These past weeks have been an incredibly busy time in the Legislature. As of May 27, we have adjourned Sine Die. The Legislature will reconvene at a time later this year, yet to be determined, for the purpose of redrawing the district lines using 2020 Census data. This redistricting effort traditionally occurs during the main session of the year, but was subject to postponement due to the delay of the release of 2020 Census data, attributable to COVID-related issues. Due to the size of Grand Island, in respect to the entirety of Hall County, I don’t anticipate there being many changes to District 35 besides minor adjustments to the border to accommodate changing population requirements.
In the next few weeks, I will publish a list of legislative highlights from the past year. The Legislature passed 197 pieces of legislation, not including the three bills, and their three respective appropriations bills, vetoed by the governor and overridden this past session. Comparatively, this has been a lighter year than others, largely driven by Speaker Mike Hilgers’ request to limit our bill introduction and his efficiency in leading the Legislature. For comparison, in 2019, the 106th Legislature, First Session passed a total of 294 bills. Some might contend that the less legislation we pass, the better; but, going forward, I suspect the total number of bills passed will return to its normal level.
My office, in conjunction with the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, will be conducting an interim study into the status of the Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home to identify ways the Legislature could help assure this facility is able to meet the needs of Nebraska’s veterans. At first impression, any perceived issues seem to be largely “growing pains” associated with the relocation of the facility. I believe the Legislature to be able to assist with these issues, albeit in order to do so, we need a detailed and informed perspective. Nebraska’s veterans deserve the best, and we need to make sure the Kearney facility is fully supported and able to live up to our high standard.
I am currently planning to host office hours in Grand Island throughout the interim, wherein one of my staffers will be available at a location in town a few times a month. Although Gerald and Amanda are regularly available to you in my Lincoln office, I believe it to be important that they are more immediately accessible to us in Grand Island over the legislative interim. I will publish notice of when we anticipate these hours to be and where they will be located. If you would like to schedule a meeting in Grand Island, please reach out to my Lincoln office.
It’s been a joy to return to the Legislature. While the procedures remain the same, the people around me have changed. I have enjoyed reconnecting with advocates and former senators from my first tenure in the Legislature and meeting the new senators and advocates helping to sculpt policy for the state of Nebraska. I look forward to the following years working with my new colleagues and those who will come after them.
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.
Published in the Grand Island Independent 6/3/2021