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POLICY WATCH

New Faces Join Legislature  

The first session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature got underway Wed., January. 6. The 90-day legislative session is tentatively scheduled to run through June 10, barring any COVID-19 related interruptions. Eight new senators were sworn in Wed., including:

  • Ray Aguilar of Grand Island (Dist. 35)
  • Eliot Bostar of Lincoln (Dist. 29)
  • John Cavanaugh of Omaha (Dist. 9)
  • Jen Day of Omaha (Dist. 49)
  • Mike Flood of Norfolk (Dist. 19)
  • Terrell McKinney of Omaha (Dist. 11)
  • Rich Pahls of Omaha (Dist. 31)
  • Rita Sanders of Bellevue (Dist. 45)

Senators Aguilar, Flood, and Pahls, have all previously served in the body.

NEFB Welcomes Speaker Hilgers

Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln was elected by unanimous consent Wed. to serve as the new Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature. As Speaker, Hilgers will set the legislative agenda determining when bills are scheduled for debate on the floor. Hilgers is no stranger to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, having received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC in his successful re-election bid this past November. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue met with the Speaker on Jan. 7 to offer the organization’s congratulations and to discuss Nebraska Farm Bureau’s legislative priorities.

Lawmakers Elect Committee Chairs

In addition to electing a new Speaker, senators also spent the first day of the session electing Committee Chairs. The following were the elected Chairs of the 14 Standing Committees:

  • Agriculture – Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings (Dist.33)
  • Appropriations – Sen. John Stinner of Gering (Dist.48)
  • Banking, Commerce, and Insurance – Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg (Dist.36)
  • Business and Labor – Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair (Dist.16)
  • Education – Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont (Dist.15)
  • General Affairs – Sen. Tom Briese of Albion (Dist.41)
  • , Military, and Veterans Affairs – Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon (Dist.43)
  • Health and Human Services – Sen. John Arch of La Vista (Dist.14)
  • Judiciary – Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha (Dist.12)
  • Natural Resources – Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard (Dist.23)
  • Nebraska Retirement Systems – Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward (Dist.24)
  • Revenue – Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn (Dist.39)
  • Transportation and Telecommunications – Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson (Dist.34)
  • Urban Affairs – Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha (Dist.13)

Other leadership elections included:

  • Chair Committee on Committees – Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha (Dist.4)
  • Chair Executive Board – Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango (Dist.44)
  • Vice Chair Executive Board – Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha (Dist.7)
  • Chair Rules Committee – Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood (Dist.2)

See a full list of Committee appointments here.

Bill Introduction Underway

State lawmakers have already introduced more than 200 bills during the first three days of the legislative session. Senators can introduce bills through January 20. Among the bills introduced so far:

  • LB 2 (Briese) Lowers ag land valuations to thirty percent for the purpose of school bond issues.
  • LB 3 (Briese) The State Department of Education shall establish and maintain a web site that allows the public to access statewide and school district data regarding total receipts and receipts classified by source as local, county, state, federal, or other; total expenditures and expenditures classified by functions; cost per pupil; and performance.
  • LB 40 (Groene) Creates the Nebraska Rural Projects Act.
  • LB 90 (Halloran) Change fee provisions under the Pesticide Act and the Nebraska Commercial Fertilizer and Soil Conditioner Act.
  • LB 98 (Walz) Change provisions relating to agricultural or horticultural land receiving special valuation.
  • LR5 (Gragert) Accept the findings and recommendation of the Healthy Soils Task Force submitted to the Governor and the Agriculture Committee.
  • LR11CA (Erdman) Constitutional amendment to establish a consumption tax and prohibit certain other forms of taxation.

A full listing of all introduced bills can be found here

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