The North Bend Eagle


 

Janssen gives legislative update

State Senator Charlie Janssen
Released 2/10/14

We are over one-third of the way through the 2014 legislative session. Public testifiers continue to provide helpful input during our committee hearings each afternoon. Senators have started selecting individual senator priority bills for the year and several committees have also begun to identify their priorities for the remainder of the session. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Board meets at the end of this month to give us the final tax receipts projection before we adjourn in mid-April. Those numbers will play a part in what legislation crosses the finish line before adjournment. Our tax receipts currently are running higher than expected and we have ample room for significant, meaningful tax relief this year. An increase in the projection at the end of February could provide even more opportunities to reform our tax code and reduce Nebraskans’ tax burden.

Our tax receipts currently are running higher than expected and we have ample room for sugnificant tax relief this year.

Last week, I gave a quick overview of one of my new bills for the 2014 legislative session, LB 1011. It has received a great deal more attention in the past several days.

LB 1011 would amend our current law regarding voter-approved citizen initiative measures. At present, a municipality’s governing board may not attempt to amend or repeal a voter-approved citizen initiative measure until at least one year has passed since the measure was approved at the ballot box. LB 1011 would change the law to extend the time period that a governing board must wait before amending or repealing a citizen initiative to two years. LB 1011 would also clarify that the clock would not start until the city actually implemented the law that the voters approved.

It would seem obvious on its face that when voters initiate and approve their own new law, their designated governing body should acknowledge and implement the new change approved by the voters. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case in Nebraska. I introduced LB 1011 to make it clear that the will of the people should be respected and that their representatives should do what their constituents ask them to do via petition and majority vote.

The public hearing for LB 1011 took place on February 4th before the Urban Affairs Committee. The members of the committee and I had a good discussion about the reason for our law to prohibit governing bodies from amending or repealing a voter-approved citizen measure for a certain amount of time. We explored whether one year was the right amount of time, or if an alternative, such as LB 1011’s two years, may be better. We also had a good discussion about the need for language indicating full implementation of the measure. Reasonable minds can differ on that and I appreciated the diverse views of the members of the committee.

There was only one opponent to LB 1011. A lobbyist for the Nebraska League of Municipalities indicated her board’s decision not to support the bill. She then went well beyond that to disparage the voters of Fremont and, perhaps unintentionally, indicate her group’s disdain for voter-approved citizen initiative measures. It was unfortunate, inappropriate, and frankly, embarrassing behavior by this lobbyist. Days later, it was reported that her organization spent $15,000 to lobby against the voter-approved citizen initiative measure.

We have numerous thoughtful and engaging debates at the Nebraska statehouse. People disagree agreeably on a wealth of issues in the Nebraska Legislature. But we always strive to keep things respectful and avoid personal attacks. In nearly all cases, we succeed in doing so. It is my hope that as LB 1011 moves through our legislative process, we can leave behind for good the actions of one testifier that ignored this important tradition.

Please continue to share your thoughts with me on issues before the Legislature. I can be reached at 402.471.2625, cjanssen@leg.ne.gov, and District 15, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509.

 

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