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The legislative session kicked off on January 6th. It was nice to see colleagues that I’ve worked with before as well as getting to know some of the new or returning members. On the first day there are some procedures we must go through, such as the swearing in of newly elected members, adopting temporary rules, electing permanent officers, and the elections for leadership positions. I am pleased to announce that I was elected to Chair of the Executive Board. It is the second highest position held in the legislature and I am excited to take on this new challenge. Most of the elections were fairly uneventful. There were 3 contested elections for standing committee chairpersons. Business and Labor was between Senator Matt Hansen and Senator Ben Hansen. Senator Matt Hansen was the previous chair but was ousted by Senator Ben Hansen by one vote. The Education Committee was another close race between Senator Mike Groene, the previous chair, and Senator Lynne Walz. After there was a tie in the first round of voting someone must have switched their vote in the second round and the new chair of the committee is now Senator Lynne Walz. The last contested race was for Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, the seat was open since I did not run again. Senator Bruce Bostelman topped Senator Tim Gragert. I look forward to working with all of the new and previous chairs.
Last week we started the referencing process. This is when we assign the bills that are introduced to committees for hearings. On Day 2 there were 138 bills and 5 resolutions that needed to be assigned. On Day 3 there were 74 new bills and 1 resolution. The referencing committee will meet the next 10 days to discuss which committees are most appropriate for these bills to be assigned to.
Last Friday I introduced LBs 190 and 191. LB 190 would provide a restriction and an exception relating to distributions from the Water Sustainability Fund. LB 191 would make it easier for certain irrigation districts to find electors.
I will introduce a few more bills yet this year but I am still deciding which ones I feel should be introduced now or next year. Collectively as a legislative body, most of us have agreed to introduce fewer bills this year due to the space limitations we will have in our hearing rooms as we continue to try and protect everyone that comes in to testify.
As Chairperson of the Executive Board my office has moved. I am now located on the second floor in the southwest corner in room 2108. My phone number and my email have stayed the same (402) 471-2805 and email@example.com. You can read more about the bills at www.nebraskalegislature.gov and you can also watch the live streaming video through the NET link.