LINCOLN – As Suzanne Geist nears the end of her first term as a Nebraska state senator, she continues to focus on areas that have become important to her over the last four years.
“I have designated my priority bill will be the dismemberment abortion bill, LB814,” she said.
Geist introduced the bill during the first week of the second session of the 106th Legislature, which began Jan. 8.
In addition to LB814, the state senator for District 25 is also working on a number of bills this session that deal with mental health and law enforcement. One of her primary focuses will be a bill that will help establish a pilot program for mental health courts. She said they are still working out funding details on this bill.
Another bill Geist is working on is still in the early stages, but will also deal with keeping law enforcement officers and mental health patients safe when they come in contact.
These areas have become a focus for Geist during her first term as a state senator and will continue on her radar for as long as she serves the people of District 25, which includes Waverly, part of Lincoln and much of Lancaster County.
“They are subjects I have a passion for,” she said.
A bill cleaning up language in Department of Motor Vehicles regulations is also a part of Geist’s agenda for 2020.
“I always have a DMV cleanup bill every session,” she said.
That may be because Geist is co-chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications committee. She is also a member of the Natural Resources Committee and chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee.
The Legislative Performance Audit Committee is one of the legislature’s special committees, which are not required to meet on a regular basis. This committee’s job is to look at old legislation to determine if it performed as it was originally intended, Geist explained.
For example, the committee has been studying business incentive legislation like the Nebraska Advantage Act to gauge if the state is “getting a good return on its investment,” she said.
The Nebraska Advantage Act will end in 2020. Sen. Mark Kolterman introduced LB720, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. It will set up a new tax incentive package with specific benchmarks that must be met for oversight, transparency and accountability, based on information provided by the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, Geist said.
“The committee was active in helping to advise legislation in LB720 because of their findings,” she added.
During the second session, Geist also plans to introduce a bill that will help ensure the Department of Health and Human Services stays in compliance with reporting of child and elderly abuse, so federal funding will continue.
The 60-day session will end April 23. During the session, Geist will start her re-election campaign to retain her seat for a second term. She was elected to the legislature in 2016 when she beat opponent Jim Gordon of Walton for the seat vacated by Kathy Campbell due to term limits.
“It is the only political office I’ve ever held,” said Geist.
Geist worked in sales for the data communication and pharmaceutical industries and was a stay-at-home mom
to her three children. All three careers played important roles in her life.
“They have contributed more to my background than anything else,” she said.
Geist grew up in Arkansas and came to Nebraska to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives in Lincoln with her husband, Mark Bradford Geist.