NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at sgeist@leg.ne.gov

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 we debated a few bills on general and select file in the morning before committee hearings.

I introduced LB166 to create the “Josh the Otter Be-Safe Around Water” specialty license plates in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this week. This was brought to me by Blake & Kathy Collingsworth who established a memorial in memory of the loss of their son, Joshua, in a drowning accident. Their mission is to teach water safety to young children. Water accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. The proceeds from the license plates would be used by Game and Parks to provide grants to non-profits in the state to teach children about water safety.

LB167 which protects religious freedoms as prescribed and provides for certain tort claims was heard in the Judiciary Committee this week. Religious organizations are a vital part of the health and welfare of our state. I brought this bill because I saw what has happened in other states this past year. Religious organizations were treated differently than other organizations and businesses. The religious organizations faced more restrictions, and this concerned me. This bill does not regulate or change the government’s ability to protect public health and safety, but it simply seeks to ensure neutral health, safety and occupancy requirements on all businesses and services during a state of emergency, natural disaster or pandemic.

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

I am on the Judiciary Committee and we had some long days for hearings. Next week, we will have floor debate one morning and all day hearings the rest of the week. I would like to share with you two more of my bills and the reason why I introduced them.

While talking with owners of local bars and restaurants in my district it was no surprise to hear that they had been hit hard by the pandemic. Most of these businesses were able to stay open thanks to the Executive Order allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to go. This is why I introduced LB72, which would allow establishments with Class C and Class I liquor licenses to sell mixed drinks to go. It will no doubt take time for businesses to recover after the pandemic and this bill would help do that. I would like to thank everyone that came to testify in favor of this bill. The support was overwhelming.

My bill LB74 will sunset the Microenterprise Tax Credit Act. The money that would come from the elimination of the Microenterprise Tax Credit Act would be used towards the Department of Economic Development for the Business Innovation Act. I introduced this bill last year because a constituent of mine was able to successfully start a business thanks to the funding and help she received from Invest Nebraska. I have talked to other startups that have received funding from Invest Nebraska and they all agree that their businesses would not be where they are today without the start up funding. These startup businesses create high paying jobs and help stop the brain drain in Nebraska.


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 have had all day hearings in the Legislature this past week. I would like to update you on two of the bills that had hearings this week.

I brought LB73 to help the Lancaster Event Center and subsequently other Ag Societies in Nebraska where racetracks are present. Seventy percent of Nebraska’s Gambling Tax Revenue goes to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. Of the remaining 20% that is split between the city and county, 10% will go to the local Ag Society. My bill would help the Lancaster County Event Center by giving them a steady stream of revenue in order to keep their property maintained for the many events they host.

My bill LB663 would provide a highlight or flag in the NCJIS (Nebraska Criminal Justice Reform System) to make 911 dispatchers aware if someone has been adjudicated mentally ill. This will help law enforcement provide someone going through a mental health crisis the help they need!

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

The One Hundred Seventh Legislature, First Session started on Wednesday. I am happy to share that I have been assigned to the Executive Board and the Judiciary and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees. So far this week, my colleagues and I have introduced 212 bills.

The Legislature has been focused on electing leadership for the next Biennium, assigning senators to committees and introducing new bills.

I have introduced 5 bills this week. LB72 will provide for the sale of alcoholic liquor not in its original package. I introduced this bill to help the local small businesses who have been hurt by the pandemic. This bill will allow the sale of mixed to go drinks to continue, but they will have to be in a sealed container and adhere to other restrictions.

LB73 will direct a portion of the proceeds from the Nebraska Racetrack Gaming Act to county agricultural societies. This bill will allocate ten percent of the tax revenues from casino gambling on racetracks to the local agricultural societies.

LB74 will eliminate the funding for the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act and state intent regarding use of the funds. The bill will allocate $2 million to the Business Innovation Act and help small startup companies in the state.

LB166 will create the Josh the Otter-Be Safe Around Water plates. The proceeds from these plates will help to teach water safety to children.

LB167 will protect religious freedoms. I introduced this bill to make sure that religious organizations are not treated differently than non-religious businesses and organizations during any future State of Emergencies.

I look forward to providing you with a weekly legislative update at the end of the week this 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.

The 2nd session of the 106th Legislature came to an end yesterday. It was not an easy session, but I am happy to inform you that my priority bill, LB814, passed on final reading yesterday. 33 senators agreed that the barbaric practice of tearing a live baby apart limb by limb needed to end. Thank you to all of the senators that helped me pass this bill.

We also debated and passed LB1107 which contained a compromise of many different bills that includes: property tax relief, retaining jobs in Nebraska, providing job training and included parts of the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. Although it’s not all of what any of us wanted, it is a step forward. Many of my constituents and Nebraskans have contacted me about this bill asking us to provide property tax relief and to ensure that we keep Nebraska competitive while attracting businesses to our State.

Lastly, my bill, LB975, was amended into LB1148 and was signed by the Governor into law on August 6th. LB975 brought the state of Nebraska into compliance with federal regulations regarding Child Protective Services/Adult Protective Services. Nebraska risked losing over $500,000 in Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act funding each fiscal year until we amended our statutes. I brought this bill on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Thank you for staying caught up with me during this most unusual session. I wish you all Godspeed and all the best as we enter the Fall season.

The Legislature has debated many important issues this past week.

On Wednesday morning, the Legislature debated the last three hours of my priority bill, LB814, which would end the barbaric practice of ripping a live baby apart limb by limb. During the first part of the debate, other senators had stood up for a point of personal privilege and asked to suspend the rules to try to debate the property tax relief bill instead of my priority bill. It was a little chaotic because senators were not sure how to get their name on the list to speak about my bill and not suspending the rules. Due to all of the chaos, we were not able to get to a compromise amendment that I had worked so hard on with a couple other senators. Thankfully, we were able to vote on cloture which would bring my bill to a vote shortly after the noon hour. I needed 33 votes for cloture and 34 senators voted for the cloture motion. My priority bill will be debated next week on select file.

We debated the property tax relief bill on Wednesday after noon and after many hours of debate the bill passed the first round of debate. We will be debating the bill on the second round of debate next week.

Yesterday, the Governor signed the budget bill without any line item vetos. I’m excited to say my bill, LB1017, to create a pilot program specialty court for mental health courts was included in the budget bill and was signed into law.

The Legislature was officially called back into session on Monday after the Speaker paused the Legislature on March 25th.

On Tuesday evening, we debated my motion to pull my priority bill out of the Judiciary Committee so that the whole Legislature could debate the bill. I would like to share with you a little about my priority bill and why I filed a pull motion.

LB814 is a bill that would ban the practice of pulling apart a living human being in the womb (weeks 12-24 of pregnancy) limb by limb, until it bleeds to death and is removed from the womb piece by piece. This is often referred to as a dismemberment abortion. At the stage of development when this procedure is performed, a preborn baby has a beating heart, fully developed arms and legs, and can swallow, yawn, hiccup, and smile.

Though not very common in Nebraska, this is the most common method of second trimester abortion in the country. However, in Nebraska in 2019, there were 6 dismemberment abortions performed in Nebraska out of 181 second trimester abortions.

Unfortunately, despite compelling testimony and broad support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the Judiciary committee was at an impasse. There were not enough votes to send the bill to the floor or enough votes to kill the bill. After discussion with the committee chairman, Senator Steve Lathrop, I decided to file a Pull Motion. A Pull Motion requires 25 votes, and if successfully passed would allow the bill to be debated on the floor of the Legislature. Out of respect to the chairman and the committee process, I informed Senator Lathrop of my motion. Pull Motions are not very common, and should not be common. But this was the perfect instance for me to use a pull motion.

The debate on the pull motion went on for over 2 hours and at the end of the debate, my pull motion passed with 30 votes in favor of debating my bill on the floor. Hopefully, we will be able to debate my bill on the floor early next week.

On a less positive note, some of my colleagues have not been very collegial this week. There were many accusations and insinuations that were not true and very disrespectful. We have been debating some contentious issues, but we all must continue to treat each other with respect. Speaker Scheer adjourned early today so that we could all go home and take time with our families. Hopefully, we can come back next week rested and ready to treat each other with the respect that each one of us deserves.

We continued to debate Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bills this week.

I would like to share an update with you on my priority bill, LB814 which would ban the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortions during the second trimester. On Wednesday, I filed a motion to pull my bill out of the Judiciary Committee so that we could discuss it on the floor. A pull motion is a way for a Senator to request that the Legislature decide a bill that is stuck at an impasse in Committee will be debated by the Legislature.

I respect the Judiciary Committee and did not want to have to file a pull motion. After talking with the committee chair, I learned that the committee was at an impasse and they did not have the votes needed to pass my bill out of committee and they did not have the votes to kill my bill in committee. LB814 is my priority bill and I would like to see the Legislature discuss it on the floor. I also believe the citizens of Nebraska deserve to hear the details of my bill. I will need 25 votes to pass the pull motion and I will continue to keep you updated on the progress of LB814.

My bill, LB1017 which appropriates funds to the Supreme Court to create a pilot program for a mental health court was added to this year’s budget. We debated the budget yesterday for many hours and I am happy to say that the budget passed the first round of debate with my bill included in 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.

We continued to debate Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bills this week. There were quite a few filibusters again this week, but we passed a few bills that I strongly support.

Yesterday, my bill LB944 which makes changes to the provisions relating to motor vehicles was passed on Select File. The Transportation and Telecommunications committee had chosen my bill as the committee priority bill. Now that it was passed on select file, it will move to final reading before it is sent to the Governor for his approval.

On Thursday, we discussed Senator Albrecht’s priority bill. LB1186 requires salary to be paid to injured school employees as prescribed. The bill will allow schools to provide injury leave to employees if they are physically injured and have to miss school. Currently, a teacher or employee is required to use vacation time to see a doctor if they are assaulted during the school day. The injury leave will cover the gap between when an employee was assaulted and when worker’s compensation benefits starts.

We debated Senator Bostelman’s bill, LB832 on Wednesday. LB832 will provide immunity from civil liability for entering a vehicle to remove a child. This bill was a Speaker priority bill.

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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