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Since the election, I have purposely avoided writing columns. I feel we all needed a little time away from the political stench of the elections and there was no need to write, just to be writing. My hope is that most of us have more important things to consider besides the grind of politics during the holiday season. This Christmas season, Barb and I watched the new Christopher Robin movie with our granddaughter. In it the fictional children’s philosopher Winnie the Pooh made profound statements that struck true to me. The words of the writer were to the effect that, sometimes doing something is doing nothing and sometimes doing nothing is doing something. I chose to do nothing in the line of redundant writing until something of import happened that needed to be discussed.
We’re now just a few days short of commencing the 106th Legislature, First Session on January 9th with the swearing in of 26 recently elected senators of which 13 are incumbent, 11 are newly elected and 2 are Governor Appointees. During the first days of the session we will also elect the Speaker of the Legislature and Committee Chairs; I again am running for Education. I have had no complaints from colleagues as to the way we managed the committee last year or about the accomplishments that came from committee actions. I am proceeding under the belief that I will be elected again to the position, but with term limits and the resulting 13 new senators plus the political reality that personal feelings, pressure from the lobby and partisanship play a part in the outcomes of democratic government, we understand there is no guarantee that the person with the necessary ability and experience always wins.
That said: On the Education front, we are moving forward with legislation to fix our over-reliance on property taxes to fund our schools. The bill’s content is based on what we learned through our TEEOSA study group. We are also introducing a revised version of last session’s Classroom Discipline bill, to empower teachers to legally protect themselves and students from violence and to enable them to create a better classroom climate. We are also bringing a revised version of last session’s American civics bill. An update of the present 1940’s Americanism statutes is needed more now than ever as we continue to watch the deterioration of America’s civility. We owe it to our children to inform them that freedom and rights have a cost, to teach them of the sacrifices of those who came before them and that they have a civic duty to be informed and involved in government.
My office is continuing to pursue clearly defining in statute that NCORPE can sell the land and continue to operate the augmentation project. It’s hard for me to convince my urban colleagues that we need property tax relief in rural Nebraska when they see the total waste and disrespect of tax dollars being expended on unnecessary land purchases where $50 million or more could be saved if only all parties involved would work together to make the land sale happen.
Other areas of legislation we are pursuing:
— Legislation to increase transparency in our open meetings statutes.
— Legislation to eliminate a burdensome and costly electrician code on underground boring.
— Easing rural fire department tax levy requirements when involved in mutual funding agreements.
— Legislation brought to us by Sheriff Kramer to alleviate burdensome occupational regulations on operating lie-detector devices that add unnecessary cost to police departments.
One of the truths I have learned at the Capitol is that the folks who pay their taxes and act as good public servants are often too busy with their work and family to be in Lincoln to present their views, but those who spend or profit from your tax-dollars are in full force, lobbying to keep your taxes flowing to them and, of course, wanting more. As we go into the New Year and the new legislative session, you can expect me to be vigilant for the threats that could grossly expand the State government or abuse your dollars in the system, but that’s not a new resolution for me.
Contact Sen. Mike Groene: email@example.com or 402-471-2729.