104th Legislature Convenes on Sad Note


Returning back to work in January started on a sad note in our office and the Capitol.  On January 3rd we learned of the unexpected death of the father of our newly hired Legislative Aide, Tom Venzor. His father was a great man, husband and father who will be dearly missed. At this time, Tom is needed by his family and will be joining us once again in our office when able. We were also saddened to learn on January 8th, a loved, valued and respected Legislative Aide, Chris Keetle unexpectedly passed. As we start this year with heavy hearts and prayers of comfort for these two families, we realize we must move forward in a renewed spirit of hope and promise for the many days ahead.

 

Day 1, Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 our First Session of the One Hundred Fourth Legislature convened. I was among 49 State Senators, families, friends, staff and others gathered to participate or witness the traditional swearing in ceremony. Following came the business of the adoption of temporary rules, election of permanent officers, election of a new speaker, oath of officers, election for chairpersons for the committee on committees, executive board, vice-chairperson of the executive board and election of standing committee chairpersons.  Senator Bill Kintner rose to announce he will bring before the Rules Committee a motion to make voting for chairmanships public and not by secret ballot. We were reminded voting for chairmanships has only been by secret ballot since 1976 and public, open ballot prior to that since 1937. I believe in transparency and will support this motion.

 

Following my re-election I announced my bid in late November for the Chairman of Agriculture Committee and knew it was going to be a steep uphill climb as Senator Jerry Johnson, LD 23, announced his bid following session in the Spring of 2014. Although he won by just one vote, I know he is a man of exceptional experience and abilities and be an excellent chairman. Should I have been elected, I would have been the first woman to serve our Unicameral as an Agriculture Chairwoman in its 78 year history. The standing committees I will serve on are the Revenue Committee and Transportation and Telecommunications, on which I will serve as Vice-Chair.

 

Day 2 began with introduction of new bills and adoption of our temporary rules.  The Inaugural Oath of Offices took place in the afternoon, where swearing in took place for many including the Board of Regents, State Board of Education, Public Service Commission, Attorney General-Elect, State Auditor-Elect, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor-Elect, and the Governor-Elect.

 

It was a great pleasure and honor to be named as one of 5 escorts to lead, at that time, Governor-Elect Pete Ricketts to be sworn in as our new governor. Governor Ricketts’ Inaugural Address was outstanding and his vision for leadership is innovative and inspiring.

 

Day 3 was another day of bill introduction with only 10 days that are allowed for new bill introduction. January 21st is the final day of bill introduction. Once our office is fully staffed we will resume introducing our legislation.

 

The Inaugural Gala took place on Saturday, where Lee and I were greeted by many familiar and dear faces from across our District and State. It was a joyful celebration that will be long remembered by many.

 

In our office Tom Venzor is my Legislative Aide and Katie Wattermann as my Administrative Aide.  Tom is from Schuyler and has an extensive background in various legal work.  Katie is from West Point and knows the district like the back of her hand. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me and my office via email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov or via phone at 402-471-2728; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Senator Lydia Brasch

Senator Lydia Brasch

Senator Brasch: Interim Update


In just over seven weeks, the 104th Legislature will convene with 17 new senators beginning their tenure, along with a newly elected governor, attorney general, and state auditor. I will also be starting my second term representing District 16. The Capitol is once again filled with increased activity preparing for the upcoming session. This interim has been especially busy and challenging, but fulfilling.

 

I was heartened by our community spirit witnessed when, like countless others, I worked in various capacities following multiple natural disasters. Becoming whole once again to some may have seemed very distant or unachievable from the mounds of broken glass caused by damaging baseball sized hail to twisted metal silos, feedyards relentlessly beaten beyond recognition, countless piles of uprooted trees that once stood tall, and scattered remnants of homes and farmsteads left behind from devastating tornadoes. Yet today, one sees where determination and strong will prevailed as communities are rebuilding ever stronger and more resilient.

 

Thankfully, most received enough rain over the summer to pull out of prior drought conditions. Despite weather related setbacks a successful harvest has been completed or nears completion as we wait for the snow and frigid temperatures to subside.

 

As in years before much of my time was spent visiting or working with constituents of District 16. In the 151 work days since adjournment, I attended over 150 district events, including:

Our three County fairs, with 11 parades;

An annual ride-along review of District 16’s Game and Parks land;

Two annual Road Department ride-alongs (I even operated the concrete paver equipment!); plus

Multiple grand openings/ribbon cuttings or constituent meetings.

 

In September, I was honored to be chosen among 48 policymakers nationwide to participate in the prestigious Henry Toll Fellowship Program coordinated by the Council of State Governments in Lexington, Kentucky. I learned additional skills to effectively advocate for my constituents and navigate and build sound agency relationships for best results for legislation. I also gained valuable advice and a new network of 47 Fellow leaders from coast to coast.

 

A number of important issues we responded to include:

The proposed rule change to the Definition of the Waters of the United States by the EPA;

Various Army Corp of Engineer projects along the Missouri River which disregard landowners’ property rights; and

Multiple Department of Roads issues.

 

I look forward building upon my work and the privilege to once again serve our district and state. We are scheduling Town Hall meetings on December 4 in each county seat to listen to constituents’ views in considering legislation to introduce, support or oppose prior to session commencing January 7, 2015. We also invited representatives from the Nebraska Department of Roads to join us for an update of district projects underway.

 

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me and my office via email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov or via phone at 402-471-2728; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

 

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

 

Lydia Brasch

Senator, District 16

Senator Lydia Brasch

Senator Lydia Brasch

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