During the 106th Legislature’s first session, 739 bills were introduced by the 49 senators. Sen. Justin Wayne topped the list with 48 and Sen. Mike Moser (a very good, pragmatic freshman senator) had the least with one. I introduced 17 total, five involving my duty as chairman of the Education Committee. Five became law and two sit on General File.

In all, 234 bills were passed. Of those, 26 had an appropriations bill attached with an estimated $7 million cost. Three were successfully vetoed by the governor, leaving a total of 231 new laws that will take effect by Sept. 1.

An additional 86 bills are on General File awaiting the start of next year’s floor debate. Included is our LB 148, a requirement for a separate budget hearing by local governments, and LB 147, our student/teacher classroom protection act. Further, 382 introduced bills are still in committee, and if history repeats itself, 600 or more new bills will be introduced in January.

Are too many bills introduced each year? I would say yes. In the past, legislative rules limited senators to 10 bills; that rule was changed in 1983. I believe a return to such a limit would cause bills with minor changes to present law to be consolidated into a committee bill. An example of a bill with minor changes to existing law is LB 75, which changed terms of members of the Grape and Winery Board. I frankly did not know that such a board existed, but to those involved in that industry, it is of importance.

Needed legislation did pass last year, including:

» LB 399, replacing the old School Americanism law, which was being ignored by schools due to its inability to be enforced and its antiquated language. The law has been retitled School American Civics requirements. Amongst its many attributes, schools must now include financial literacy in their curriculum, teach the benefits and advantages of representative government, and teach our children the dangers and fallacies of forms of government that restrict individual freedoms or possess anti-democratic ideals. Schools now must assess a student’s knowledge of American civics and report it to parents. An enforcement provision of the standards has been assigned to the Department of Education. With the ignorance shown by elected officials across America and by the citizens who elected them, it is critical we demand our children understand who we are as Americans and how we got to this point in history.

» Another important bill was LB 209, which requires medical practitioners to inform women of their ability to reverse the effects of the abortion pill if they were to change their minds.

» LB 65 will lower the cost of business by eliminating an electrical regulation. Electricians will now be able to contract with a boring company to install underground electrical conduit in lieu of having to own their own horizontal boring equipment. Excessive regulations cost the consumer money. Any time we can eliminate unnecessary regulations, the consumer wins.

Some very burdensome legislation did pass:

» LB 405 adopted the newest version of the International Building Code, making Nebraska only the second state to do so. It creates excessive residential home building codes. A report issued with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the new codes will add $3,000 to the cost of a new home. In the face of claims that workforce housing is already beyond a working family’s ability to purchase, I believe LB 405 is contrary to the wishes of Nebraskans.

» Nebraska already has the most local government entities, from 93 county courthouses all the way down to cemetery boards. Yet this year we passed LB 492 to potentially create a new government entity, a Public Transit Authority, which has an elected board with its own taxing authority. Citizens living in large municipal areas have the potential of a 20% increase in their municipal property tax burden.

Never underestimate the ability of elected officials to tell you one thing and do the other. LB 492 is a perfect example of where voters are demanding one thing, property tax relief, and instead witness their elected officials doing the exact opposite.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

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