About a year and a half ago the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture started a government affairs committee. The purpose of the committee is to be a place to proactively talk about updates, struggles or concerns regarding local schools, government and city officials and other interested parties.

Last Thursday during the weekly Kiwanis meeting, members of the government affairs committee gave an update from their group.

Jeremy Norby with the chamber said, “We wanted to revamp some things at the chamber and this group was one of them.”

Members of the committee include individuals from Richland Economic Development, Sidney Chamber, school district, Richland County, City of Sidney, the town of Fairview, Rep. Joel Krautter and Sen. Steve Hinebauch.

Over the course of the year the committee has been meeting, topics such as fuel tax bills, city updates, the Yellowstone disposal site, irrigation project, the Waste Water Treatment Plant and many more have been discussed.

Mayor Rick Norby was quoted as saying at the start of the groups meetings he hopes the group will continue to cohesively work together with legislature coming, and continue the open lines of communication, which is the purpose of this board.

Committee chair Jessica Redfield said they routinely met with both Krautter and Hinebauch during the legislative session.

“We discuss all different topics, but we make sure that we’re all on the same page,” Redfield said.

Redfield said she hopes to continue to collaborate with local businesses and discuss concerns regarding any topics the community may have.

Most recently, current house bills have seemed to be a main topic at the committee meetings. Hinebauch discussed HB 715 which generally revises laws related to state finance and provide for fiscal studies and HB 352 which revises laws related to the state budget, saying they are clean bills, but are being amended consistently.

House Bill 597 to revise utility regulation was brought up by Rick Norby, but Hinebauch said he didn’t know where things stood with that exact bill.

“A lot of times things happen, even at the local level and the community doesn’t even know what they are and how they really affect them,” Jeremy Norby Said.

They aim to get people to join their group so they can learn about these issues and how they actually do affect them.

“Now that the session is over, the goal is to utilize the committee and to put things in place in Sidney,” Jeremy Norby said.

The group is trying to attract more young professionals to the area. To do so, things need to be in place in town.

Rick Norby said one of the things that he was grateful to have accomplished this legislative session was the success of HB 656, the oil and gas bill that will bring money back into Sidney.

“My hats off to you guys, all of you, for making this a very positive group,” Rick Norby said during the Kiwanis meeting.

Rick Norby also thanked the county for all the work they’ve done and put into the city over the years. He said they do a lot for the city and he really appreciate that.

“I’m looking forward to talking more about local issues and how we can make a difference. I think it’s important to have the mayor of Sidney and the mayor of Fairview and commissioners and the schools come together,” said executive director of the Chamber, Bill Vander Weele.

The group will tentatively meet again Wednesday, June 13, city hall, at 7 a.m.

“As for joining the committee, it’s just been a very relaxed. People can request to be on my email chain, and it’s open to the public, so anyone can attend,” Redfield said.

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