The second session of the 103rd Legislature adjourned sine die April 17.
Seventeen senators are leaving the Legislature due to term limits, among them York Sen. Greg Adams, who has served as speaker for the last two sessions.
Adams commended his fellow lawmakers for their work—particularly under the time constraints of a 60-day session—on major issues such as prison reform, water policy concerns and tax modernization. All of the 105 bills designated as priority measures by senators were debated on the floor, he said.
“When you think about the end result, as difficult as this session has been … we’ve done the state’s work,” he said. “We addressed the issues; we got through it.”
Adams noted that legislative leaders from other states have commented to him at conferences on the challenges of a one-house legislature with diffuse leadership.
“I couldn’t help but remind everyone at the table that representative democracy was never meant to be efficient,” he said.
Reflecting on his own tenure in the Legislature, Adams said seeing his name on the voting board for the first time brought home the realization of the power that comes from serving in the state’s legislative body. And with that power comes responsibility, he said – to all Nebraskans, not just one’s own constituents.
“A responsibility to try and make policy and to do so as much as possible without politics entering in,” he said.
In his remarks, Gov. Dave Heineman also congratulated senators on their work this session, noting progress on several major issues such as prison reform and water sustainability.
The governor also praised the Legislature’s action on tax reform this session, including indexing individual income tax brackets for inflation, eliminating sales tax on repair parts for agricultural machinery and equipment and expanding the homestead exemption program.
“It’s been a very good year for Nebraska taxpayers,” Heineman said. “We are providing more than $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans over the next five years. That is meaningful, responsible and significant tax relief.”
The first session of the 104th Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 7, 2015.