Public hearings have been held for 7 of the 11 legislative bills and resolutions I introduced this year.
Three of these bills have advanced from committee and will be heard on the floor in the next few weeks. Hearings for three more bills are scheduled for the first week in March.
Community college funding
The Legislature's Education Committee will consider LB 651 to repeal the property tax levying authority of Nebraska's six community colleges. Under this bill the community colleges would be funded by state general funds in the same manner as the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State Colleges.
The General Affairs Committee will hear testimony on LB 653. The bill would increase the tax on beer by 5 cents per gallon.
Fifty percent of the revenue generated by the increase would be distributed to the State Patrol Cash Fund. The remaining 50 percent of the revenue generated by the increase would be used by counties for law enforcement purposes. The amount distributed to each county would be based on sales reports filed by beer wholesalers.
New game, parks district
Four of my bills and the resolution I introduced were referenced to the Natural Resources Committee.
LB 494 is my final bill this year to be heard by this Committee. LB 494 would create a new district for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The new district would become the Commission's ninth district and would include the counties of Box Butte, Cherry, Dawes, Sheridan and Sioux. A new member would be appointed to represent the district and would serve a term to end on Jan. 15, 2019.
The new district proposed in LB 494 would include a significant number of unique hunting and fishing opportunities which are unavailable in other portions of Nebraska.
An additional board member from our legislative district could promote our resources and help build the tourism industry in western Nebraska.
What to prioritize
Each year senators, committees and the speaker of the legislature give priority designation to legislative bills. Each senator is allowed to select one bill, and each committee may prioritize two of the bills that were referenced to it for a public hearing.
The speaker may select up to 25 additional bills as speaker priorities. This special status increases the chance that these bills will be scheduled for debate by the full legislature.
In a 90-session priority bills must be designated before the 45th legislative day. On Feb. 20, Speaker Greg Adams of York announced that his office would accept senator committee and speaker priority bill designation letters on Monday, Feb. 25. The deadline for submission of a speaker priority request is 5 p.m. on March 14.
Senator and committee designation letters must be submitted to the speaker before the legislature adjourns on Friday, March 15.
A senator can prioritize a bill that he or she introduced. However, it is also a common practice for senators to select, with permission from its primary introducer, a bill that may be of particular importance to Nebraska.
In the next few days, I must decide which bill to designate as my priority for 2013. I will base my decision on what I feel will create the greatest benefit for our district and our state.
As always, I value your input, and welcome phone calls, emails and personal visits from you.
Rancher Al Davis represents District 43 in the Legislature, consisting of north central Nebraska. The seat was formerly held by Sen. Deb Fischer. Contact Sen. Al Davis, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or phone (402) 471-2628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.