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When I made the decision to run for the District 34 legislative seat, I had already formed some ideas of what to expect as a freshman Senator. I admit not everything was like I thought it would be. I knew there would be some difficult decisions, like LB268 the repeal of the death penalty, some easy like LB577, giving counties permission to regulate peddlers, hawkers and solicitors, and some that I had absolutely no knowledge about like LB107, dealing with the scope of practice of nurse practitioners. Dealing with criminal justice reform bills was a steep learning curve for those of us that were not lawyers or a part of the Judiciary Committee.
And you don’t know what you don’t know. For instance, when I came to Lincoln for freshman orientation they gave us a number of documents to help familiarize us with information on how to conduct ourselves properly on the legislative floor. The Rules of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature was one of those documents. There are so many things to learn about our legislative process that one cannot possibly learn in one session. Certain motions in specific stages of the process require a different number of votes to prevail. The master of that rule book is Senator Chambers with 40 years of experience. He provided many of us freshmen with a brief lesson of options to use in extending debate on issues that we wanted to filibuster. We learned quickly and this process was used many times this session.
One question that I was asked repeatedly during the campaign was “how would I be able to work with Senator Chambers”? My seat on the floor is directly in front of Senator Chambers. I found him to be very thoughtful and respectful of the legislative process. Although at times he could sound very angry and voice some very disrespectful comments, he is actually a very kind, soft-spoken and respectful person. He is certainly not always the contentious person he portrays during debate on issues he is passionate about.
During orientation a point was made that there are no new ideas on any topic you want to address. Over the years there have been literally thousands of bill that were written and introduced dealing with almost anything you can think of. There are some issues dealing with new technology or concepts that have not been addressed before, such as dealing with technology or companies like Uber or Lyft. I found that many things I thought would be innovative initiatives have already been done. Many bills and studies introduced have been recycled before and are just old ideas with a new face.
Over the next four years I know I will make some life-long friends. The collegiality is overwhelming. The Unicameral is labeled as nonpartisan and, because of that, I think it is much easier to become someone other than a person who is “on the other side of an issue with you”.
We have so many scheduled breakfasts, lunches, receptions and dinners. Every day we are able to learn much more about each of us that is outside of our professional interests. Lobbyist and constituent groups have found these events are a good way to let us know what their issues are going to be and a casual way to get to know us better.
I have enjoyed hearing from my constituents and learning about their opinions on specific legislation or how certain bills would impact them. Whether we agree or disagree I always appreciate hearing from all of you.
Between now and the next legislative session I will be researching issues that I intend to introduce in the next session. Of course, the most critical is property tax relief.
Although the session is over, my legislative office will continue to be open every weekday. You can still reach me by email at email@example.com and also telephone at 402-471-2630. My staff will be able to help you with issues or concerns you have with state government.
I will be glad to be back home and close to my constituency. Hopefully I will have some tractor time in order to clear my head. I have been honored to have the opportunity to serve you as a member of the Legislature.