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As your newly elected Senator, it is an honor to represent the people of the 48th District in the Nebraska Legislature. It is my intention to serve you, the people of Scotts Bluff County, to the best of my ability as your representative in Lincoln.
The first day of the Legislature was packed with pomp and ceremony followed by the critical organizational decisions. Elections for key leadership positions were held and members were assigned to committees for the next two years. On the second day, the constitutional officers were sworn into office and our new Governor, Pete Ricketts, presented his message focusing on property tax reduction and economic development.
The Legislature’s Committee on Committees has assigned me to the Appropriations Committee. Members of the Appropriations Committee cannot serve on other committees because of the time commitment involved to review the state’s budget in detail. The Appropriations Committee conducts business daily until March and repeatedly deliberates the budget into the evenings to make its deadline. As a retired Certified Public Accountant and financial manager, I hope to use my skills and experience to help craft the state’s budget.
This year the Appropriations Committee faces the formidable task of reviewing substantial requests for additional funding such as: The Omaha Public School District is requesting another $20 million to eliminate the Metro Omaha learning community; the University of Nebraska is requesting another $28 million; and the Prison and Correction System is requiring at least $33 million to address overcrowding.
In addition, my goal is to be involved in all issues that would impact on the people of District 48. I need your help to provide your thoughts. Your input is very important to me. I will be voting on the controversial issues such as taxes, spending for the education of our children, and spending on services provided by the State. Perhaps the biggest issues of the year that must be addressed are new programs that allow the release of convicts to reduce prison overcrowding.
Your positions are very important to me. My contact information is: Senator John Stinner, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, Phone (402) 471-2802. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
My staff will help you. In order to help me, I have hired two experienced staff members: Jennifer Svehla is my administrative aide. Jennifer served in this role for former Senator John Harms. Jennifer is the key person to contact about my schedule. Roger Keetle is my legislative aide. Roger has served as a legislative aide for former Senators Joel Johnson and John Wightman. Senator Wightman left the legislature because of term limits. Roger’s duties include helping constituents with issues or problems they are having with state government.
You have a voice. Everybody’s opinion is invited and welcome. People often stop themselves from speaking about issues that matter to them because they think no one will listen or care. Nothing could be further from the truth. I care about what you think. It is my job.
You are a most influential “lobbyist.” When people hear the word “lobbyist,” they think of someone lurking in the Capitol’s hallways and rotunda representing rich corporations. However, nearly every public official will tell you that it is individual voters, their constituents, who have the most influence on decision making process. Every issue that comes before the Legislature is discussed on its merits by people representing may different points of view. For our representative democracy to succeed, while preserving our personal freedoms, we must each participate as fully as we can.
You can participate. Educate yourself about what your Legislature is doing. You can follow the Nebraska Legislature on the Nebraska Educational Network—NET 2, and even more information is found on the Nebraska Legislature’s web site Nebraskalegislature.gov. This web site has copies of all the introduced bills, the public hearing dates on all bills, and the agenda for floor debate, etc. Nebraska Public Television also video streams over the web committee hearings and the debate of bills on the Legislative Floor. Actions of the Nebraska Legislature are public and open to everyone across the State. I invite your participation and welcome your views.