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Hansen guns for powerful chair in LegislatureTell North Platte what you think
 
Courtesy Photo­Image
Tom Hansen
Courtesy Photo­Image
Heath Mello

North Platte Sen. Tom Hansen is expected to battle Heath Mello, a young senator from Omaha, for the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee of the Legislature, which controls the purse strings of state government.

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The 49 state senators will elect committee chairs by secret ballot shortly after the session begins on Jan. 9.

Hansen, 66, has won respect by spending more time listening than talking. He has been on the Appropriations Committee since 2009. He was elected to the Legislature in 2006 and reelected in 2010.

Mello, 33, is one of the youngest state senators. He has described himself as a scrappy basketball player. He represents south and mid-Omaha. He was elected in 2008. Before that, he was a senior aide to Sen. Ben Nelson.

The committee chair is open with the departure of Sen. Lavon Heidemann whose term expired.

If elected to the chair the committee, Hansen would follow the path of former North Platte Sen. Don Pederson, who chaired the committee in 2005.

Hansen is a 1965 graduate of North Platte High School and operates Hansen 77 Ranch north of North Platte with his son Eric.


Duties

The Appropriations Committee authorizes support for operations of state government, capital construction, senators’ salaries, salaries of constitutional officers, deficiency appropriations, appropriations for special projects or purposes, transfers between or disbursements from various funds, funding for state employee compensation, and earmarks of certain taxes (like the cigarette tax), Hansen has said.

The Appropriations Committee is briefed by Legislative Fiscal Office analysts who review each state agency budget for committee members, who make decisions and formulate budget recommendations to be put before the full Legislature near the end of the session. The committee conducts hearings on each state agency budget to gather information and help shape their final decisions, Hansen said.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 11/29/2012
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