January 7th, 2015

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 16th 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.

Sen. Lydia Brasch

Join Senator Brasch & Governor Ricketts for Town Hall in West Point

September 22nd, 2015

News Release


For more information:
Brett Waite, Legislative Aide
Office of Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16
(402) 471-2728

Join Senator Lydia Brasch and Governor Pete Ricketts for a Town Hall in West Point, NE

Senator Lydia Brasch and Governor Pete Ricketts will be hosting a town hall together in West Point on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, and the public is invited to attend.

This is a great opportunity for the constituents of District 16 to voice their concerns directly to their Senator as well as to the Governor.

The details for the town hall are as follows:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

Questions about event details can be directed to Brett at 402-471-2728.


Unicameral Page Program

September 18th, 2015

News Release


For More Information:
Tom Venzor, Legislative Aide
Office of Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16
(402) 471-2728

Senator Brasch Encourages District 16 College Students to Apply for Unicameral Page Program

Senator Brasch encourages college students from Legislative District 16 to apply for the Unicameral Page Program and experience the distinguished opportunity to work in the Nebraska Legislature and represent his or her hometown and District 16. Senator Brasch appreciates the opportunity to meet applicants and provide a letter of recommendation for the position. “To be a legislative page,” said Senator Brasch, “is a privileged opportunity and provides every college student a unique occasion to be part of the legislative process and witness how our State’s unicameral functions.”

The Nebraska Clerk of the Legislature is accepting applications for legislative pages for the 2016 legislative session. Legislative pages are local college students employed by the legislature to respond to senators’ requests for assistance on the legislative floor, answer incoming calls to the chamber and prepare for and assist with committee hearings. The deadline for submitting an application and a letter of recommendation is Wednesday, September 30th at 5:00 p.m.

Please contact Senator Brasch with questions at (402) 471-2728 or lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.  For a page application please contact the Clerk’s Office at 402-471-2271.


Weekly Session Update – June 22, 2015

June 22nd, 2015

This will be my final weekly update until the beginning of the 2016 legislative session. Since we adjourned on May 29, I shared two update summaries to better explain where we ended this session. In 2016, new legislation will be introduced along with many carryover bills. With that said, I encourage you to stay engaged and express your views as you are the State’s “Second House.”

As always, it is good to be back in our district and speaking with constituents on a regular basis. To see everyone on our main streets, in places of business, during parades, at church, and at county fairs is truly refreshing. There is almost always something happening throughout the district I enjoy participating in. So far this interim I have attended Cargill’s Blair 20th Anniversary Celebration and the Pilger Flag Raising Ceremony. I have also enjoyed resuming work with my private consulting business.

Some may remember last year I was honored to be accepted into the the 2014 Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellowship Program. It is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government, bringing together 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government for an intensive six-day “intellectual boot camp.”

This year the Toll Fellowship Program selected a dozen graduates, from various years, to participate in a first-ever Global Affairs Academy. They generously and graciously paid most of our expenses for travel to and lodging in Washington D.C. for three days of intensive study. We were briefed on key current events affecting the 195 sovereign countries around the world, their relevance to the U.S., and what individual states can do to prepare their governments and economies.

We were also briefed on our current top five foreign policy issues. Key staff members of the Departments of Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs shared a number of potential concerns on topics ranging from ISIL to cyber warfare. Notably, cyber security is crucial for protecting constituents. While big businesses and government typically have solid firewalls, we must be aware of vendors being unknowingly utilized because of their less secure computer networks. Critical agencies must be watchful and prepared for cyber attacks from those who would wish us harm. The importance of heightened security for our infrastructure and energy systems was also stressed.

We also learned about the negative effects of decreasing foreign aid. For example, countries in need are often courted or overtaken by enemies of the U.S. It was remarked that another attack, such as 9/11 is most likely on someone’s drawing board somewhere. Included in foreign aid is the need to assist other countries with their health epidemics which, if not controlled, can become pandemic, such as the Ebola crisis or, more recently, the Middle East respiratory syndrome.

We also focused on the global economy and how we simply cannot shut out the rest of the world. We rely on international businesses and there are an increasing number in the U.S. that are good for jobs and our national economy.

With so much to think about from the last week, all I can say is it is truly good to be back home!

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16


Weekly Session Update – June 15, 2015

June 19th, 2015

As we move further into the interim, we continue working with constituent issues and research to prepare legislation for the 2016 session. We also want to continue reflecting on this past session and further discuss key issues our legislature addressed. As promised, this week’s column will cover legislation from criminal justice, health and human services, business, general affairs, education and revenue.

Regarding criminal justice issues, the Legislature made significant progress through amending and passing LB605 and LB598. Both bills address the issue of prison overcrowding and cost inefficiencies by establishing stronger alternatives to incarceration with tools such as drug courts, more robust probation system, and reduced use of solitary confinement. However, the Legislature did a disservice to the justice system by repealing the death penalty. As well, it came very close to further undermining our strong stance on serious crime by attempting to reduce the penalties for habitual criminals.

In the area of health care, the Legislature passed a law allowing nurse practitioners to treat patients independently from doctors which will help alleviate the problem of access to healthcare in rural communities. Additionally, while the Legislature did not outright establish a medical marijuana industry, the Legislature did create a pilot study for hemp oil to address the issue of uncontrollable seizures in children and adults.

With regard to businesses, the Legislature passed a number of pro-business bills. One of those bills enhances rural economic development by providing limited liability for landowners in agri-tourism. We also passed a bill allowing private employers to voluntarily adopt a hiring preference program for military veterans. Further, the Legislature updated the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act to clarify workplace protections for pregnant workers. However, the Legislature failed to gain the needed support to reduce the minimum wage for high school workers as a response to the negative effects the new minimum wage law has had on small, rural businesses.

In the area of general affairs, the Legislature reinstated the cigar bar exemption to the state smoking ban after being struck down by the Supreme Court last year. While the Legislature did good work to oppose measures that might expand gambling in our state, there is another bill that will be debated when we return to legalize certain forms of poker as games of skill, rather than games of chance which are banned under our state Constitution.

As for revenue and education, the Legislature did not address one of the key concerns of many Nebraskans: rethinking our sources of funding for education. Throughout the State, there has been a demand to lower our skyrocketing agricultural property taxes, among a desire for lower taxes in general. While the Legislature did not tackle this issue, both the Revenue and Education Committees adopted legislative resolutions to study the issue more closely over the interim period. Hopefully this will prove to be a fruitful endeavor so we can provide the much needed relief desired by Nebraskans.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16


Weekly Session Update – June 8, 2015

June 8th, 2015

With the legislative session completed for over a week now, the Capitol is a much quieter place mostly populated by visitors from near and far on hourly tours of this magnificent institution and structure. The hallways are no longer filled with the voices of student visitors from across the State with exception of Boys and Girls State and Unicam Youth Legislature students. Lobbyists are not watching the legislative chambers attentively from the rotunda or walking the hallways in search of a senator to discuss their interests on specific legislation. Most Senators living a distance from Lincoln are working remotely with out-of-session business. Trips to Lincoln for us include scheduled meetings, office needs, or interim hearings. Our District 16 office staff continues to keep busy with constituent services and research for next year’s legislative proposals.

This first interim update provides a brief overview of some key legislation debated during session worth repeating or received little or no coverage during session. Other updates will follow leading into what issues we may expect to see in 2016.

As this year was the beginning of the biennium (two-year period), the Legislature’s priority was the constitutional duty to pass a budget. The budget passed with an average 3.3 percent increase in annual spending over the next two years which is the fifth lowest increase over the last thirty years. Most of the spending goes toward education, Medicaid, university/college system, health and human services, corrections, and special education. The budget also leaves a projected $718 million in the cash reserve or “rainy day fund.”

Regarding tax relief, the Legislature granted two forms of tax relief, added an additional tax burden, and left unaddressed a number of other areas. The Legislature provided relief by increasing the property tax credit relief fund. As well, businesses and farmers will receive a partial property tax break on machinery, computers, and other personal property. However, the gas tax will increase 6 cents a gallon over the next four years. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not address the property tax burden shouldered by our farmers and ranchers which I attempted to address with LB350.

As for agriculture, the Legislature ended the session by addressing the issue whether to allow meatpacker ownership of hogs (LB176). The bill had significant opposition from some rural senators arguing this would be a death blow to small, independent hog producers and eventually lead to loss of independent cattle producers. The bill did not survive a second-round filibuster as it fell two votes short of cloture.

Next week’s column will continue covering legislation from criminal justice, the death penalty, education, health and human services.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – June 1, 2015

June 1st, 2015

The Unicameral’s 104th Legislature, First Session, is officially over. We adjourned Sine Die (which is Latin for ‘without a day’) on Friday, May 29, Day 89, one day earlier than anticipated during a “long session”. The remaining bills left to debate would have required more time than that single day allowed. Also, early adjournment saves the State over $10,000.

Overall, despite many controversies encountered this session, many bills passed. 664 total bills were introduced. Of those, 272 passed into law. Of the bills introduced, 107 were designated as priority bills which means they are generally considered ahead of other bills in debate. 80 priority bills were passed into law. The Speaker promised to carryover 5 priority bills to next year as they did not receive debate this session. The remaining 22 priority bills either received a veto, were unsuccessful through the debate process, or were not advanced out of their respective committees.

Two other points are worth noting. First, on Wednesday, the death penalty was debated on a motion to override the Governor’s veto. The debate was nothing short of historic.

Again, I stood in staunch support of the death penalty. I opposed Senator Chambers’ bill to repeal the death penalty throughout the legislative process. In addition, I stood in strong support of the Governor’s veto. Ultimately, the death penalty was repealed by the minimum amount of votes necessary to override a Governor’s veto, 30 votes in favor and 19 votes opposed, and Senator Chambers witnessed the fruit of 40 years of legislative effort to repeal the death penalty.

While the Legislature repealed the death penalty, despite an overwhelming majority of support in our district and state to maintain the death penalty, there is much conversation to begin petition drives and referendums to put this issue to the vote of the people in the next election. I strongly encourage you to engage in the political process and have your voice heard.

Additionally, the Governor’s veto on LB623 received a legislative override. LB623 offers drivers licenses to DACA youth. DACA youth are young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children by their parents. While I certainly have compassion for these young people who are illegal immigrants, as they are in the difficult predicament of being brought to the United States illegally by their parents, I was committed throughout debate to not undermine or overlook our legal process of immigration. Ultimately, the bill was passed into law, which took effect immediately, with 34 in favor, 10 against, 2 present not voting, and 3 excused not voting.

Thank you all for reading this weekly update throughout session to remain informed on the business of the Legislature. Over the next two weeks I will discuss some of the legislation I worked to pass, summarize other key legislation discussed throughout session, and highlight some of my major upcoming legislative activities.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. At this point in time the majority of my work is in our district, where I typically travel to Lincoln once a week. Katie and Tom remain in Lincoln full time and continue working hard to address constituent services as needed, while preparing research and legislation for next year’s session beginning January 2016.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16


Weekly Session Update – May 24, 2015

May 22nd, 2015

Thursday, May 21, marked the completion of Day 85. While it seems we just began the session, some days often feel like an eternity. With 5 days remaining, eyes are fixed on what is left undone. Once again, controversial issues, receiving their second and third rounds of debate, were addressed.

On Wednesday, the Legislature debated Senator Ernie Chamber’s LB286 to repeal the death penalty. As a supporter of the death penalty, I firmly fought against repealing the death penalty. During every round of debate, I insisted on the need for society to ensure punishments that fit the crime. There are instances where the criminal’s actions are so heinous the death penalty is necessary for the security and safety of civil society. With the violence in Tecumseh prison and multiple violent deaths in Omaha, the need for the death penalty remains evident. This is not only my position, but the majority position of Nebraskans in District 16 and across the State.

Ultimately, LB286 was advanced by the Legislature with 32 votes in favor, 15 votes in opposition, and 2 abstaining votes. I voted in opposition of repealing the death penalty. LB286 was presented to Governor Ricketts who strongly supports the death penalty and will certainly veto the Legislature’s decision. Upon veto, the bill will return for a veto override debate. This will be a historic debate for the State, as no conservative state has repealed the death penalty in 40 years. In addition, LB286 has gained national media attention. I intend to fight hard to retain the death penalty.

Additionally, on Wednesday, the Governor returned the state budget to the Legislature with his signature and without any line-item veto actions. This means the Legislature’s only constitutional duty is completed. While we could technically adjourn the session, we remain to work on other legislation.

In light of the tragic news of fallen Omaha police officer, Kerrie Orozco, I wanted to offer my sincere, heartfelt condolences to her family and all those who grieve, especially her fellow law enforcement officers. Her community service is a shining example for us all. I pray for her family, especially her newborn baby girl, Olivia, who will never fully experience her mother’s physical presence though her legacy will certainly live on. A special thank you to all law enforcement for your endless sacrifices and to all those who support our men and women in blue.

As well, Memorial Day offers us the opportunity to remember the sacrifice of another group of valiant warriors for our liberty and freedom. A prayer of thanksgiving for all those who died honorably in military service to our country. Memorial Day provides the stark reminder that freedom is not without cost, but is a gift given to us by those who sacrifice their very lives.

Finally, a special thank you to Pastor Rebecca Hjelle, First United Methodist Church, of Blair, who served as Chaplain of the Day for the Legislature on May 18. We were blessed by her beautiful prayer and offering God’s blessing over our work and for the people of our great State.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – May 18, 2015

May 18th, 2015

Days 78 through 81 of our legislative session were full of controversial and difficult issues, making for long hours, heated debate, and input from many constituents. Among other bills, the following issues were discussed: the budget, gas tax increase, criminal justice and prison reform, death penalty, drivers licenses for DACA youth brought into the country illegally, anti-discrimination regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and medical marijuana.

As required, the Legislature advanced a budget on Day 80. Overall, the budget increases spending by 3.1%, totaling approximately $4.3 billion. This represents the third-lowest spending growth in the last 15 biennial budgets. Governor Ricketts will now review the Legislature’s proposal. The Governor can line-item veto the budget, meaning he can strike certain spending provisions while keeping others. After the budget returns to the Legislature, we vote to uphold or override the specific line-item vetoes.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Legislature engaged in an 8-hour first-round debate on LB643 which would legalize medical marijuana. The bill presents a number of problems. The biggest problem is the following: while there is certainly anecdotal and personal evidence that medical marijuana has helped a number of individuals with specific medical issues, medical marijuana lacks rigorous, objective scientific research. This is also the concern of major medical associations and providers. There is a lack of data regarding its potency, efficacy, and safety which should cause caution on this issue. Not only could it be harmful to adults, but could be more harmful for children who already suffer tremendously. Ultimately, LB643 was advanced to second round of debate by a 27-12 vote.

On Thursday, we debated the Governor’s veto of LB610 regarding the gas tax increase. The Legislature decided to override the veto with the necessary 30 votes. I did not support the veto override. This increases the total tax to 31.6 cents per gallon over the next four years leading to the 16th highest tax in the nation.

We also debated the always controversial issue of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender orientation (LB586). I also opposed this bill because of its numerous problems. First, the legislation lacks proven case evidence. For instance, the city of Omaha has a similar policy in place. While approximately ten claims were filed last year, no actual violations of discrimination were found. Additionally, private business owners are capable of implementing a similar policy. Furthermore, the bill offered no robust religious exemption despite claims to the contrary. LB586 is a serious and direct threat to our first liberty, religious liberty. Ultimately, the bill failed to gain support, but will likely be taken up again next year.

On Friday, the repeal of the death penalty (LB268) advanced a second time.  Debate on this bill occurred in light of recent news items: the tragic deaths of a Hispanic mother and her 5-year old son in Omaha, the brutal deaths of two inmates at the Tecumseh prison, and the State’s purchase of the necessary drugs to carry out the death penalty. Staunchly opposed to the repeal of the death penalty, I spoke about the purpose to carry out the highest degree of punishment as fitting justice for murderous criminals who commit the most heinous of crimes. Ultimately, LB268 survived a 4-hour filibuster and advanced by a 30-16 vote. The bill must still pass a third round of debate and a certain veto by the Governor.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16


Weekly Session Update – May 11, 2015

May 15th, 2015

Another week has flown by at the Legislature with the completion of Day 77 on May 7. There are only 13 session days left, with many major issues remaining on the agenda such as the budget, prison and corrections reform, and property tax relief.

The budget advanced through second round of debate on Wednesday. While much of the debate on the budget may occur during final reading and after line-item vetoes by the Governor, some concerns have been raised. For instance, there was extended discussion regarding an $8 million appropriation to Creighton University for the construction of a dental clinic. The debate focused on whether public tax dollars should be solely disbursed for this private institution. The appropriation was amended to provide eligibility for funding to the University of Nebraska’s dental college as well.

A recent announcement by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board was good news. It was anticipated the Forecasting Board would announce a shortfall in projected tax revenues requiring budget cuts, but instead the Board announced a $12 million increase. Thankfully, the additional revenues were allotted for further property tax relief within the budget.

While the decision to provide increased property tax relief was a prudent move, I remain disappointed by the passage of LB610. LB610 hikes the motor vehicle gas tax by six cents over the next four years. LB610 was advanced to the Governor who immediately vetoed the bill. LB610 needs thirty votes to override the Governor’s veto.

Recently, a few bills I introduced made progress through the legislative process. LB570 expands the authority of cities, villages, and counties to permit the usage of golf car vehicles within their jurisdictions, subject to specific safety requirements.

Additionally, LB569 and LB571 were amended into LB449. LB569 modifies certain provisions of the Business Innovation Act and gives the Department of Economic Development greater flexibility to fund several programs supporting development of Nebraska-based technology and innovation in both rural and urban communities. LB571 provides the Tourism Commission with the discretionary authority to establish highway tourism signage for significant tourism attractions at the request and funding of local, private or public entities. LB449 recently passed final reading and has been presented to the Governor for his signature to become law.

Our office continues monitoring developments in the recent, abrupt decision by Deseret Health Group to close the Logan Valley Manor in Lyons. We are working closely with Senator Al Davis (District 43), whose district has another of Deseret’s nursing homes, Governor Ricketts, Director Phillips of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and other private groups and individuals. On May 8, I stopped by the home in Lyons to speak with staff concerning needs of both residents and staff. Currently only 7 residents await placement to a different facility. All residents continue being well cared for. Residents, family, community and the state are grateful to the wonderful, caring staff who are yet to be paid during the past month. Actions are underway by the Attorney General’s Office to secure funds for wages due to the staff.

Finally, a special thanks to Pastor Coral Parmenter and Reverend Les Parmenter from the Wisner-West Point area who served as Chaplains of the Day, offering beautiful and eloquent prayers over the Legislature and our great State.

As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Press Release: Deseret Health Group Announces Closing of Logan Valley Manor

May 7th, 2015

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           

For More Information:

Tom Venzor, Legislative Aide

Office of Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

(402) 471-2728


Senators Lydia Brasch and Senator Al Davis Request State Action,

Oversight in Nebraska Nursing Home Closings

On Monday, May 4, Senator Brasch and Senator Al Davis (District 43) along with Governor Pete Ricketts, representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), and private representatives of the nursing home care community met to ensure proper oversight and due diligence are undertaken to protect the residents and employees of various nursing home facilities.

Deseret Health Group announced last week on April 25 it would close its facility, Logan Valley Manor, in Lyons. This announcement coincided with a notice to also close another facility, Ainsworth Care Center, in Ainsworth. Deseret Health Group has now withdrawn care of all four of its facilities in Nebraska.

Currently, DHHS is working to provide receivership status for the Lyons and Ainsworth facilities. Receivership provides the state the ability to work with a private entity to take custody, manage, and protect the people, property, and assets involved. Receivership provides a temporary, legal remedy while a more permanent, long-term solution is determined.

Initially, Deseret Health Group gave a 30-day notice to the Lyons and Ainsworth facilities. However, federal law requires a 60-day notice be given with regard to the closing of a nursing home facility that accepts Medicaid and/or Medicare payments. Deseret has complied with the 60-day notice, but could not be reached for comment.

DHHS, under the new leadership of Courtney Phillips, has been actively involved at both facilities in Lyons and Ainsworth. DHHS made on-site visits to ensure adequate care was being offered and continues to monitor each facility on a shift-by-shift basis.

DOL has been working diligently to try to ensure the payment of wages for employees. Employees of the nursing home facilities were scheduled to be paid on April 30. However, Deseret Health Group is yet to provide payment of wages as of May 6. The DOL also sent a Rapid Response Team to both the Lyons and Ainsworth location to speak with employees. The Rapid Response Team provides services regarding filing wage complaints, new employment opportunities, and the requirements for filing for unemployment benefits.

Senator Lydia Brasch, representative of District 16, voiced concern for the recent announcement stating: “I am truly concerned for the residents and employees of Logan Valley Manor as they undergo this difficult transition in light of Deseret Health Group’s recent and abrupt actions. Yet, I remain hopeful as I believe the residents, family of residents, employees, citizens, businesses, and government agencies will step up and provide needed care and support for those affected.” Senator Brasch additionally indicated her desire for local groups, charitable organizations, businesses, and church communities to step in where necessary and offered gratitude for all those who have already sacrificed to ensure the health and welfare of the residents and employees of Logan Valley Manor.

Any questions or concerns for DHHS may be addressed by contacting them at 402.471.3324 (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.), 402.499.4417 (after hours, weekends, or holidays), or by e-mail to eve.lewis@nebraska.gov. To file a wage complaint with the DOL, call 402.471.2239.