This is my first “Letter to the District”, a series I hope to share with you weekly to keep you up to date with the events of the first session of the 104th Nebraska Legislature in Lincoln.
My initial two weeks have been a busy time at the Capitol. The first ten days of the session served as the period of bill introduction. I introduced five separate bills during this time:
• LB 318 aims to fund economic development districts, providing critical support for our rural communities
• LB 332 allocates the funding for a much-needed statewide drug disposal program with the purpose of keeping controlled substances out of the wrong hands
• LB389 changes licensing and re-inspection fees to adequately support the state’s Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Program
• LB496 funds the Yuetter Institute, a joint public/private initiative that focuses on international trade and finance education in the agriculture sector to give our students an industry advantage in the global marketplace
• LB564 provides funds for higher education in high needs occupations
I have been assigned to the Appropriations Committee. The coming weeks will be vital to the committee as we hear from each of the agencies of Nebraska and begin the important process of allocating your tax dollars to best serve the citizens of the state. Governor Ricketts announced his budget and fiscal priorities during the State of the State Address, which will be a significant focus of our work in Appropriations.
There are two priorities that face the entire legislative body this session: property taxes and issues in Corrections. During my time on the campaign trail, the complaint I heard most often was the significant burden property taxes place on the people of District 38 and Nebraska. There have been a number of ideas introduced by my colleagues and I am in the process of analyzing the benefits and consequences of each of their proposals. In my opinion, it is imperative that we distinguish between tax relief and beginning the task of structural tax reform during this session. A long term solution is critical at this time.
As the session continues, I will continue to update you on the property tax situation, major bills on the floor of the legislature, as well as my committee’s process of building the state budget. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 402-471-2732. I am honored to be your representative and I look forward to being as accessible as possible for the people of District 38.
Senator John Kuehn, District 38