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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 42nd legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Mike Jacobson
This week marks the last week of bill hearings for the Nebraska Legislature. On March 28, the Unicameral will move to all-day and potentially evening debates.
This past week, we passed several milestones. All priority designations have been made. Senators were asked to designate their one priority bill by Tuesday, the same deadline each committee to designate its two priorities. Speaker Arch announced another 25 priority bills on Wednesday. Wednesday was also the halfway point in the session. Everyone would agree there is a lot left to accomplish in the next 45 session days.
Below is a status update for all of my legislation, as well as my priority bill:
LB31 (Two-Person Crew) remains stuck in committee. Some committee members would like to give the Federal Railroad Administration a chance to pass a nationwide requirement later this year before advancing this bill. However, I’ve been assured that there will be a committee vote on the bill next session if the FRA does not act, and I believe the votes will be there to move it forward.
LB32 (Medigap) is being held in committee to give the insurance industry time to add supplemental coverage voluntarily. If the problem is not resolved this year, I have the votes in the committee to advance the bill, and I also believe that I will have the votes on the floor. I know the supporters have heard this before, but they should not underestimate me. I will get this done next year if needed.
LB33 (Mayoral Tie-Breakers) advanced from the Urban Affairs Committee unanimously and is waiting to be heard on General File. If we can break the filibuster, the Speaker has agreed to put this bill back on the agenda.
LB69 (Notices for Life Insurance Policies) is being held in committee to give me time to work with the insurance industry over the interim to hopefully resolve this issue without legislation.
LB98 (Micro-TIF) advanced from the Urban Affairs Committee unanimously. Although the bill is waiting to be heard on General File, it will be included in a committee amendment to one of the Urban Affairs Committee’s priority bills.
LB148 (Western Nebraska Racetracks) had its hearing on Monday, March 13, and I want to give a special ‘thank you’ to Lisa Burke, Ty Lucas, Gary Person, and Pete Volz for making the trip to Lincoln for a night-time bill hearing to testify about the opportunities a racetrack and casino could bring to Lincoln County. Right now, LB148 is being held in committee due to various interests among the General Affairs Committee members. The Committee is also holding Sen. Lowe’s LB311, which would have extended the racing and gaming market studies deadline to Jan. 1, 2029. If the deadline for the studies stays in place (Jan. 1, 2025), North Platte should be in a good position to proceed. If there is an extension effort next year, I will continue to advocate to allow the western half of Nebraska to allowed to proceed with racetrack applications without the required study.
LB149 (Rebasing Rates under the Medical Assistance Program) has its public hearing on March 23. If the hearing goes well, this bill may be able to be amended onto a Health and Human Services Committee priority bill.
LB281 (State 4-H Camp) will be added to a Natural Resources Committee priority bill (LB425) with a reduced appropriation. Although the total appropriation is now $15 million, the State 4-H Camp will be the only eligible recipient of the funds. It will require a dollar-for-dollar match, but once a feasibility study is completed and approved, we could begin drawing funds as the match is raised.
LB433 (Funding Flexibility for Behavioral Health Regions) is being held in committee as the Department of Health and Human Services has committed to allow each behavioral health region to adjust their budgets by 20% each year without further approval by the DHHS as long as the adjustments are within state and federal guidelines. I am prepared to push to get this bill moved to the floor if DHHS doesn’t stay true to its word.
LB434 (Enrolling Long-Term Care Hospitals as Providers Under the Medical Assistance Act) is included in a committee amendment to LB227, one of the Health and Human Services Committee’s priority bills. The bill will allow rural hospitals to move patients requiring long-term care to facilities like Madonna to get the care they need.
LB628 (Clean-up of the Uniform Commercial Code regarding Professional LLC Companies) has been moved to Select File and should get across the finish line this year if we can break the filibuster.
LB674 (Regulation of Digital Assets) has been included in the committee amendment to LB214, a priority bill of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. The bill would allow the Department of Banking to better regulate digital assets.
LB644 (Mega Sites) is Sen. McDonnell’s to enhance Nebraska’s economic competitiveness by directing additional funds to the Site and Building Development Fund to support identifying, evaluating, and developing commercial and industrial sites, also known as mega sites. Since I’ve been successful in finding priority bill tracks for many of my other bills, I agreed to prioritize this bill after Sen. McDonnell agreed to amend the bill to require at least 15% of the funding be allocated to sites west of the 100th Meridian. LB644 could provide the funding infusion needed for communities in District 42, which are in a great position to take major steps forward to grow even more great businesses and jobs.
Please continue to submit public comments on individual bills at NebraskaLegislature.gov, or feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
This past week, LB753 received the necessary votes to invoke cloture after eight hours of debate and then received 31 votes to move the bill to Select File. LB753 creates the Opportunity Scholarships Act and allows individual and corporate taxpayers to qualify for a non-refundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization (i.e., private school scholarships). I voted to advance the bill with the understanding that there would be some amendments on Select File. I have been working with a small group of conservative Senators to make some adjustments to increase accountability, limit the overall growth of the state costs, and make adjustments to the amount of the tax credits. I believe that these amendments will make the bill more equitable while still fulfilling the intent of the bill.
I have received more emails on LB753 than any bill since entering the Legislature. In the end, I want to make it clear that public schools will not lose funding with this bill. In fact, public schools in District 42 will all receive significantly more funding once the final school funding package is approved. The final package will include LB753 and should easily pass when combined as one bill.
I have also had some questions regarding the reorganization of the State Board of Education. I believe that with the new faces that have been elected to the Board this year, the Legislature needs to stand down and wait for the process to work. The voters voted for change, so we need to let that change work. I do not believe that the Legislature should be directly overseeing our public school systems and needs to be mindful of any mandates that they impose on Nebraska’s taxing authorities without providing the necessary funding to offset the costs. Even minor requirements can be very costly to the smallest of our rural school districts.
This coming week is a big one because individual Senator and Committee priorities must be designated on March 14 and the Speaker will announce his priority bills on March 15. I submitted two bills for consideration as Speaker priority bills and have identified four bills as finalists for my individual priority: LB31 (two-person crew), LB281 (State 4-H Camp funding), LB32 (Medigap), and LB148 (timing for new racetrack licenses). All four bills are currently still in committee but could be voted on early this week. I am also exploring other opportunities to get priority designation for my bills, including committee priorities or as an amendment to a priority bill.
The General Affairs Committee will hold its public hearing on LB148 on Monday, March 13. LB148 would exempt racetrack applications for locations west of the 100th Meridian from the study requirements implemented last session. Currently, the Nebraska State Racing and Gaming Commission must complete a study prior to January 1, 2025, regarding the horseracing and casino industry in Nebraska and the socioeconomic impact of racing/gaming facilities.
I introduced LB148 after hearing that not only had the Commission not begun the study process, but there were some in the Legislature who wanted to extend the study deadline by several years. Nebraskans voted overwhelmingly to pass the ballot initiatives to legalize gambling during the 2020 election. Whether you support gambling or not, the industry clearly provides substantial economic development and tax revenue. I don’t think it’s fair to leave western Nebraska out. Access to the I-80 corridor, visitors from Wyoming and Colorado, and the rich agricultural and livestock histories of our area make western Nebraska a prime spot for a racetrack and casino development. I am grateful to have many members from the North Platte community coming in to testify in support of LB148 and look forward to a productive hearing.
March 24 will be the last day for committee hearings and we will start all-day debate on March 28. It’s likely we will start late-night sessions soon after we go into all-day debate to try to make up lost time. Once all-day sessions begin, I am hopeful that the filibusters will be limited to truly controversial issues. Going all day can be very taxing and going all day and into the night is a very grueling pace. We are all anxious to start getting things done and I believe that will begin to happen.
I look forward to hearing from constituents about issues impacting you. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729, or join the weekly call with the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation.
The Legislature cleared its first filibuster last week after spending eight hours debating LB77, Senator Brewer’s priority bill to enact Constitutional Carry. I was happy to be one of 36 Senators who voted to end the filibuster and move the bill to the second round of debate. It takes 33 votes to cease debate and force a vote. Last year, the bill only garnered 31 votes to end the filibuster.
Last week was also the bill hearing for Senator Erdman’s LB396, related to the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project or N-CORPE. LB396 would require a natural resources district (NRD) to sell the land needed for an augmentation project after the augmentation project is complete while allowing them to keep the rights to the groundwater beneath the land.
Maintaining the ability of farmers to irrigate land is important, not only for the farmers but also for our agricultural industries. And, it is also critical that our school districts and other property tax beneficiaries are properly funded and have a broad base.
I support the augmentation project associated with N-CORPE. However, I think that once the project was completed, the excess land should have been sold and placed back on the tax rolls (even at the lower land use value). Enough of the land could have been retained where the wells were located and the deed should have included a restriction on claiming any rights to the water. If there are constitutional concerns with that approach, then transferring the land using a 99-year lease could have ensured N-CORPE had the necessary water rights.
I also believe that since this project benefits irrigators in several counties, Lincoln County and the school districts affected by the lost tax revenue should have received an “in lieu of tax payment” equal to the “predevelopment” irrigated land use as opposed to the dryland valuation. All the other counties and school districts that are part of N-CORPE did not lose any tax base. This seems wholly unfair to Lincoln County taxpayers.
Additionally, I have questioned why N-CORPE hired three full-time employees with no apparent agricultural production experience to manage the project when a professional farm management firm could have done a better job at a lower cost.
My final concern deals with the future use of the nearly 19,000 acres of land. It was mentioned that they may consider a solar or wind energy project. I am not opposed to such a project provided the project is managed by a third party. The NRD’s were established to manage water quality and water quantity. “Mission creep” is an ongoing problem that occurs in far too many governmental entities. Stay in your lane, and things work better.
I remain a huge fan of NRDs and believe that the N-CORPE project has fulfilled an important water issue that can help ensure Nebraska complies with the Republican River Compact. If that remains the focus going forward, I will continue to be a supporter. And I will also be an advocate for ideas that Lincoln County and the school districts are affected by the lost tax revenue whole.
Ahead this week is Senator Linehan’s priority bill, LB753. LB753 would provide a 100% non-refundable income tax credit for donations made to private schools. This bill is a priority of the Governor but is also hotly contested. My inbox has been overflowing on both sides of this issue.
I remain supportive of both public and private schools. We are fortunate in our part of the state to be blessed with quality public schools but this is not necessarily the case in the metro areas. I am currently a co-sponsor of the legislation based on the bill language from last year. However, as I have reviewed the bill more closely this year, I have several reservations regarding the size of the tax credit, the maximum amount that this credit could grow to, and how the funds will be utilized.
I have been working with some other conservative Senators to make modifications to the bill to make it more balanced. Specifically, I would like to see the tax credit apply to 75% of the amount contributed as opposed to the proposed 100%. Skin in the game should be an element of this program. Additionally, the bill allows for this credit to grow as high as $100 million per year. This is a huge amount of money to be targeted to a new program. Finally, I want to ensure contributions go exclusively to scholarships for low- to moderate-income children instead of being used to build foundation reserves.
The budget has provided for strong funding for public schools and passage of this bill will not reduce public school funding. As a result, I will support the bill if we can get the amendments were seeking.
Your input is important to me. I would encourage everyone to join the weekly call with the North Platte Chamber, or contact me directly by telephone or email. You can reach out to me at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
Tuesday, February 28 marks Day 35 of the 90-day session. The final day for senators and committees to designate their priority bills is March 14. Committee hearings will end on March 24, after which all-day floor debate will begin. The Speaker has begun scheduling priority bills for floor debate this week. Because we only have half-day floor debate, most of the week will likely be devoted to Senator Brewer’s LB77, the Constitutional Carry bill. I am one of 29 co-sponsors of the bill. Although there is strong support within the Legislature, it is almost certain we will have an eight-hour filibuster.
Anyone watching the Legislature will have heard some of the more progressive Senators extending debate on non-controversial bills in the hopes of wasting time and avoiding hearing the controversial bills such as Constitutional Carry, some education and tax reform bills, voter ID, and the abortion ban bill. Spoiler alert: We will hear all of those bills. So, be patient; we will take the action necessary to keep the session going.
Since LB626, which expands Nebraska’s abortion restrictions, will be coming to the floor in the near future, I wanted to take time this week to update everyone on the bill and my position on the bill.
As many of you may know, Julie and I struggled to start a family. We dealt with several miscarriages and ultimately had a very premature baby boy (John Michael). John was only 24 weeks along and weighed 1 pound 12 ounces. Although he was small, he was certainly a child. I will always remember coming into the neonatal unit and watching him respond once he heard our voices. No one will ever convince me that he was not a child and was not a life worth saving!
Unfortunately, John lost his battle to live due to complications with his delivery and passed away at five weeks old, on our 10th wedding anniversary. He would be 37 years old today. Fortunately, Julie and I both have a strong faith in God and were blessed to adopt two babies over the next three years. Although John will never be forgotten, it is clear to me that God intended for us to be the parents of Mary and Joshua. Needless to say, these events have had a major impact on my views on abortion. The greatest gift that anyone can receive is the gift of a child. This gift must be protected.
LB626 has several changes from last year’s LB933 and is a genuine attempt to find a middle ground in the abortion debate. LB626 would prohibit abortion from being performed in Nebraska once a heartbeat can be detected. That generally occurs six weeks after conception. However, the bill provides exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and a medical emergency (i.e., life of the mother). The bill also specifically protects care required for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and ectopic pregnancies, as well as contraception. In the end, only pregnancies resulting from consensual sex at week six would be banned.
Three Nebraska maternal-fetal specialists and other doctors testified at the bill hearing that “this bill gives very wide discretion to physicians to determine whether there is a medical emergency.” Additionally, a doctor is not required to wait to receive a police report in the case of rape or incest to perform the abortion; however, the doctor must offer the victim resources to file a police report and to get in touch with a victim advocate. The victim may accept or decline this offer.
Doctors who violate the ban in LB626 would not be subject to criminal penalties as they would have under LB993. Instead, a complaint against a physician would be subject to an administrative process that already exists under current law. If there is no clear and convincing evidence a violation occurred, the complaint would be dismissed. If clear and convincing evidence is present, the Department of Health and Human Services may decide to pursue discipline on the doctor’s license. In this case, the physician is afforded a hearing before Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer who may, in consultation with the Nebraska Board of Medicine and Surgery, take appropriate disciplinary action. If it is found that a doctor has performed an elective abortion on a baby with a beating heart, the Chief Medical Officer will then revoke the license of the doctor. The doctor may reapply for reinstatement of their license after two years.
I believe that this bill has answered every objection that the opponents raised last year during floor debate on LB933 and, in the end, is a common-sense bill that will prevent 85% of the elective abortions that are performed in Nebraska today.
Not everyone will agree with my views on this issue, but I made it clear throughout the campaign that I would do all I could to preserve the rights of the unborn. For many constituents, this was their sole issue of concern. I made a commitment to them that I would support this bill. I am a man of my word and will do just that. I hope those who disagree will respect my position.
Please continue to submit public comments on individual bills at NebraskaLegislature.gov, or feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
Tuesday, February 21 marks Day 31 of the 90-day session and February 23 is my 1-year anniversary as your District 42 Senator. Although we have now completed many bill hearings, we have only begun to pass bills through the first round of debate. This leaves much work ahead of us if we want to get to hear every priority bill this session. Those in the body who are leading the effort to slow the process will need to decide if they want their bills passed this session. It is unlikely that their bills will be moved up in the schedule if they are the reason that the schedule is condensed.
At this point, nine of my bills have been heard in committee and three have been sent to General File. One of those bills, LB628, a clean-up bill that I carried on behalf of the Secretary of State, is scheduled for the first round of debate on Tuesday the 21st.
I was very pleased with last week’s hearing for LB281, which would provide funding to rebuild the State 4-H Camp. We had over 40 comment letters and many testifiers who braved the weather to personally testify. I will keep you posted on the progress of the bill going forward. Meanwhile, I am working with Jeff Yost and the Nebraska Community Foundation to begin organizing the next steps to get the ball rolling. Given that any excess revenues held in the Cash Reserve fund will be allocated yet this session, it is important for those with projects requiring a large fiscal note to get their bills funded this year. In my mind, LB281 simply cannot wait until next year to get passed and funded.
I also think that it is important to note that there has been some productive dialogue with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding LB433, the bill to allow the Behavioral Health Districts flexibility to reallocate 20% of their annual budgets. This would bill would have prevented Region II, which includes Lincoln County and 16 other west central counties, from losing $1.2 million of funding last year. Although progress is underway, I am not backing off until I know that we have a deal in place.
I have three bills waiting for their public hearing, including the first bill I introduced, LB31. LB31 would require two-person train crews and is scheduled to be heard on March 6 at 1:30 before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. This bill continues to be one of the frontrunners for my personal priority designation, but will need a very strong show of support to convince committee members to advance the bill. Supporters need to make plans to testify in person or submit public comments through the bill’s page on the Legislature’s website. Please reach out to my office if you need assistance navigating the public comment process.
My other final bill hearings will be for LB148 and LB149. LB148 has a hearing before the General Affairs Committee at 1:30 on March 13. The bill would allow the Nebraska State Racing and Gaming Commission to grant applications for new racetracks west of the 100th Meridian without completing a market study, while also extending the market study deadline required for eastern Nebraska applicants. Although we don’t want a casino on every corner, western Nebraska has been left out of the benefits of a racetrack and casino partnership to date. LB149 would rebase rates under the Medical Assistance Program and has a hearing before the Appropriations Committee on March 23 at 1:30.
The last day for committee hearings will be March 24. We will then move to all-day floor debate the following Monday. I would not rule out late-night sessions at that time if we are not progressing well. The pace of the Legislature will only increase as session moves along and your input is an important tool in guiding me on the many issues we will be considering. Please continue to submit public comments on individual bills at NebraskaLegislature.gov, or feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
Last week marked the final week of all-day committee hearings. In the last three weeks, the standing committees have taken public comment on over 300 bills. Beginning this week, the Legislature will return to morning floor debate and afternoon committee hearings. The last day for bill hearings will be March 24. Following that date, we will move to all-day floor debate.
The Legislature will return to floor debate by considering several gubernatorial appointments reports from committees and non-controversial bills. On the agenda for Monday, February 13 is my bill, LB628, which updates the statutes for professional service by limited liability companies and professional corporations. This will be my first bill to be debated on General File.
LB281, my bill to provide funding to rebuild the State 4-H Camp destroyed by the Bovee Fire, will be heard before the Natural Resources Committee at 1:30 p.m. in Hearing Room 1525 on Wednesday, February 15. This will be the first step in moving this project forward and I am optimistic, that with a strong showing of support, I can secure a priority designation for the bill.
Last week was a busy week that included hearings on three bills I introduced. LB434 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to enroll long-term care hospitals as providers under the medical assistance program. This will allow Madonna and an Omaha long-term care provider to free up bed space for patients that are currently at rural hospitals like Great Plains Health who need more specialized treatment provided by these facilities.
I also presented LB433 which allows Regional Health Districts to have greater control over their budgets. Region II, which includes Lincoln County and 16 other west central counties, lost $1.2 million of funding last year due to their inability to move funds around to take care of local needs. The Department of Health and Human Services was the only party to testify in opposition to the bill. I am now working to get the fiscal note on this bill reduced to be in a position to move it forward.
The final bill that I presented last week was LB32. This bill requires insurance companies who offer Medicare supplement policies to include coverage for individuals under the age of 65 who are eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or end-stage renal disease. Today, Nebraska is one of 16 states that does not include this coverage. I want to thank Steve Kay for bringing this to my attention last summer when I was knocking on doors. He has been a true champion for this cause and will be the primary reason that this bill passes. I am hopeful to get this bill added to one of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee priority bills.
I want to also note that the first bill I introduced, LB31, which requires the trains to be operated with a two-person crew will be heard before the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee on March 6. Supporters need to make plans to testify in person or submit public comments through the bill’s page on the Legislature’s website in order to give this bill a shot at getting out of committee. Please reach out to my office if you need assistance navigating the public comment process. We need a strong, grassroots push to keep this bill moving. It will remain a strong candidate for priority status if we can get the bill out of committee.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to me about issues impacting you at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
This past week was a busy one at the Legislature. All the standing committees held morning and afternoon hearings, which will continue again this week. A total of 133 bills had public hearings, including several controversial issues such as voter ID, constitutional carry, abortion restrictions, criminal justice reform, tax cuts, and education issues. These issues will consume much of the remaining time in this session.
There are 97 bills scheduled for hearings this week before we return to our normal schedule – morning floor debate and afternoon hearings, on Monday, February 13. The final day for committee hearings will be March 24. At that time, the Legislature will go to all-day floor debate.
Speaker Arch will have to carefully schedule bills to ensure we have a productive session. We can expect filibusters for many of the controversial issues I mentioned above, plus the Unicameral tries to at least debate all of the Senator, Committee, and Speaker priority bills, which go to the front of the queue ahead of other legislation. The Speaker will also mix in bills that qualify for “consent calendar,” which are bills that receive a unanimous committee vote, have no opponents (or an amendment that resolves the opposition’s issues), and have no fiscal note.
Since each Senator has one personal priority, each committee has two priorities, and the Speaker has 25 priorities, the total number of priority bills grows to just well over 100 bills. It will be difficult to get through all of the priority bills this session and it will be very unlikely that nonpriority bills will be heard if they do not qualify for consent calendar. With this in mind, it will be important for bill sponsors to work with other Senators to try to amend their bills into another priority bill, including committee priority bills. This of course can get tricky because you do not want to allow someone else’s bill to sink yours. However, there are advantages to combining bills, because the other bill sponsor can bring additional supporters to your combined bill package.
I introduced 12 bills this year. Some should qualify for consent calendar, others could get merged into a committee omnibus bill, and a couple may get to the floor early and move forward without a priority designation. However, I will ultimately need to choose between two or three bills that are important to me for priority status. Since everyone is focused on getting their portion of the Cash Reserve surplus, it is critical to focus on funding bills that have a likelihood of passage. Next year will likely be too late to get a bill with a significant fiscal note approved. Over the next couple of weeks, the rest of my bills will be heard in committee. At that time, I will be in a position to finalize my plan to move the bills forward.
I have several bills with upcoming committee hearings:
I will continue to keep you informed each week regarding the upcoming bills of interest that will be heard. Please provide your input directly to me at email@example.com or 402-471-2729, make plans to testify, or submit your thoughts on the public comment portal available at the top of every bill page at NebraskaLegislature.gov.
This week, the Legislature hosted Governor Jim Pillen to give his State of the State address. The Governor proposed a very austere budget that provides for a 1.3% annual average increase in State spending during the two-year period ending June 30, 2025. He also cited the unprecedented $2.3 billion cash reserve expected to exist by fiscal year 2025 based on the latest revenue forecast. The Governor has proposed significant tax cuts and additional state funding for K-12 education. In addition, he has proposed setting aside funds for a new state prison, the Perkins County canal, and increased funding for building state roads.
In his education plan, the Governor envisions creating a new Education Future Fund which will require an initial investment of $1 billion and $250 million in additional funding each year thereafter. The increased state aid to schools would be coupled with a 3% cap on school district property tax revenue growth. The Education Future Fund would be used to provide $1,500 per student for all schools in the state and to increase special education funding in the future. On the tax relief side, Governor Pillen is asking for maximum individual and corporate income tax rates to be reduced to 3.99% by 2027 and to accelerate the elimination of income taxes on Social Security from the existing 3-year sunset to a total elimination in 2024.
The Legislature also commenced committee hearings this week and bills have begun to advance to the floor. In the coming two weeks, the Legislature will begin all-day hearings after briefly checking in to receive motions, amendments, and committee reports. Speaker Arch hopes hearing more bills in committees early in the session will allow bills to move more quickly and give Senators a chance to better examine which bill they may want to prioritize. On February 13, the Legislature will return to morning floor debate followed by afternoon committee hearings. All committee hearings will be completed by March 24.
Given the number of bills introduced this year, and the push by some of the progressive members to slow down the Legislative process, Senators will need to find a priority for legislation that doesn’t qualify for the consent calendar. Bills are eligible for each Senator’s personal priority, one of a committee’s two priorities which generally include an omnibus amendment, or can sometimes be attached to a priority bill on the floor. It is important each Senator use their priority designation wisely.
The Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee has scheduled two bills that I sponsored to be heard this week. The first bill, LB674, is scheduled for the morning of Monday, January 30. This bill would update the regulations surrounding digital currencies. I coordinated with the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance on this bill in an effort to help safeguard the public and give the Department the tools necessary to better regulate this service as the industry continues to mature. The second bill, LB628 is scheduled to be heard on the morning of Tuesday, January 31. I worked with the Secretary of State to bring this bill to update provisions dealing with Limited Liability Companies, and other forms of corporate structures. I am hopeful both of these bills will be considered for inclusion in a committee omnibus amendment. If this happens, the bill should move to passage without having to carry them as standalone bills.
LB33, my bill to clarify when a mayor of a city of the first class may break a tie, and LB98, which updates the Micro-TIF statutes, will also be heard in the Urban Affairs Committee on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 31.
I will keep you informed each week regarding the upcoming bills of interest that will be heard so you can provide your input to me directly and provide testimony or comments to the Legislature. As always, if you are interested in joining the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation’s weekly call, please contact the Chamber at (308) 532-4966 for times and call-in information.
As legislation and issues arise, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
Bill introduction came to an end last week with 812 bills and over two dozen constitutional amendments introduced. We also adopted the permanent rules for how the Legislature will operate this biennium. Although there were many proposed changes, those advanced from the Rules Committee were fairly non-controversial; however, there may be two more rule changes offered in the coming weeks which will be highly contested. Until then, we are moving on to committee hearings. Unlike many states, all bills get a public hearing in the Nebraska Legislature. On Monday, January 23, committees will begin taking comments on the bills in their jurisdiction. Committees must complete all hearings by March 24. Hearings must be scheduled a week in advance and the public may participate by testifying in person or submitting comments through the Legislature’s website.
The Urban Affairs Committee has scheduled two of my bills for hearing on January 31. The first bill is LB33, a clean-up bill that clarifies when the mayor of a city of the first class (population of 5,001-100,000) can vote to break a tie. This issue came to my attention when the City of North Platte was voting to place the recreation center bond issue on the November ballot. LB33 would clarify a mayor may break a tie when one or more of the council members are absent, but does not allow the mayor to vote to create a super-majority.
The second bill is LB98. This bill makes three changes to the Micro-TIF statutes. First, the bill would permit cities other than Lincoln and Omaha to conduct a large “blight and substandard” study but then only declare certain individual lots as blighted and substandard to allow the TIF funds to be more targeted. Second, LB98 allows a city to limit the number of redevelopment plans approved in any one year. Third, and most importantly, the bill directs TIF proceeds to the holder of the note instead of the owner of the home. This is a necessary change so the developers who remodel a home under this program can retain the TIF proceeds if they subsequently sell the home. If the proceeds go to the note holder, the developer can then pledge the note to a lender just as they can with the other TIF programs and have those funds available to use to complete the project. In the past, updates to the Micro-TIF program have gotten strong support in the Legislature. With a large group of incoming Senators, it will be important that everyone understands how the program works now and the many benefits of my proposed changes.
I am pleased to have early hearing dates for both LB33 and LB98 and do not expect either bill to be controversial. I am hopeful that these bills will either be eligible for the consent calendar or be included in a committee omnibus bill so I can use my priority bill designation on another proposal.
I will keep you informed each week regarding upcoming bill hearings of interest. I would also invite you to join my weekly call with the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation. Please contact the Chamber directly at 308-532-4966 to get the updated times and call-in information.
Although things are somewhat slow at this point, that will soon change. From January 30 to February 10, we will hold bill hearings in the morning and afternoon, after which we will begin floor debate in earnest. I remain focused on delivering results for District 42 and look forward to a busy session!
As legislation and other issues arise, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
It has been a busy week in the Legislature. The Unicameral kicked off the week by picking up with the debate regarding approving the Committee on Committees report, which makes committee membership assignments. The tone of the debate is an early indication of the strong divisiveness that we are seeing in the body. Although the Legislature is nonpartisan, there will be a clear divide between the 32 conservatives and 17 progressives on controversial issues. And, since it takes 33 votes to invoke cloture (stop a filibuster), controversial bills may have a hard time getting to a vote. A motion for cloture is only accepted after full and fair debate, which is eight hours on the first round of debate (general file). The more filibusters we have, the slower things get done. This makes it important to get any relatively non-controversial bills out of committee and on the floor early.
Once the Committee on Committees report was approved, the committees could begin their business. I am happy to report that I will be serving on two standing committees: the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. I was also appointed to the Performance Audit Special Committee and the Statewide Tourism And Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Special Committee. I was very honored to be selected by my fellow committee members as Vice Chair of both the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee and the Performance Audit Special Committee. I look forward to working on bills related to economic development, health insurance, water, energy, tourism, and state agency oversight through my service on these committees.
The Legislature also continued with bill introduction this week. To date, over 460 bills have been introduced and two days remain to introduce legislation. If history is any indication, we could see 200-300 bills introduced on Day 9 and Day 10. In addition to statutory changes, over a dozen constitutional amendments have been submitted. If passed by the Legislature, a constitutional amendment would then appear on a ballot to be considered by the voters. Remember, all bills will get a public hearing and committees will start holding bill hearings on January 23.
Senators and committees have until March 14 to select their priority bills. Each Senator gets one priority and each committee two priorities. Speaker Arch will also get to designate up to 25 bills as Speaker priorities. Because there is such a limited number of priority bills, it is important not to waste your designation by prioritizing a bill that will stall in committee. Furthermore, it is sometimes possible to attach a bill to another priority bill through an amendment without having to designate the bill individually as a priority. I will be looking for paths to a priority designation for all of my legislation and need your help in supporting my initiatives.
I have introduced ten bills and co-sponsored another 14. I have tried to focus my efforts on issues that will have a direct impact on District 42. As promised, the first bill that I introduced was LB31 which is the two-person train crew bill. LB31 will face opposition from the railroads, so I encourage those who support this bill to provide oral testimony or submit written comments once a hearing is scheduled by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. I am already reaching out to the committee members to encourage them to advance this important bill to the full Legislature so we can debate the merits of this important legislation.
Although bill introduction will not end until Wednesday, January 18, any bill language sent to the bill drafters next week will likely not have enough time to be put into final bill form. However, please continue to reach out with specific issues you would like reviewed. It may be possible to get these issues addressed by amending an introduced bill, or it may be our first great idea for 2024.
In this column, I will share important updates on my legislation and other bills of interest. The public is also invited to join my weekly call with the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce and Development, where I will answer questions and provide live updates. If you are interested in joining this call, please contact the Chamber at (308) 532-4966. The first call will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 19. Subsequent call times may change as participants settle on the best day to meet. If others would like to schedule a regular forum in your area, please contact me to discuss times. It is important to me to hear from my constituents so I can better work on your behalf.
I look forward to a very busy session. As legislation and issues arise, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!
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