Weekly Newsletter


Sen. Lavon Heidemann



There were 468 bills and six resolutions for constitutional amendments introduced during the 10-day introduction period of this legislative session.


Weekly Newsletter

Sen. Lavon Heidemann

There were 468 bills and six resolutions for constitutional amendments introduced during the 10-day introduction period of this legislative session.
On Jan. 19, Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican delivered the State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature. Just as the governor did in his State of the State address, Chief Justice Heavican also began his message by referring to the issue of child welfare privatization. He pledged the willingness of the courts to continue to explore and implement innovative programs for Nebraska's children. The Chief Justice informed senators that Nebraska is now one of only a few court systems in the nation that have a statewide comprehensive case management system, which allows for electronic filing of cases, electronic payment of fines, and electronic viewing of court records 24 hours a day.
He credited the former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Hastings, who passed away in 2010, for his foresight in the establishment of the Court of Appeals, which helps expedite appellate cases, and the passage of the Dispute Resolution Act, which established the use of mediation in Nebraska Courts. Chief Justice Heavican closed by reiterating the commitment of the judicial branch to efficiently fulfill their role of providing access to justice for all Nebraska citizens.
I have introduced five legislative bills this year. LB 761 would streamline a process created last year to require review and approval of cash gifts or donations used for the purchase of real property or structures. LB 960 harmonizes the appropriation of funding from the Health Care Cash Fund. LB 994 proposes to transfer funding from the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund to the State Colleges Sport Facilities Cash Fund. LB 995 updates statutes pertaining to county hospitals and places them on equal footing with their peer hospitals. LB 1061 attempts to reduce the valuation of agricultural land for school district taxation purposes by 2 percent per year for five years.
The Appropriations Committee, of which I chair, has completed initial agency briefings. We will now start the public hearing process on agencies and on bills that have been referred to the Appropriations Committee. One controversial bill that the committee will hear the first day of public hearings would appropriate $2 million for an environmental study to consider the impact of the placement of a hydroelectric dam on the Platte River. If the project proposed in LB 808, introduced by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, was found to be feasible and directed to proceed, it would create a lake between Omaha and Lincoln, where the community of Ashland is now located. Senators have received many letters, phone calls and e-mails from local residents expressing their opposition to this proposal, which has been rejected in previous attempts.
Again, I would like to encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and opinions on the legislation that is before the Legislature. I can be reached at District #1, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE  68509. My e-mail address is lheidemann@leg.ne.gov and my telephone number is (402) 471-2733.