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When I went door to door as a candidate in 2012, one of the top concerns that voters raised was the need to fix or end the Learning Community. As I learned more about the issue it became clear to me that the top priorities were needed to end the common levy to target funding to children in poverty schools, and to reduce transportation costs. We started the reduction of transportation costs last year with a bill brought by Senator Smith. This year, after four years of work with fellow senators and school districts, we passed a bill to end the common levy, to direct funding to improved achievement for students, and to phase out the costly open-enrollment transportation policy. LB 1067 was an important bipartisan effort. My roles were working closely with the chair of the Education Committee, Sen. Sullivan and coordinating the counting of votes for the bill’s passage. The bill now sits on the Governor’s desk. Hopefully we will be able to report that it is signed into law in our next Update. Click here to read the Omaha World Herald’s coverage.
Military Commission Passes Final Read, Awaiting Governor’s Signature
The Legislature passed LB 754 on Final Reading this week. LB 754 was my personal priority bill this session. It establishes the Commission on Military and Veteran Affairs and creates a point person to work with the Governor to assist the state in attracting and retaining missions at our military installations and to help leverage economic development in our communities tied to these installations. The commission and the military liaison created by LB 754 ensures Nebraska is in the best position to protect our military installations and bring in new missions that will benefit our entire state. I am please that my colleagues joined me in supporting this legislation and I look forward to this bill becoming law.
Recap of 2015-16 Biennium in Urban Affairs
With the Governor signing LB 1012 into law this week, seventeen bills heard by the Urban Affairs Committee have been enacted during the 2016 legislative session. Combined with the thirteen Urban Affairs bills that passed last session, it’s been a productive biennium for the committee!
Committee Chairs play a key role in the legislative process, working with senators to ensure that bills advanced by the committee move forward during floor debate. As Chair of the Urban Affairs Committee for the last two years, I am pleased with the success that the committee has had this biennium. The committee advanced 31 of 39 bills that were heard by it during the two-year cycle, and of those bills that were advanced, just one failed to become law – a more than 96% success rate.
Major Urban Affairs legislation that has been enacted over the past two years includes bills to update the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB 1059), authorize the expansion of existing business improvement districts (LB 168), update the state building code (LB 540) and local building code adoption process (LB 704), and reform the process by which a sanitary and improvement district (SID) is annexed by a municipality (LB 131).
In addition, the committee has begun the process of updating and modernizing statutes governing municipalities. Much of the current language in the municipal statutes have not been amended since Nebraska statutes were recodified in 1943, and some may even date back to the late 1800s. This session, the committee updated the statutes governing cities of the first class (LB 705), and legislation to update other classes of municipality will be introduced in the coming years.
Meeting with Department of Roads
I had a productive meeting this week with 93 residents of the Normandy Hills and Fairview Roads area and Tim Weander from the Nebraska Department of Roads. This meeting came about after constituents contacted me with questions and concerns about road construction in the area. Residents had good questions and NE DOR shared important information about what they are doing in the area.
I had a wonderful time speaking with 4th grade students from Betz Elementary, Birchcrest Elementary and St. Mary’s/St. Matthews schools this week. As always, these students had great questions and lots of enthusiasm as they learned about our state government and toured our beautiful Capitol.
All my best,