The Latest on the first day of Nebraska’s 2019 legislative session

The Latest on the first day of Nebraska’s 2019 legislative session

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The Latest on the first day of Nebraska’s 2019 legislative session (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

The new chairwoman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee says she plans to start work right away on a property tax package to ease the burden on farmers, ranchers and homeowners.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, of Omaha, was elected Wednesday to lead the panel that oversees legislative tax policy.

Linehan says she hopes to find a plan that can win support from both agricultural and business groups, which have been at odds over tax policy in recent years.

She says, “We’re going to have to lock ourselves in a room until we come up with something.”

Linehan says she also will work closely with Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican who has identified property taxes as a major legislative priority.

2:30 p.m.

Nebraska lawmakers are showing a bipartisan tilt as they kick off a new session, electing senators from both parties to fill leadership positions in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.

The committee leadership votes Wednesday were a marked contrast from the last in-house elections two years ago, when conservative Republicans claimed nearly all the available chairmanships. Democrats and even some moderate Republican blasted the 2017 votes as a partisan power grab, while conservatives argued that it better reflected the GOP-dominated state.

This year, Democrats won four of the 14 standing committee chairmanships. Democrats gained seats in the November general elections but are still heavily outnumbered by Republicans.

Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer says the atmosphere of the first day was notably better Wednesday than it was after the GOP sweep two years ago.

10:50 a.m.

Nebraska state Sen. Jim Scheer has won re-election as speaker of the Legislature.

Scheer, of Norfolk, was uncontested Wednesday in his bid to serve another two-year term presiding over the Legislature. He was sworn into the position by Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican.

Scheer, a Republican, says he has always tried to act with integrity, fairness and consistency in the position, which he first won two years ago. He says he won’t give special treatment to any one senator and will treat the one-house, nonpartisan Legislature with respect.

The speaker sets the Legislature’s daily agenda, controls the length of debate on individual bills and serves as a public representative for the institution. Speakers also try to broker agreements among lawmakers when the Legislature has reached an impasse.

10:30 a.m.

Thirteen new state lawmakers have formally taken office in the Nebraska Legislature.

The newly elected and appointed were sworn into their positions Wednesday on the legislative session’s first day. Another 13 senators who were re-elected also began new four-year terms.

The new, ostensibly nonpartisan Legislature is now composed of 30 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one left-leaning independent. Despite their majority, GOP senators won’t have enough votes by themselves to overcome legislative filibusters.

Gov. Pete Ricketts will be sworn into office on Thursday.

10 a.m.

Nebraska lawmakers have kicked off a new legislative session that promises to include a bevy of challenging issues, including a push to reduce property taxes.

The new session began at 10 a.m. Wednesday with an expected focus on the state’s budget challenges. Lawmakers will also consider proposals to legalize medical marijuana, change prison-sentencing laws to reduce overcrowding, and expand a tax break to military retirees.

The new session also includes 13 new state senators.

Lawmakers will spend the first day electing committee leaders – a procedural matter that plays a key role in determining when bills get hearings and whether they pass. Senators will introduce legislation during the session’s first 10 days.

4:58 a.m.

Nebraska lawmakers are poised to begin a new legislative session with 13 new state senators and a variety of issues on their plate, including a push to reduce property taxes.

Lawmakers will continue to face budget challenges during the 90-day session that begins Wednesday at 10 a.m. They’ll also consider proposals to legalize medical marijuana, change prison-sentencing laws to reduce overcrowding, and expand a tax break to military retirees.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has promised to unveil a new property tax package.

Lawmakers will spend the first day electing committee leaders – a procedural matter that plays a key role in determining when bills get hearings and whether they pass. The senators introduce legislation during the session’s first 10 days.