Our physical office at the Capitol may be closed but my staff and I have been hard at work in the District and remote from our homes.
My week has included assessing current status, answering questions, and finding answers for many individuals and agencies all over District 17.
I am proud to report that throughout the District, I have found communities to be compliant with safety guidelines and coming together to creatively socialize even while observing social distancing.
Some example of creativity can be found in the emergence of the “Corona Cruise”, in Wayne and Dakota counties, where residents exercising social-distancing while driving their neighborhoods and waving at neighbors. Additionally, in Pender, the residents go out onto their driveways and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together at 9:00 A.M. What a great way to start the day!
My Administrative Assistant and I visited all three counties in the District to listen to concerns and needs, to discuss the President and the Governor’s directives, and to discuss local efforts including school closings, social distancing, meeting size limitations, feeding programs for school age children, and more concerning the Coronavirus and COVID 19.
For discussions in the District we combined small in-person groups with more modern technology of Zoom, etc., that allow us to meet in groups
fewer than ten and to maintain social distancing guidelines. On Thursday and Friday, we met with the following:
Thursday, March 26, 2020
· Macy, Nebraska: Thurston County and Omaha Tribal Emergency Managers, Tribal leaders, law enforcement, first responders, Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department administrators, school officials, and community leaders.
· Dakota County Health Department & Emergency Management: DCHD Director, DCEM Director, SSC Chief of Police. Discussion included special challenges during this time for communities operating with shared state borders.
Friday, March 27, 2020
· Wayne County, Wayne Area Economic Development Office. Met with WAED Executive Director Luke Virgil and produced the weekly Chamber Facebook broadcast. We discussed the challenges faced by local businesses and creative solutions being implemented by many. I also updated viewers about the latest from the Governor’s office and the importance of following the guidelines provided by the State Health Department.
· Wayne County Emergency Management: visited with the County Emergency Manager and Wayne County Commissioners. In addition to the topics noted above, we
discussed challenges for children of essential personnel like health department, nurses, fire, rescue, and law enforcement.
· Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD): We discussed the commendable actions of members of District 17 in following the guidelines of social distancing, maintaining healthy hygiene practices and working to keep everyone safe during this time. Weekly calls are taking place with schools.
At this point, I want to give a huge shout out to our District 17 newspapers, radio, and television stations. They have done a wonderful job of keeping residents fully informed and up to date during this crisis. As a reminder, there is more information available in the District by going to the website of Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD), watching the weekly Wayne Area Economic Development (WAED) programming with Luke Virgil, at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website. Additionally, the Governor is holding daily briefings that are broadcast on weekdays at 2 PM on 98.9 FM in Wayne and at NET TV.
The Legislature met on Monday and Wednesday March 23 and 25 to pass an emergency $83.6 million appropriations bill to help families, health care providers, and businesses get through this health crisis.
The Legislature will reconvene upon the call and direction of the Speaker.
Speaker Scheer announced on Wednesday that, because of the delays and uncertainties of dates that it will reconvene, his plan is that, when the Legislature does reconvene, we will meet for six days straight for two weeks, and finish off the 17 days remaining for the session the following week.
My office is preparing to hear a large number of bills in a fairly short time. One of the primary debates I expect we will have upon return is property tax relief. Earlier in the session, LB974 was introduced and had first round debate. Since that debate, Senator Linehan and members of the Revenue Committee have been working with schools, governing bodies, and other Senators to make changes that are acceptable to them while still moving forward with the primary goal of property tax relief for landowners across the state. The result of that work has taken the form of LB1106, which incorporates LB974 and the changes. My office is researching and analyzing the changes so that I can present updated information and comparisons in my newsletter next week.
As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me at email@example.com or by calling my office at 402.471.2716.