Halloran to head ag committee
State Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings will head the committee overseeing agricultural issues in the Nebraska Legislature for the next two years.
The first session of the 106th Legislature opened Wednesday with swearing-in of new senators and electing of officers.
Included in those elections was the tapping of chairpersons for the 14 standing committees that hold hearings on all bills introduced by senators.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Halloran indicated that he was the only senator to throw his hat in the ring for the Agriculture Committee chairman.
“I put my name out there fairly early as a way to inform people I was heading that direction,” he said from his office at the state Capitol in Lincoln.
Halloran said he was honored to have been elected and hopes that people see this appointment as a good fit.
“Being a fifth-generation farmer, the previous experience of the previous four generations and my own experience has taught me respect for agriculture, what it has to go through, and respect for the farmers and ranchers for taking care of the soil and resources they’ve been granted to take care of and be subject to the whims of the marketplace,” he said.
Halloran said the committee’s work isn’t always glamorous. Members deal with issues from brand issues for livestock and fencing to pesticides and a whole number of topics he said people from urban areas don’t know about.
“But it’s the largest industry we have,” he said of the state’s ag sector.
The key as a senator and as a committee chair, Halloran said, is to know when to legislate and when to leave a topic well enough alone. He said sometimes the unintended consequences get in the way and he doesn’t want that to happen with the state’s largest industry.
“It will be exciting,” he said. “It’s an honor.”
Fellow Tribland Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson was re-elected as chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done,” Friesen said in a telephone interview. “We’ve only touched surface of getting broadband to the rural areas, and roads have always been an important issue in the 3rd (Congressional) District. There’s always plenty to do.”
Friesen said that while broadband expansion into rural areas is an ongoing issue, he said a task force report on the subject isn’t due until the end of 2019 so he expects more bills on that to come in 2020. He said there could be some small things in 2019, however.
The following is the full list of standing committee chairmanship appointments:
—Agriculture: Steve Halloran
—Appropriations: John Stinner
—Banking, Commerce and Insurance: Matt Williams
—Business and Labor: Matt Hansen
—Education: Mike Groene
—General Affairs: Tom Briese
—Government, Military and Veterans Affairs: Tom Brewer
—Health and Human Services: Sara Howard
—Judiciary: Steve Lathrop
—Natural Resources: Dan Hughes
—Nebraska Retirement Systems: Mark Kolterman
—Revenue: Lou Ann Linehan
—Transportation and Telecommunications: Curt Friesen
—Urban Affairs: Justin Wayne