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Legislature Resumes January 3rd
The 2nd session of the 105th Legislature will begin on January 3rd. As in all even-numbered years, the upcoming session will be sixty days long (you can see the tentative 2018 calendar here). The start of session also means that I will transition back to sending out my email updates on a weekly basis rather than monthly, so that you can receive the latest news about what is happening in committee hearings and on the legislative floor.
Economic Development Taskforce
The Economic Development Taskforce met on November 3rd to hold our final public hearing for 2017. The meeting began with a panel discussion on Tax Increment Financing (TIF), focusing on the opportunities and challenges of using that tool. A panel discussion with City of Lincoln Director of Urban Development Dave Landis, Open Sky Policy Institute Director Renee Fry, and Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis addressed a number of issues including transparency and evaluating return on investment. After the panel, Department of Economic Development Director Courtney Dentlinger and Department of Labor Commissioner John Albin joined us for a broader review of the topics covered by the Taskforce this summer and fall.
The Taskforce is required by statute to produce a report outlining economic development priorities by the end of this year. In December, Taskforce members will meet to discuss the report draft. Once it has been approved, the report will be available here under “Select/Special Committees.”
Federal Child Welfare Report
This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services completed a multi-phased review of the child and family services provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Similar reviews were conducted in 2002 and 2008. These reviews allow the state to identify areas of improvement and growth, specifically in the areas of safety and performance. A final report on this review was just released, and my office will be going through the report thoroughly to understand our state’s performance and what actions the Legislature may need to take to support the Department as they work to fulfill the recommendations made. The final report can be found here.
Legislative Council Meeting
On November 16th and 17th the full Legislature met at UNL’s East Campus to talk about the upcoming session and some of the issues that we will likely address in 2018. The Legislative Council provides a forum for us to discuss issues that we will be addressing in the next session without the focus on debating a particular bill or amendment. We had briefings on the budget shortfall, the justice oversight committee (their report will be out in December), the economic development task force, the legislative performance audit analysis of our Advantage Act tax incentives, water issues, and demographic trends that we need to consider as we plan for our future.
2018 Bill Meetings
With the 2018 session nearly here, my office spent much of November meeting with stakeholders to discuss bills in the draft process. Before a bill is introduced, I try to meet with key groups that will be impacted by the bill or who have a part to play in carrying out the bill to get their suggestions and feedback. This week I met with the Human Resources Association of the Midlands to discuss the potential administrative implications of one of the bills that I am planning to introduce. This feedback allows me to make changes to the legislation before it is introduced so that it functions more effectively on the ground if it is passed.
Sarpy Chamber Award
This year I was honored to be named the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce’s Elected Official of the Year. It was a pleasure to join the Sarpy Chamber at their annual awards dinner on November 14th, and to celebrate the business and community leaders who do so much work to make Sarpy County a wonderful place to live and work. Congratulations to all the other awardees, and thanks to the Sarpy Chamber for their work!
Fellow Sarpy Chamber honorees and Chamber staff: (back row) Tim Conrad, Maury Salz, Jim Masters, Mark Vanderheiden, Karen Gibler, (front row) Travis Castle, Shelby Rust, me, Joanne Carlberg, and Gina Vanderheiden
MHEC Annual Commission Meeting
November 12th-14th I travelled to Kansas City for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s Annual Commission Meeting. MHEC is a collaborative interstate compact dedicated to promoting higher educational opportunities in the Midwest. The annual meeting brings together representatives from all 12 member states to discuss what their educational strategies and some of the challenges they face. Gathering everyone together allows state representatives to share ideas and information to help advance educational excellence across MHEC members.
Bellevue Veterans Parade
Nebraska’s Official Veterans Parade was held on November 11th, and as usual it was a wonderful event. It was wonderful to walk with our 2017 Grand Marshall, Corporal Robert D Holts, and honor all the other veterans in our community.
Holiday Office Closures
The Legislature will be closed on December 25th (Christmas Day) and January 1st (New Year’s Day). Warmest wishes to you all!
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All the best,