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We have reached the end of the First Session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature! It has been a seemingly long session that included all-day hearings and intense floor debate. I want to thank all of you, my constituents, for keeping in touch with my office during the year – your calls and emails made an impact on how I worked through my first session in the Unicameral.
Just today, senators finished their year’s work and adjourned Sine Die – this means that we are finished until our special session in the fall for redistricting. Redistricting is the process in which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn to accommodate for the growth in Nebraska every 10 years.
Over the past two weeks, we discussed and debated dozens of bills brought by colleagues – on many occasions, we worked until the wee hours. As you may know, each bill goes through three stages – General File, Select File and Final Reading. We spent much of our time in the past months focusing on General File bills. Our final weeks consisted of following those bills through Select File and Final Reading to send to the Governor’s Desk, and our final day focused on veto override motions.
Last month, we listened to eight hours of debate on Senator Anna Wishart’s LB 474, calling to adopt the Medicinal Cannabis Act. This topic of discussion allowed for great debate on both sides. This is an issue that a federal government should handle, and Congress should take a long look at removing marijuana from the Class 1 schedule classification. LB 474 failed to get the 33 votes needed for cloture in order to advance to the next round of debate. I commend Senator Anna Wishart for the hard work and dedication she put into this bill. LB 474 failed to gain cloture, and it will not advance to Select File.
This session was very unique, and we faced many special challenges. COVID-19 made for a very different session, such as plexiglass between Senators on the floor and other accommodations for COVID-19 restrictions for the senators, staff, and the public. However, I am happy to say that as the first session winds down, the body was able to continue serving the State of Nebraska, without interruption.
I am pleased with the progress my office and I have made over the last months. Five out of my seven bills have been passed and signed into law this session, including my priority bill, LB 389. My legislation stretched across many topics, from government transparency and privacy rights to flexibility for homestead exemption applications and cemetery association membership. Despite the hostility and harshness that can become so common in politics, I am proud of how much our office has accomplished.
Thanks to Senator Tom Brewer’s leadership, I am thrilled to say that LB 387, a bill I proudly cosponsor, has been signed by the Governor! This bill exempts 100% of military retirement pay from Nebraska income tax. This is nothing short of amazing. This is one of the bills that will directly benefit Bellevue-Offutt and surrounding communities and will have a positive economic impact. Our state has lagged behind on efforts like these until today. This bill is a great way to recruit and retain veterans to make a home in our wonderful state, add to the qualified workforce and also thank them for years of dedicated service to our country.
Here is legislation that I co-sponsored/introduced that affect Bellevue:
– LB 389, which I introduced on behalf of the Governor, that will give temporary permits to military spouse teachers seeking reciprocity certification, and will speed up the certification process;
– LB 5 by Senator Blood encourages schools to become military-friendly and seek Purple Star status;
– LB 9 by Senator Blood will grow Bellevue by changing annexation requirements.
In these upcoming weeks, my staff and I will be assessing our priorities for the next legislative session. Additionally, Senators will be involved in interim studies to look at specific issues or data collection. These studies are done by legislative committees following adjournment. I have signed onto Senator Joh Arch’s LR 239, an interim study that examines the effectiveness of Medicaid waivers in Nebraska overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. Nebraska’s waiting list for citizens for developmental disabilities has been discussed for many hours this year, and I support Chairman Arch and the HHS Committee’s efforts to discuss solutions and improvements. Additionally, I am serving on the LR 29 Special Committee.
Have a wonderful summer!