NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

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Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 25th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Suzanne Geist

This week was filled with more late night debates.

My bill, LB 166, passed the first round of debate. LB 166 creates the Josh the Otter specialty license plates to raise awareness and provide a grant through Game and Parks to teach water safety for children. I introduced this bill in memory of Joshua Collingsworth and I was excited to see it pass the first round of debate.

LR 11CA, introduced by Senator Erdman, is a constitutional amendment to create a consumption tax. This resolution changes the way Nebraskans would be taxed and it is an out-of-the-box idea. I am interested to learn more about how this resolution could have the potential to erase property and income taxes for Nebraskans.

Applications are now open for the Unicameral Youth Legislature. This is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. The time spent with the Youth Legislature can be a transformational time as young people learn how the Legislature works and how they can make a positive impact on our community and our State. I highly recommend this opportunity to any high schoolers who have an interest in public service. To learn more about the Unicameral Youth Legislature go to: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/education/unicamyouth.php.

As always, fee free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We had a few late nights this past week. The Governor signed the budget without any line item vetoes.

My bill, LB500, that clarifies offenses when electronic communication is involved, passed on final reading this week. It was sent to Governor Ricketts for him to sign it into law.

We also debated LB364, introduced by Senator Linehan, this week. LB364 would create the Opportunity Scholarships Act and provide tax credits. These scholarships would only be available to children who qualify for a free and reduced lunch. I voted in favor of LB364 because not every child learns the exact same way and if this gives a child the opportunity to excel in a private school, then I am for it.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This last week we passed the budget on the final round of debate. We are waiting to hear back if the Governor signs the budget or if he has any line item vetoes.

There was a lively discussion on the floor about my priority bill on Thursday. I prioritized Senator Breise’s LB 408 which limits the annual increase on property taxes to 3%. I prioritized LB408 because I heard from many of my constituents when I was going door-to-door that their property taxes are too high. I also hear multiple times a week in my office from constituents that their property taxes are too high. Unfortunately, 20 senators were not willing to vote yes to provide property tax relief and we were 4 votes short of passing the cloture vote.

Next week, we will be debating whether or not we should exempt the taxation of social security benefits.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We debated the budget for the second time this week. The debate lasted wo days and we were finally able to pass the budget. We are scheduled to debate the budget for the last time next Tuesday.

My bill, LB 500, that clarifies offenses when electronic communication is involved, passed the second round of debate. It only has one more round to go until it is sent to Governor Ricketts for him to sign it into law.

Next week, we will be starting late night debate. Speaker Hilgers announced that we will be going until at least 7 pm on late night debates, but we could go until 11:59 pm. Late night debates are scheduled to help us get through all of the Speaker, committee and Senator priority bills before the end of session.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

During the first session of the biennium, we debate the budget for the state for the next two years. This week we spent half our week debating the budget. I want to make sure to share that the budget included the triggers that we passed last year through LB1107 to provide more property tax relief to Nebraskans. Property taxes are too high and we are trying to do our part to help provide property tax relief.

LB274 which had my bill, LB 72, to provide mixed to go drinks amended into it passed the second round of debate. There is only one more round of debate before mixed to go drinks will be law and we will be able to provide much needed relief to small businesses.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We continued with all day debate this week and we start debating the budget next week.

Speaker Hilgers chose my bill, LB500, which provides venue for prosecution of offenses committed using an electronic communication device, as a speaker priority bill. My bill just provides clarity when crimes are committed with an electronic device. We debated it on Tuesday and it passed with 40 votes in favor of my bill.

My bill LB72, which would allow mixed to go drinks to continue after the State of Emergency ends, was officially amended into LB274. We worked with Senators John Cavanaugh, Lowe, and Briese to address Senator Cavanaugh’s concerns regarding local control when Class C, Y and I liquor licenses serve mixed to go drinks.

I have heard from many constituents and I want to remind you that tomorrow at 9am the State Board of Education will be holding a meeting at the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Lincoln. They will be listening to public comments regarding the proposed health standards. I encourage you to attend and voice your concerns.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This session is continuing to go very quickly. We have reached the point in session where we will only have time to debate the budget and Senator, Speaker and committee priority bills.

LB507 was introduced by Senator Bostelman to address the issues with AltEn Enthanol in Mead, Nebraska. The Natural Resource Committee prioritized LB507 and it was unanimously passed through the first round of debate.

The Natural Resources Committee prioritized the bill because the ethanol plant in Mead was using treated seed. Some of the residents have been having adverse health issues and this is a concern to the Legislature. LB507 would ban the use of treated seed corn in the production of ethyl alcohol to keep communities and livestock safe.

Senator Sander’s LB389 requires the issuance of teaching certificates and permits to military spouses passed on the final round of debate this week. This bill updates Nebraska’s Teacher Certification for military spouses and makes it easier for those who are teachers in military families to continue teaching when their family is transferred to Nebraska. This bill will help to keep Nebraska a military friendly state.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We started all-day debate this week and we are over half way through the 2021 session.

LB487 and LB83 were debated on the floor and made it through the first round of debate. LB487 was introduced by Senator Arch and it will make certain that insurance companies would not charge more for individuals receiving mental health assistance if they were to use telehealth services.

LB83 was introduced by Senator Flood and would amend the Open Meetings Act. This bill would allow public bodies to hold meetings using video conferencing during a state of emergency.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week was the final week of committee hearings for this year. The Judiciary Committee heard our last bill on Friday morning. We will start all day floor debate next week.

My bill, LB 72, which would allow mixed to go drinks to continue after the pandemic, was added to be a General Affairs priority bill. The bill was debated on the floor on Tuesday. There was a lively debate about the bill. Currently, I’m working with Senator John Cavanaugh to satisfy some concerns he had with the bill. I anticipate it will be on select file once we settle on that compromise language.

The Nebraska Department of Education has announced a draft proposal to change the health education standards for the state of Nebraska. Schools would start teaching children in the first grade to define gender, gender identity and gender-role stereotypes. Children in the third grade would be taught ways to “promote dignity and respect for people of all genders, gender expression and gender identity including other students, their family members, and members of the school community.” These same children would also define sexual orientation and discuss the range of ways people express their gender and how gender-role stereotypes may influence behavior. Children in fourth grade will be asked to differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity and distinguish between sex assigned at birth and gender identity and how they may or may not differ. Children in sixth grade will be asked to define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive and gender identity and define sexual identity and explain a range of identities related to sexual orientation.

If educators are adequately teaching good character then there is no reason to teach young children different sexual orientations with the goal of being inclusive. They do not need to be taught what adults do behind closed doors to learn kindness and to be inclusive. These are adult concerns that do not need our public school educators to champion in elementary classrooms.

I encourage you to contact your local State Board of Education member to vocalize any concerns that you may have. You can also submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We wrapped up the last week of all day hearings. There were some days that the Judiciary Committee heard 11 bills. Next week, we will be having floor debates in the mornings and the Judiciary Committee will continue to finish up our hearings in the afternoons.

I was honored to once again be voted the Chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee. This committee audits different parts of statutes to make sure agencies are following the intent of bills after they become laws. Right now our committee is working on an audit of correctional services. There was a question with the prison overcrowding and why more inmates were not being paroled even though they are given the opportunity for parole when they have completed clinical programming. Though we found these programs to be highly accessible, 70% of inmates failed to complete these programs due to behavior issues or termination from the program. This information will be very helpful as we move forward to solve prison overcrowding issues and find solutions for shortcomings in our programs. Feel free to read more about the report here: nebraksalegislature.gov/reports/audit.php

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25
Room 2000
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2731
Email: sgeist@leg.ne.gov
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