Days 34 through 37 (February 29-March 3) continued the march toward Day 60 and the conclusion of the 2016 session (and the 104th Legislature).
As mentioned last week, LR35—my application for a Convention of States to consider proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution which would place fiscal restraints on the federal government, and control the power of the federal government, was recommitted to committee. That is something that is rarely done, and when it is, it usually means the end of the bill for the session. The Government Committee sent LR35 back on to General File on Wednesday afternoon with a minor amendment (proposed by me) to address some of the objections. While the resolution maintains its status as a priority bill, with 23 days left in the session, I’m not sure whether it will make it back onto the agenda. We are researching options and history of these types of resolutions, as I write this.
A number of bills were on Final Reading this week, and moved on for the Governor’s signature. Most were relatively non-controversial in the earlier stages of debate (where bills are usually killed, if they’re going to be). Senator Scheer’s LB53 allows single license plates (for the back) along with a sticker for the front window for certain types of cars which would need after-market add-on for front license plate placement. Our newest senator, Nicole Fox who was appointed from District 7 during the interim last year saw her first two bills passed into law this week.
General File bills which got the most attention (and time) this week included Senator Sullivan’s LB371, which would have created the Council for Educational Success, which failed to advance due to a sense that this was a new organization and new expense which would be duplicating already existing efforts; Senator Williams’ LB919 (which I co-sponsored) which authorizes the creation of additional “problem solving courts” like the “drug courts” that many jurisdictions already have (this one moved relatively quickly); Senator Cook’s LB83 which would adjust the Employment Security Act and allow claims of discrimination to go to the Nebraska EEOC for employers with more than 2 employees, instead of the current 15 (it should be noted that claims can already be made to the Federal EEOC for the lesser numbers, and this would just allow a more local claim). This bill squeaked through by one or two votes on General File, and will probably be challenged again on Select.
As we left on Thursday, we had just taken up LB344—a bill which would allow natural resource districts to have the power to issue general obligation bonds. While NRD’s do great work in Nebraska in water management and flood control, there is a concern about granting more power to tax to the NRD’s while we’re trying to achieve some level of property tax relief.
Regular committee hearings came to a close on Thursday. Next week we’ll be moving to all-day sessions on the floor, rather than the half day session + afternoon committee hearings we’ve had until now.
Our next town hall event will be in Plymouth on Saturday, March 12 in the common room at Maple Leaf Housing, 112 East Maple Street at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, March 19, we’ll have two town hall events. One will be in Exeter at 10 a.m. at the Exeter Senior Center, 217 South Exeter Avenue. The other will be in Crete, in the United Church of Christ fellowship hall at 2 p.m. The address for that one is 440 East 12th—enter through the main level door on along 12th Street.
As always, feel free to contact my office at any time, or email me with questions or concerns. I try to answer them all, although sometimes, it takes a little longer if it’s a busy week. Office number (402) 471-2711; email firstname.lastname@example.org.