Nebraska lawmakers begin their 90-day 2021 session this morning. Opening day action will be highlighted by the election of a Speaker and committee chairs.
Jim Scheer, speaker the last 2 years, left under term limits. Coincidentally, the man he replaced as state senator, Mike Flood, now replaces Scheer and is a former Speaker himself.
This year’s session is likely to be scaled back because of the pandemic, but lawmakers still have a lot of big issues to face including the next 2-year state budget.
Also high on this year’s priority list is the Legislature’s once-a-decade redistricting ritual, a bitterly partisan process where lawmakers redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts.
They’ll also consider whether to pay for a proposed $230 million dollars prison to reduce chronic overcrowding in Nebraska’s existing facilities, a project that has the backing of Gov Pete Ricketts.
43rd District Senator Tom Brewer os Gordon is planning to introduce a bill with harsher penalties if demonstrations turn violent and lead to property damage or attacks on police. He says he doesn’t want to chill anyone’s First Amendment rights but that too often now protests turn into violent chaos.
47th District Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard, whose district includes Sioux and western Box Butte counties, says last year’s combination property tax relief/ economic development incentive bill, didn’t go far enough in providing tax relief or reform so he’s still pushing a consumption tax on purchases of services and new consumer goods.