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LINCOLN — New nameplates marked each seat in the legislative chamber.
Boxes occupied departing senators' offices.
Stacks of scratchpads and other office supplies awaited new senators in the clerk's office.
Technicians worked out last-minute computer glitches.
Preparations were well under way Tuesday for the kickoff of the 2013 session of the Nebraska Legislature.
The session starts today and is set to end June 5.
In the days between, 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.
Ten new senators and one returning veteran will join in undertaking the task.
Former State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha will be back, extending his 38-year legislative legacy after sitting 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, 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.”
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.”
Sue Crawford of Bellevue called it an “honor and privilege” to join the Legislature.
Lincoln's 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.
A swearing-in ceremony for newly elected senators will be one of the first orders of business. The agenda also includes the election of a new speaker of the Legislature and committee chairman.
Thursday will be the first day to introduce bills.
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