January 7th was a very exciting and humbling day for me. The One Hundred and Fourth Legislative Session, First Session, began. The first day’s order of business was to elect all the leadership positions including Speaker, Executive Board Chair, and all the standing committees. For the first time in the history of the Unicameral, a freshman senator attempted a run for a standing committee chair. Chairmanships are usually sought after by senators who have some experience within the Unicameral.
After the opening ceremonies and the election of the chairs, the legislature adjourned for the day. However the work continued. The Committee on Committee’s met and decided which senators serve on which committees. I was appointed to serve on the Education Committee which meets Monday and Tuesday. I am also on the Health and Human Services Committee which meets Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Issues that will come before the legislature this year are the development of the state budget for the next two years, property tax relief, Medicaid expansion, voter ID, repeal of the motorcycle helmet law, state aid to education, learning community and many more.
There are a number of ways in which you can follow the Unicameral. First there is gavel to gavel coverage on the Nebraska Educational Network. This shows the daily legislative floor discussion. However, it does not include committee hearings. Second you can access legislative information via the website: www.nebraskalegisalture.gov. Here you can pull up any introduced bill this session, and when available, the fiscal note for that bill, the introducer’s statement of intent, floor debate and committee hearing transcripts. (The transcripts may take a week or two before they are transcribed and posted). Also you can access the Unicameral Update either through the website or have a printed copy sent to your address. This is a weekly publication written by the Clerk of the Legislature’s office. Each week there will be articles on various bills heard by committees or issues debated on the floor. Committee hearing schedules for the upcoming week will be listed. Every week a different senator will be featured in an article. If you prefer, the Unicameral Update can be sent in hard copy to your address. Call 402-471-2788 or email UIO@leg.ne.gov to submit your name and address.
Some senators introduce a multitude of bills. My approach this first year will be to limit the number of bills I introduce. I plan on introducing about 8-10 bills mostly relating to education. I intend to take the time to learn the rules, learn the process and get to know my colleagues.
I also want to be a bridge for the constituents of District 30. If constituents have questions or concerns with state agencies or need help getting answers, please call my office. My staff and I will make every effort to help resolve your issue, or at least get the answers you need. I have two staff in my office. Barb Dorn is my Administrative Assistant. She is in charge of my calendar, keeping me on track and on time, and general office matters. I have known Barb for a number of years. She had previous experience in the Legislature and is a resident of Beatrice. Janet Anderson is my Legislative Aide. She has over 30 years of experience with the Legislature and has worked for Senator Dennis Byars and most recently Speaker Greg Adams. Her job is to draft legislation, research issues and help constituents with their issues. You can call my office (402)471-2620 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again I am honored to have been elected to serve you. I will work hard to give you a voice in the legislature.