It has been 12 years since I last served in the Legislature, and it’s an honor, once again, to serve as your representative. Much has changed in the nation, state and district since I last served in the body: three presidents, a new governor, 9,694 pieces of introduced legislation, a new hospital, and the State Fair now being held at Fonner Park. The world around us has changed, and so, too, have the dynamics of legislating. I’m working hard to adjust to these new realities and to best represent your needs.
This session, I was named to the Natural Resources Committee, led by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, and the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee, led by Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg. I look forward to working with these committees to further the interests of Grand Island and Nebraska.
A total of 684 bills have been introduced this year. I have introduced four pieces of legislation, all of which were brought to my attention by individuals or groups from, or related to, Grand Island:
— LB224, an act that will remove a restriction preventing the appointment of a county surveyor, should one not be elected, who resides within the county itself. Currently, counties in which nobody runs for the office of county surveyor, or which have a vacancy, must appoint a licensed surveyor who does not reside within the county. What was once seen as a law that maintained the integrity of the political process for electing county surveyors has now become a burden on the county itself, both financially and logistically. My legislation would remove the requirement that the surveyor be from outside of the county and allow county governments to recruit an appointed county surveyor locally.
— LB371, an act that will add “games of chance” to the list of permitted activities at a racetrack where a fair (county or the State Fair) is occurring. The current language could require that, should Fonner Park construct a casino, said casino would need to close down during the duration of the State Fair. The racetracks in Hastings and Columbus find themselves in similar situations, serving as the venue for the Adams County Fairfest and Platte County Fair, respectively. We want to be sure that Grand Islanders are able to continue working without interruption and that fairgoers are able to enjoy all that Grand Island has to offer.
— LB536, an act that makes changes to a fund derived from a portion of pari-mutuel bets placed at Nebraska racetracks. The fund was designed to promote horse breeding, agriculture and horse racing in Nebraska, but has statutory limitations dictating that these funds can only be spent at the racetrack where they were derived. LB536 would require racetracks to remit those funds to the State Racing Commission and removes the stipulation on where the funds can be spent so that smaller racetracks will be able to benefit from these funds equitably.
— LB603, an act that will require online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, to collect identifying information of all Nebraska high-volume sellers using their platform, and make that information available publicly. There is a rising trend among thieves and crime syndicates of selling stolen goods with relative anonymity online, and it’s important that our prosecutors have the tools needed to investigate and prosecute these individuals. We need to assure that online sellers follow the same laws as Nebraska brick-and-mortar retail sellers.
All of these bills will have a public committee hearing. I intend to keep you updated as they progress through the legislative process.
As always, please contact me with your support, opposition or questions on any legislative bill or issue. My legislative aide, Gerald Fraas, and administrative assistant, Amanda Johnson, are also available to assist you with matters related to the state of Nebraska and the Legislature. You can follow along with the Nebraska Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to represent you in the Unicameral.
Published in the Grand Island Independent, 1/28/2021