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Nebraska Legislature

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A former longtime Nebraska state lawmaker has died at the age of 79. Dwite Pedersen of Omaha served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1993 to 2009. Pedersen was a leading advocate for alcohol and drug rehabilitation and worked with troubled youth and prison inmates. Pedersen represented the Elkhorn area of Omaha and ran unsuccessfully for Omaha City Council in 2017. He worked as a counselor focused on youth and was a recovered alcoholic who had been sober for 40 years. He also was known to help prison inmates, including those who rarely got visits from others. 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska lawmaker is proposing a state takeover of K-12 public education funding as a way to lower property taxes. Sen. Tom Briese, of Albion, introduced a constitutional amendment that would require state government to pay for local schools. Currently, public schools are financed through a combination of state aid and local property taxes. Briese says rising property taxes are driven by the state’s unwillingness to adequately fund schools. His proposal would place the issue on the 2022 general election ballot, where voters would decide whether to approve it.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska lawmakers will begin a new session Wednesday that’s likely to be scaled back because of the pandemic, but they’ll still have a lot of big issues to debate, including a proposed $230 million prison and the mandatory redrawing of the state’s political districts. 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 and others.

Nebraska has moved a step closer to creating a new state commission focused on African American affairs, similar to existing groups that represent Latino Americans and Native Americans. The measure won first-round approval in the Legislature Wednesday on a 32-0 vote. The new, 14-member commission would meet quarterly and be allowed to hire an executive director. Commission members would receive $50 a day while performing commission duties, plus expense reimbursement. The bill by Sen.

Nebraska lawmakers will debate a new bill to lower property taxes as early as next week after a legislative committee endorsed it. Members of the Revenue Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the bill, which would provide roughly the same $520 million boost to Nebraska's K-12 public schools as an earlier proposal that stalled last month. Schools are the biggest consumers of local property tax revenue in Nebraska, and the bill would offer them the additional money along with tighter controls on their ability to tax and spend.

A proposal that could allow Nebraska's Legislature to expand from 49 to 55 senators has hit a wave of opposition. The proposal by Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer would give voters the chance to increase the maximum number of state lawmakers in Nebraska. If voters approved the ballot measure in the November election, lawmakers would then need to pass a bill to increase their ranks. Scheer says he introduced the measure to ensure that rural constituents have easier access to their elected representatives. Some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost of adding more senators.

Democratic congressional hopeful Kate Bolz has officially entered the race Tuesday for Nebraska's 1st Congressional District. Bolz, a state senator from Lincoln, filed papers to seek the seat held by eight-term U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican. Bolz said she would work to ensure that people in the eastern Nebraska district have access to affordable health care. She says she would support legislation to lower prescription drug costs and promised never to take away insurance coverage from people with preexisting conditions.

Roughly one month after the federal government announced a new crackdown to keep e-cigarettes away from children, state lawmakers in Iowa and Nebraska are forging ahead with similar proposals of their own. Both states are considering new laws to raise the minimum age for vaping to 21 years old in addition to other measures to try to restrict the product. An Iowa Senate Subcommittee advanced the measure earlier this month to raise that state’s legal age from 18 to eliminate the conflict with federal law. In Nebraska, a legislative committee will review its own bill on Tuesday.

Military retirees in Nebraska will get to keep more of their retirement benefits under a bill that won first-round approval from lawmakers. The bill would exempt half of a military retiree's benefit from Nebraska state taxes, a key priority for Gov. Pete Ricketts. The measure advanced 46-0 on Monday through the first of three required votes. Sen. Tom Brewer, who sponsored the bill, said the measure would help Nebraska attract and retain military service members after they retire.

Nebraska businesses that hire felons could get a tax break under a measure before lawmakers that’s designed to make it easier for them to get jobs and reduce the likelihood they’ll re-offend. Supporters say the bill would encourage employers to take a risk on potential employees whose criminal records limit their job prospects, although it’s not yet clear how they’ll cover the cost of the proposed tax deduction. The measure by Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha, would allow companies to deduct 65% of the wages paid to workers with a felony conviction during their first year of employment.

Nebraska lawmakers have kicked off their 2020 session with an expected focus on property taxes, the state's flood recovery and a surplus of tax revenue after several years of tight budgets. The new, 60-day session will put senators in a time crunch as they consider fresh proposals in addition to legislation carried over from last year's 90-day session. The first proposals slated for debate include a tax exemption for military retirees and a bill that would allow teachers to physically restrain violent students in classrooms.

Ricketts seeks applicants for Nebraska legislative seat

Sep 6, 2017

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is seeking qualified applicants to fill a legislative seat that is about to come open.

Ricketts is looking to replace state Sen. Joni Craighead of Omaha, who announced that she is resigning effective Friday. Craighead represents District 6, an area that includes parts of western and central Omaha.