NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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

Week of September 14th
September 21st, 2020

Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the United States Constitution, one of the most influential documents in world history. Last week, we celebrated the 233rd anniversary of the Constitution’s signing. That day and every day, we must work to preserve and protect our structural documents from those that wish to attack the very foundation of our system of government.

The Framers of the Constitution created our federal government with the people in mind. They had dealt with the tyranny of the British monarchy, facing excessive taxation without representation. After fighting a bloody war for independence, the Founders worked hard to formulate a system that increased the roles of individuals in the government and allowed the common man to have their opinion represented at the federal level.

The Framers made sure that every individual would be represented in the federal government. Through the Connecticut Compromise (also called the Great Compromise), the Framers created a government that represents the entire nation equally. The compromise created two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Representation in the House would be based on the population of the state in question, and each state would contribute two delegates to the Senate, regardless of their population. This smoothed tensions between larger and smaller states that both desired to give their residents the best representation possible.

It took a lot of discussion and debate to get voters the rights that we can express freely today. For instance, it was originally proposed that the President would be selected by a popular vote of the people. However, the delegates agreed on a system known as the Electoral College, which we still use today. This decision helped benefit states like ours by ensuring that power is distributed geographically instead of centered on one area of the country.

As Benjamin Franklin left the Pennsylvania State House after the final meeting of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, he was approached by a woman who asked him what sort of government the new country would have. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam. If you can keep it.”

In the document that the Framers created over 200 years ago, they achieved their goal of creating a Constitution that allows voters to choose who they want to represent them. Every vote counts, and with Election Day right around the corner, we can all take advice from Mister Franklin as we do our civil duty to keep our republic that our Founding Fathers worked so diligently to create.

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 September 7th
September 21st, 2020

Letter to the Big Ten Conference

This past week, 28 of Nebraska’s 49 state senators signed onto my letter to Big Ten Conference Commissioner Keven Warren urging the B1G to transparently reconsider its decision to cancel fall sports. 

“We are writing you today to urge the Big Ten Conference to transparently reconsider its decision to cancel the fall football season. 

Other major conferences have proven over recent weeks that football and other fall sports can be conducted safely. Big Ten athletic programs have led the way for player safety by ensuring student-athletes have access to regular testing and are under tight physical distancing controls. Five weeks ago, conference leaders released updated and enhanced testing, quarantine, and isolation policies. These efforts have been successful at preventing the spread of COVID-19, yet the conference disregarded this success by canceling the fall season anyway.

The University of Nebraska’s student-athletes, coaches, and administrators have overwhelmingly expressed support of a fall sports season. The Big Ten Conference’s fall sports cancellation, especially while other major conferences have successfully prepared to return to action, placed our student-athletes at a disadvantage to their peers on and off the playing field. Big Ten member institutions also stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships and programs. 

Safely returning to play this fall has support from players, parents, coaches, and fans in the state of Nebraska. Therefore, we respectfully ask that you reconsider your decision and work with our university leaders to allow sports to resume this fall.”

This letter had bipartisan support from many of my colleagues. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren’s son is playing football this fall at Mississippi State, so it would certainly be my hope that if convincing evidence existed to cancel the fall sports season, the Big Ten would make that information publicly available for all to know. If that evidence doesn’t exist, we owe it to our student athletes to give this season a shot. Falls sports represent both an irreplaceable time in these athletes’ lives and a multi-million dollar segment of Nebraska’s economy, supporting hundreds of jobs. Conference leaders will be voting again on the fate of the falls sports season this week. Let’s hope, this time, the vote is transparent and evidence-based.

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 August 31st
September 21st, 2020

Labor Day & Law Enforcement

While many of us celebrated Labor Day with friends and family, our essential workers remained on the front lines to provide critical services. Our corrections officers, military personnel, health care professionals, and other first responders deserve our thanks for their work every day to protect our society. Through unprecedented challenges, selfless leaders have answered the call to serve District 1 and keep us safe. This week’s article will focus on a group of brave men & women that have found their very profession in the crosshairs of a political debate: our law enforcement officers.

Many cities and towns around the country are considering “defunding the police,” and moving those resources elsewhere. This is an idea that absolutely boggles my mind. At a time in our country marked by riots and unrest, there are some arguing to defund the very men and women who are tasked with keeping the unrest under control. 

Seattle’s “autonomous zone” provided a case study on why law enforcement officers are absolutely necessary. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan permitted protestors to force out law enforcement and barricade themselves into what she referred to as “a block party.” Life within the autonomous zone was anything but sunshine and good feelings, however. Decades-old business were pillaged, infrastructure was decimated, and serious crimes were not investigated. The autonomous zone had descended into anarchy by the time it was finally broken up by federal officials. 

There are also those who argue that social workers should be the ones responding to calls of a person suffering from mental distress, rather than the police. We better understand the devastating impact of mental illness now more than any other time in our country’s history, but a social worker entering a potentially dangerous situation by themselves is a recipe for disaster. Imagine an unarmed social worker attempting to disarm a person who, in the midst of a manic episode, has put a gun to their spouse’s head.

Violence against law enforcement officers even occurs in Nebraska. On August 26th, Lincoln police officer Mario Herrera was killed in the line of duty. Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities. It’s usually a thankless job, but today I’d like to send a message to our law enforcement officers across District 1: thank you.

If you see our local officers around town, please take some time to thank them for their service to District 1. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the negative news in our world today- the best thing we can do is spread our own positive message in response. At a time where some lawmakers want to defund the police, I’m proud to defend our brave men and women in blue.

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 August 24th
September 21st, 2020

2020 Legislative Session Wrap-Up, Part 3 of 3

This week’s column will end the three-part series covering the resumption of the 108th Nebraska Legislature Second Session by highlighting a few more bills that will have a positive impact on Southeast Nebraska.

LB 153 was a strong step towards making Nebraska a more veteran-friendly state. Thanks to the passage of LB 153, beginning January 1, 2022, individuals may exclude half of their military retirement benefit pay from state income tax. LB 153 passed on a vote of 46-0. There is still far more to be done to make Nebraska a veteran-friendly state, and I look forward to supporting additional legislation that benefits all veterans.

LB 814 was one of the most important pro-life bills to pass in the last decade. LB 814 bans the barbaric practice of dismembering a living baby while still in the womb. Dismemberment abortion is the procedure of a person purposely dismembers and extracts a living fetus from the uterus using clamps, forceps, or similar instruments. Nebraska is a pro-life state and it is an honor to defend preborn life in the Legislature. 

LB 226 was signed into law and will allow self-employed child care providers to apply for a state income tax credit. Childcare options can be limited in rural areas and LB 226 will allow self-employed child care providers to be added to the 2016 School Readiness Tax Credit Act under the definition of eligible staff members. This credit will open the door to more child care options in our state.

The Nebraska Legislature also passed several bills to help our first responders. LB 963, introduced by Senator Brewer, will provide first responders with opportunities to receive resilience training to help prevent or mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. These mental health interventions will save lives. LB 1002 clarifies and streamlines language in our EMS statutes, including adding community care paramedic and critical care paramedic as EMS providers and allows the restocking of prescription drugs by a hospital for an emergency medical service if EMS transports a patient to the hospital and the drugs were used for the patient prior to or during transportation. 

These last three weeks have provided a brief summary of a productive biennium in the Nebraska Legislature. Any bill introduced in this biennium can be looked up on the Legislature’s official website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

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 August 17th
September 21st, 2020

Rural Access to Broadband: Another Win for Southeast Nebraska

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the need for reliable internet service. Thousands of jobs in Nebraska now have options to “work from home,” while many classrooms have been moved online. Remote workers are looking to leave the close confines of urban living, free from the potential constraints of a long commute. Having access to broadband isn’t just a recruitment tool for rural areas- it’s a necessity to thrive in a digital world. Our rural communities need reliable broadband access more than ever, and your Nebraska Legislature has recognized that necessity by passing LB 992 and LB 996 in 2020

LB 992, introduced by Senator Friesen, adopts the Broadband Internet Service Infrastructure Act. This bill also provides certain broadband and internet-related services. LB 992 would allow public power entities to utilize existing easements for the deployment of broadband infrastructure.  

LB 996 is also a win for internet access in Southeast Nebraska. LB 996 provides for a government internet network use policy for the Legislature and creates the Broadband Data Improvement Program. This ensures the State of Nebraska is accurately represented in federal broadband grant programs. These grant programs include grants from the federal Universal Service Fund. The purpose of the Broadband Data Improvement Program is to allocate resources to areas of the state where public feedback, crowdsourcing, or other evidence suggests that the federal broadband data may be inaccurate, develop a statewide outreach plan to promote citizen participation in a state or federal broadband data crowdsource program and more. 

Governor Ricketts also allocated $40 million to rural broadband remote access grant programs from CARES Act funding, spurring investment in state-of-the-art fiber infrastructure. 

The $40 million in CARES Act funding, LB 992, and LB 996 will each improve broadband access in rural Nebraska. This is a win for rural Nebraska, especially in our corner of the state where hills limit access to line-of-sight towers. We must invest in strong internet infrastructure to cover our entire state, and these three initiatives are massive steps in the right direction.

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 August 10th
September 21st, 2020

Sine Die

The 106th Nebraska Legislature Second Session has adjourned sine die, meaning that the Legislature has adjourned until January. If you had the chance to tune in during the final 17 days of session, you may have witnessed some dysfunction first hand. There was an absurd amount of shouting and crying on the floor during debate (District 1, you’ll be happy to know that your senator did not participate in that kind of behavior). Behind the scenes of the drama, however, was a level-headed group of senators negotiating the biggest compromises of this session. Cooler heads prevailed, with the last few days featuring compromise legislation passing on each of the biggest goals of this biennium. Over the next few columns, I’ll summarize a few of the most important bills passed in 2020.

The biggest victory from this Legislature was the passage of the “Grand Bargain,” LB 1107. This package was a step in the right direction for achieving meaningful property tax relief, though structural reform in our tax code still needs to be addressed in 2021. LB 1107 more than doubles the size of the Property Tax Credit Fund, which is direct relief to property taxpayers. The state will increase that fund, which is currently $275 million, to $400 million in the first year and eventually to $650 million in state-funded property tax relief. LB 1107 also includes the new business tax incentive program funding that would begin at $25 million annually for the first two years and gradually increase to $150 million in the fifth year. The new business incentives program also includes more incentives for small businesses and better transparency measures. Finally, LB 1107 includes a commitment to provide funds for a federal project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center that could bring thousands of jobs to Nebraska.

We also updated the budget for this biennium. The budget bill includes $50 million in flood recovery funding and a transfer of $10 million in general funds to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund. These are impressive wins for Southeast Nebraska and our rural communities. It also provides a $3.7 million increase in developmental disability provider rates, adds an additional $1.5 million to aid local public health departments, adds $250,000 in general funds to the Nebraska State Patrol Crime lab to support testing sexual assault kits, and also adds $458,000 over two years to the Nebraska Supreme Court to increase staffing for youth problem solving courts. The budget also requires any funds that were not allocated and unexpended from COVID-19 to be reoffered through a grant process for unmet needs. This could include rental and food assistance, small business and livestock stabilization, broadband, workforce retraining and child care. Extra funds may also be transferred to the Rainy Day Fund. The bill took effect immediately when passed with a vote of 43-3. 

District 1, these past two years have been marked by unprecedented events, including the floods of 2019 and COVID-19. Nebraska’s Legislature has risen to the occasion, leading to several accomplishments that will benefit those in Southeast Nebraska and also across the 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 August 3rd
September 21st, 2020

“Grand Bargain” for Property Tax Relief

Last week served as the culmination of two years of negotiations and was the most productive week yet of the resumed session. Property tax relief is my top legislative priority while in office, and a $375 million, minimum, property tax relief bill was finally given the green light by most of the Legislature. Last Wednesday evening, the Legislature gave first-round approval, 43-2, to the “Grand Bargain,” LB 1107.

LB 1107 is the vehicle bill for property tax relief, business incentives, and funding for a project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. After months of negotiations, the proposal includes a refundable income tax credit applied against a taxpayer’s school property taxes to the $275 million in current state property tax credits. The state commits an increase of that fund of $125 million in the first year and would rise to $375 million by the fifth year. This would total to $650 million in state-funded property tax relief. That figure could rise, as revenues from any potential legalization of gambling in Nebraska (which will be on the November 3 ballot) are also earmarked for property tax relief. This is a great start, but there is still a need for structural property tax reform to provide long-term relief.

The new business tax incentive program funding would begin at $25 million annually for the first two years and rise to $150 million in the fifth year. 

The Legislature also had a huge accomplishment on Wednesday with the passage of LB 814 on the first round to end the horrific practice of dismemberment abortion. The bill prohibits the procedure generally known as dilation and evacuation, D & E, which is when a fetus is ripped apart limb by limb while still alive in the womb. The bill received 34 votes which is one more than needed to stop a filibuster and put it to a vote. 

The Nebraska Legislature had a defining week as we near the end of the second session. We’ll know by this Thursday, the final day of session, if the necessary 33 votes can stick together for final passage of both LB 1107 and LB 814.

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 July 27th
August 3rd, 2020

Levees and Leverage: A Win for Southeast Nebraska

Life in Southeast Nebraska was turned upside down one year ago as levees were decimated and thousands of acres of land were inundated with floodwaters for months. As Southeast Nebraskans always do, we stood strong and refused to accept anything besides a full recovery for our region. One of the biggest, and most expensive, hurdles faced by District 1 was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s inability to repair the Missouri River levee at Peru. We needed assistance from our federal representatives to repair the levee. Last week, Southeast Nebraska got the outcome it needed in Washington, D.C., thanks to Congressman Adrian Smith.

When the Peru levee failed in March 2019, the Corps refused to repair the levee because it had recently fallen to “inactive” status. Statutory language tied the hands of the Corps, preventing them from starting the repair project. This left our area holding the bag on a multi-million dollar repair to protect critical infrastructure for Northeast Nemaha County. My office and Peru residents explored all options for the levee repair, and we concluded that adjusting language in federal statutes to permit repair of inactive levees by the Corps was the only realistic solution. We reached out to Congressman Adrian Smith for his help. 

Congressman Smith listened to the concerns of our region and took the time to tour flood damage in Southeast Nebraska. On that visit, our message to Congressman Smith was clear: we needed his help to repair Peru’s levee. Congressman Smith’s office drafted language permitting inactive levees to become eligible for Corps repair if they paid for the repairs necessary to bring the levee up to “active” status prior to the flooding. This language was included in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is a biennial bill to authorize funding for infrastructure investments. 2020’s WRDA bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 29. 

What does this mean for Southeast Nebraska in layman’s terms? WRDA’s passage is a big step in the right direction to repairing Peru’s levee. This new language means the Corps is now able to repair the Peru levee if certain conditions are met. There are still many steps left before bulldozers appear to break ground, but for the first time in a long time, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that the Peru levee will be repaired. Last week’s victory was a team effort between Congressman Smith and state and local officials. The tenacity of Southeast Nebraskans is paying dividends for our region on the federal level.

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 July 20th
July 27th, 2020

Property Tax Relief & Business Incentives: Grand Compromise Ahead?

There are now less than a dozen days left in the 2020 legislative session. It has become abundantly clear during the last week of debate that compromise will be the only path to success for big-ticket items of this session.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, the property tax relief bill (LB 1106) was debated for the maximum time allowed and now most show support from 33 of Nebraska’s 49 senators to return for a vote.

The new business incentives bill (LB 720) was also debated on Wednesday. The current incentives program, Nebraska Advantage Act, sunsets this year, leaving our state without a business incentives program unless a replacement is passed in this session. Many of you have contacted my office expressing your concerns with passing a corporate incentive bill before property tax relief. You can rest assured that I will not vote for LB 720 before property tax relief is achieved with LB 1106.

Neither LB 1106 or LB 720 has the votes to advance as standalone bills. Rural senators, including me, have stood firmly in support of property tax relief. Urban senators have leaned in favor of business incentives. Neither side has the 33 votes necessary to break the stalemate. We must form a compromise, which may include combining LB 1106 and LB 720. Whatever compromise is brokered will likely be debated in the coming week. I’m standing strong for property tax relief with my fellow rural senators.

Tensions have been high on the floor of the Legislature. You may have heard that Senator Chambers threw me into the mix by speaking about raping and enslaving me during debate on Monday. Those comments have done nothing to distract me from my priorities of property tax relief, better rural internet access and roads, and COVID-19 and flood recovery.  

There are 12 days of session left. A new poll indicates 77% of Nebraskans support the current property tax relief bill, LB 1106. Outside “noise” of feuds and bickering in the Legislature are just that: noise distracting from the true task at hand. 

If Chambers wants to go after me, it doesn’t matter. There’s no amount of hateful language he can use that will distract me from serving District 1. 

Commodity prices are low and property taxes are at record highs. Words spouted on the floor don’t get me fired up, but 40 years of failed tax policy do. 

Passing LB 1106 would be a strong step to easing the burden on our property taxpayers and improving funding for our rural schools.

Enough talk. Enough noise. Let’s get this done.

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 July 13th
July 20th, 2020

Everyday Heroes in Southeast Nebraska

The 24-hour news cycle can lend itself to an emphasis on negative news stories. COVID-19 has only brought this into sharper focus, as some journalists clamor to get the latest confirmed case numbers and mortality rates. Constant consumption of these stories can have a negative impact on your mental health. This week, I’m going to flip the script and look to the positive happening right in our backyards. 

Auburn resident Marvin Behrends is a decorated WWII veteran who earned a Purple Heart and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Upon his return in 1945, there were no ticker tape parades or photo ops with dignitaries- Marvin got right to work to provide for his family. Time treated him well, and he celebrated his 100th birthday on July 17. COVID-19 stood in the way of an open house to greet family and friends, so a family friend reached out to my office to see if we could send Marvin a card. That idea turned into throwing a card shower, which led to Marvin’s card shower being promoted on Facebook. 

Marvin went “viral,” as the kids would say. The original post to invite community members to send birthday cards reached over 25,000 people- not bad at all for a centenarian. Messages of gratitude, offers to send gifts, and stacks of cards came pouring in. Nebraska City’s chapter of Blue Star Mothers even gave Marvin a Quilt of Valor in a special ceremony. Most of the responses came from complete strangers who just wanted to make a hometown hero’s birthday a little bit brighter. Thanks to their kindness, Marvin had a birthday celebration that he and those close to him will always cherish.

These stories aren’t uncommon in Southeast Nebraska and get right to the core about what makes our corner of the state unique. Everywhere you look in District 1, you’ll see neighbors going above and beyond to help each other. There’s no CNN camera crews filming these moments or monetary incentive involved, just everyday heroes doing good for their community. In a time where it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in bad news in our country, don’t forget to appreciate the good that’s happening in your own hometown. 

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 .

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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