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The Second Session of the 104th Nebraska Legislature will convene on Wednesday, January 6, 2016. Known as the “short session”, the second session consists of 60 legislative days and is currently scheduled to adjourn on April 20. Legislation introduced last session remains on the worksheet for consideration this session, as well as new bills introduced during the first ten legislative days.
A significant portion of my work this session as a member of the Appropriations Committee will be addressing the $110 million revenue shortfall projected by the Revenue Forecasting Board in November. Although the budget for the 2015-2017 biennium was passed last session, the anticipated decrease in revenue will require adjustments to that budget to meet Nebraska’s constitutional requirement of a balanced budget. The Revenue Forecasting Board will meet again in February, potentially reducing or increasing revenue projections once again. The legislature will also need to address deficit spending requests from the Department of Corrections for higher than anticipated costs for inmate medical care, a federal fine assessed to the Department of Health and Human Services, and a request for additional funds to address deferred maintenance of facilities at the University of Nebraska.
The property tax crisis will play a central role this session as well, as lawmakers seek to address the imbalances in local funding for education and increased spending by local political subdivisions. Specific proposals and initiatives will be more clear at the conclusion of bill introduction.
Given the short time of the session and the number of important issues for the Legislature to consider, the designation of a bill as a “priority” will be critical. Each senator can prioritize one bill, standing committees can prioritize two bills, and the Speaker can prioritize up to twenty-five bills. It is not likely that bills without a priority designation will be considered on the floor by the entire body. Bills not acted upon by the legislature will effectively “die” upon adjournment of the 104th Legislature in April.
During the coming few weeks I will outline the bills I will be introducing this session, as well as keep District 38 constituents up to date on the issues that emerge. If you should have any questions, do not hesitate to contact my office at 402-471-2732 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For daily updates during the session, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.
Senator John Kuehn, District 38