The 108th Legislature
January 12, 2023
The 108th Legislature has begun. The legislative session began on January 4 and will extend through the month of May. This will be the longer 90-day session. The reason for the longer session has to do with passing the Statewide budget.
On the first day of the session in odd numbered years we always elect a speaker and the chairmen of the standing committees. Out of the 14 committee chairs elected there were only three positions that had more than one candidate. 11 of the 14 committee chairpersons were unopposed. For the past two years the education chairman had been Sen. Lynn Walz of Fremont, but Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil was voted in instead as the new chair of the Education Committee. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee also has a new chair. Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln replaced Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, who was term limited out of office this year.
I placed my name and nomination up to be the Rules Committee chair. One needs to receive 25 votes, which constitutes a simple majority, in order to get elected. I was fortunate enough to receive 33 votes. So, I am now the chair of the Rules Committee.
Bill introduction also started last week. I introduced my new consumption tax proposal again. On January 5 we held a press conference to announce the EPIC Option Consumption Tax and to inaugurate a new petition drive for a ballot initiative to put it on the ballot for November 2024. Afterwards, I did numerous interviews for both television stations and newspapers.
I had high hopes that this session would be one of cooperation and accomplish great things that would move our state to a more competitive position on taxation. Shortly after I introduced the resolution for the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, which would fix our broken tax system, a Lincoln Senator placed a motion to kill the bill before it ever comes to the floor! In my opinion that is not the way to influence people and make friends by trying to kill someone's bill before it has had an opportunity to be heard on the floor. However, I am confident that her motion will fail.
I also introduced a bill to change the State Legislature from the current unicameral system to a bicameral system. Needless to say, that bill caught the attention of many folks not only in the capitol but around the eastern part of the state. That's because the current unicameral system favors the population centers of our state.
This bill would amend the constitution to include a Senate of 31 senators each representing three contiguous counties. Also, the representatives in the House of Representatives would be elected by the population divided by the number of representatives, which would be similar to the representation that we currently have now. The Unicameral was a great experiment, but after 86 years it is time to end the experiment and return to reality.
The legislature now has a new Speaker and the state has a new Governor and Lieutenant Governor which will make for a very interesting session! Thank you for the opportunity to represent you and your issues in the Nebraska Legislature. Happy New Year!