Senator Julie Slama’s (LD1) LB 399, Change the name and provisions related to the committee on Americanism, passed General File with 43 “Yes” and 3 “No” votes. LB 399, which I co-sponsored, would be the first major revision to the state’s civic education standards since 1949. The bill would change the name of the Americanism Committee to the Committee on American Civics. Each school board will have a committee consisting of three members appointed by the school board. Each committee would be required to hold at least two public meetings annually and ensure that the district’s social studies curriculum is accessible to the public. The bill would also ensure that the district’s curriculum aligns with state social studies standards and teaches and assesses foundational knowledge in civics, history, economics, financial literacy, and geography. An Education Committee amendment, adopted 42-3, would remove the bill’s original requirement that districts administer the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam and instead would make it one of three options a district would have to include in its curriculum. A district also could require a student to attend or participate in a meeting of a public body and then complete a project or paper demonstrating what he or she learned. While I know that the school districts in Dakota, Thurston, and Wayne Counties already go above and beyond when it comes to teaching civics, I am thankful for Senator Slama, the Education Committee, and my other colleagues that worked hard to pass this bill and for their passion for ensuring our children receive the best education possible.
Senator Tom Brewer’s (LD 43) priority bill, LB 155 – Change eminent domain provisions that apply to privately developed renewable energy generation facilities, was debated on General File on Wednesday, February 27th. I strongly supported this bill along with many of my colleagues, unfortunately, the bill failed to advance to Select File with 23 “Yes”, 8 “No”, and 14 “Present – Not Voting” votes. LB 155 would simply strike one sentence in Chapter 70, Section 1014.02, subparagraph (5): “The exercise of eminent domain to provide needed transmission lines and related facilities for a privately developed renewable energy generation facility is a public use”. I supported removing this sentence because I believe it is wrong to give private citizens the government power of eminent domain over other to profit from renewable energy. I was happy to see some constituents from District 17 join constituents from Senator Brewer’s district and around the state at the Capitol to support LB 155, I am disappointed we fell short of passing the bill. I am looking forward to continuing the conversation about private property rights and crafting policies that are fair to all citizens.
On Thursday, February 28th, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board released another gloomy preliminary revenue forecast update. The Board lowered projections by $110 million through the next budget cycle; $80 million for the current fiscal year FY2018-19, $20 million for fiscal year FY2019-20, and $10 million for FY2020-21. Senator Stinner (LD 48), Chair of the Appropriations Committee, believes that reality may turn out to be worse than the preliminary budget projections. In the current fiscal year (ending on June 30, 2019), state tax collections have fallen short of projections for four straight months. Through January, net receipts were running $80 million less than predicted in October by the Board. Senators will now need to use this information to carefully make budget decisions as we begin to debate the budget in April. The Board will meet again in late April to release an official projection, shortly before we begin debating the Appropriations Committee’s final budget package.
Live coverage of committee hearings and the full session of the Unicameral is available at www.netnebraska.org/capitol
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage my constituents to reach out to me and I look forward to hearing from you.