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People occasionally ask me what I do as a Nebraska State Senator when the Legislature is out of session. Well, there is a lot more to being a Nebraska State Senator than simply debating bills on the floor of the Legislature, holding public hearings, and voting. So, today I would like to introduce you to some of the off season duties of being a Nebraska State Senator.
Bills are always written when the Legislature is out of session. All bills must be introduced during the first ten days of the legislative session, so there is no time for writing bills during the session. I like to begin the bill writing process by first listening to my constituents, not the lobbyists, so that I introduce the kind of legislation folks in the Panhandle care about most. Once I decide on an idea, though, that is when the real grunt work of study and research begins. This year I have devoted a lot of my time to researching agricultural land valuation reform. Once again, my bill will change agricultural land valuations from the current market based system to a productivity system, making the process much more fair and equitable.
As a Nebraska State Senator I represent the district even when the Legislature is not in session. So, I occasionally get called upon to give speeches, present awards, and give interviews. Earlier this month, for example, I delivered a speech at the dedication of the new historical marker commemorating the crossing of the Northern Cheyenne over the South Platte River. While these kinds of activities certainly represent the lighter side of being a Nebraska State Senator, they are not the most rewarding thing I do during the off season.
The most rewarding thing I do during the off season is helping people. For instance, as a Nebraska State Senator, I have had the privilege of helping several Medicaid patients get the services and care they need, which can be a difficult task for someone who is sick or disabled. Speaking of the disabled, because one concerned disabled constituent notified me about the condition of the restrooms at the Bridgeport State Recreation Area, the Game & Parks department will soon be making them compliant with the Americans for Disabilities Act.
I recently had the privilege of helping a trucker get his birth certificate so that he could renew his license. He needed it right way; otherwise, he would not be able to work. Because the State’s Vital Records department had been reduced down to only one employee the process of obtaining birth certificates had slowed to a crawl. Working with DHHS, we were able to get him pushed up to the front of the line, so that he could go back to work.
I have also had the privilege of helping several Nebraskans living in the Panhandle resolve some of their difficult issues with the Department of Transportation. These problems have ranged from placing signage on private property along scenic highways, to providing driveways for residential and truck traffic, and even building an exit ramp to access a gas station when road construction was being done on I-80. Working with the Department of Transportation, we were also able re-open the railroad crossing at Lodgepole after it had been closed for 30 days, and we’ve been able to keep the Duel County Minibus up and running.
These are just some of the different ways I have been able to help the constituents of district 47. However, I know that the constituents of district 47 need property tax relief more than anything else. Therefore, over the summer I met with Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom to inaugurate a new citizen led petition drive to put a property tax relief initiative on the 2020 ballot. This ballot initiative is a constitutional amendment which will allow each property owner to claim a 35% property tax credit or refund on their Nebraska State income tax return. I will also introduce a similar resolution in the Legislature in January.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Senator. I will continue to serve the people of district 47 by looking for even more common sense ways to turn the good life into the great life.
Finally, don’t forget to vote on November 6!