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Last week was the start of the second session of the 105th legislature, and my second session as your State Senator. The first ten working days of session are the only time when bills can be introduced, and last week was almost exclusively the introduction of bills. Between day one, Wednesday, and day three, Friday, nearly two hundred bills were introduced. Several bills have already gotten attention, and no doubt you’ve seen or heard about some of them in this paper, on your local news channel, or on social media. The next step for most of the bills will be referencing to a committee by a group of senators elected from within the body. This group sends bills to the committees tasked with dealing with the areas of law those bills concern: so the roads bills are sent to my colleagues and me on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the tax bills are sent to our colleagues on the Revenue Committee. I am serving again this year on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and on the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, as well as the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, a special committee. In fact, all of the senators are serving on the same committees as last year, with the exception of Senator Theresa Thibodeau, a new appointee by the Governor to replace former Senator Joni Craighead.
I am looking forward to this session, which will be composed of 60 working days lasting from January 3rd to April 18th of this year. The legislative session this year will be dominated at some point by discussion of finances: the state government is staring down the barrel of a $200 million shortfall, and calls for tax relief from citizens are at an all-time high. I will be introducing a major proposal to provide the property tax relief that the people of District 41 (and hundreds of thousands of others across the state) need for our economy to thrive. It will also include a comprehensive look at how we can take the burden of education funding off of property taxes while still giving our children the kind of quality education they will need to make Nebraska a leader for the whole of the 21st century.
I also have a bill which will be a low-cost way for the state to investigate whether our Beginning Farmer Tax Credit needs to be adjusted to encourage young people to come into the business of agriculture. I believe that programs like this are needed now more than ever. The average age of a farmer in America is now close to 60 years old, and it’s been rising every year. Our older farmers deserve to have the freedom to retire when they choose to, not before or after they are ready. But with population shifts to the cities in rural states like Nebraska, and land and equipment prices representing significant barriers to entry, young people just getting started in life are either too far from farms and ranches to consider a move, or don’t have necessary financial capital to start farming.
If you need to get in touch, the best way is to call my office and speak with my staff (or leave a message if you call over the lunch hour) at (402) 471-2631. My legislative website is news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41/ and my facebook page is at facebook.com/SenatorTomBriese