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Senator Ben Hansen Week 1 Column

Senator Ben Hansen Week 1 Column

Happy New Year to everyone in Legislative District 16!  I hope you and your families had a terrific 2019 and are looking forward to great things in 2020.  The 60-day legislative session kicked off Wednesday, January 8th in Lincoln with big issues on the agenda for the short session including property taxes, business incentives, and flood relief.

This session starts my second year in service in the Unicameral.  My staff and I worked hard over the interim period and will be picking up where we left off the last session as well as bringing new bills this session.  Four of the bills I introduced last session – LB 312 regarding Dental Hygienists, LB 321 regarding the Department of Agriculture, LB 378 regarding the motorcycle helmet law, and LB 381 regarding per-diem reimbursement for state agencies have all been carried over from the last session.  I expect LB 381 to make some progress this year with progress on the other bills depending on how the schedule advances for this session.

Over the interim, I’ve worked with leaders in the area to put together a tax reform bill.  Property tax relief has been a topic of discussion in the Unicameral for quite some time, but meaningful relief has been hard to come by.  I hope to start working towards tax reform this session through changes in our sales tax, income tax, and budgeting process in addition to changes in how we fund our public schools.  Nebraskans have been patient, but the reality is that many families, farmers, and businesses are struggling to make ends meet because of a tax system that is outdated.  We need tax reform, and I plan to provide that leadership.

The Health and Human Services Committee, of which I am a part of, will take up the effort of addressing Youth Rehabilitation in the state after examining some of the shortcomings of our system over the interim session.  We held many committee hearings over the Summer and Fall, listening to Department of Health and Human Services officials and other leaders of rehabilitation service providers.  This has been a complex issue that will continue to be discussed in this session.

As of adjournment on Friday over 200 bills and resolutions were introduced in the first three days of session.  You can view all of the introduced legislation on the Unicameral’s website with the link provided below.

Looking forward to next week, Governor Ricketts will present his State of the State on Wednesday, January 15th offering a review of the previous year and laying out some of his goals for this session and beyond in 2020.  I continue to work on the final drafts of bills I’ll be introducing this session – senators have until January 23rd, the 10th day of the session, to introduce new legislation.

As always you can contact me at bhansen@leg.ne.gov or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  To read all introduced legislation please visit nebraskalegislature.gov. You may watch the live stream of the session when available at netnebraska.org.

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