Nebraska. I appreciate all of the testimony heard on this legislative resolution, and I hope that deferred judgment probation and other alternatives to incarceration will continue to be part of the conversation.
This month, we continued to celebrate Nebraska’s 150 years of statehood by dedicating the courtyard fountains at the Capitol. My office has a wonderful view of one of the fountains, and my staff and I are pleased to see all of the hard work over the last year pay off.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you! As always, thanks for reading.