High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 11-14. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.
The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.
“I believe the backbone of democracy is voter knowledge of our system and their clear understanding of the role citizens need to play in the continued success of our nation.”
– Senator Dan Hughes
Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.
The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.
To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Unicameral Information Office
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion held a morning press conference on January 25th to announce that he has resigned from the Legislature. He specified that he had handed in his letter of resignation to Speaker Jim Scheer stating that his resignation would be effective at 12:01 a.m. on January 30th. This has been a pressing issue on the Legislature this session and I am glad that we are now able to put this issue behind us. I and many others had been encouraging Kintner to resign since this last summer. During floor debate, more than 20 senators rose to encourage the expulsion or resignation of Kintner. Ultimately, his resignation can be attributed to the large amount of criticism he faced from his colleagues to take responsibility for his actions and resign. I have great confidence that Governor Ricketts will make a good choice in filling the vacant seat. Eligible applicants looking to fill the vacant seat for Legislative District 2 have until January 31st at 5pm to submit their application.
The Legislature’s Executive Board has voted to create a special investigative committee to examine the challenge to whether Omaha Senator Chambers lives in his north Omaha district or resides in a different district. The special investigative committee is made up of the following seven members: Chairman Dan Watermeier, Vice Chairman John Kuehn, and members Sue Crawford, John McCollister, Kate Bolz, Speaker Jim Scheer, and myself. The committee is discussing the idea of possibly hiring an attorney/investigator from outside of the Legislature to review this matter. Depending on how the members of the special investigative committee decides to move forward, this could end up being a lengthy process.
This week the following bills: LB 182, LB 317, and LB 318, each had their own public hearing. LB 182 was heard in front of the Natural Resources Committee and has been advanced to general file. LB 317 was immediately advanced to general file following the public hearing in front of the Urban Affairs Committee. I introduced LB 318 to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and the committee has yet to take any action on the bill.
Up next, LB 275 – would provide duties for law enforcement officers and rights and duties for private property owners regarding abandoned vehicles, will have a public hearing on February 6th in the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee.
Wednesday, January 18th was the last day to introduce legislation. There were 667 bills and eighteen Constitutional Amendment’s introduced this year. I introduced eleven bills on various topics related to District 44. The entire list of introduced bills are on the Legislature’s website (www.nebraskalegislature.gov). The total number of bills introduced is slightly less than we are normally used to but I think this may be attributed to the projected budget shortfall. Several of the bills this year have been introduced before; cigarette tax increase, repealing the death penalty, hunting mountain lions, and Medicaid expansion. One of the proposed rule changes would be to minimize the ability to filibuster. The press has inferred to the public that the legislative body has increased the amount of time spent filibustering lately, but if you look back to recent history you will usually see that it is the same bills being filibustered every time. Although, it may appear that the legislative body is being combative; history will prove that we are debating several of the same issues each year.
Two bills of great interest that I have introduced are LB 537 and LB 593. LB 537 would require drug screening for applicants and recipients of welfare. This bill will be heard in front of the Health and Human Services Committee. I am looking forward to my first time before the HHS Committee. The second bill would create the offense of criminal trespass to vehicles. I worked closely with McCook Police Chief Ike Brown to ensure that this bill was done correctly the first time. I also ran it by multiple law enforcement groups in the area. This bill will be heard in front of the Judiciary Committee.
Of local importance, my next two bills LB 317 and LB 318 are scheduled to be heard in front of the Urban Affairs Committee and the Government, Military, and Veteran Affairs, respectively. LB 317 provides for a levy or reassessment of a special assessment for cities of the second class or villages. The background of this bill stems from a discovery made by the City of Imperial while reviewing statutes, that a city of the second class or village does not have the same authority as a first class city, primary class city, or metropolitan class city to re-levy or reassess a special assessment. LB 317 will give all other class of cities the authority to re-levy or reassess a special assessment. LB 318 will authorize telephone conferencing for meetings of the Nebraska Brand Committee. The state agencies that already allow the telephone conferencing are; the educational service unit, member educational service units, community college board of governors, public power district, public power and irrigation district.
If you know of a hard-working young person who will be in college in the Lincoln area during the Spring 2017 semester and who has an interest in government, policy, politics, or administration, the legislature is currently selecting for Legislative Page Positions. Pages must be high school graduates currently enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and able to work 20 hours a week from January 4, 2017 through May. It is a paid position and many Nebraska colleges offer credit for participating in the program, similar to an internship. The deadline to apply is October 3rd and the Selection Committee will conduct interviews on October 13th. We have had a few students from the 44th District who have done this in the past and I would encourage all college students to consider it. If you or someone you know might have an interest in participating, please contact my office.
I will be holding open Town Hall meetings all across the 44th district over the coming months. I will be listening to to your comments and answering your questions to ensure that I am in touch with the wishes of the people of Southwestern Nebraska. Look for dates and locations in your local paper, and on my Facebook page, located here.
Do you know a high school student with an interest in the legislative process? The Nebraska Unicameral Youth Legislature will be occurring again this year from June 5-8, in the Capitol Building in Lincoln. This is an outstanding opportunity for young Nebraskans to learn what it is like to serve as a State Senator, and to discover more about the Unicameral and Nebraska’s lawmaking process than they could in months of reading about it. The UYL is open to all high school students, and registration covers lodging, meals, and transportation. Scholarships are available, and the deadline to register is May 15th. More information is at http://nebraskalegislature.gov/uyl
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