New Senators Gather at Capitol for Orientation

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Just a week after mid-term elections, new senators are already getting a how-to on the way the legislature works. Seventeen new elects met at the state capitol Wednesday for an orientation.

New lawmakers are ready to get to work, but just like any job, making decisions for the state requires some training. New legislators met at the capitol to do just that, which included going over the unicameral's history, personal responsibilities and what to expect in January.

"I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment, but that's okay," Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell said. "That's to be expected and that's just part of the process."

Property taxes, infrastructure and education are just a few of the issues the new elect said he hopes to tackle during his time in the legislature.

The senator ran unopposed in this year's elections and is one of few new lawmakers representing central Nebraska. Kuehn is taking veteran Tom Carlson's seat in the chamber, and although he said he has some big shoes to fill, he's ready for the challenge.

"I'm honored to be chosen by the voters of my district to do so," Kuehn said. "It certainly means that I have a responsibility to work for not only my district, but also the spirit of cooperation that [Carlson] also exhibited here in the Lincoln and worked for the good of all Nebraskans, not just my district."

Before discussing policy, the new lawmakers must get acquainted with their surroundings and each other, and the legislature clerk said that might take some time.

"We'll process several hundred bills, we'll have priority bills that we'll work through and we'll pass the budget," Clerk Patrick J. O'Donnell said. "The work will get done, there's no question about that. It may take us a little longer to do some things, but that's okay. That's why we're here, to do the public's business."

The orientation will continue throughout the week and new senators will participate in a mock legislative session next month. The new session will begin in early January.

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