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Now that we are past Labor Day the legislature’s interim hearings start to gear up. Most interim hearings occur here in Lincoln at the state capitol, but as Chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee, it is important to me to occasionally have interim hearings outside of Lincoln. In the coming weeks, the Natural Resources Committee will be traveling to western Nebraska for their first hearing to discuss LR 142. It is an interim study to examine any matter concerning the Game and Parks Commission. It will be held on Wednesday, September 18, at 9:00 am (MT) at the Western Nebraska Community College, Harms Advanced Technology Center located at 2026 College Park in Scottsbluff.
The following day on Thursday, September 19, in McCook at the Mid-Plains Community College in McMillen Hall, Room 213 located at 1205 E. 3rd St. in McCook. We will have two hearings; the first will be LR 114, beginning at 9:00 am (CT). It is a legislative resolution to examine the conditions under which the board of directors of the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Enhancement Project (NCORPE) and the Rock Creek augmentation project may dispose of real property each owns related to the projects.
Then at 11:00 am (CT), we will have a second hearing on LR 142 to examine any matter concerning the Game and Parks Commission. During my years of serving as your Senator, the second most brought up issue after property taxes is Game and Parks management of deer. I continue to have calls every week about the deer damage caused by the large number of deer in our area. Landowners, this will be your chance to come and tell me and my fellow Senators of the challenges you face and hopefully your thoughts on how to handle this problem. Game and Park’s leadership will be there and listening as well. I hope you will come and give us and them your thoughts. I have tried working with G&P on solutions for 5 years and have made very little headway. I am hoping with a good turnout and lots of input we will be able to come up with solutions that will make up for some of the damage the states wildlife population is causing to landowners.
The public is welcome to attend and testify at any of these hearings. You can view the calendar for all upcoming hearings on the legislature’s website, www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
I want to remind everyone that if you know of any college students who may be interested in getting involved in the legislature I would encourage them to apply to work as a page for the 2020 legislative session. Legislative pages do a variety of jobs in the legislature such as: assisting the presiding officer, assisting committee staff, running errands for the senators, etc. The deadline for submitting applications and letters of recommendation will be Friday, October 4, 2019, at 5:00 pm (CT), do not wait until the last minute because a letter of recommendation from my office will also need to be included in the application. Please contact my office if you have any questions, 402-471-2805.
Since the 2017 Legislature sine die I have been spending my time traveling throughout the 44th legislative district and one of the most frequently asked questions I have received is what the senator’s do during the interim. Although we are not spending our time debating on the legislative floor, I can assure you we are still hard at work. Our typical day consists of everything from speaking engagements, meetings with constituents in our districts, representing our districts at fairs and in parades, interim hearings and studies, to meeting with groups that have ideas for potential legislation.
During the month of June, I spent a lot of my time speaking at different events in the district. My first stop was in the City of Alma for an Open House and Dedication of the Alma Municipal Airport Terminal Building. That weekend I walked in the Palisade Pioneer Days Parade and kicked off a busy week by meeting with the Red Willow County Commissioners. The next day I traveled to McCook for a town talk over breakfast at Sehnert’s with the chamber followed by coffee with a cop and then wrapped up the day by meeting with the Furnas County Commissioners. I then started my weekend by walking in the Medicine Creek Days parade. Toward the end of June the LR 127 committee kicked off its correctional facility tours.
The first few weeks of July I have been spending time at my family farm harvesting which has taken up the majority of my days. Over the fourth of July, I stopped at the Culbertson celebration for breakfast and then went to Arapahoe for their annual parade. After a few days off, I traveled back to Arapahoe to speak at the Nebraska Health Care Central District meeting. I also joined Governor Ricketts this past week on a tour of the American Agricultural Lab Ag Testing facility. The rest of the month I will be busy attending parades and fairs in Dundy County and Perkins County, as well as, the Gosper County Fair in Elwood and others in the district.
At the beginning of August I will begin to spend more time in Lincoln for the LR 127 Committee Tour’s. During this time in Lincoln I have many appointments scheduled with different groups and lobbyists that want to discuss potential legislation.
We have started all day debate and even though this session got off to a slow start we’re starting to get a lot of bills moving. This past week my bill LB 182 was debated on the floor of the legislature. This bill would clarify the qualifications for a program that provides financial assistance to cities and rural water districts to build safe drinking water projects. Also this week the legislature heard two more of my bills, LB 535 and LB 317. LB 535 provides an exception for filing a statement with the register of deeds when recording an oil, gas, or mineral lease. LB 317 provides for a re-levy or reassessment of a special assessment for cities of the second class or village. All of these bills were advanced to select file.
This week, the Natural Resources Committee’s two priority bills advanced to the next stage of debate. LB 566, which would enter Nebraska into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact and strengthen penalties for Game Law violations, and LB 182, which helps cities and natural resource districts that run public water systems to qualify for funding and loan forgiveness from the state’s drinking water loan fund. The bill did not add new funds, it just clarified that NRDs are eligible for the available federal funding. Both of these laws will help Nebraska by providing additional tools to keep bad actors from hunting here, and by ensuring public water systems, and the NRDs who run them, are able to use federal funds available for their upkeep.
Another bill to help NRDs did not fare as well this week. Sen. Friesen’s LB 98 would extend the sunset date of the law that allows a three cent levy authority for districts that are fully or over appropriated until 2026. The levy can only be used for groundwater management and integrated management activities. The bill was filibustered by senators who do not understand the value of helping NRDs fund the water management tasks that are needed to help them out of their appropriation statuses. This is an important tool to generate matching funds revenue to access the state’s Water Sustainability Fund.
I had the opportunity this week to take some of my staff along with me to Imperial for a portion of the Upper Republican NRD’s water conference. While it was a long time in the car on one day, I was pleased that we were able to travel through the district, so my staff could see the area I proudly represent.
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
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
The 104th Legislature, Second Session, convened on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016. This is the “short session,” making up the second half of the 104th Legislature, of which the 2015 Session was the first. These session lengths are set by the Nebraska Constitution, requiring sixty day sessions in even-numbered years and ninety day sessions in odd-numbered years. The sixty days and ninety days are counted by working days, and not by calendar days, so sixty working days for the legislature will have us adjourning on April 20th.
This session, I will continue to serve on the Executive Board and the Natural Resources, General Affairs and Urban Affairs Committees, and I will serve as the Chairman of the Building and Maintenance Committee. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find common sense solutions to the issues that we face here in Nebraska. As of today (Thursday, January 7th), I have introduced three bills, and will introduce a few more in the coming days. The last day for Senators to introduce bills this session is Wednesday, January 20th. As always, all of my bills can be found by clicking on “Bills Introduced” under “Resources” on the bar to the right of this page.
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. Contact information is located in the upper-right hand corner of this page.
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