The Unicameral Begins Session Today

Today’s Lincoln Journal Star discusses a few things related to the beginning of the session.  Since the session begins in a little over an hour, and looks to be largely a pro-forma meeting to formally assign committees and elect officers, I thought I might just toss the Journal Star’s items out there for consideration.  Obviously, during a “long session” (which whill go until early June), much more will be considered.

  1. Death Penalty Issues: The State Supreme Court declared the electric chair unconstitutional, leaving Nebraska with no means for implementing the Death Penalty.  Will the legislature pass a Lethal Injection bill?  The Journal Star seems to think so.
  2. Immigration Issues: Should the state implement a means of dealing with illegal immigration?  Should it mandate that employers be responsible for verifying the legal status of employees (beyond, one assumes, the current requirements that employers already fulfill)?  How does Nebraska deal with the impact of immigration on its communities?
  3. Children in Crisis Issues:  Further brought to light after last year’s “Safe Haven” law–intended to be a way for allowing newborns to be dropped off at hospitals–turned sour and resulted in a number of older children being dropped off as a means for getting them psychological and other support.
  4. Budget Issues:  The state currently has about a $590 million cash reserve.  How fast is that going to get spent down?  How will legislators deal with ever increasing demands for state funding, without spending that reserve?  And is more spending of the reserve a good idea in economic hard times?
  5. Tax Issues:  Almost no one likes taxes.  Nebraska is–with the combination of property, income, sales, gas and other taxes–consistently one of the top 20 taxed states in the country, and has occasionally slipped into the top 10.  We’re not likely to get tax cuts this year, with the uncertainty of the economy.  The question is, can we avoid tax increases and still pay the bills.
  6. Crime Bills: Attorney General Bruning is promoting a package of crime-fighting bills which would especially target on-line predators.  One bill would make is illegal for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.  No indications on how, exactly, the state would enforce that.

We’ll be watching, and if you hear of things going on in the Legislature that you’d like us to dig into a bit more, be sure to leave us a comment.

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Filed under Appropriations Committee, Health & Human Service Committee, Judiciary Committee, Nebraska Legislature, Revenue Committee

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