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The 107th Nebraska Legislature convened for its first session on Wednesday, January 6th.  The ninety-day session began with the swearing in of those elected to the Legislature in November’s election and followed by elections for leadership positions including Speaker and various committee chairs.  There are eight newly elected senators including three that had previously served in the body.  The three returning senators include Mike Flood of Norfolk, Rich Pahls of Omaha, and Ray Aguilar of Grand Island.  Flood was a former Speaker and Pahls was a former Chairman of the Banking Committee. 

It is unclear exactly what impact the pandemic will have on the operations of the session but early indicators are that the session will go on as planned with significant safeguards put into place to protect the safety of the senators, legislative staff, and the public.  The first ten days of the session are dedicated to bill introduction followed by weeks of public hearings on every legislative bill introduced. 

The League’s chief advocacy officer Brandon Luetkenhaus said that priorities for the session will include enabling electronic signatures on auto title transfers, providing parity for state-chartered credit unions with FCUs, protecting credit unions in any data privacy legislation, fighting any banker attacks on credit unions, and extending COVID relief measures. 

Two major issues will dominate the 2021 legislation session: the budget and redistricting. Even though the state’s projected tax receipts are strong at this point, the budget debate will be contentious, especially in light of COVID-related economic issues. Taxes will also be an issue – most groups are not satisfied with the 2019 property tax relief package – therefore, there will be much discussion about property, income and sales tax reform. Other issues will include police reform, TEEOSA public school funding and gambling.