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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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The Legislature completed their work and adjourned sine die on May 27, 2021, six days early in the 90-day session. Our final days were spent on redistricting guidelines, motions to override gubernatorial vetoes, and procedural matters.

LR 134, a resolution introduced by the Redistricting Committee, defines the guidelines to be used by the Legislature during the 2021 redistricting process. The Redistricting Committee is established as a special committee of the Legislature in January of each year ending in the number 1. The committee is authorized to introduce and exercise jurisdiction over legislative bills and resolutions relating to redistricting and hold hearings regarding such legislation. The Redistricting Committee for the 2021 process was appointed by the Executive Board and consists of 9 senators, chaired by Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn.

The Legislature is responsible for drawing the district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, Legislature, Nebraska Supreme Court, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, Public Service Commission, and State Board of Education. The guidelines are designed to help ensure that the redistricting plans yet to be developed by the Legislature are constitutionally acceptable. The guidelines require the Legislature to use population data from the 2020 U.S. Census, to follow county lines whenever practicable, define districts that are compact and contiguous, follow traditional districting principles, not favor a political party or consider political affiliations of registered voters, not dilute the voting strength of any minority population, and to create districts that are substantially equal in population. LR 134 was adopted by the Legislature. After the census data becomes available in mid-August, it is anticipated that the Legislature will meet in Special Session this fall to carry out their redistricting responsibilities.

The Governor vetoed three bills. All three bills were passed easily by the Legislature. The motions to override the Governor’s vetoes were all successful, but by a much smaller margin. LB 108 attempts to address the cliff effect in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. LB 306 expands eligibility to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, offering federal financial assistance to those in need. LB 147 transfers the duties and responsibilities for management of the Omaha Public Schools retirement system to the Public Employees Retirement Board, who already manages the retirement funds for all other school employees, as well as for judges, county workers, and state employees. The legislation spells out that the state would NOT take on the debt of the OPS troubled pension system.

This session was different than the first two sessions I experienced, as there was revenue available to address some priority issues, such as expanding high speed broadband services to underserved areas of the state, reducing the value of agricultural land for school bond purposes, reducing the top corporate income tax rate, phasing out the income tax on social security benefits, eliminating the income tax on military retirement benefits, and eliminating the sales tax on some agricultural equipment and ethanol inputs. Even with the tax reductions, the Legislature limited the two-year average growth in spending to 2% and has a projected surplus of $27 million above the required 3% minimum reserve. I felt the Legislature passed a responsible budget.

I was selected to serve on the Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Special Committee, created by the passage of LB 406. The committee is authorized to hire a consultant to study three areas of the state, one being northern Knox County.  A Request for Proposal (RFP) for contractual services is being prepared. This study will look at the recreational and tourism opportunities and public investment necessary to enhance economic development and catalyze private investment in our area. We have already held one “idea raiser” in Knox County and I expect more meetings will be held in the area. I am excited to see the direction this study takes.

I will be back in Creighton now that the Legislature has adjourned. During the interim, I will try to get around the district as much as possible. I will still travel to Lincoln periodically for meetings and office work. If I’m not in Lincoln, my staff will be able to assist you. My contact information is District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE  68509. My email address is tgragert@leg.ne.gov and my office telephone number is (402) 471-2801.

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2801
Email: tgragert@leg.ne.gov
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