The 104th session of the Nebraska Legislature convened on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 10 a.m., with the initial day of the session featuring the election of committee chairmen and appointment of individual members to legislative committees.
Sen. Galen Hadley (Kearney) was elected to the position of Speaker of the Legislature. The following new committee chairs were also elected by their colleagues:
- AgricultureSen. Jerry Johnson (Wahoo)
- AppropriationsSen. Heath Mello (Omaha)
- Banking, Commerce & InsuranceSen. Jim Scheer (Norfolk)
- Business & LaborSen. Burke Harr (Omaha)
- EducationSen. Kate Sullivan (Cedar Rapids)
- Executive BoardSen. Bob Krist (Omaha)
- General AffairsSen. Tyson Larson (O’Neill)
- Government, Military & Veteran AffairsSen. John Murante (Gretna)
- Health & Human ServicesSen. Kathy Campbell (Lincoln)
- JudiciarySen. Les Seiler (Hastings)
- Natural ResourcesSen. Ken Schilz (Ogallala)
- Nebraska Retirement SystemsSen. Jeremy Nordquist (Omaha)
- RevenueSen. Mike Gloor (Grand Island)
- TransportationSen. Jim Smith (Papillion)
- Urban AffairsSen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue)
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 Senator Harr as chairman of the Business and Labor Committee, the following members were appointed to serve on the Business and Labor Committee:
- Sen. Dave Bloomfield (Hoskins)
- Sen. Ernie Chambers (Omaha)
- Sen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue)
- Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete)
- Sen. Jerry Johnson (Wahoo)
- Sen. John McCollister (Omaha)
Starting his first General Session is Sen. David Schnoor (Scribner), who was appointed to replace Sen. Charlie Janssen (Fremont), who resigned after being elected State Auditor. In addition, 18 new senators were sworn in on the opening day of the session. The newly elected and appointed senators are as follows:
- Sen. Robert Hilkemann (District 4, Omaha)
- Sen. Joni Craighead (District 6, Omaha)
- Sen. Merv Riepe (District 12, Ralston)
- Sen. David Schnoor (District 15, Scribner)
- Sen. Brett Lindstrom (District 18, Omaha)
- Sen. John McCollister (District 20, Omaha)
- Sen. Mark Kolterman (District 24, Seward)
- Sen. Matt Hansen (District 26, Lincoln)
- Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (District 28, Lincoln)
- Sen. Roy Baker (District 30, Lincoln)
- Sen. Laura Ebke (District 32, Crete)
- Sen. Curt Friesen (District 34, Henderson)
- Sen. Matt Williams (District 36, Gothenburg)
- Sen. John Kuehn (District 38, Heartwell)
- Sen. Mike Groene (District 42, North Platte)
- Sen. Dan Hughes (District 44, Venango)
- Sen. Adam Morfeld (District 46, Lincoln)
- Sen. John Stinner (District 48, Gering)
The second day of the session features swearing in ceremonies for Gov. Pete Ricketts and the state constitutional officers and agency heads. In his inaugural remarks, Governor Ricketts pledged “a spirit of collaboration to move our great state forward” and outlined the following four goals:
- strengthen our economy and create jobs
- cut taxes
- reduce regulatory burdens
- strengthen our education system.
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 20. It is anticipated that the following major issues will dominate the session: the state budget, property and income tax relief, Medicaid expansion and prison reform.
2015 NFIB 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 Small Business Day at the Capitol March 31 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. Governor 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.