The Nebraska Legislature has begun its 2013 session with an expected focus on the state budget, tax cuts and a proposal to expand Medicaid.
Lawmakers convened Wednesday morning for a 90-day session. They return to Lincoln with the state facing a projected $194 million two-year budget shortfall, far less than the $1 billion hole they had to fill when they last wrote a budget in 2011.
“The further implementation of Obamacare, deliberations over Medicaid expansion, further discussion of roads and other transportation needs in our state, as always we're going to have some big budget issues to deal with this session,” said Sen. Beau McCoy.
The new session will usher in 10 new members, plus Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers. Chambers, the longest-serving and best-known state senator in Nebraska history, is returning after term limits forced him out of office four years ago.
Lawmakers elected York Sen. Greg Adams as the new speaker of the Legislature. Adams, a retired high school government and economics teacher, was elected to the Legislature in 2006. He previously served as the mayor of York.
Adams has served as chairman of the Legislature's Education Committee, where he helped broker deals on the state's K-12 school funding formula. He also has worked closely with the state's colleges. Adams replaces Norfolk Sen. Mike Flood, who was chosen as speaker in 2007.
Gov. Dave Heineman will deliver his State of the State address to lawmakers next Tuesday.