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This will be my last article before we resume the 2020 legislative session on July 20th and finish our remaining 17 days. We have senators and staff who need to be there in person to do their job, and with the continuous spread of Covid, the legislature will have to take precautionary measures when it reconvenes. Some of the changes that have been proposed but could change before session are the following:
Normally the balcony is open to the public but due to restrictions, the balcony will be closed for the remainder of the legislative session. Legislative debate and hearings will still be live streamed through NET. For those of you who watch the daily legislative activity on the internet you will see a few changes in the chamber.
Since the legislature does not allow for the senators to vote remotely, senators who have a temperature of 100.4 or higher or who exhibit Covid-like symptoms will be allowed to sit in the east balcony, there will be a microphone so the senators can still participate in debates and they will be able to vote from there. Also, you may see some of the senators sitting in the south balcony or under the balconies, as to allow for social distancing.
Senator offices will be open to the public. If you visit a senator’s office I would encourage you to wear a mask and practice social distancing. If you would like to talk to myself or any of the other senators we are also available via email or telephone.
We still have some very important issues to address this year but with these safeguards in place we are all hopeful that we can remain mindful of the health concerns while completing the people’s work and still pass some meaningful legislation.
An ongoing issue is wildlife damage that many landowners of the state have and are currently experiencing. Since this is the time of the year many producers begin to see wildlife damage I encourage anyone starting to see damage to contact the Nebraska Game and Parks right away. This can be done by filling out an online form (which can be found at http://outdoornebraska.gov/depredation/), or by calling the district office at (308)-535-8025. Game and Parks will then send a wildlife biologist to assess your damage. This will give you the best chance to be issued a depredation permit to thin the herd and hopefully protect your crops. Game and Parks may also offer you other forms of assistance, including fencing, scare devices, and technical advice. The process of obtaining a depredation permit or other assistance can be frustrating at times. If you have any issues while dealing with Game and Parks, please contact my office. I am continuing to look at all options to compensate landowners for feeding the state’s wildlife.