NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Julie Slama

Sen. Julie Slama

District 1

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at jslama@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 9th, 2019

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 1st legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Julie Slama

Week of March 4th
March 19th, 2019

Hot Topic Bills

We are now into the ninth week of session, and things are beginning to speed up in the Legislature. Many of you have contacted me about bills that have been heard recently, and I wanted to share my stance on the ones that have drawn the most attention.

LB 54 was introduced by Senator Lowe and I support it. This bill deals with changing provisions relating to carrying a concealed weapon. Thanks to a recent Nebraska court case, a person without a concealed carry permit who has lawfully purchased a gun must open carry the firearm at all times to prevent violation of our current concealed carry statutes.The main idea with LB 54 is to allow those who are transporting firearms for any lawful purpose to or from any place where such firearm may be lawfully possessed to keep their firearm unloaded and stored in a case. The case needs to be a hard-sided or soft-sided box, container, or receptacle intended or designed for the purpose of storing or transporting the firearm. The firearm can also be in the manufacturer’s original packaging. For example, if you are going or leaving a shooting range but you do not have your concealed carry, you will be able to follow the gun range’s rules of transport without being in violation of Nebraska state law. This is a common-sense bill which I support.

Another hot topic bill that I support is LB 657 that was introduced by Senator Wayne. This bill would adopt the Nebraska Hemp Act and permit our farmers to grow hemp as a crop. Hemp is defined as the cannabis plant which cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. Industrial hemp cannot get a person “high”, and hemp is unsuitable for marijuana production. The 2018 Farm Bill that was recently signed by President Trump makes it clear that industrial hemp can be grown domestically as well as imported. LB 657 is supported by numerous organizations including Nebraska Farm Bureau and several farmers in our district. I support LB 657 and look forward to continuing my support of it on the floor.

Last Thursday, March 7, was the day for hearings in the Judiciary Committee for bills relating to the death penalty. The most controversial bill of the day was LB 44 (Chambers), which would eliminate the death penalty. I do not support LB 44. In 2016, Nebraskans voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the death penalty. I will defend their decision and support the death penalty.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 25th
March 19th, 2019

LB 58 & The 2nd Amendment

This week in the Legislature, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on LB 58, which is a “Red Flag” law proposed by Senator Morfeld to remove firearms from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. As a proud gun owner and defender of the 2nd Amendment, I oppose this bill.

Although I believe current statutes can tie law enforcement’s hands in extreme situations, LB 58 is not a solution to their problem. LB 58 proposes the creation of Extreme Risks Protection Orders (ERPOs), which could be filed by those currently or formerly having a relationship with the person. This includes current or former spouses, children, current and former girlfriends and boyfriends, and law enforcement. The ERPO will be heard in court and a judge will determine if the order will be granted. If it is, all firearms that the person has “reasonable access” to will be confiscated for up to one year.

The court must find that there is a “preponderance of the evidence” showing that the person is a threat to themselves or others in order to grant the ERPO. This burden of proof is much easier to meet than the higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence”. In short, if the court finds that there is a 51% chance that the person poses a risk to themselves or others, their firearms would be confiscated. To be clear, the person does not need to be accused of a crime in order to have their firearms taken away under LB 58. This standard compromises due process and is far too low to confiscate an otherwise law-abiding citizens’ firearms.

There is also a question of where these confiscated firearms will be stored. A single ERPO could yield several dozen firearms, which would then be held by law enforcement for up to one year. Our facilities in District 1 simply don’t have the space or the resources available to accommodate the quantity of firearms that could be confiscated.

My greatest concern is the scope of the ERPOs. When successfully filed with the court, law enforcement may then take away any firearms that the person has “reasonable access” to. This could extend to any firearms within the person’s household. For example, if the person’s spouse has weapons in their possession, the spouse, who has done nothing wrong except for living under the same roof as the other person, could have their firearms taken away.

The 2nd Amendment is a cornerstone of our Constitution, but LB 58 treats it like an afterthought. I appreciate everyone who has contacted my office in the last few weeks to share their concerns about this bill. Rest assured, I will stand opposed to LB 58 and any other legislation that would take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 18th
March 19th, 2019

Property Tax Relief

It’s no secret: Nebraska is facing a property tax crisis. Obtaining sustainable property tax relief is my top priority in this session. Nebraska ranks 12th in property tax collections per capita according to the Tax Foundation. This session, there are a number of property tax bills seeking to relieve the property tax burden Nebraskans face. On February 14, the Revenue Committee heard three of those bills, LB 314 introduced by Senator Tom Briese, LB 497 introduced by Senator Curt Friesen, and LB 677 introduced by Senator Mike Groene.

Among the many provisions in LB 314, the bill seeks to collect internet sales taxes from sellers, both with a physical presence in Nebraska, and those without, to submit sales tax if the company has gross revenue sales exceeding $100,000, or 200 or more transactions in the state. LB 314 also seeks to raise revenue through increases in alcoholic beverage taxes and cigarette taxes. Certain items and services currently exempt from sales tax will be taxed beginning January 1, 2020. Items such as motor vehicle repair, dry cleaning, personal care services such as haircuts, massages, and tanning, and pet related services would be subject to tax, as would candy, soft drinks and water. Membership and admission fees to zoos and aquariums would lose their tax exemption under LB 314. Among the provisions that would affect businesses is a change in provisions for S Corporations and limited liability companies. A documentary tax stamp increase is also proposed in LB 314. Provisions regarding special education funding, income taxes in the TEEOSA formula, and the property tax credit cash fund are also contemplated in the bill. LB 314 has the support of many educational groups across Nebraska.

LB 497, Senator Friesen’s version of property tax relief, has some provisions similar to Senator Briese’s LB 314, but also has its own attempt at relief. Under LB 497, as in LB 314, alcohol taxes and cigarette taxes will be increased. Sales and use taxes are imposed on certain services, as well as food for home consumption. The elimination of the tax exemption for membership and admission fees is also a component of LB 497.  

Under LB 497, the School District Property Tax Authority Act will have phased in a minimum state aid guarantee over three years. This aid is to equal 50% of basic funding as determined by the TEEOSA formula. LB 497 also phases in a reduction in the value of ag land for school district purposes, and lowers the local effort rate in TEEOSA. This bill will also establish an annual maximum property tax authority for each school district, and requires a one-time credit to the state’s Cash Reserve Fund of $150 million. LB 497 has the support of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, as well as the Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Working Group.

Finally, Senator Groene has proposed LB 677. In LB 677, a reduction in the maximum levy for school districts would be imposed. School district property tax relief would be available for school systems that qualify. If school districts are receiving aid, they must decrease the amount of estimated taxes to be raised in the proposed school budget by 25% of the property tax gap for the fiscal year that the school is receiving aid. A school district is allowed to override this reduction. However, to do so, they must have ⅔ of the board members vote to do so, and the board must identify the purpose of such funds from the override and a public hearing must be held. Option enrollment relief correction is provided under LB 677. To qualify for this relief, the school district must not qualify for school district property tax relief and the net option funding for the local school system cannot be greater than 90% of the preliminary calculation of state aid.

Along with these three bills, there are also three constitutional amendments that propose property tax relief. Those constitutional amendments are LR3CA, LR5CA, and LR8CA.

In short, my opinion on each bill and constitutional amendment is the same: none of them, standing alone and without amendments, are the best options for sustainable property tax relief for Nebraskans. Many of my colleagues agree, and the Revenue Committee is working on a compromise that combines the best parts of many of the bills and amendments presented. Revenue Committee Chair, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, expects a property tax package to be advanced out of Committee by mid-April. Rest assured, your voices are heard. I will fight for long-term property tax relief on the floor of the Legislature.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 11th
February 20th, 2019

Back To The Basics; How A Bill Becomes A Law

You may be familiar with the Schoolhouse Rock song explaining how a bill becomes a law on the federal level, but the process is a bit different in the Nebraska Legislature.

All legislation begins with an idea. A potential bill could be proposed to the senator by citizens, businesses, or government agencies. The senator’s staff will then draft a proposal to change a current statute or create a new one based on that idea. The proposal is then taken to bill drafters, who work in the Capitol, to transform it into the proper format.

After a few rounds of drafting, the bill is ready to be introduced on the floor. The first ten days of the legislative session are dedicated to introducing bills on the floor. The Clerk reads the title of each bill for the record. This session, there were 739 bills introduced, which is a new record.

Each bill then goes through the Fiscal Office, where they estimate the legislation’s anticipated financial impact. There are three different calculations for this process; one is by the Fiscal Office, the second is by the Governor’s Budget Office, and the third is by the impacted state agency.

After the bill’s fiscal impact has been analyzed, it is assigned to a committee by a nine-member Reference Committee. There are 14 standing committees to which bills can be assigned, ranging from Agriculture to Urban Affairs. The workload assigned to each committee can vary greatly. For example, Judiciary had 144 bills referenced to it for the current session, while Agriculture only had 21.

All 739 bills will have a public hearing where citizens have a chance to express their opinions to the committee by testifying. Each testimony is transcribed to be part of the official record. After the hearing is completed, committee members take a vote to send the bill to general file with or without amendments, indefinitely postpone the bill, or take no action. Less than half of the bills introduced will make it through this stage.

If the bill makes it out of committee, it is sent to General File. This is the first time the full Legislature can debate and vote on bills. Senators can consider amendments proposed by individual senators or by the committees. After floor debate, it takes 25 votes to adopt amendments or move a bill to the next stage. If a filibuster, which may last for as long as six hours, takes place, 33 votes are required to end discussion and force a vote.

Bills that survive the General File vote advance to Enrollment & Review, where bills are checked for technical and grammatical accuracy.

The second stage in floor debate, Select File, comes next. This step consists of another debate and the voting stage, while also allowing another opportunity for amendment. Debates in this stage are typically capped at three hours. After Select File, bills are sent back to Enrollment & Review for further corrections before Final Reading.

Final Reading is the last step before a bill is sent to the Governor’s desk. This step requires the bill to be read aloud in its entirety by the Clerk and face a final vote by the body.

Once a bill lands on the desk of the Governor, he has five days to sign or veto the bill. The Legislature can override this veto with 30 votes.

If a bill is signed by the Governor or receives enough votes to override a veto, it will become law three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns. In certain cases, the law can take effect before that date if it contains an emergency clause or a specified operative date.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 4th
February 11th, 2019

In recent weeks, it’s come to light that some members of the U.S. House of Representatives cannot name the three branches of government, magnifying the shortcomings of our country’s civics education standards. The State of Nebraska has in statute three areas of assessments, Math, Science, and English, that our students are tested on throughout their school years. There are no such assessments for our civics education curriculum. When a child graduates high school, community stakeholders can rest assured that the student has met the necessary benchments in Math, Science, and English. After the pomp and circumstance of graduation fades, however, that same student will walk into a voting booth. No standards have been put into place to ensure that voter has a basic grasp on how his or her nation’s government works.

In 1949, Nebraska’s civics education expectations were codified in statute. Since then, minimal changes have been made to this statute, and it shows. Under current statute, “Americanism” Committees are charged with examining the social studies curriculum offered in a school district and making sure that curriculum is aligned with the standards established by the Nebraska Department of Education. My update to this statute, LB 399, renames the Americanism Committee to the American Civics Committee. Under LB 399, the renamed Committee will also hold a minimum of two public meetings annually, with one of those meetings open to public comment about the direction of the district’s civics curriculum.

One of the ways our students could be assessed in their knowledge of American history and civics through LB 399 is by taking the civics portion of the naturalization examination given to all future citizens. This examination would be given to students no later than eighth grade, and a second time no later than eleventh grade. Because the only persons having knowledge of a student’s score on this examination is the student’s parent or guardian, the scores in aggregate would be passed on to the Committee on American Civics, who would in turn provide a report to the school board on its findings and recommendations gained as a result of those exam scores.

The final component of LB 399 is the removal of a criminal penalty for those school districts or teachers who are not abiding by the civics education statute and moving enforcement under the Nebraska Department of Education. Yes, we currently have a statute on the books that makes failure to satisfactorily teach civics a Class III Misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail. Though certain parts of LB 399 have experienced varying levels of opposition, removal of this criminal penalty has received universal support.

I am hopeful that LB 399 will be voted out of committee soon and advance to the floor, which is no small feat. It’s an honor to lead the charge for updated civics education standards in our state.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of January 28th
February 4th, 2019

Enrollment & Review: Our Legislature’s Smallest Committee

This week, I hope to provide some insight into the Legislature’s smallest committee: Enrollment & Review. I became the only freshman senator voted by my peers to a committee chairmanship in this session and did so with unanimous support. The chairman of the Enrollment & Review Committee is almost always the youngest freshman senator elected or appointed during the most recent election. There was one occasion, however, in which the eldest member of the Legislature decided to run against the youngest senator in a startling breach of decorum. Thankfully, no such drama ensued in this session and my election was non-controversial.

Some previous Enrollment & Review Chairs include Congressman Adrian Smith, former Attorney General Jon Bruning, former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, and current State Treasurer John Murante.

There will likely be very little conflict within the committee, as I am also Enrollment & Review’s only member. This committee reports bills which have been engrossed for select file, final reading, and passage. In the Enrollment & Review process, amendments that were adopted during debate are incorporated into the bill. Pieces of legislation are also checked over for grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure cleanup.

Edits from Enrollment & Review staff require a motion be made to adopt, which is made by the Enrollment & Review chairperson. These motions are almost always unanimous and are normally approved via a voice vote.

There are few people in the state who are aware of the Enrollment & Review Committee. As such, those who have read through this week’s column can consider themselves to be in possession of Legislative insider knowledge.

As session continues, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of January 21st
January 29th, 2019

I have now completed the third week of serving District 1 in the Nebraska Legislature. This week marked the end of the 10-day bill introduction period. Throughout these 10 days, there were 739 bills introduced, with 4 of them being mine:

LB 232: This bill builds upon Senator Watermeier’s LB 861, which passed in 2018. LB 232 would further limit a county’s liability for state correctional institution incidents by 40% to 1.5 cents per $100 of taxable valuation of property subject to the levy. This means a savings of around $90,000 per incident for Johnson County.

LB 333: The ‘Milk Act’, LB 333, adopts the FDA required updates of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and other national standards for milk safety and sanitation.

LB 399: The bill revises outdated language, clarifies provisions of the Americanism Committee, gives duties to the State Department of Education regarding the committee and its curriculum, and eliminates a criminal penalty for failure to enforce.

LB 519: This bill increases the statute of limitations for human trafficking and child pornography. In addition, LB 519 allows for authorization to intercept communication relating to labor or sex trafficking of adults or minor, which is already permitted for other serious felonies.

Each of these bills has been assigned to a committee and will have future discussion and hearings. If you would like to testify on any of these bills during committee hearings, please call 402-471-2733. Follow along at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ or on my Facebook page ‘Senator Julie Slama’ for updates. As always, feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you might have and we would be happy to help you.  

 

Week of January 14th
January 29th, 2019

My first week in the Legislature has been a series of “firsts”: from my first votes to official events, the last seven days have been a whirlwind. The most rewarding “first” will be explored in my column for this week.

On Monday, I introduced my first bill on the floor of the Legislature, LB 232. This bill builds on Senator Watermeier’s LB 861, which was signed into law in 2018. Senator Watermeier’s bill capped county liability for incidents at state prisons at 2.5 cents per $100 of land value. For 2017, that means Johnson County will pay for about $230,000 in expenses associated with the 2017 riot, while the remainder is absorbed by the state. It was a great first step towards protecting Johnson County from unlimited liability after riots at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI).

My bill lowers the cap established by LB 861 to 1.5 cents per $100 of land value. This would cut Johnson County’s liability for TSCI incidents to around $140,000, again based on 2017 numbers. LB 232, which can be tracked on the Legislature’s website, could save Johnson County thousands of dollars, which could then be directed towards school funding and other local costs.

LB 232’s next step is to be assigned an Appropriations Committee hearing day. During that time, members of the public can offer their thoughts on the bill. Committee members will then vote on whether or not the bill should proceed to the first round of debate on the floor of the Legislature. If it passes the committee vote and survives the first and second rounds of debate, a final vote will determine if LB 232 will land on the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

I wanted my first bill to be one that had a direct, positive impact on our district. LB 232 accomplishes that goal. I look forward to discussing it in Appropriations Committee and fighting for its passage on the floor. If you would like to testify in favor of this bill during its committee hearing, please contact my office by phone at 402-471-2733 or via email at jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of January 7th
January 29th, 2019

On December 26, 2018, I was appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts to represent the people of Legislative District 1. It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of current Commissioner Dan Watermeier, and I pledge to you that I do everything in my power to make sure our district is heard in the Legislature.

On January 9, 2019, I was officially sworn in to be your State Senator. My first few days in the Legislature have been a whirlwind of excitement. During these days, I have made my first official votes as a Senator by casting my ballots for chairperson on each of the fourteen standing committees. Each Senator has also been given their committee assignments. I will be serving on the Agriculture, Business and Labor, and Judiciary committees, allowing me to fight for our district on laws that will impact us, including farmers, small business owners, and correctional officers.

All of us new, freshman Senators have been assigned offices. With the Capitol being under construction for the HVAC Project, most of us will be in the tower. My office is on the 11th floor. For the next few days, we will be in a transition period of moving and getting ourselves settled in our new space. While we are in this transition phase, we will not have working computers or telephones. Our voicemail is available so please feel free to leave a message and we will return your call. For now, the telephone number to leave a voicemail is 402-471-2733 or you can also reach me at jslama@leg.ne.gov.

I am humbled at the opportunity to represent each of you and commit to you my best efforts in representing our district. I am planning to hold town hall meetings in the coming weeks across Otoe, Richardson, Pawnee, Johnson, and Nemaha Counties to hear your ideas and concerns. Until then, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any feedback, questions, or how I may address the issues that mean the most to you.

Sen. Julie Slama

District 1
Room #11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2733
Email: jslama@leg.ne.gov
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