Gov. Jim Pillen announces appointment to central Nebraska Unicameral seat

Fred Meyer was sworn in as Dist. 41′s state senator; the post was vacated when Tom Briese was appointed as state treasurer
Fred Meyer was appointed by Gov. Jim Pillen to serve as Nebraska's new state Senator from District 41.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 3:16 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 3:31 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Jim Pillen announced Wednesday afternoon that Fred Meyer — someone he had known “for a number of years” — will serve out the rest of Tom Briese’s term on the Nebraska’s Legislature.

The governor noted that there were 16 applicants for the post. Pillen said he knew a number of the candidates, and had recruited a few of them, and spoke with several on the phone.

“I was able to keep it a pretty simple process,” he said.

After brief comments from the governor and the incoming state senator, Secretary of State Bob Evnen then swore Meyer into office shortly after the announcement at the State Capitol in Lincoln.

A spokeswoman for the governor confirmed with 6 News after Wednesday’s announcement that Meyer will not be running for the district’s state senate seat once the remainder of Briese’s term comes to an end.

Pillen said he wanted to make sure the person he selected to fill the position was capable of filling out the remainder of Briese’s term, but also noted that a couple other candidates were already working to get elected to the post when the seat comes up for election.

The governor also said that neither he nor Meyer would be making any endorsements in that election.

“We believe that the people of Dist. 41 are best served to find out who works the hardest, who will be out to earn the seat, and that’s why,” Pillen said.

Meyer, of Saint Paul, Neb., located in Howard County, was raised on a farm near West Point and has several agricultural degrees. He said he was “truly humbled” by the appointment and was anxious to work under Pillen’s leadership.

He said that Pillen told him that one of the requirements of the appointment was that he fill out the session and that the voters of the 41st District decide who their representative would be.

“I was willing to fill out this one session. My wife and I have been going to Arizona for the last few years to enjoy the warm weather, so it was somewhat of a sacrifice that we did this,” he said, again thanking his wife, Kay.

Ahead of his swearing-in, Meyer praised Briese’s service to the district, particularly his efforts to reduce property taxes.

He also has experience in state government: He was appointed to the Dist. 6 state board of education in 1999 by then-Gov. Mike Johanns, and was re-elected to the position several times. Meyer noted that he served on the board at the same time Evnen.

Just before swearing in the new representative, Evnen said that Meyer had served as president of the board during the time they overlapped, calling Meyer ”a great leader of the board.”

The Dist. 41 seat, representing a section of central Nebraska, was vacated when State Sen. Tom Briese was appointed by the governor to serve as State Treasurer. The district is comprised of Wheeler, Boone, Greeley, Valley, Sherman, and Howard Counties, as well as portions of Buffalo and Hall counties.

Meyer said he was anxious to get started, noting there were several carry-over bills that will be tackled during the upcoming short 60-day session.

He said he’s passionate about education, agriculture, and natural resources, and hoped to be able to serve on correllating committees. Meyer he said he didn’t think he would be spearheading any major initiatives, but said he wanted to look at how ag land is valued in Nebraska, particularly scrutinizing profability versus selling price.

“I have a lot to learn, and I know that. But I have a good team to work with, with the governor’s staff, and I’m ready to get started,” he said just before taking the oath.

Meyer said that the biggest issue facing education in Nebraska was the lack of certified teachers. He said the state needs to prioritize encouraging young people to get into — and stay in — education, suggesting that investing in student teaching to make sure such interns are paid might help overcome that hurdle.

Watch Wednesday’s announcement

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News.