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Thank you to the voters of District 35 for electing me to the Legislature. I am both humbled and honored to serve you. After my election and before the session started, I hired my office staff. My administrative assistant, Katie Chatters, and my legislative aide, Craig Breunig, have several years of experience serving in our state Capitol. Their knowledge and insight are proving to be invaluable to this freshman senator. I also received some great advice from two former senators, Annette Dubas and Mike Gloor. One piece of advice was “listen and learn.” The other was when speaking, “less is more.” I greatly appreciate their advice and their service to Nebraska.
I find my first year in the Legislature to be historic for Nebraska as we celebrate 150 years of statehood. But this year, history is also being made within the Legislature with the push to create partisanship. I have been discouraged by these actions as I have always believed that our Unicameral is unique by being a nonpartisan body. As I went door to door during my campaign, people would ask me which political party I belonged to. I would reply that the race is nonpartisan, tell them my party affiliation, then say that it should be more about the person and less about the party. This is something that I feel strongly about. We have seen it happen way too much, especially in Washington, D.C., where party lines are drawn and nothing gets done.
It would be great to see elected officials working together to solve problems in America and the state of Nebraska instead of letting party politics control their vote. I understand we all have our issues we are passionate about and that sometimes divides us, but I also believe that we can come together to reach solutions to the problems we face. I have met and talked with many senators and I have confidence that eventually we will start working together, just as the Legislature has done in previous years.
I have been appointed to serve on three committees: Natural Resources, Urban Affairs and General Affairs. We have had hearings on several bills and have already sent most on to general file. I am excited for the opportunity to serve on Natural Resources as I have worked in public power for 28 years and understand how it plays an important role in our state and to its customers. With Grand Island being an urban district, Urban Affairs will also be a committee that I will be able to provide knowledge of the issues we face in our district. On General Affairs, we will be dealing with issues covering a broad range of topics. I know that my life experiences will provide me with the knowledge and insight it takes to be a productive member on these committees.
With the help of my staff, I have introduced five bills and have signed on as a co-sponsor to several others. As a freshman senator, I decided to introduce bills that pertain to areas that I have knowledge and interest in.
Although my bills are important to me, the budget deficit and problems within corrections will be two of the biggest issues we face this year and in my opinion take precedence over everything else. With the deficit problem, I know there will be some programs that must make cuts, but I want to make sure the cuts aren’t so deep that those needing the services are harmed, including the disabled and children. Our children are our future and I want to ensure we have quality programs in place for them, whether that be for education or child welfare.
As state senators, it is our responsibility to work together and have debate from all sides to put together a budget that works for all Nebraskans. We may address tax reform, but I cannot guarantee that we will be able to make any changes this year because of the budget shortfall. I have already received calls and emails about issues you are passionate about and I will do my best to address your concerns. I do not take my vote lightly and I understand, as I hope you do, that there are people on both sides of every issue.
Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island has begun his first term in the Nebraska Legislature, representing District 35.