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Greetings Northeast Lincoln!
Second Session of the 105th Legislature
As the second session of the 105th Legislature is fast approaching, I wanted to provide context on what to expect. Each biennium, the Legislature holds two sessions. The current biennium began in January 2017, at the beginning of this year. The first session of the biennium is a “long” session, or a 90-day session. It usually lasts from the beginning of January through early June, though we recessed early in May this year. The second session is a “short”, or 60-day session. It is scheduled to begin on January 3rd, 2018, and conclude on April 18th. In both sessions, the first ten days are reserved for introducing bills. Bills can only be introduced during the first ten days of session. After that, each bill that is introduced will have a public hearing in the committee it is referred to. During this time, the Legislature will convene in the morning to debate bills, and hold hearings in the afternoon. After all bills have received a public hearing, the Legislature will meet all day to debate and pass legislation until the end of the session. If you have any questions about a bill’s status, the Nebraska Legislature’s website, http://nebraskalegislature.gov, is an excellent resource. If you need assistance navigating the website, my office would be happy to help. I’m excited to hit the ground running in January!
Legislative Council Meeting
Each year, prior to session, all 49 senators gather for a meeting of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council examines information relating to state government and the general welfare of the state and recommends legislation. During this Legislative Council meeting, which was held here in Lincoln, we had the opportunity to hear from all of the committee chairs about their interim studies, and from chairs of special committees about their findings. This meeting was not only a great opportunity to delve into research and issues we’ll interact with during the session, but a chance to mingle and bond with our fellow senators, some of whom we may not have seen since session ended. I’m appreciative of all who worked to bring this event to fruition, and to my colleagues for sharing their time and expertise.
Urban Affairs Committee Interim Hearings
The Urban Affairs Committee, which I vice-chair, held hearings across the state over the interim. The committee decided to conduct a series of interim hearings across the state to hear from different communities on how they utilize tax-increment financing. Our first hearing was held in North Platte. At this hearing, we heard testimony on legislative resolution (LR) LR 160, which was introduced by Senator Hughes, and LR 60, which was introduced by the Urban Affairs committee. LR 160 studied the ability of municipalities in Nebraska to offer relocation incentives to attract new residents. LR 60 studied issues related to the use of tax-increment financing. Next, the committee held a hearing in Grand Island, to hear testimony on LR 60 and LR 138. LR 138 was introduced by Senator Crawford and examined the tools, mechanisms, and funding sources available to municipalities to provide for condemnation or demolition of vacant and abandoned buildings. We heard additional testimony on LR 60, the tax-increment financing study introduced by the committee. In October, the committee held its final hearing of the interim. We heard testimony on LB81, introduced by Senator Wayne, which examined the adoption and enforcement of state fire codes. We also continued to hear testimony on our committee resolution, LR 60. I’m very appreciative of all those who came out to testify in North Platte, Grand Island, and Lincoln.
Judiciary Committee Interim Hearings
This interim, the Judiciary Committee held two interim hearings, one in September, and one in October. In September, 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. In October, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on LR 172 and LR 173, both of which were introduced by Senator Wishart. LR 172 reviews recruitment and retention efforts that are currently or could possibly be undertaken by the Department of Correctional Services, and LR 173 reviews the work detail and work release efforts at the community corrections centers. I greatly appreciate all who came out to share their knowledge on these important issues.
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.