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Sen. Blood’s Bill Hearing This Week
LR284 is being heard in the Agriculture Committee Feb 15th. Sen. Blood brings forward this resolution because agriculture is the #1 industry in Nebraska and cattle production is the largest segment of this industry. Ag drives our economy and with that comes over 6.5 billion in cattle sales each year. This industry clearly impacts all Nebraskans whether they are meat eaters or not. We all know that Nebraska has more cattle than we do people. Policymakers in Nebraska we need to support measures that will protect our beloved beef industry as participants in a global market.
The intent of LR284 is to encourage the Nebraska Legislature to support an objective review of the “Product of U.S.A.” label by the USDA and support any future actions to restrict the scope of use in a way that is beneficial for cattle producers and consumers and is trade compliant. American consumers rely on food labeling for truthful, meaningful information about retail food purchases. If a label says “Product of the USA” they assume that the meat they are placing in their grocery cart was actually raised here in the United States, and not another country as has been happening. The legislature should support initiatives to prevent misleading and deceptive practices that negatively affect United States Cattle producers and drive down prices for the cattle producers while increasing the profits for the meatpacking industry. LR284 is in support of these efforts.
We’re targeting the USDA to review the “Product of U.S.A.” label because they are responsible for the safety, labeling, and packaging of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products. They currently allow the use of the label on foreign imported beef or beef food products by the packing and grocery industry which we need to take a closer look at.
Multiple government entities agree that the USDA must provide a deeper review of the use of the label. President Biden issued an executive order on July 9, 2021, that directed the USDA to consider new rules defining the conditions under which meat products can bear “Product of U.S.A.” and other similar labels so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to choose products originating in the United States.
In July 2021, the Federal Trade Commission finalized a new rule cracking down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are “Made in the U.S.A.” and specifically requires “Made in the U.S.A.” claims on labels be used only for products that are “all or virtually all” made or sourced in the United States. The review needs to reflect and support these new rules.
Nebraska has the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including the nation’s No. 1 cow county – Cherry County, with nearly 166,000 cows. Custer County is No. 2 (100,000) and Holt County is No. 3 (99,000). It is an important part of our culture and economy, so we need to support initiatives that will prioritize better, more honest practices in the beef industry.
Updates to the Situation in Mead
“Friends, I want to begin by saying that today’s rally is first and foremost about supporting Nebraska Ag and our precious Ethanol Industry — our corn, soybean, and wheat growers. The AltEn disaster is the responsibility of one bad actor and, while this catastrophe is a stain on our state, by no means should Nebraska’s agriculture and ethanol industries be painted with the same brush. We’re holding AltEn accountable for being bad stewards of Nebraska’s environment and its water while dismissing Nebraska citizens as if they are collateral damage.
As I reflect on this environmental crisis, I want you to know that Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers and our rural residents are the victims of this crisis, as well may be their children and grandchildren if we don’t receive better answers to our long-standing questions as to how did this happen? Why was it allowed to happen? And could Nebraska have been more responsive in its actions to prevent this unprecedented crisis?
Now as we have observed the proposed clean-up, it’s clear that if we want to protect our precious soil, our life-giving water and the air that we breathe, it is time for public discourse so we can amplify our voices here today. We want to know in clear terms that if Nebraska is going to clean up these piles of polluted wet cake,why are they trying to cover them over with a seal made of fiber, cement and clay while using drainage ditches to collect chemical runoff? Why are they covering it up?
On May 18th, 2021, LR159 requested that the Legislature’s Executive Board appoint an AltEn Ethanol Plant Investigative and Oversight Committee. At that time, we were told that it would have to wait until the 2022 session. So far, there has been no hearing on this legislative resolution and the environmental clock is ticking. It’s time for voices to be heard…it’s time for public discourse.
Friends, Nebraska can do so much better. We believe the optics are very bad and the state’s reactions have appeared to be dilatory and we were saddened to see that in 2012 it was the state who gave approval for this plant to use chemically treated seed to make ethanol without the benefit of public input and this is what ultimately gave this crisis the momentum it needed to move forward.
In response, we rally together on valentine’s day to show some love to our fellow Nebraskans affected by this crisis, we share our love for a safer and healthier state and we pray that we can make movement forward in time to protect our future generations.”
On January 5, your Nebraska Legislature convened for the 2022 Legislative Session. We are excited to advocate on behalf of District 3 and all Nebraskans.
Listed below are the bills I have introduced for this short session.
LB 689 Elimination of LLC Fees: This bill is meant to stimulate potential new business owners and eliminate additional financial hurdles for small and minority-owned businesses by eliminating the initial and annual filing fees associated with becoming an LLC.
LB 690 Teacher Qualifications Change: Minority groups are underrepresented in the teaching community but are in high demand for employment. This bill would provide more flexibility in the certification of qualified educators for Nebraska schools. It allows the Nebraska Department of Education to determine an appropriate line of coursework as sufficient means to fulfill the basic skills competency requirement currently needed to become a certified teacher. This bill would not eliminate the PRAXIS examination but would instead add another choice to fulfill the requirement.
LB 691 Address Confidentiality Program: LB 691 would add survivors of kidnapping to the eligibility requirements for the Address Confidentiality Program to create an extra layer of protection for those victims.
LB 694 Delayed Impact: Amid growing environmental concerns, we must protect those who are exposed to toxic chemicals from industrial facilities such as those recently under fire in Mead, NE. This bill changes how Nebraska defines disabled veterans mirroring the federal definition. Changing the definition of disabled veteran will result in updated tax exemptions for both motor vehicle and homestead taxes in Nebraska. The exemptions will be based on the level of Veteran disability.
LB 695 Delinquent Taxes and TIF: Cities should not reward those who do not pay their property taxes. This bill would prohibit the granting of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) or Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to anyone delinquent in the payment of real property taxes.
LB 696 Teacher Retention Bonus: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all professions, but most especially our child educators and school support staff. This bill would appropriate funds to aid in the retention of teachers and school support staff such as bus drivers, food service handlers, and librarians. Each teacher and school support staff member, excluding school administrators, would receive a bonus.
Mead Research Group Funding (no bill number yet): This bill would allocate funds to the Mead Research Group to assess and evaluate the environmental and human health effects of the toxic chemicals contained in the dry residue (“wetcake”) and wastewater produced and stored at the AltEn ethanol-production plant in Mead, NE.
Beef Resolution (no bill number yet): Nebraska is a national leader in cattle and beef production, and the legislature should support initiatives that encourage beef packers and American citizens to buy beef that is produced in the United States. This bill is a resolution to support United States Senate Bill 949 that will restore the competitiveness of the fed cattle spot market by requiring beef packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle needs in the competitive spot market. It also would support passage of the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 (S.2716).
LR263CA Unfunded Mandates: One pressing reason property taxes remain high is because of underfunded mandates enacted by the Nebraska Legislature. LR263CA is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Legislature from imposing any financial responsibility for new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs on any political subdivision such as a county, city, or state department after the year 2022.
LB687 Circuit Breaker: This bill would put a process in place that protects taxpayers based on a particular activity. For example, if an individual’s income goes down, this bill would make it so there is automatically a process and answer, such as receiving a tax break.
LB 688 Property Tax Reduction Act: This session, Sen. Blood has several bills to address this ongoing issue. LR 688 would provide property tax relief in the form of a property tax credit.
LB 692 Stealthing: Sexual assault should be prohibited in all forms, including a growing issue called stealthing. This bill would prohibit any unwanted sexual contact when a condom has been removed without the consent of all parties involved, otherwise called stealthing. A victim of stealthing would be able to bring forth a civil action and be entitled to collect on actual damages, preliminary and declaratory relief, including attorney and court fees.
LB 693 Expanding Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans: Supporting our veterans continues to be a priority for Sen. Blood. This bill would change the way Nebraska defines disabled veterans to match the federal definition. By doing this we are also changing tax exemptions for motor vehicle and homestead taxation in the state, so that the more “disabled” a veteran is, the more exemptions they receive. This eases the burden of changing the definition on the state
For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.
New Guidelines for Public Testimony
Nebraska’s unique Unicameral Legislature relies heavily on the “second house” – the citizens of the State of Nebraska. Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process.
• The Legislature will no longer accept written testimony submitted prior to a committee hearing. To have your name and comments appear on the hearing transcript, you must physically appear before a committee and be available to answer questions from committee members.
• If you are unable to appear in person at a public hearing on a bill or resolution but would like to have your opinion included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, you will find an option to “Include Comment in Public Hearing” when you search the Legislative website and select the bill or resolution you wish to have your position known. The comment option becomes available once a bill has been scheduled for public hearing and remains available until the conclusion of that bill. PLEASE NOTE: To have your original comments included in the official hearing record they must be submitted prior to 12:00 p.m. CST, on the last workday prior to the public hearing. You will have the opportunity to leave additional comments for the duration of the time that bill is being considered by the committee or the body of the Legislature.
• If unable to appear in person, or not interested in having your opinion become a part of the official record, but still want Senators to know how you feel, there is a feature available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website. Once a hearing has been scheduled, you may submit comments at any stage of the process. (To access this feature, search for the bill you wish to submit a statement on and click the corresponding button “Submit Comments Online For LB___” near the top of the bill page.) For more information follow this link to the Nebraska Legislature’s website.
My office is looking for people to testify on our new bills. If you are interested in giving testimony or have questions, call our office at (402) 471 – 2627, or email Bri at firstname.lastname@example.org
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