NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Dan Hughes

Sen. Dan Hughes

District 44

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Last week a total of 89 bills were named either a senator or a committee priority bill.  If priority bills are advanced out of committee they will have a better chance of being heard on the legislative floor this year.  The speaker also named 25 bills as speaker priority bills.  This may sound like a lot of bills and although some of these bills are controversial, most are not.

Another route to get a bill on the floor for debate is to ask the Speaker for a bill to be put on the consent calendar.  Consent calendar bills have to be non controversial, must not make many changes to statutes, must be advanced out of committee without any dissenting votes, and the bill must not have a general fund impact.  Consent calendar bills are an avenue to get bills on the floor that are primarily cleanup legislation or bills that aren’t controversial.  

The Appropriations Committee has been working hard to get their budget recommendation to the entire legislative body as soon as possible.  On Thursday, March 25th they will release the recommendations to the body.  Next week, we anticipate taking the budget up on the floor for debate.

I realized that I haven’t taken the time this year to introduce you to my current staff.  As Chair of the Executive Board, my staff consists of an Administrative Assistant who also acts as the Committee’s Clerk (AA/CC), a Legislative Aide (LA) and a Committee Legal Counsel (LC).  Mandy Mizerski is my AA/CC, and she has been with me for over 4 years now.  She came on board when I became Chair of the Natural Resources office and I’m very pleased that she chose to follow along to the Executive Board office.  Mandy and her husband, Rob, are Lincoln natives and they’re busy raising their two vivacious boys.  Jeni Bohlmeyer has been with me since I started in the legislature.  Jeni and Todd, her husband, live on a farm in Gage County and they raise American Aberdeen to keep themselves busy since becoming empty nesters.  Janice Satra is the LC and we just started working together this January, her and her husband Steve, just became grandparents to a second handsome baby boy.  I don’t know how mad Janice will be if I told you how long she’s been here but put it this way, Jeni’s 20 sessions is nothing compared to the years of knowledge that she brings. Between all three of them they have been through over 66 regular sessions. I am fortunate to have the three of them working with me.

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. My office is in room 2108 at the Capitol if you are in the Lincoln area. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch the session, hearings, and other Capitol events.

We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for committees to wrap up their hearings.  Starting next week we will have morning debate and the afternoons are reserved for the Judiciary Committee to finish up their hearings and for other committees to have executive sessions.  Committees are not only busy wrapping up hearings, but also advancing bills to the legislative floor.   Currently, I have 3 bills that are on General File, the first round of debate.  LB 616 which would give towers a little help when they get stuck with abandoned vehicles.  The other two bills, LB 190, which would change provisions relating to the use of the Water Sustainability Fund and LB 191, which would redefine elector for the Irrigation District Act.  Both were adopted by the Natural Resources Committee into one amendment and that was placed on LB 507.  In the past I have talked about this procedure of including provisions of multiple bills into one bill, it is called a Christmas tree bill.  Only committees can create this. 

LB 507 amends the Ethanol Development Act, it would prohibit the use of treated seed corn for ethanol production. Because certain pesticides that are used to treat seed corn create a byproduct waste when used for creating ethanol.  This byproduct cannot be used for application on ag land or used for livestock consumption.  

Another bill that was rolled into LB 507 is LB 395 introduced by Tim Gragert of Creighton.  Currently, the Game and Parks Commission can designate special depredation seasons and issue permits for the taking of deer when there is evidence that crops or other property was damaged.  This bill would allow for the taking of elk and antelope using the same guidelines as deer.  The revenue from the permit fees would go to the landowners to be used for abatement of damage caused by the wildlife.

Each year a few introduced bills receive more attention than others.  This year, one of those is a bill introduced by Senator Steve Halloran of Hastings, LB 188, a bill otherwise known as the Adopt the Second Amendment Preservation Act.  This bill would prohibit any agency, political subdivision, or their employees, of Nebraska to knowingly and willingly participate in enforcing any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation regarding a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition if the act, law, order, rule or regulation does not exist under the laws of the state of Nebraska.  I have always supported second amendment rights and will continue to do so.

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. My office is in room 2108 at the Capitol if you are in the Lincoln area. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch the session, hearings, and other Capitol events.

LB 72 is designed to enhance access to capital markets for governmental entities by providing that general obligation bonds, notes, and other financing obligations of governmental entities have a statutory lien on bond pledged revenue sources. More simply put this would create a statutory lien on government issued bonds to ensure that bondholders are paid first if the issuing government entity goes bankrupt. LB 72 was introduced because current state law is ambiguous because it was unclear which of a city’s creditors would receive payment first in the event of a bankruptcy, a problem illustrated in 2013 by the bankruptcy of Detroit. Following a bankruptcy, the federal courts will often look toward state law to determine which of a city’s debtors are paid first. With LB 72 it would ensure that the bondholders have priority.

During floor debate it was explained that bondholders are providing a service to cities and other political subdivisions by loaning them money, in exchange for interest in order to build infrastructure projects. LB 72 would guarantee that government-issued bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing entity. This bill was filibustered during first round debate and thus required 33 votes to end debate and ultimately passed on a 29-14 vote to advance from General File to Select File.

Another controversial bill we heard this past week was LB 68 which would erase the authority of Lincoln and other Nebraska communities to enact gun regulation laws, with a few exceptions for Omaha. During debate it was stressed that this bill protects “the fundamental right to keep and bear arms” by centering authority for gun regulation in the Legislature. This would end the patchwork of local laws that have been putting law-abiding gun owners in jeopardy of violating local regulations as they travel in the state. This bill was also filibustered during the first round of debate and did achieve the 33 vote’s necessary to invoke cloture and ultimately advanced to Select File on a 32-12 vote. On both of these bills, I did support the cloture vote and ultimately voted to advance both bills to the next round of debate.

This week you will probably have heard our discussions are about property taxes, income taxes and the way we fund schools in the State of Nebraska meaning the TEEOSA formula. As of the writing of this article, I am seeing no consensus by the Legislature on any of these issues. I am hopeful during debate on these topics we can come to an agreement that will eventually bring relief to all tax payers in the State of Nebraska.

Weekly Article, February 16, 2017
February 16th, 2017

Although, it may appear not much progress has been made during floor debate in the mornings, notable progress is being made during the committee hearings in the afternoons. Some of the important bills that I have heard in my committees are LB 404, LB 368, LB 275, LB 55, LB 584, and LB 566.

LB 404 which would require a crew of at least two people for a train or light engine, was heard on January 31st and the following week was indefinitely postponed by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. Although this bill was effectively killed in committee, I was a dissenting vote for killing LB 404 and believe this is a public safety issue.
Senator Lowe introduced LB 368 which would change helmet provisions for motorcycle riders, removing the requirement for riders 21 and older from wearing a helmet. LB 368 was heard in front of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee and was voted out of committee to general file with a 6-2 vote. Because of my belief in personal freedom, I voted in favor of moving this bill to the full legislature.

I introduced LB 275 in front of the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee which allows law enforcement or a private property owner to have an abandoned vehicle towed from private property by a towing company. The towing company then handles the vehicle, in accordance with existing Nebraska law for vehicles abandoned on public property. LB 275 expands this application accorded public property to include private property as well.

Two additional bills that were heard in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee were LB 55 and LB 584. Both bills seek to change laws related to roadside mowing. LB 55 would require Law Enforcement officials to report dangerous conditions arising from vegetation and weeds along roadsides that are not being mowed frequently enough under the existing law and would increase the number of times landowners are required to mow. LB 584 would not require counties or land owners to mow ditches prior to July 1st thus encouraging habit for wildlife and helping reduce soil erosion. LB 584 would also require mowing roadside vegetation sometime after September 1st for traffic safety interests and possible drifting snow concerns. Some counties require landowners to mow and other counties do not, mowing ditches themselves.

In the Natural Resources Committee, we heard LB 566 which would make Nebraska a part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Of the 50 states, 44 have already adopted the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. The compact is an agreement through which states assist one another by participating in a database of game law violators to prevent them from obtaining hunting and fishing permits in another member’s state.

Unicameral Youth Legislature
April 21st, 2015

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR MORE INFORMATION:
April 21, 2015 Ami Johnson
Nebraska Legislature
Unicameral Information Office
(402) 471-0764
ajohnson@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Hughes invites students to youth legislature

High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 7-10. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-0764. The deadline for registration is May 15.

Committee Assignments
January 16th, 2015

The 104th Legislature, First Session, convened on Wednesday, January 7th. This is the “long session,” which is set by the Nebraska Constitution. The Constitution requires sixty day sessions in even-numbered years and ninety day sessions in odd-numbered years. Legislative days are working days and not calendar days. We are scheduled to adjourn on June 5th.

I was elected to the Executive Board and my committee assignments are Natural Resources, General Affairs and Urban Affairs. I am committed to working with my colleagues to find common sense solutions to the issues that we face here in Nebraska.

I look forward to the challenges ahead. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

Sen. Dan Hughes

District 44
Room 2108
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2805
Email: dhughes@leg.ne.gov
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