Legislature convenes, elects Executive Board chair

Senators returned to the State Capitol Jan. 3 to begin the second session of the 108th Nebraska Legislature.

La Vista Sen. John Arch, Speaker of the Legislature, welcomed senators back and urged them to focus on strengthening the institution and enacting policies that will benefit everyone in the state.  

“Let’s work hard, build relationships and show respect for each other as we build a better Nebraska over the next 60 days,” Arch said.

Lawmakers elected Grand Island Sen. Raymond Aguilar over Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh as chairperson of the Executive Board, which oversees legislative services and employees. The vacancy was created when former Sen. Tom Briese left the Legislature in November to become state treasurer. 

As vice chairperson, Aguilar had served as acting chairperson of the Executive Board since Briese’s resignation. Kearney Sen. John Lowe was chosen as the new vice chairperson, fending off a challenge from Omaha Sen. Terrell McKinney.

Property tax reform and workforce development likely will be top priorities for lawmakers this session. Senators also may consider changes to the duties of the inspectors general for the state’s prison and child welfare systems, following an attorney general’s opinion that questioned the constitutionality of those offices. 

New bills will be introduced for the first 10 days of the session, or until Jan. 17. 

Before addressing any new measures, however, lawmakers will consider a number of proposed changes to the Legislature’s rules. The rules debate is expected to begin Jan. 10. 

Gov. Jim Pillen will give his State of the State address Jan. 18, followed Jan. 25 by Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican’s State of the Judiciary address.  

Committee hearings are set to begin Jan. 22 and continue through Feb. 29.

Live coverage of the legislative session is available at NebraskaLegislature.gov, where the public may also find information on bills, the legislative calendar and Nebraska state senators.

Senators will reconvene Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. to continue introduction of new bills. The session is tentatively scheduled to adjourn April 18.

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