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The second week of the legislative session saw the continued introduction of bills for consideration and debate on carryover priority bills from the 2015 session. During the week, the Governor also introduced his proposals to address the property tax crisis and the revenue shortfall. Committee meetings will begin during the third week and legislators will begin making their way through several hundred pieces of introduced legislation.
LR378CA is a proposed constitutional amendment I introduced which would establish a constitutional Right to Farm in Nebraska. As introduced, the amendment states “the Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents of Nebraska to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.” As Nebraska’s number one industry, one in four Nebraskans is employed in an agriculture related field. Small business in Nebraska, the bulk of Nebraska’s industrial sector, and much of our transportation and shipping industry in Nebraska is directly linked to the success of our ag producers. Throughout the country we have seen continued baseless attacks on agriculture, including the use of GMO technology in crop production and antibiotic use to protect animal health. Locally in District 38, we have seen activists protest livestock production practices. As fewer and fewer consumers have a connection to the farms and ranches that produce their food, Nebraska agriculture must be mindful of the need to proactively protect our industry from activist legislation and regulations intended to restrict agriculture on a purely ideological basis. I look forward to working with farmers and ranchers across Nebraska to advocate on their behalf.
LB 792 is a second bill I introduced that would require a two year period after leaving office before state-level elected officials could serve as lobbyists. State senators, constitutional officers, and other state-level elected politicians would be prohibited from using the influence of their former office to lobby lawmakers immediately after leaving office. Staff who serve in a policy-making role would be restricted for one year. Commonly referred to as “revolving door” policies, federal law, as well as statutes in 33 other states, reflect similar ethical provisions. This year there are 314 paid lobbyists on record with the Legislative Clerk’s office. Voters should have confidence that influence and relationships elected officials develop while in office are not used to bring undue influence on the policy making process in the immediate years after leaving office.
Both of these bills reflect the priorities and objectives that motivated me to seek elected office. As a fourth generation livestock producer in Nebraska, advocating for Nebraska agriculture is my greatest priority. Additionally, transparent, accessible, and effective government is the core of my political ideology. In the past week there has been much speculation about my motivation for introducing both of these bills. It is disheartening to me that cynicism in the political world runs so high that it is somehow odd that a farm kid from Heartwell representing an agricultural district would introduce a bill protecting agriculture, or that any senator would impose restrictions on themselves in the name of good government.
If you should have any questions about LR378CA, LB 792, or any other matter before the Legislature, 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