Greetings District 36. We have now completed more than one third of the legislative session and things are moving along rapidly. A good portion of the past few weeks was dominated by lengthy debates on LB 176 and LB 188. LB 176 is designed to remove artificial barriers in our law that prohibit the growth of the hog industry in our state. This bill was supported by the Nebraska Pork Producers, the Nebraska Bankers, Nebraska Independent Bankers Association, the Nebraska Corn Growers, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, We Support Ag, and the State Chamber of Commerce.
One of the issues that most Nebraskans agree on is that our taxes are too high and we need to find ways to lower the tax burden. The best way to reduce taxes is to grow our state: grow jobs, add people, and expand and grow our tax base. The plain fact is that states surrounding Nebraska are growing their hog industry at a more rapid rate than Nebraska. None of those states have the restriction on vertical integration that we have in Nebraska. In fact, Nebraska is the only state to restrict packer ownership of hogs. Some argued that this would be the end of the "family farm" as we know it. In every other state, independent family farms still exist and sell their hogs to packers.
I believe agriculture in our state has a bright future. The world’s population is projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Nebraska has the assets including water, technology, and people to help supply the food needed for the world’s population. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to create a climate that allows for the safe and secure production of food. Growing our state's number one industry should be the goal of every state legislator. I welcome the responsibility that comes with this job. LB 176 was signed into law by the Governor on February 11th.
LB 188 is another issue that has received considerable debate by the Legislature. This bill would clarify when a city or county is liable for the injuries of an “innocent third party” that result from a police pursuit. This is a complicated issue that evokes strong feelings from law enforcement, local units of government, and victims.
In addition to these issues, there have been a number of public hearings on bills that are important to residents of District 36. I have received a number of phone calls from constituents regarding LB 1036 which would implement strict new standards on payday lenders. The Education Committee recently held a public hearing on LB 1063 which would limit school spending. I was pleased to see a few familiar faces from District 36 in the halls of the Capital who testified on this important issue. There have also been public hearings on Medicaid expansion and the important economic development tools used by communities.
It is a busy time of year and we are dealing with some very important issues. I appreciate everyone who has contacted me to share their thoughts. If you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by phone at (402) 471-2642 or by email at email@example.com.