Sen. Heath Mello
District 05

Welcome!

January 8th, 2014

Thank you for visiting the official website of Nebraska’s 5th Legislative District! I am honored to serve as your representative in the Nebraska Unicameral, and am committed to being an independent voice for South Omaha and Midtown in our non-partisan legislature.

I hope this website will allow me, and my staff, to communicate with you about the issues you care about and those affecting our community . Please check back often for important news and information. Also, feel free to use the contact information on the right to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have regarding public policy or your state government, and let me know how my staff and I may assist you.

Working for you,

Senator Heath Mello

Nebraska Legislature Releases 2014 Study to Support and Increase Venture Capital in Nebraska $53.45 million Annual Economic Impact from Existing Business Innovation Act Programs for Nebraska Entrepreneurs

December 17th, 2014

LINCOLN, NE – Today, State Senators Heath Mello and Galen Hadley released the report: “Supporting and Increasing Venture Capital in Nebraska.” This economic impact analysis and best practices report, prepared by Invest Nebraska, was part of LB 1114 which was approved unanimously by the Nebraska Legislature and signed into law by Governor Heineman earlier this year.

“Nebraska has experienced significant growth in its entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem since 2010 when the Legislature’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Task Force began analyzing entrepreneurship and the needs of small businesses and startups in the state,” said Senator Mello. “This report reveals the significant economic impact the existing Business Innovation Act programs have had on our state economy and provides a roadmap to explore additional state resources for venture capital in the state.”

Administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Business Innovation Act consists of financial assistance programs from $50,000 up to $500,000 for the state’s technology startups and small businesses. The programs are intended to spur innovation and commercialization in the state, create new high-growth businesses and increase the number of venture capital ready businesses.

The economic impact study, written by Dr. Eric Thompson of UNL, found significant private sector investment for each dollar of state support. Small businesses and technology startups participating in the Business Innovation Act programs raised $5.12 in private investment funding for each $1 dollar of state funding.

Participating business earned $2.32 in revenue for each $1 of state funding and created a total of 307 jobs with an annual average annual wage of $49,609. From the total $7.3 million of states funds devoted to participating companies during the period October 2011 through June 2014, the total annual economic impact for the programs was $53.45 million.

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate that by planting the seeds with today’s entrepreneurs and innovators, we are growing Nebraska’s future high-growth businesses,” said Senator Hadley. “Due to the leadership of Governor Heineman and the Legislature in having the foresight to create these programs, Nebraskans should welcome the strong economic impact numbers found in the report. Extending the Business Innovation Act until the year 2021 under LB 1114 indicates the Legislature’s commitment to Nebraska’s entrepreneurs and innovators.”

The second part of the report provides research and analysis of the best practices with state venture capital programs in other states and makes recommendations to support and increase venture capital in Nebraska. Written by Cromwell Schmisseur LLC, these recommendations provide a roadmap for additional state resources to build on the foundation established by the Business Innovation Act.

The Cromwell-Schmisseur analysis of best practices from other states resulted in three main recommendations: 1) Consistently support and possibly increase financial support for the Business Innovation Act programs; 2) Leverage the Department of Economic Development’s resources and existing state incentives to recruit venture backed high-growth small businesses to the state; and 3) Begin planning for a state-sponsored “fund-of-funds” venture capital program that includes a focus on financing “emerging managers” of venture capital funds based in Nebraska.

“Nebraska has the key ingredients – leadership, creativity and capital – to emerge as the regional leader of a robust innovation economy,” said Dan Schmisseur, co-founder of Cromwell Schmisseur, a leading consulting firm on state-sponsored venture capital initiatives. “The Nebraska Business Innovation Act created a suitable foundation. What must follow is a sustained commitment of reasonable resources for NBIA programs and near-term targeted investments focused on increasing the supply and accessibility of risk capital for Nebraska entrepreneurs.”

To read the entire legislative study, go to:

http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/103/PDF/Agencies/Economic_Development__Department_of/500_20141201-141035.pdf

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2014

For More Information:
Sen. Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710
Sen. Galen Hadley, (402) 471-2726

Senator Heath Mello’s Statement on October Forecasting Board Meeting

October 31st, 2014

LINCOLN, NE – Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement in response to today’s Forecasting Board meeting:

“Today’s action by the Forecasting Board indicates that Nebraska’s economy is growing at a modest pace and is further reason why we must continue our responsible budgeting to ensure future fiscal stability.”

“When considering new investments in state priorities, both the Legislature and next Governor must keep in mind competing financial obligations such as addressing a $15 million child welfare repayment, a yet unresolved $5.5 million water settlement, and a new $262 million Department of Corrections Facilities Master Plan to pay for new prison beds due to chronic overcrowding.”

“These and other recent events have reaffirmed the wisdom of the Nebraska Legislature to carefully manage our “rainy day” fund through budget uncertainty and risks of weak economic cycles.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

Senator Heath Mello Attends No Labels National Ideas Meeting

September 19th, 2014

LINCOLN, NE — On September 17, Senator Heath Mello traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with dozens of members of Congress, state and local officials, and business leaders for the No Labels National Ideas Meeting. The meeting served as the kick-off to a yearlong process that that will set a vision for where America needs to go and how we get there culminating in a National Strategic Agenda that will be released in the fall of 2015.

No Labels’ goal is to move beyond partisan lines and bring people from across the country together to lead America towards a productive vision for our future. Four main goals have been identified by leaders from around the country:

1) Grow 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years
2) Secure Medicare and Social Security for another 75 years
3) Balance the federal budget by 2024
4) Make America energy secure by 2024

The National Strategic Agenda will be created with input from people across America beginning with the National Ideas Meeting. Subsequent events in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere will enable No Labels to take the pulse of people across America and to ultimately forge agreement on a full policy plan to achieve the goals of the National Strategic Agenda.

“I am honored to have been asked to participate in developing a nonpartisan national strategic agenda with policymakers from across the country,” said Senator Mello. “No Labels’ focus on bringing state and local problem solvers together in hopes of forging a consensus agenda for the country is long overdue.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

Senator Heath Mello Receives Champion of Small Business Award from the National Coalition for Capital

August 20th, 2014

Award recognizes leaders for their efforts in promoting access to capital and economic development in states across the country

WASHINGTON, DC, August 20, 2014 – Nebraska Senator Heath Mello was honored this week with a Champion of Small Business award from the National Coalition for Capital. Senator Mello and 34 fellow legislators and officials from across the nation were recognized for their leadership at the annual National Coalition for Capital Awards Ceremony on August 19th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Champion of Small Business Awards recognize individuals for demonstrating leadership in supporting policies and initiatives designed to promote access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those in economically distressed communities.

“This award recognizes Senator Mello’s important work to preserve and create jobs through access to capital policy that helps Nebraska small businesses grow and develop,” said Greg McIlvaine, President of the National Coalition for Capital. “Senator Mello has demonstrated he is a champion of small business, and his efforts will have an enduring positive impact on Nebraska.”

Senator Mello was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2008, and currently serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. During his time in the Nebraska Legislature, Senator Mello has introduced and passed legislation to help create jobs and spur economic development in Nebraska. Senator Mello has continually supported policies to encourage both economic development and entrepreneurship, most recently helping reactivate Nebraska’s Enterprise Zone program and expand the state’s highly successful Business Innovation Act, which provides capital for Nebraska-based start-ups and high-growth businesses.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that elected officials do their part to advance innovative access to capital policies that allow small businesses to grow and prosper,” said Senator Mello. “I am pleased to be among those honored for supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs as they strive to preserve and grow jobs in their communities.”

The National Coalition for Capital hosts an annual awards ceremony during the week of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit to recognize individuals for taking a leading role in fostering access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

(continued)
About the National Coalition for Capital

The National Coalition for Capital (NCFC) is a non-profit, nationwide coalition of leaders supporting economic development and job creation through long-term access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs. To learn more about NCFC, visit www.nationalcoalitionforcapital.org.

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For more information, contact:
Greg McIlvaine
President
National Coalition for Capital
(202) 337-1661
greg@cypressgroupdc.com

Senator Heath Mello
(402) 471-2710
hmello@leg.ne.gov

State Senator Heath Mello Statement on Corrections Correspondence on Fiscal Impact of Sentencing Miscalculations

July 31st, 2014

OMAHA, NE – State Senator Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement on recent Department of Correctional Services correspondence on the fiscal impact of the sentencing miscalculation scandal:

“It’s frustrating to see the Department of Correctional Services not be honest with taxpayers and the Legislature about the true costs to house inmates longer due to the recent sentencing miscalculation scandal.

“The average annual cost to house an inmate in Nebraska’s corrections system is $26.046. That number comes directly from a Department of Correctional Services data sheet dated June 30, 2014, so I find it bizarre that Corrections officials estimate the cost to house inmates longer due to the sentencing scandal is only 23% of the average costs published just 28 days ago.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that the Department of Correctional Services is trying to whitewash their mistakes away by telling taxpayers it will only cost them only $4 million instead of the estimated $20 million using the average inmate costs published last month.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

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Nichols from Kenney 7-24-14

State Senator Heath Mello Statement on 2013-14 Fiscal Year Tax Receipts

July 10th, 2014

OMAHA, NE – Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement in response to Fiscal Year 2013-14 tax receipts that were reported by the Nebraska Department of Revenue earlier today:

“This fiscal year’s tax receipts indicate that the Legislature’s cautious fiscal approach over the past session was the right course of action. Revenue exceeded estimates for the fiscal year by a modest amount, resulting in a slightly larger than planned transfer to the Cash Reserve Fund, while the General Fund budget remains balanced for upcoming fiscal year.

“This session, the Appropriations Committee followed a policy of utilizing the Cash Reserve Fund only for one-time items while preserving an adequate reserve balance to help reduce the need for deep budget cuts or potential tax increases during the next economic downturn. This strategy has worked well over the past two years, and should continue to be one of our state’s guiding fiscal policies moving forward.

“While we have serious fiscal work to do next biennium with ongoing issues like entitlement reform and justice reinvestment, the Legislature will also have to address a projected budget gap of approximately $170 million and many one-time funding challenges including the anticipated $5.5 million Republican River Compact settlement, the $15 million federal penalty for misuse of child welfare funds by the Department of Health and Human Services, and a number of claims against the state stemming from recent missteps by the Department of Correctional Services.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

Public Meeting to Discuss Gilmore Avenue Water Quality Project

May 29th, 2014

Clean Solutions for Omaha (CSO) will hold a public meeting on Thursday, June 12, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm at the Kroc Center, 2825 Y Street.

The meeting topic will be the design phase of the Gilmore Avenue sewer project. Gilmore Avenue area residents and business owners will have a chance to ask questions and learn more about the combined sewer overflow project which involves their neighborhood.

Most of the combined sewer system is still in use in the older areas of Omaha east of 72nd Street. During heavy rainstorms, raw sewage combines with storm water and can back up into homes and businesses. Even minor rainfall can cause overflows to local waterways with unhealthy bacteria, making them unfit for swimming or recreation. The City of Omaha is one of 772 communities nationwide designated by the EPA that must address the water quality due to a combined sewer overflow system. In order to meet regulatory compliance, the City of Omaha must reduce the number of raw sewage overflows to the Missouri River and the Papillion Creek to meet the water quality standards.

The remedies in the CSO Long Term Control Plan are estimated to cost at about $2 billion. The source of revenue for the CSO remedies is monthly MUD sewer-use fees. The City of Omaha has until 2027 to complete the projects in the approved Long Term Control Plan.

Meeting Notice – Gilmore Ave English Version 6 12 2014

Meeting Notice – Gilmore Ave Spanish Version 6 12 2014

For more information about the Clean Solutions for Omaha Program, call the CSO Hotline at (402) 341-0235.

State Senator Heath Mello Announces Interim Study to Examine Department of Health & Human Services Structure

April 29th, 2014

LINCOLN, NE – Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) announced that the Appropriations Committee has designated LR 535, an interim study to examine the structure of the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), as its top priority interim study for 2014. The resolution is co-sponsored by 14 senators, including most members of both the Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees of the Legislature.

Under LR 535, the Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees will conduct a joint interim study to review the current structure of DHHS as well as the structures utilized in other states. Prior to 1996, health and human services functions were divided between four separate state agencies – the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Institutions, and the Department of Social Services – in addition to the Office of Juvenile Services in the Department of Correctional Services.

Mello acknowledged that while LR 535 would potentially look into deconsolidating DHHS, that the ultimate goal of the interim study is to provide greater transparency and fiscal oversight in what has become a “problem child” of Nebraska state government. Since 2000, the State Auditor’s Office has performed 103 separate audits of DHHS programs, including major audits relating to the Beatrice State Developmental Center, the Thomas Fitzgerald Veterans’ Home, the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, child welfare reform efforts, and management of federal Medicaid and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds.

“During the six years that I have served in the Legislature, no agency has demonstrated more deficiencies or caused lawmakers more headaches than the Department of Health & Human Services,” said Mello. “With the change in administration that will come with a new governor next year, I believe that it is appropriate for the Legislature to consider wholesale structural changes in the largest agency in Nebraska state government.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

Senator Heath Mello’s Statement on Passage of State Budget Bills

March 24th, 2014

LINCOLN, NE – Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement following the passage of the budget bills earlier today:

“The passage of mid-biennium budget adjustments by wide, bi-partisan margins today reaffirms the hard work of the Appropriations Committee in crafting a sensible, pragmatic state budget that invests in key priorities and provides direct property tax relief to Nebraskans.

“This year’s budget makes long-term investments in Nebraska’s future, including an additional $3.7 million in early childhood education grants, $10 million for job training, $5 million to address the developmental disabilities waiting list, and $15 million in deferred maintenance of Nebraska’s state park system.

“Unlike previous years, this state budget also includes an additional $25 million per year in funding for the Property Tax Credit Act, providing Nebraska taxpayers with ongoing, sustainable property tax relief.

“Finally, the Legislature’s state budget provides $31 million in both one-time and ongoing funding for water research and infrastructure projects across Nebraska, providing a crucial investment to ensure the sustainability of Nebraska’s greatest natural resource.”

Cumulative votes for the three bills comprising the budget package (LB 905, LB 906, and LB 130) totaled 125 in support, 19 opposed, and 3 absent.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710

Senator Heath Mello’s Statement on February Forecasting Board Meeting

February 28th, 2014

LINCOLN, NE – Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement in response to today’s Forecasting Board meeting:

“Today’s action by the Forecasting Board provides needed flexibility for the Legislature to put together a comprehensive package of priorities this session that includes responsible tax reform, investments in water infrastructure, prison reform, and public education.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2014

For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710