LINCOLN — The Nebraska Legislature convenes today for its 2014 session.
It's a short 60-day session, but one with lots of big issues on the agenda: taxes, Medicaid, gay marriage, mountain lion hunting and prison overcrowding, among them.
It's also the last year in office for numerous state senators and Gov. Dave Heineman.
Here's a look at some issues that lawmakers are expected to grapple with this session:
Look for another attempt to get charter schools in Nebraska. Lawmakers balked at earlier proposals to authorize publicly funded schools operating outside of school board control, even when sold as a way to overcome Omaha's achievement gap.
A likely debate about ending Nebraska's system of splitting electoral college votes would bring out partisan politics, even in the nonpartisan Legislature. Republicans want to return to a winner-takes-all system before the next presidential election.
Protective gear may be needed when lawmakers debate yet again whether to let adult motorcycle riders ride without a helmet. The argument pits health costs and safety concerns against tourism revenue and freedom from government restrictions.
Some lawmakers think it's time to revisit Nebraska's constitutional ban on gay marriage, with 17 states and the federal government recognizing such marriages. Attitudes have changed since the ban passed but putting the repeal question before voters remains a long shot.
As electronic cigarettes have grown in popularity, so have calls for regulating the devices. Watch for bills aimed at keeping them out of the hands of minors and, perhaps, including them under the statewide indoor smoking ban.
Grand Island leaders hope to enlist the Legislature in their fight to keep the Grand Island Veterans Home. The governor announced plans to move the home to Kearney, following a bidding process last year.