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Last Wednesday, January 9th was the first day of the 106th Nebraska Legislature’s first session. We voted to elect a chairperson for each 14 of the standing committees. I was re-elected to serve as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. I am happy to retain the role as chairman and am thankful that the body of the legislature believes in my ability to serve in such capacity.
Along with electing the chair people of each committee we also assign members to the various committees. Every senator, except the Speaker, serve on committees. Each senator must sit on a committee Monday through Friday. Different committees meet on certain days and schedule hearings for all the bills assigned to them. I will chair Natural Resources every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Monday and Tuesday, I am on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. I am also a member of the Executive Board and the Referencing Committee. The Executive Board meets as needed throughout the session, while the Referencing Committee, which refers introduced bills, resolutions and gubernatorial appointments to the standing committees according to subject jurisdiction, meets for the first 10 days of the session.
The first day of session was full of activity, the new and re-elected senators were sworn in and the legislative body voted on chairmanships. On the second day, senators began submitting bills for this session. On the first day of bill introduction, there were 135 bills introduced. I imagine we could see as many as 700 bills this session. Senators have until the 10th working day, January 23rd to introduce new legislation.
The capitol building is chaotic the first few days because of the shuffling of offices. Every two years there is an office “lottery” for the new senators and current ones that are interested in changing offices. It can be a hectic few days for everyone moving offices and for the freshman senators setting up their new offices. Of course, there is a whole host of new staff personnel trying to become acquainted with all of the senators and veteran staffers. Currently, the southwest quadrant is closed for construction which means there are 18 senators located in the tower of the building. With 13 new senators and new chair people, there has been a lot of movement as everyone tries to settle into their new offices. Since I am staying as chairman for Natural Resources my office is still located in room 1210, which is in the southeast corner of the first floor.
I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is email@example.com and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.
The new year is officially upon us and the 2019 legislative session is underway. This year is a long session which includes 90 working days and will tentatively run until June 6th. The reason that every other year is a longer session is due to the fact that we have to come up with a budget plan for the next two years. I would like to update everyone a little on my plans for this session and take a look at our current budget status.
The revenue picture is not great, revenue projections are still not meeting expectations. We are short of revenue meeting our current biennium budget which ends June 30, 2019. Hopefully, we will see some additional revenue coming in from the full implementation of sales tax on internet purchases. All internet retailers are supposed to be collecting sales taxes beginning on January 1st, whether or not that is the case will not immediately be clear. The legislature will need to do some things to make sure that the taxes are implemented correctly. We will need to define a minimum number of sales before you have to remit taxes and/or a minimum dollar amount that must be met before sales taxes are collected and remitted.
I will be introducing several bills dealing with Game and Parks that should come before the Natural Resources Committee. One is a deer hunting bill that would allow qualifying landowners to have early access to hunting on their land. Another is a bill at the request of G&P to allow the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles to design three additional license plates to be known as Wildlife Conservation Plates. The plates reflect support for the conservation of Nebraska wildlife, including, sandhill cranes, bighorn sheep, and cutthroat trout.
Another bill I will be introducing would make throwing or dropping objects at a motor vehicle illegal. Objects in the path of or striking a vehicle traveling at a high speed or even slow speeds can not only cause damage to the vehicle but potentially its driver and passengers.
I am also considering introducing a bill again that allows county boards in counties with 15,000 residents or less to adopt a resolution or allow residents to file a petition, requesting the submission of the question to voters regarding the nomination of all county officers elected on the primary election to be listed without a political party designation. The top two candidates from the primary regardless of party affiliation would then be advanced to the general election.
I am working with other senators on property tax reduction possibilities. The challenge is how do you pay for that and most of those discussions revolve around removing exemptions from the current tax code. I think we need to take a look at updating our tax code as we have evolved from a production economy to a more services-based economy. Our revenue streams are out of balance and some adjustments need to be made.
Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 44th 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. Dan Hughes
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