What to expect in Nebraska Legislature’s next session

New faces will come in and work on hot topics that have been kicked down the road

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Legislature said goodbye to at least 13 senators who are not returning next session.

Big things were passed this session, such as tax cuts, funds for lakes and a canal, and money to grow the medical and law enforcement workforces in our state, but senators didn’t have time to work on every item.

Even though Gov. Pete Ricketts didn’t get everything he wanted this session, he was pleased with the end result.

“I have just one word for this session and this body: wow,” Ricketts said. “Wow, what fantastic work you have done in this short 60-day session.”

Sen. Tom Brandt agreed with the governor.

“This was a 60-day session that I would have swore was 90 days for all the stuff that we got done,” he said.

Even with a short session, some big and controversial items were passed.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan said the money for the lakes and canal was “huge.”

“Nebraska can only be Nebraska if we have plenty of water,” she said.

But other hot-topic items, like the new state penitentiary, didn’t make much progress.

“While you didn’t give us the authorization to move forward, you have set aside the money,” Ricketts told lawmakers. “A future Legislature will either have to replace the Nebraska State Penitentiary or, I believe, invest millions more in updating an antiquated facility.”

Some big decisions are up to the next legislative body, including criminal justice reform.

“That was probably the one large item that was left on the table, and it will probably come back in bits and pieces so that we can get many bites of the apple and one large bite at the apple,” Brandt said. “I think that is going to go hand and hand with building the new prison.”

The fate of these items depends heavily on who will fill the vacant seats, as the next Legislature will likely have more than 13 new faces.

Eleven senators are running for reelection, and others are seeking other offices, so depending on the outcome of those races, the Legislature could have “a fairly large class” of new members, Brandt said.

“Once we get past the primary, we will know a lot more about where everything is headed,” he said.

The primary is May 10, and your senator is leaving, you can decide who takes their seat.

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