In his first legislative update of the year, NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom reports on the organizational activity of the new session.
The 105th session of the Nebraska Legislature convened on Wednesday, January 4, at 10 a.m. The initial day of the session featured the election of committee chairmen and chairwomen and appointment of individual members to legislative committees.
Sen. Jim Scheer (Norfolk) was elected to the position of Speaker of the Legislature. The following new committee chairs were also elected by their colleagues:
- Agriculture–Sen. Lydia Brasch (Bancroft)
- Appropriations–Sen. John Stinner (Gering)
- Banking, Commerce & Insurance–Sen. Brett Lindstrom (Omaha)
- Business & Labor–Sen. Joni Albrecht (Thurston)
- Education–Sen. Mike Groene (North Platte)
- Executive Board–Sen. Dan Watermeier (Syracuse)
- General Affairs–Sen. Tyson Larson (O’Neill)
- Government, Military & Veteran Affairs–Sen. John Murante (Gretna)
- Health & Human Services–Sen. Merv Riepe (Ralston)
- Judiciary–Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete)
- Natural Resources–Sen. Dan Hughes (Venango)
- Nebraska Retirement Systems–Sen. Mark Kolterman (Seward)
- Revenue–Sen. Jim Smith (Papillion)
- Rules–Sen. Mike Hilgers (Lincoln)
- Transportation–Sen. Curt Friesen (Henderson)
- Urban Affairs–Sen. Justin Wayne (Omaha)
Key Committee for Small Business
Because most business-related legislation will be referred to the Business and Labor Committee, appointment of members to this committee was of great interest to the NFIB. Along with the election of Sen. Joni Albrecht as chairwoman of the Business and Labor Committee, the following members were appointed to serve on the Business and Labor Committee:
- Sen. Ernie Chambers (Omaha)
- Sen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue)
- Sen. Steve Halloran (Hastings)
- Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln)
- Sen. Sara Howard (Omaha)
- Sen. John Lowe (Kearney)
17 New Senators
Starting their first General Session are 17 new senators, who were sworn in on the opening day of the session. The newly elected and appointed senators are as follows:
- Sen. Carol Blood (District 3, Bellevue)
- Sen. Mike McDonnell (District 5, Omaha)
- Sen. Tony Vargas (District 7, Omaha)
- Sen. Justin Wayne (District 13, Omaha)
- Sen. Lynne Walz (District 15, Fremont)
- Sen. Joni Albrecht (District 17, Thurston)
- Sen. Mike Hilgers (District 21, Lincoln)
- Sen. Bruce Bostelman (District 23, Brainard)
- Sen. Suzanne Geist (District 25, Lincoln)
- Sen. Anna Wishart (District 27, Lincoln)
- Sen. Steve Halloran (District 33, Juniata)
- Sen. Dan Quick (District 35, Grand Island)
- Sen. John Lowe Sr. (District 37, Kearney)
- Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (District 39, Elkhorn)
- Sen. Tom Briese (District 41, Albion)
- Sen. Tom Brewer (District 43, Gordon)
- Sen. Steve Erdman (District 47, Bayard)
The first 10 working days of the session will be devoted to new bill introductions and the adoption of permanent rules. Committee hearings are tentatively scheduled to commence on Tuesday, January 17. It is anticipated that the following major issues will dominate the session: the state budget, property and income tax relief, and prison reform.
2017 Legislative Priorities
NFIB is optimistic that a number of business-friendly measures will receive favorable consideration this session. Among the issues to be promoted by NFIB include:
- property tax and income tax relief
- workers compensation reform
- holding the line on state spending.
Small Business Day at the Capitol
NFIB/Nebraska will co-sponsor a Small Business Day at the Capitol April 12 in Lincoln.
NFIB’s co-sponsors are the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Independent Business Association and Nebraskans For Workers’ Compensation Equity and Fairness.
Small Business Day gives NFIB members an opportunity to network with other small-business owners. Gov. Pete Ricketts is expected to speak, and there will be a legislative briefing by state senators.
Details on the time and location of Small Business Day at the Capitol will be released soon. Check www.NFIB.com/NE for the latest information.
Follow NFIB/Nebraska on Twitter @NFIB_NE