LINCOLN – Nebraska lawmakers got down to work Wednesday, electing State Sen. Greg Adams of York without opposition as the new speaker of the Legislature.
Adams has chaired the Education Committee for four years. A former mayor of York, he taught American government and economics at York High School until retiring and running for the Legislature.
Adams promised to pursue an agenda of “fairness above all else.”
He also promised to work on making good policy, protecting the Legislature as an institution and helping his colleagues to be the best senators they can be.
Lawmakers began the day with a swearing-in ceremony for newly elected senators.
The group includes 10 brand new members, one returning veteran and 15 re-elected senators.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha was among the newly sworn-in senators. He is extending his 38-year legislative legacy after being forced to sit out a term.
Despite recently calling himself “the new kid on the block,” his return adds an element of uncertainty to the session.
Chambers previously called himself the “King Cobra” for his ability to block legislation.
Among the brand-new senators, Sen. John Murante of Gretna, a former legislative aide, said he is looking forward to getting down to work.
“I think we have a good freshman class,” he said. “We have people who are ready to hit the ground running.”
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha admitted to a bit of nervousness, even though she has the example of her mother, departing Sen. Gwen Howard, to follow.
“I've never done this before,” Howard said. “The decisions we make can impact a lot of lives.”
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue called it an “honor and privilege” to join the Legislature.
Lincoln's Sen. Kate Bolz said she was “ready to get started.”
With the new lawmakers, the officially nonpartisan Legislature will be slightly less Republican than the previous one: The 49-member body will have 30 Republicans, 17 Democrats and two independents.
Senators were to finish out Wednesday by electing new chairmen for legislative committees.
The session is set to end June 5.
By then, lawmakers are expected to craft a new two-year state budget and tackle taxes, Medicaid, charter schools, life in prison, seat belt laws, abortion and much more.
Thursday will be the first day to introduce bills.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained a photo in which Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse was incorrectly identified.
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