Nebraska state senators prepare for challenging new legislative session

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - With the first session of 2019 coming up, state senators are going to be discussing things that can make a big impact.

Local4 spoke with Senators Dan Quick, Curt Friesen, and John Lowe about what they expect to come from this session.

They are set to meet on January 9 and senators are going to be coming in with a number of different things their districts want to see changed.

“There are so many different topics that we need to address,” Senator Quick said. “Helping children, helping people with mental health, substance abuse, and their medical health too because we will have the medicaid expansion as well.”

But the main topics on Nebraskan's minds are balancing the budget and property tax. Surveys show that Nebraska has high property taxes that are collected by districts to fund schools, and city and county needs. But some homeowners don't believe the tax is fair.

Voters also approved the expansion of medicaid in the state and the legislature will have to find a way to fund the program for the first year.

“The people passed it so I mean we will deal with it,” Senator Friesen said. “Right now we offer what we might call a Cadillac medicaid program. We offer programs that are not required so there could be cases where we trim back services to help pay for it. I don't know what the governor has got in mind.”

Many of the smaller issues like medical health and other issues are likely to take a backseat to the budget and tax issues.

“But they should be the dominant questions,” Senator Lowe said. “The other bills we are looking at yeah they need to take a sideline to what this is. This is Nebraska's taxpayers concern.”

The first session is slated to introduce the 11 new senators and Governor Ricketts has appointed Andrew La Grone and Julie Slama to fill two vacant seats.

This legislative session will last for 90 days and will conclude on June 6.