NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Laura Ebke

Sen. Laura Ebke

District 32

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at lebke@leg.ne.gov

Senator Laura Ebke, Letter to the District

We have completed 22 days of the 90 day Legislative session. Last week’s floor sessions were wrapped up in debate and discussion on LB22 (the adjustments to the current year budget). It was finally advanced from General on Friday, after several days of debate. We will pick up debate on permanent rules this week.

Communications and Education. I welcome emails, and try to answer them in some way, whenever I can. I imagine that I occasionally miss responses, but my goal is to try and acknowledge—and respond—whenever I can.

Recently, some emails that a colleague—Sen. Mike Groene—wrote as part of an email exchange with someone who had contacted him almost two years ago, were made public by the man who had engaged him in the exchange. Sen. Groene’s blunt responses have generated a fair amount of attention in some circles, resulting in some people suggesting that he should resign as Chair of the Education Committee.

A couple of thoughts about that: first, to know Sen. Groene is to recognize that he is sometimes gruff, sometimes confrontational, and sometimes too blunt in his approach—but those who know him also know that his gruff exterior hides a soft interior that truly cares; second, while all public officials know (at least would, if they think about it) that anything that they write or say could become part of the public record, we walk a fine line when it comes to electronic communications—both email and social media.

Email seems (in some ways) more personal (and casual) than does a printed letter. Rather than sitting down and typing out a letter, which will then be printed on stationery and signed by us, emails lend themselves to “quick responses” on both sides of the conversation. They tend to the conversational rather than the formal—which can be both good and bad.

Sen. Groene’s email exchange—and the publication of it—will probably have long reaching effects. Elected official in Nebraska will be ever more cautious about responding to emails with anything beyond simple acknowledgements, for fear that conversations which they engaged in, in good faith, years ago, will come back to haunt them without context.

Context is important, and is often lost in email exchanges. Is this the first email, or the tenth, on this topic that I’ve answered today? Is this my first email from this correspondent, or have we been exchanging a series of emails which have become more heated with time? Is there a relationship that has been previously developed? Am I answering this email during a quiet time when I can give my response serious thought, or am I answering quickly, in between other events?

It is my goal to always treat those who email me with respect. But I’m human, and I know that sometimes—especially when we are talking about things that both sides of the conversation feel strongly about—it’s possible to push the envelope of propriety just a little too far, and become argumentative. I imagine we’ll all be guarding against that possibility a bit more in the future.

Facebook posts are here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorLauraEbke/
Twitter posts are here: https://twitter.com/SenLauraEbke
Email me here: lebke@leg.ne.gov
Sign up for my near weekly eNewsletters here: http://lauraebke.com/sign-up
Office staff (new office suite, Room 1103) is available to take calls between 8 and 5, Monday-Friday. 402-471-2711

Senator Laura Ebke, Letter to the District

Seventeen down in the 2017 Legislative Session, and this past week was full of unexpected happenings.
Sen. Bill Kintner Resigns. On Wednesday, January 25, Sen. Bill Kintner from District 2 submitted his resignation to the Speaker. Sen. Kintner’s resignation followed a flurry of controversy, which took off last August when it was announced that he had been fined by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for the misuse of state property (his laptop computer). His remaining in the Legislature after that was unwelcome by some. A week ago, he “retweeted” a “tweet” written by someone else, which some took exception to, and viewed as inappropriate in light of his earlier controversy.
Sen. Kintner had been a good friend to me, and to many of us in the Legislature. His style is certainly not “Nebraska laid back” (he grew up in Ohio, and had a long history of political activism before coming to Nebraska). Perhaps my greatest concern growing out of Sen. Kintner’s departure is this: that we not forget that we’re all humans, capable of making unfortunate mistakes. Which of those human flaws are appropriate concerns for the public, and which are better left in the private arena, are not always easy to determine.
Sen. Kintner’s replacement will be chosen by Gov. Ricketts. That replacement will serve until the election in 2018, at which time he or she can either run for election, or bow out. I would guess, given that we are in the midst of a legislative session, that the governor will make his appointment relatively quickly.
Other Happenings. Bills are starting to move out of committee now. Unfortunately, there isn’t much movement on the floor. We spent much of the past week debating rules (and in extended debate related to less significant motions, so that rules negotiations had time).
Each year, the Legislature adopts “Temporary Rules”—which are essentially the Rules as they were from the previous Legislative session—on the first day. Typically, those are in force for a week to 10 days, while the Rules Committee meets to hear ideas for Rules changes, and then the Committee comes to the floor, makes its proposals (if any) and we adopt “Permanent Rules.” The Rules define the procedures that we follow in debate, and in getting to votes on bills.
On Friday, we renewed the use of our current Temporary Rules for the second time, so that on Monday we could take up consideration of adjustments to the remainder of the budget for this biennium (which extends through June 30). I would guess that we’ll return to Rules adoption later in the week, and am hopeful that we’ll clear that off our plate, so that bills that have begun moving out of committee can start being debated.
Facebook posts are here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorLauraEbke/
Twitter posts are here: https://twitter.com/SenLauraEbke
Email me here: lebke@leg.ne.gov
Sign up for my near weekly eNewsletters here: http://lauraebke.com/sign-up
Office staff (new office suite, Room 1103) is available to take calls between 8 and 5, Monday-Friday. 402-471-2711

Senator Laura Ebke, Letter to the District

This is the first of my 2017 letters to the district. As I write this, we are 24 hours into a new presidency, and 12 days into the new legislative session here in Nebraska. What follows are some brief comments about both.
The Trump Presidency. This past election cycle was a most interesting one, and out of it came a somewhat unlikely president. Whether we agreed or disagreed with candidate Trump, I think it’s time for us to give him a chance. No one should want the person holding the presidency to fail.
Our system of government—a democratic republic—is not about one person, nor about any group of people. It’s a system based on the stewardship of offices by people elected by the citizens. The offices don’t belong to the people who sit there—they belong to the people, who are free to replace their representatives in the next election. The representatives are bound to uphold and defend the constitution to the best of their abilities—they are not bound to take a poll on every issue and do what the majority says (albeit, it is politically prudent to be cognizant of what the majority seems to want).
The 105th Legislature. The 105th Legislature was gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 4. As part of our opening day activities, we elect leadership for the next two years—including the Speaker and Committee Chairs. I was honored to have been elected to chair the Judiciary Committee. I believe that I am the first woman to chair that committee, and the first non-lawyer to chair the committee in 20-25 years. I’ve served on the committee for 2 years. The Judiciary Committee deals with a vast array of issues—criminal and civil proceedings, items touching on constitutional rights, and so on. Aside from the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee is traditionally the busiest of all standing committees of the legislature. We’ve had 667 bills introduced this session; 120 were referenced to Judiciary. To put that in numerical perspective: there are 14 standing committee which receive referencing of bills for hearing. Almost 1 in 5 were referenced to Judiciary; 1 in 14 would be 47 bills. My point? The Judiciary Committee will be busier than most of the committees this year—as is usually the case. Judiciary meets Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
I’ve also been assigned to the Education Committee, which will be front and center in some of the discussions about property tax relief this year. Although I served on the Crete School Board for 12 years, this will be my first term on the Education Committee, so I’ve spent a little bit of time trying to reacquaint myself with some of the language and processes in that arena. Education meets on Mondays and Tuesdays.
As bills start to move out of committee and on to the floor for debate, readers can track daily posts and updates from me via social media.
Facebook posts are here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorLauraEbke/
Twitter posts are here: https://twitter.com/SenLauraEbke
Email me here: lebke@leg.ne.gov
Sign up for my near weekly eNewsletters here: http://lauraebke.com/sign-up

Office staff (new office suite, Room 1103) is available to take calls between 8 and 5, Monday-Friday. 402-471-2711

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 32nd legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Laura Ebke

Sen. Laura Ebke

District 32
Room #1103
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2711
Email: lebke@leg.ne.gov
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