Senators prep for tackling issues at the Unicameral from education to prison reform
GRAND ISLAND - The opening of the 2019 legislative session is a few weeks away and lawmakers are gearing up to address key issues.
Three state senators spoke at a legislative kickoff event in Grand Island last week: Curt Friesen who represents Aurora and Central City, Dan Quick of Grand Island and John Lowe of Kearney.
Senator Friesen, who serves on the Revenue Committee, says sometimes even the smallest issues can spark a big debate.
“I remember the first year I was there, we spent I don’t know how long, it was a full-fledged filibuster on raising the cost of a marriage license,” Friesen says. “I think in the end, we raised it five bucks but we spent hours on it. We did learn the rules and it’s going to be interesting again.”
Senator Quick, who is on the General Affairs Committee, says substance abuse is a big concern in Nebraska and he thinks the state can handle it better, especially opioids.
“We’ve got people in prisons who’ve had mental health issues and substance abuse issues that really don’t belong in prison,” Quick says. “They needed to have help with those issues. A lot of states are doing a lot of great things to try to help the people that have substance abuse issues to get them the help they need so they can get back into the community.”
Senator Lowe, who serves on the Business and Labor Committee, says the Medicaid Expansion will be a tough issue to tackle in this legislative session.
“Talking with other senators and congressmen from across the country, they said are you ready for the government to not pay its fair share? Now, that’s frightening,” Lowe says. “We’re looking at $50-million paying for Medicaid expansion that we’ve just voted in that is now mandatory. We can’t do anything about that.”
Other issues discussed at the event include: the budget, education, government overspending, property taxes and prison overcrowding. The Legislative session opens January 9th.