As February comes to an end it seems like winter refuses to. I’m not sure I’m ever going to believe that groundhog again, but I suppose the joke is on me if I ever believed him before! I hope you are all staying safe and warm in District 16.

We’ll take a break from property tax bill reviews this week and return to them in my next column. For now, I want to provide a quick review of the legislative process. Each bill must be first introduced by a senator, then it receives its public hearing where anyone may come and testify about the bill. A committee then discusses amendments to the bill and takes a vote on whether or not it should advance to General File, if it should be held until further changes are made, or if the bill should be held indefinitely in committee.

We dipped our toes into each stage of legislative debate this week. Bills are debated for the first time on General File, then for the second round on Select File. Amendments making changes to the bills can be offered during debate or discussed off the floor and brought at a later time. If a bill receives at least 25 votes it will advance to the next round. Periodically, as we did on Friday, we will fill the agenda with bills on Final Reading, making our final votes before the bills are sent to the Governor to sign into law. Each bill is read in its entirety on Final Reading with the exception of a few that are just too long to read. Senators voted on 45 bills during Final Reading last Friday.

Floor debate very energized on Thursday as Senator Brewer’s priority bill, LB 155, came up for debate. Constituents of Senator Brewer’s district comprised of Dawes, Sheridan, Cherry, Brown, Keya Paha, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine, Loup, McPherson, and Logan counties, filled the balcony as the debate heated up on the floor. The bill would have struck one sentence from state statute that says eminent domain for privately developed renewable energy generation facilities is a public use. Opponents of the bill argued this was an attempt at limiting the growth of renewable energy in Nebraska, but Sen. Brewer maintained his bill was about eliminating eminent domain for private development.

I agree with Sen. Brewer that eminent domain for private development should not be considered a public use. Nebraskans take pride in their land – families often own the same land for generations. Any private person or entity should be required to enter into good-faith negotiations if they wish to use another’s land. Eminent domain should not be available as a bargaining chip or final option for private developers. Though the bill fell two votes short of advancing, Sen. Brewer has vowed to bring it back next year.

As always, you’re welcome to contact my office at (402)-471-2728 to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl; or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell. You can also email me at bhansen@leg.ne.gov. To follow along with the session please visit nebraskalegislature.gov or you may watch the live stream when available at netnebraska.org

In other news

This past week will forever be remembered for the historic, devastating flooding our state experienced. In scope of reach, we believe it is the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history. As Nebraskans, we will get through this together as we always have.

Since my last column our state, and the 41st district in particular, has suffered through flooding of historical proportions. Nebraska has more miles of rivers than any other state in the US, and for the first time ever, every single river in the eastern part of the state has crested at a ne…

Recently, a catastrophic storm swept across the state of Nebraska. The western part of our state was confronted with extreme blizzard conditions, while central and eastern Nebraska are grappling with historic flooding. Entire communities are underwater, roads are closed or washed away, bridg…

Extreme weather has caused devastation in Northeast Nebraska and across the state. My thoughts and prayers are with all those that have been affected, especially farmers and ranchers. Our first responders have gone above and beyond these last few days. The Nebraska National Guard, Nebraska S…

It was another busy week in the House Ways and Means Committee with important hearings on tax policy and the state of our economy. We heard from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his annual testimony before the committee that the American economy is strong and our efforts at reforming the…

Lincoln – High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 9-12. At the State Capitol student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

LB 243, the bill I introduced to create the Healthy Soils Task Force, was advanced from the Agriculture Committee on a 7-0 vote. No one testified against it at the public hearing earlier this session. I have designated it as my priority bill, assuring that it will be discussed by the full Le…

Josh Moenning is the Mayor of Norfolk and a close friend of mine. Given the ongoing flooding, over a third of Norfolk had to evacuate because of rising water concerns. I texted Josh, and I called him. He did not answer me­­––and I am glad he didn’t. I know he is busy taking care of things, a…

It is National Ag Week in Nebraska, and we are celebrating our state’s number one industry. This week, the Department of Agriculture and I will be visiting with some of the farm families and ranchers who are building opportunity in communities across our state and growing the food that helps…