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The 2018 Legislative Session begins January 3rd. This being the second year of our biennium cycle, all legislation that was on the floor of the Legislature or in Committee is still alive. Senators and Committees will be adding in 300 or more newly introduced bills and there is also to be taken into consideration a time consuming $200 million budget deficit that will have to be addressed–makings for a crowded schedule.
Looming in the background is an upcoming referendum petition drive by the Second House of the Legislature (the citizens) to address our regressive and burdensome property tax problem. I am personally going to sign the petition; we need to put the issue on the ballot, if for no other reason but to force action by the Legislature. Once the property tax issue is on the ballot, if between now and next November, depending on how the Legislature and Governor address the issue, come Election Day you can vote against the ballot issue or vote for the issue and against the politicians who refused to listen to you.
Below are most of the bills we have carried over on general file.
LB 127: Requires newspaper notice of time and location of political subdivision meetings. With the advent of the internet, some entities have forsaken the newspaper as the vehicle they use to announce meetings. Transparency in government should always be a defining tenet of Democracy. We are working on a priority vehicle.
LB 595: Give control of discipline in the classroom back to the teacher. It is becoming clearer to me, once we get past the good or bad influence of the home, the problems we are having in educational outcome and lack of personal responsibility of many our youth is the atmosphere of the classroom. Yes, all students should have the opportunity to be included in the classroom, but no one has the right to disrupt the classroom to the detriment of others’ opportunity to learn. As Education Committee Chairman I will continue to prioritize this issue.
LB 596: Equine massage. This issue is the “poster child” of over regulation and licensure by government. Due to restrictive practice requirements and expensive educational qualifications, there is not a single licensed equine massage therapist in Nebraska. Since Karen Hough of Arnold brought this issue to me, I have had many individuals, three in Lincoln County alone, contact me saying they would like to start an equine massage business. I have discovered since introducing the bill, in the world of horses, equine massage is commonly used to prepare horses for competitive events. The veterinarians I have talked to believe the over regulation is foolish. We will amend the bill requiring equine massage therapists to register with the Department of Health and Human Services stating their educational training along with identification information. With the registry in place, the veterinarian association will support the bill.
LB 640: Limit the local property tax portion of public school funding, forcing the state to step-up its constitutionally required efforts to fund public education. It was prioritized by Senator Friesen last year and will remain part of the property tax debate this year.
LB 218: Transparency requirements on ground/surface water augmentation projects and to clarify existing law allowing for the sale of the land while maintaining a reservation on water usage and transfer. At the end of last session, we fought off an attempt by special interest to have the bill killed in the Natural Resource Committee. The political climate has now changed; citizens have since gotten involved and created “Landowners for a Common Purpose”, their mission being to help inform the public and NRD board members of the existing legal ability they have to sell NCORPE land. Recently the Middle Republican NRD unanimously passed a resolution, telling their Senator Hughes, who is also Chairman of the Natural Resource Committee, to work for legislation to clarify their ability to authorize the sale of the land. LB 218 fits that description.
Barb and I have decided that I will run for reelection. Hopefully to most, it comes as a Christmas present. Keep warm and have a blessed Christmas!!!!