The Nebraska Legislature convened for the 2021 session on January 3. The order of business on the first day included swearing in eight new senators and the selection of a new Speaker and committee chairs.
Senator Mike Hilgers of Lincoln was elected as Speaker.
Committee chairs are:
- Agriculture: Steve Halloran, Hastings. Reelected.
- Appropriations: John Stinner, Gering. Reelected.
- Banking, Commerce and Insurance: Matt Williams, Gotherburg. Reelected.
- Business and Labor: Ben Hansen, Blair. New.
- Education: Lynne Walz, Fremont. New.
- Executive Board: Dan Hughes, Venango. New.
- General Affairs: Tom Briese, Albion. Reelected.
- Government, Military and Veterans Affairs: Tom Bewer, Gordon. Reelected.
- Health and Human Services: John Arch, La Vista. New.
- Judiciary: Steve Lathrop, Omaha. Reelected.
- Natural Resources: Bruce Bostelman, Brainard. New.
- Nebraska Retirement Systems: Mark Kolterman, Seward. Reelected.
- Revenue: Lou Ann Linehan. Elkhorn. Reelected.
- Rules: Robert Clements, Elmwood. New.
- Transportation and Telecommunications: Curt Friesen, Henderson. Reelected.
- Urban Affairs: Justin Wayne, Omaha. Reelected.
Committees also saw changes in membership. How that might affect the outlook for proposed legislation will become apparent sooner or later.
On Thursday and Friday, senators introduced 212 statutory bills, four proposed constitutional amendments, and three substantive resolutions (including LR 1, an endorsement of locating US Space Command at Offutt AFB).
Measures that will be up for debate include taxation, state and local economic development, business regulation, social justice issues and COVID liability immunities. Bill introductions will continue through January 20, so the list will grow both in number and subject area.
Governor Ricketts will deliver his State of the State address to the Legislature Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and with that will come a new two-year budget that must be completed by the session’s ultimate adjournment.
Committee hearings on new legislation are expected to begin on January 25.
Jumping way ahead, the session is scheduled to adjourn on June 10. With that said, everything should be considered tentative at this point. There could be scheduling adjustments due to COVID developments (including lengthy recesses), such as those that delayed last year’s session. Senators could also complete their business early, just as in a number of sessions pre 2020. At this point, it’s hard to accurately predict.
There are already COVID related modifications and restrictions as to committee hearings and overall Capitol access and interaction. Attendance at hearings will be limited. In any case, Capitol visitors are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines.
There could be further restrictions imposed in light of the events of January 6.
We shall see. Please stay tuned.
Senior Director, Public Policy
808 Conagra Dr., Ste. 400, Omaha, NE 68102
Lincoln Office: 402-474-4960
Refer to the Public Policy page on the Greater Omaha Chamber’s website or contact Jennifer Creager or Tim Stuart at 402.474.4960 if you have questions.
Also, click here if you are interested in reading the Legislature’s Update of the happenings in Lincoln.