Greetings District 36. This past week the Legislature began its work in full force. In addition to having full day debate on numerous items, we heard Governor Pete Ricketts deliver his State of the State address. Governor Ricketts was very upbeat and positive about the future for Nebraska even though we are faced with a looming budget shortfall. The budget shortfall is now projected to be at least $140 million.
Much of the governor’s address talked about tax and spending cuts. Many agree that agriculture is paying more than its fair share of the cost of education in our state. The governor’s new proposal, which is supported by the Chairpersons of the Revenue and Education Committees, would limit the statewide aggregate growth of agricultural property valuation to 3% annually. The property tax plan also would tighten spending and levy limits for our schools. I will be watching with great interest as both the Revenue and Education Committees discuss this proposal. I remain committed to finding a solution so that we can achieve resolution on this tax issue.
Last week the Legislature engaged in lengthy debate on the issue of expanding gambling in our state. I remain very concerned about the expansion of gambling in Nebraska. LB 619 took a rather creative approach to gambling by attempting to define poker as a game of skill rather than as a game of chance. To me this legislation attempted to make an end run around Nebraska’s Constitution which does not allow the Legislature to authorize any game of chance. The bill failed when it did not receive the needed 33 votes to end debate.
This past week I was proud to introduce legislation, LB 1009, directly intended to take K2 (synthetic marijuana) off the retailers shelves. Over the past months we have worked hard to bring together prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, law enforcement, the judicial system, and the pharmaceutical industry on this issue. The result of this work is a united front to address this critical issue in our state.
Thanks again for your input on issues that affect all of Nebraska. Please contact my office at any time by telephone at (402) 471-2642 or by email at email@example.com.