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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you were able to enjoy our beautiful fall weather.
I have continued to attend hearings, meetings, and conferences as the interim comes to a close. I want to share some of the events I have been involved with over the last few months, and I will also tell you a little bit about what to expect from our office in the coming session.
There has been a lot to do in your Legislature’s Education Committee this interim we have met multiple times in the past few months to discuss several topics, such as how lottery funding is distributed across various educational programs and what recent assessment data says about our students’ progress during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the committee has the responsibility of following up on several bills the Legislature passed last session to make sure they are being implemented efficiently. We discussed Legislative Bill 1112 at one meeting (also known as the Computer Science and Technology Education Act). The Legislature passed this bill last session to help promote STEM fields to our young Nebraskans as they choose careers. Our meeting was spent discussing specifics, such as what this graduation requirement would look like. The important thing to know here is that we are not deciding how the law is implemented-instead, we are listening to the Department of Education to discuss concerns and bounce ideas off of one another in areas of the law that weren’t laid out specifically.
We also held hearings on interim studies. Senators introduce interim studies so that experts in a specific field can come testify before the committee without a specific bill to discuss. For example, we participated in a hearing about LR 373 to discuss the feasibility of developing a policy and implementing a statewide process for “awarding college credit in specific programs of study across all public educational institutions for military education and training.” That’s a lot of words, but the focus of the meeting was to discuss ways to recognize education and training earned in the armed services so they can still be useful when someone leaves the service.
In November I attended the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Policy Retreat. The Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans from government overreach and abuse. We discussed regulatory reform and the separation of powers on a broad scale, but we also discussed specific reforms and solutions. These conferences are a great way to listen to legislators across the country and learn a little about new approaches to familiar problems.
I also attended the Legislative Council meeting in mid-November. This meeting is an opportunity for the body to meet our new incoming members, discuss what we can expect for the coming session, and bounce ideas off of each other. Specifically, we discussed implementation of Senator Wayne’s North and South Omaha Recovery proposals passed by the Legislature last session. We also briefly touched on the Interim Ethics Committee’s work on crafting a new Code of Conduct for the body.
I am honored to have been selected by Governor-Elect Jim Pillen to sit on his School Finance Reform Committee. The Governor-to-be campaigned on fixing our school finance system so that the state doesn’t pick winners or losers in how we fund our schools.
Why is this important? Well, Nebraska has some of the highest property taxes in the country. A large part of that is due to the outdated way we fund our education system, called the TEEOSA formula. I am honored that Governor-Elect Pillen chose me to sit on this committee, and I look forward to working with the committee to find common ground to reform our state aid to schools. Reforming the TEEOSA formula is a key part of fixing our property tax system and to provide a brighter future for Nebraska students.
I will be attending one final conference before the session begins. The Council of State Governments hosts an annual conference where state legislators can meet together and discuss the various policy issues of our day. Important issues to be discussed will include interstate compacts, sharing natural resources, modernizing the electric grid, health care innovation, tackling the affordable housing crisis, and inclusive policy making.
I look forward to the 108th Nebraska Legislative Session and welcoming our newly elected Senators and Governor-Elect Pillen. I anticipate a productive session and lively debates. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2023!
If you have questions or concerns we welcome constituents to contact the office by telephone: (402) 471-2615 or through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org