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Raymond Aguilar

Sen. Raymond Aguilar

District 35

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Column, April 29, 2021
April 29th, 2021

These past weeks have been an exciting time in Grand Island. We’ve finally gotten past the cold of winter and had the announcement for Fonner Park’s casino partner. In Lincoln, we are on the home-stretch of the legislative session.

This Monday marked day 67 of the 90-day legislative session and, assuming everything remains consistent, we should be finished with the session on our scheduled date of June 10. We’ve approved the budget and begun to focus our attention on legislation with taxing implications, including legislation limiting property tax levies and reducing the tax burden on Nebraska retirees.

LB371, my bill allowing casino facilities to consider operating when a nearby fair is ongoing, has passed and been signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. I appreciate the governor’s affirmation of this bill and the work that went into its passage, especially the help of Chris Kotulak and Mark Landis. LB371 will come into effect after the 2021 State Fair, so we will be able to fully preclude the implications of the old statutory language once the new casino facility is built.

On that note, I’d like to congratulate Fonner Park on the successful announcement of their casino partnership with Elite Casino Resorts of Iowa. The act of identifying the best possible partner for Grand Island and Fonner Park was a timely and involved process, and it’s abundantly clear that the leadership at Fonner rose to the challenge and made a great choice for their casino partner. Casinos are an international business and are within an industry filed with multinational corporations that are prepared to open another formulaic facility whenever the opportunity arises. These casinos are by no means subpar facilities, but when it comes to Grand Island, a company that knows Nebraska and is prepared to fully engage with the community is obviously preferable. Elite Casino Resorts is that locally-oriented company, and I am excited to see how their operations in Grand Island flourish over the next few years. Furthermore, we should be proud of the fact that the architect who designed the casino, Nathan Casteel, is originally from Grand Island.

LB224, my other bill that has progressed through the full Legislature, was also signed by Gov. Ricketts. LB224 is my bill that removes the requirement that an appointed county surveyor, should one not be elected, must reside outside of the county they serve. LB224 was an intuitive change and is another step toward clearing the way for counties to make the best choices for their own operations.

As we approach the end of the 2021 legislative session, my staff and I are turning our attention to interim studies and 2022 legislation. If you have a recommendation for an interim study, a research project that typically looks into an aspect of state government or state statute and how it can be improved, please reach out to my office. We only have a limited window for the introduction of interim studies, May 19 being the deadline, so any suggestions should be made within the next week or two. Please also reach out if you have proposals for 2022 legislation.

As always, 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

Published in the Grand Island Independent 4/29/2021

Sen. Raymond Aguilar

District 35
Room 1118
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2617
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