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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

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The 60 day session of the 104th Legislature came to an end last Wednesday. We met to consider overriding the Governor’s vetoes and sit through the farewell speeches of the eleven senators who will not be returning due to term limits.

The Governor vetoed three bills:

LB580 Redistricting Act: It would have changed the method of how we adjust the boundaries of election districts due to population shifts after the 2020 United States census. At present, our state constitution directs the legislature to adjust the boundaries for the 3 federal congressional districts, 49 state legislature seats, public power commission, state school board, and University regents. The bill would have set up a partisan commission to bring a proposed plan directly to the floor of the legislature and effectively take the decision out of the hands of the nonpartisan legislature. It was said that it was a contentious issue last go round, senators got upset, and we all needed to get along. My belief is that politics should have heated debate, the public should be able to witness it and have input into that debate. Politicians are giving more and more authority to un-elected appointed commissions to avoid having to take a stand on issues. You can see that locally with the un-elected Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) and the rubber stamp some city councilmen give to the CRA’s Tax Increment Financing decisions. The sponsor of the bill pulled the legislation before the override vote occurred.

LB935 State Auditor’s bill: The majority of the language was good, giving the auditor more access to government information. But an amendment was added which changed how the travel expenses of state employees, elected officials, and Governor appointed commission members were to be calculated for reimbursement. At present, if I or any other state employee remits expenses to the accounting office, we must show receipts; the bill would have changed it to a per-diem schedule. The taxpayer should be able to see where I was and how I spent their money. The State Auditor agreed to work with the Governor to change the legislation next year and pulled the bill before the override vote occurred.

LB947 Issue professional or commercial licenses to the children of illegal undocumented aliens. My argument was that most recent immigrants came here legally. That is why when I meet any citizen, no matter what their accent, nationality or race, I assume they are legal citizens. Illegal immigrants cheat the system and jump the line in order to reap the benefits of America’s protected promise of freedom. What knits the fabric of freedom together in America is our firm belief in the “rule of law”. To erode that fabric by granting exceptions to the law, giving the same rights to those who broke the law as are guaranteed to legal immigrants is a path we should not venture down. The Governor’s veto was overridden by two votes. Nebraska now joins California as the only states that have fully put this practice into law.

Overall as a freshman senator, I am satisfied that I was able to influence the final product coming out of Lincoln. My time was not wasted and hopefully neither was your confidence in me. Votes can be changed with reason and legislation tweaked in committee and on the floor; I was able to have an effect in all those areas.

The legislature will look different next year, with a minimum of eleven new senators due to term limits. As I watch how over time political arrogance grows, the disconnect widens between politician and citizen and I see how the influence of lobbyist’s big money grows over incumbent senators, the stronger proponent of term limits I become. Due to some controversial votes taken this past session there also may be a few of the 14 incumbents up for election who may not be returning next year.

I plan to keep writing my column every couple of weeks to let you know what the future may bring.

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1306
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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