The 105th legislature adjourned on May 23. The unicameral passed more than 170 bills in 86 working days. Our lawmakers meet each year in Lincoln to try and move the needle for the people of our state. As the state senators head home to reflect on the months of work completed, and begin planning for the new session starting in seven months, it’s a great time for reflection by us, their constituents.
What did you think of the legislative session? Did you follow it? Do you know what positions your senator took on bills? Do you know if your state senator acted in a way that represents your district and the interests of your district? Is your representative doing their job?
Our Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professionals Council vigilantly watched the legislative session. We monitored bills that we felt impacted our metropolitan and state community. One we took a position on, the workplace equality bill, contacting the network of senators showing our support. Some bills we watched and discussed, debating the pros and cons, the fiscal impacts and the communal impacts. Others were frankly a waste of time.
Over the last year our Council has made it a priority to bring public policy and civic engagement to our programming, content and education. We’ve included write-ups in our newsletters, hosted the mayoral forum at the Summit and blasted out voting reminders through Facebook. We are doing this because we believe that the next round of Omaha leaders is within our young professional ranks, ready to make a difference and push our state to the next level.
While the legislative session is over, there are still public policy decisions going on all around us. The city council, MUD board and school board meet year-round, making decisions regularly that shape our community and its future. It goes on every day and is changing all the time. For instance, the Omaha Public School Board currently has a vacancy in District 4. Who will fill that spot and try to bring sensibility and an added sense of direction to that board? Do you know someone in District 4 that can be the difference? Are you that difference maker?
As you take time to reflect on the legislative session, the good and the bad, I encourage you to reflect on what role you play in our community. Maybe you will make your mark by showing up to the polls each time a primary or general election calls. Perhaps you will volunteer for a candidate or a party and speak out on specific issues. Or call your senator when you feel compelled on a certain topic. Could you also be one of the next state senators from Omaha? Maybe you are at a crossroads and the only thing left to do is start planning your election bid.