A new session of the Nebraska Unicameral began this morning at the Capitol in Lincoln as family and friends crowded into the George W. Norris Legislative Chamber.
The session features 18 new state senators.
The legislature will be working with a new governor as well, the first new governor in the state in 10 years.
Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts and his running mate, state Auditor Mike Foley, will be sworn into office tomorrow afternoon. Ricketts succeeds Gov. Dave Heineman, who leaves due to term limits after serving the longest term as governor in state history.
Lawmakers have elected Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney as the new Speaker of the Legislature. Hadley defeated Sen. Coby Coash of Lincoln for the position held by Sen. Greg Adams of York last year. Adams left the legislature due to term limits.
This year, the legislature will draft a two-year state budget. This is the longer of the two years in a legislative term, giving lawmakers more time to decide spending priorities.
Ricketts campaigned on cutting taxes, as did other legislative candidates. The Unicameral also will likely have to deal with a leftover issue: prisons. Lawmakers held numerous hearings during the interim period on prison overcrowding and the miscalculation of prison sentences.