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The Nebraska Legislature's Planning Committee was created in 2009 with the passage of LB 653 in order to help establish a process of long‐term state planning with the Nebraska Legislature. The committee was created to assist state government in identifying emerging trends, assets and challenges of the state and the long‐term implications of the decisions made by the Nebraska Legislature.

Efforts during the first two years of the committee focused on the development of a database. The goals and benchmarks included in the database were developed and approved by the Legislature's Planning Committee to present a common‐sense and data‐driven assessment of key areas important to Nebraskans' quality of life. This database was a joint initiative with the Nebraska Legislature's Planning Committee and the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service. The database was presented in a report that consisted of the data and summaries of the data for each of the nine categories of benchmarks established by the Planning Committee. Each year, the Planning Committee is in charge of updating the data for all benchmarks in each category. It is hoped that this will be of instrumental assistance to Legislators and staff as they craft and debate legislation each Session.

Beginning in 2012 the Planning Committee’s report included Policy Briefs. These Policy Briefs address some of the issues that were identified when reviewing the indicators presented in the database. The purpose of the Policy Briefs is to identify and explore in greater depth issues identified by the evidence presented. The Policy Briefs do not recommend specific policies but rather describe options and considerations that relate to the issues.

The four Policy Briefs contained in this report focus on a variety of areas: the first one focuses on Nebraska’s energy future; another brief looks at changes in Nebraska’s rural population; a third considers small business and entrepreneurship in Nebraska; and the final brief addresses K-12 finance reform.

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