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The legislative process is well underway during the third week of this 90 day session of the 104th Legislature. The ten day window for bill introduction at the beginning of the session has closed and the legislature has begun the process of consideration for each.
Each of the 663 new bills brought forth will be referenced to one of the 14 standing committees to have a public hearing. The Reference Committee, made up by members of the Legislature’s Executive Committee, makes the ultimate decision regarding the assignment of a bill to a specific committee. A bill’s time in the committee brings a great deal of depth to the conversation, providing an opportunity for supporters and opposition to present testimony to the committee. Amendments can be made at this time to the bill. Public are welcome to provide their testimony on specific bills during committee hearings. The committee hearing schedule is published and available on the Legislature’s website.
Committee members meet in executive session to consider and then vote on each bill. If a bill advances to General File, it is then presented to the legislature where every member has a chance for floor debate on the particular piece of legislation. This is often considered to be the most crucial stage of the process. During this time, amendments can continue to be added. Each bill advanced will be debated again on Select File, voted to advance to Final Reading, and heard a third time before final passage.
Over the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will spend the majority of our mornings debating the bills that have advanced to the floor and our afternoons in committee hearings to continue to listen to the concerns of the people of Nebraska on each piece of legislation.
In Appropriations, the committee on which I serve, the process operates on a slightly different schedule. A week ago, we began working through the proposals from each state agency as they present their piece of the budget for consideration. In two weeks, we will complete the agency budget reviews and begin hearings with each agency. My time and work in Appropriations has been educational and instructive in the operations of all aspects of state government.
In addition to my placement on the Appropriations committee, I was recently named to the Performance Audit Committee, where I will serve as Vice Chair, and the Homeland Security Policy Group.
It has been an honor to serve you this far and if you have any questions on the legislative process, bills before the Legislature, or the Appropriations process, I urge you to check out nebraskalegislature.gov or call my office at 402-471-2732. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter @JohnKuehnDVM.
Senator John Kuehn, District 38
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
As the 104th Nebraska Legislature convened this past week, I want to take the opportunity to thank you again for electing me to serve District 38 in the Nebraska Legislature. Since the election, I have been busy working with my colleagues and examining issues critical to south central Nebraska. I have had the opportunity to sit down with many constituents and fellow Senators who are passionate about Nebraska. I look forward to working with them in order to make the state better for our residents, children, and future generations.
I was fortunate to be assigned to the important Appropriations Committee for this session. On this committee, myself and the other eight members will dive in to each line of the state budget to find the best possible way to allocate your tax dollars. It is a challenging task, and one that will provide me an opportunity to understand all aspects of state government.
For my staff, I have hired Barb DeRiese as my Administrative Assistant and Nick Knihnisky as my Legislative Assistant. Having been in the Capitol with the district for 11 years, Barb will provide my office with her extensive knowledge of the building, district, and its people. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Nick will assist with the research of legislation, consulting on introduced bills, as well as any legislative concerns you may have. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am in office 1117 at the Capitol and my door will be open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. If you can not make it to the office, please give me a call at 402-471-2732. I hope to be as accessible as possible to you and District 38. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff with any question, concern, or comment.
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