Welcome

January 7th, 2015

Welcome to the official website of Nebraska’s 41st Legislative District!  It is an honor to be your senator, representing the counties of Antelope, Boone, Garfield, Greeley, Howard, Pierce, Sherman, Valley, and Wheeler.  I look forward to two more years of service to Legislative District 41 and the State of Nebraska.

I am committed to working hard to represent the interests of rural Nebraska.  I hope this website will be a helpful tool which allows you to keep in touch with your Unicameral.  This truly is a citizen-driven Legislature that we have!

My office and staff are ready and willing to take your calls.  If you ever have questions or concerns about what is happening in the Legislature, please let us know.  My office number is 402-471-2631.  When you’re in Lincoln, please stop by my office in the State Capitol, room 1107.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature!

February 19th, 2015

Newsletter, February 13, 2015

Merriam-Webster defines a filibuster as an effort to prevent action in a legislature by making a long speech or series of speeches.

Many of you may be familiar with Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of a filibuster as the character Senator Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  Using the filibuster to delay or block legislative action has a long history. The term filibuster became popular in the 1850s, when it was applied to efforts to hold the U.S. Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill.

What was once a rare event is becoming more routine in the Nebraska Legislature. The filibuster is being employed often these days by different senators in our 49-member body.

Essentially, a filibuster is a long series of motions and amendments used to hold up or prevent a vote on a bill.  Although often seen as a tool of the minority, the filibuster can be employed by any senator if they have the intestinal fortitude to conduct a disciplined and sustained debate on any issue.

Senators don’t have to address the specific issue during their filibuster, although most do. They can speak on whatever they like to fill their allotted time.  Sometimes, just the threat of a filibuster can be enough for a compromise to be reached.

A cloture motion is the procedure used to break a filibuster by ending debate and causing a vote on the bill.  In most states, filibusters can be cut off with a simple majority of votes.  When the Nebraska Legislature adopted a cloture rule in 1992, our rule said that cloture motions had to be approved by a two-thirds majority (33 votes), so long as the speaker decides the bill has received a “full and fair debate.”

The rule no longer says that a bill must have eight hours of debate before lawmakers can vote on cloture.  However, the tradition of eight hours on general file and four hours on select file is a tradition that most Speakers honor.

We’ve already experienced two filibusters this session, but neither went to a cloture vote.  With LB 88, which would have increased the marriage license fee from $15 to $50, the filibuster resulted in a compromise which limited the increase to $25.  The filibuster on LB 18, which required vaccination of children against meningitis, forced the bill’s sponsor to bracket it until June.

As we proceed into the more weighty issues later in the session, I predict additional filibusters will have tempers flaring as time becomes more valuable.

If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631. I have Voicemail, so if you get the recording, please leave a short message. You may also write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: ksullivan@leg.ne.gov. If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.

February 4th, 2015

Newsletter, January 30, 2015

The Legislature is settling into a rhythm after 10 days of bill introduction at the beginning of the session.  We convene on the legislative floor in the morning to discuss legislation advanced from committees.  In the afternoon, the 14 standing committees hold public hearings on the 655 new bills and 4 constitutional amendments introduced this session – the same number as 2013.

Revisor’s bills are the only new bills that don’t receive a public hearing.  Revisor’s bills are prepared by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.   These bills propose technical corrections or the repeal of obsolete statutes and are placed directly on general file.

The public hearings are an extremely important part of the legislative process.  They are   regularly scheduled committee meetings designed to receive public comment on bills and resolutions.  Each week’s list of public hearings is posted on the legislative website listing the standing committee, the bill number, date, and hearing room number.  http://nebraskalegislature.gov/   These hearings are the public’s opportunity to weigh in on legislation and share their viewpoints on the record directly with the committee members who will be making the decision about the future of that bill.

I’ve introduced five pieces of legislation that are not directly related to my duties as Chair of the Education Committee.  My bills deal with the Microenterprise Tax Credit Act, the interest rate on partnership dissolutions, banning the use of cell phones by school bus drivers, exempting horses from the sales and use tax, and allowing voters to determine if their county officials should be elected on a nonpartisan ballot.

In my role as Chair of the Education Committee, I’ve also introduced bills addressing aspects of the state aid formula, statewide assessments, community colleges, early childhood education, lottery and other education topics in addition to technical and management bills for the Commissioner of Education.

Although this is only Day 17 of the 90 day legislative session, we’re already taking action and   making decisions that will affect Nebraska and its citizens in the future.  Pressing issues still ahead include sustainable property tax relief, prison reform, funding for K-12 education and building a two-year state budget.  With a new Chief Executive in Governor Ricketts and 18 new senators in the Legislature, it will be an exciting time!

If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631. I have Voicemail, so if you get the recording, please leave a short message. You may also write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: ksullivan@leg.ne.gov. If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.

January 23rd, 2015

January 16, 2015 Newsletter

The First Session of the 104th Legislature was gaveled into order by Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley at 10:00 a.m. on January 7, 2015. This is the first year of a two-year session so this 90-day session is tentatively scheduled to adjourn in late May or early June.

I will continue to chair the Education Committee and serve on the Revenue Committee.  My staff and I are located in room 1107 which is on the first floor in the west corridor of the State Capitol. Please stop by my office and say hello if you’re in Lincoln, especially over the next four months when the Legislature is in session.

As has been my practice the past six years, I write a biweekly newsletter during the legislative session.  Our local newspapers are kind enough to share the newsletter with you in print form.  The newsletter is also posted biweekly on my web page: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41/

If you are an area teacher who may be planning student field trips to the Capitol while the Legislature is in session, please be advised that all tours must be scheduled in advance with the Capitol Tour Office at (402) 471-0448. Please call the tour office as soon as possible to reserve your preferred date and time. Tours can’t be booked through my office nor do I have any influence in changing the Capitol Tour Office’s schedule. I strongly encourage teachers to call early and be flexible on their dates.

A toll-free hot line is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions about bill status and fill requests for publications. The number is (800) 742-7456. The service is also available to the hearing and/or speech impaired.

The Legislature’s website is updated daily while the Legislature is in session. Information about bills, amendments, fiscal notes, hearing schedules and other legislative business is easily accessible at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov

The Unicameral Update is a free weekly publication containing hearing dates, in-depth stories, summaries of debate and other legislative information. The Update is available online.  A free printed subscription may be ordered by calling the toll-free hot line at (800) 742-7456. Subscriptions must be renewed every January.

Introduction of new bills will continue through January 21.  Public hearings begin on January 20.

If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631. There is Voicemail on my phone so if you get the recording, please leave a message and someone will get back to you. You may also write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: ksullivan@leg.ne.gov. If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.

I look forward to hearing from you AND working hard for you and the betterment of rural Nebraska in our Nebraska Legislature.

Disrict 41 County Courthouses

January 8th, 2013

Last September, my staff and I took a whirlwind three-day tour through all nine of the counties in District 41! I hosted town hall gatherings in each county and listened to many comments, suggestions, ideas and concerns from my constituents. We also made a point of stopping and taking a photo of each county courthouse. These photos now hang framed in my legislative office.

Antelope County Courthouse

Garfield County Courthouse