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The 2022 Legislative Session is nearly at the close. Monday was the last day to consider bills on Select File (round two of three) and we started with consideration of three critical bills.
LB773 was Sen. Tom Brewer’s constitutional carry bill and a bill I cosponsored. Sen. Brewer asked that the many proponents not speak during the Select File debate so the “nay-sayers” could voice their opposition to the Second Amendment.
Many opponents advocated for an amendment negotiated with Omaha law enforcement to protect local anti-gun policies in Omaha and increase gun-related penalties. Thank you to the many constituents from District 42 who reached out to express their opposition to the Omaha amendment. I was proud to represent the will of District 42 by voting “no” on the amendment and to cease debate so we could vote on the clean bill. Unfortunately, we fell two votes short of cloture due to absent Senators. Sen. Brewer vowed to bring the bill back next year and I look forward to continuing my support of constitutional carry and the Second Amendment.
Next, the body quickly voted to advance LB876 with no further debate. I had joined with other Senators in discussing the opportunities for economic development that racetracks and casinos would provide for western Nebraska when the bill was debated on Friday. LB876 requires a feasibility study before new racetrack licenses can be issued. Due to laws requiring a certain number of Nebraska-bred races, the horseracing industry needs time to catch up with more race days. The feasibility study in LB876 was a way to keep the process moving forward and a much better alternative to the 5- to 7-year moratorium on new tracks proposed by others.
I am still not completely satisfied with the provisions on LB876 and will continue to work to fast-track North Platte’s proposed project. I think there is a way to grow the racing industry responsibly while shortening the timeline for western Nebraska applications. I have been working closely with the North Platte Chamber and Chickasaw Nation representatives on solutions and will continue to work with them – and my colleagues – on a solution over the interim.
The other key legislation from Monday was LB792, Sen. John Lowe’s bill to appropriate funds for the University of Nebraska Medical Center Rural Health Complex on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This project will help address healthcare workforce shortages by increasing capacity for student training and opportunities to recruit professionals to remain in rural Nebraska after graduation. The Complex will help provide qualified personnel to work in nursing, behavioral health, assisted living, and other healthcare fields.
On Tuesday, the Unicameral kicked off debate and advancement of the dozens of bills waiting on Final Reading to be passed into law. I was particularly pleased to support advancement of two bills that will help District 42 communities address the severe workforce housing shortage.
LB1065 was another bill I cosponsored and made important improvements to micro-TIF. There are additional changes we need to make micro-TIF more workable, and I hope to perfect the process in the future. There is more work yet to be done, but LB1065 was a step in the right direction.
Efforts to expand and clarify provisions in the Middle-Income Workforce Housing Investment Act and the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act in LB1069 will also increase housing opportunities. I was glad to join with 41 of my colleagues to give the last stamp of approval to this bill introduced and prioritized by Sen. Matt Williams.
Wednesday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 20 will mark the final two days of the 2022 Legislative Session. There are still important bills for District 42 awaiting final passage, including the Select File bills advanced on Monday, more funding for the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act, changes to expand broadband infrastructure, and reductions of sales and use tax collection fees.
As always, my door is open to constituents, and I would love to hear from you at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature.