Welcome

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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Lydia Brasch

Weekly Session Update – January 26

January 26th, 2015

On Monday, January 20, the Legislature was not in session to observe Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Events were held across our district, state and country to pay tribute to Rev. Dr. King’s legacy of promoting peaceful unity among all people. The long weekend provided a welcome return home to the farm which blessed me with a refreshed feeling of the beauty of rural Nebraska and the good people I humbly serve.

Tuesday started off hectic. It marked Day 9 of only 10 possible days to introduce new bills. We introduced our final 4 bills. LB568 changes certain administrative license revocation provisions related to CDL operators. This bill concerns an issue between the Department of Motor Vehicles and the federal government regarding compliance of administrative procedures for CDL operators arrested for DUI. If the federal government determines the DMV is non-compliant, this bill would comply with federal law and secure highway safety construction funds.LB569 modifies grant funding related to the Business Innovations Act and supports the development of technology and innovation in rural and urban areas. LB570 grants authority to cities and counties regarding the usage of golf cart vehicles. Cities and counties could allow golf cart usage within their jurisdiction, subject to certain public safety requirements. LB571 provides authority to the Nebraska Tourism Commission to establish and promote tourism signage. In addition to introduced bills, we began public hearings. I attended Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday and spent the rest of the week in the Revenue Committee.

On Wednesday, Day 10, the last day allowed for bill introduction, the total number of bills introduced was 663. Senator Watermeier and I also participated in a news media conference held by the Farm Bureau Federation to discuss four bills we introduced last week focusing on the need for lowering agricultural land values.

Before session began on Thursday, Day 11, the Appropriations and Revenue Committees attended a briefing by Governor Ricketts providing details of his State of the State Address. Governor Ricketts’ address confirmed his plan to lower taxes on agricultural land, but over a four-year period. On Friday, Day 12, we heard the first of many bills to be advanced to General File, as well as floor debate regarding our rules, tradition and committees.

Regarding last week’s update, the Clerk’s Office received a couple phone calls to correct the record about secret voting for committee chairmanships. From 1939-1972, chairmanship positions were assigned by the Committee on Committees. During the first few sessions of the Unicameral, the committees chose their own chair.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.  If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government.  Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – January 19

January 16th, 2015

The first full week of our 90 Day session began on January 12th. This marked Day 4 of the
10 days allowed for bill introduction according to the “Rules of the Nebraska Unicameral
Legislature.” The rule does allow for exceptions, such as appropriation bills or bills
introduced at the request of the governor. Overall, our Rules book consists of 10 rules with
multiple sections and sub-sections. While the rules can seem extensive at times, they help
preserve the order of the Legislature.

As of Friday, January 16, there were 430 bills and 27 legislative resolutions introduced.
Wednesday, January 21, will mark Day 10 of the session meaning no further bills can be
introduced. Committees will begin holding public hearings on Tuesday, January 20th.
So far, I have introduced five bills, with more to come next week. LB 179 requires
apprentice electricians to complete continuing education hours. This bill would help
apprentice electricians understand the National Electrical Code Book which is the adopted
standard for electricians in our region and assist them in passing their exam to become
licensed electricians.

LB 338 provides for a docket fee for custody, parenting time, visitation, and other parental
access disputes. Currently, when a married couple with children seeks to divorce, the court
may require mediation to help the couple address key issues such as custody and parenting
time. They are assessed a $50 fee which goes to a fund that supplements the costs of
mediation. However, non-married couples addressing the same issues of custody and
parenting time are not required to pay the $50 fee. The number of unmarried parents with
these child-centered issues are far outpacing the number of marital dissolutions (nearly
6,000 to 3,769). This bill would help our state’s court and mediative services finance a
service provided to those using the system.

LB 350 seeks to provide property tax relief for agricultural and horticultural land by
decreasing the valuation from 75% to 65%. I have introduced this in the past and was
previously introduced by then Senators Fischer and Heidemann. It is a change long
overdue. Currently, agricultural taxpayers consists of only 3% of our population but pay 26%
to 29% of the tax burden for education. Related to LB 350, I also introduced LB 351. This
bill will not increase income tax, but will direct 20% of income taxes collected to state aid for
education. Between these two bills, we can provide a fiscally responsible way of paying
taxes that is more proportionate.

We especially want to thank the following volunteer pastors from District 16 who served as
Chaplain of the Day and offered prayer at the Legislature this week: Pastor Hale from
Bancroft and Pastor High from Tekamah.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom
Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or
stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.  If you would like to follow the Legislature
online you can visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-
government. Live broadcasting is available on NET2 as well.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – January 12th

January 16th, 2015

Returning back to work in January started on a sad note in our office and the Capitol. On January 3rd we learned of the unexpected death of the father of our newly hired Legislative Aide, Tom Venzor. His father was a great man, husband and father who will be dearly missed. At this time, Tom is needed by his family and will be joining us once again in our office when able. We were also saddened to learn on January 8th, a loved, valued and respected Legislative Aide, Chris Keetle unexpectedly passed. As we start this year with heavy hearts and prayers of comfort for these two families, we realize we must move forward in a renewed spirit of hope and promise for the many days ahead.

Day 1, Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 our First Session of the One Hundred Fourth Legislature convened. I was among 49 State Senators, families, friends, staff and others gathered to participate or witness the traditional swearing in ceremony. Following came the business of the adoption of temporary rules, election of permanent officers, election of a new speaker, oath of officers, election for chairpersons for the committee on committees, executive board, vice-chairperson of the executive board and election of standing committee chairpersons. Senator Bill Kintner rose to announce he will bring before the Rules Committee a motion to make voting for chairmanships public and not by secret ballot. We were reminded voting for chairmanships has been by secret ballot only since 1973. I believe in transparency and will support this motion.

Following my re-election I announced my bid in late November for the Chairman of Agriculture Committee and knew it was going to be a steep uphill climb as Senator Jerry Johnson, LD 23, announced his bid following session in the Spring of 2014. Although he won by just one vote, I know he is a man of exceptional experience and abilities and be an excellent chairman. Should I have been elected, I would have been the first woman to serve our Unicameral as an Agriculture Chairwoman in its 78 year history. The standing committees I will serve on are the Revenue Committee and Transportation and Telecommunications, on which I will serve as Vice-Chair.

Day 2 began with introduction of new bills and adoption of our temporary rules. The Inaugural Oath of Offices took place in the afternoon, where swearing in took place for many including the Board of Regents, State Board of Education, Public Service Commission, Attorney General-Elect, State Auditor-Elect, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor-Elect, and the Governor-Elect.

It was a great pleasure and honor to be named as one of 5 escorts to lead, at that time, Governor-Elect Pete Ricketts to be sworn in as our new governor. Governor Ricketts’ Inaugural Address was outstanding and his vision for leadership is innovative and inspiring.

Day 3 was another day of bill introduction with only 10 days that are allowed for new bill introduction. January 21st is the final day of bill introduction. Once our office is fully staffed we will resume introducing our legislation.

The Inaugural Gala took place on Saturday, where Lee and I were greeted by many familiar and dear faces from across our District and State. It was a joyful celebration that will be long remembered by many.

In our office Tom Venzor is my Legislative Aide and Katie Wattermann is my Administrative Aide. Tom is from Schuyler and has an extensive background in various legal work. Katie is from West Point and knows the district like the back of her hand. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me and my office via email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov or via phone at 402-471-2728; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

DISTRICT 16 TOWN HALL MEETINGS – THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4

December 1st, 2014

Contact: Joe Neuhaus                                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office: 402-471-2728
Email: jneuhaus@leg.ne.gov

Senator Lydia Brasch Invites You to Attend:
DISTRICT 16 TOWN HALL MEETINGS – THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4

Senator Lydia Brasch will host town hall meetings December 4 in Blair, Tekamah, and West Point to listen to constituents’ views in considering legislation to introduce, support or oppose prior to session commencing. Officials from the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) will also be present to provide updates on roads projects.

Blair

8:00am to 9:30am City Council Chamber, 218 S 16th St Coffee will be provided. NDOR Representatives scheduled to attend:

  • Roads District 2 Engineer Tim Weander
  • Hwy 133 Project Manager Rich Zelensky
  • District Construction Engineer Marvin Lech
  • Communications Director Mary Jo Oie
  • Government Affairs Director Andy Cunningham

Tekamah

12:00pm to 1:30pm Burt County Courthouse, Basement Meeting Room, 111 N 13th St Sandwiches and drinks will be provided. NDOR Representatives scheduled to attend:

  • Roads District 3 Engineer Kevin Domogalla
  • Communications Director Mary Jo Oie
  • Government Affairs Director Andy Cunningham

West Point

4:30pm to 6:00pm City Council Chamber, 444 S Main St Refreshments will be provided. NDOR Representatives scheduled to attend:

  • Roads District 3 Engineer Kevin Domogalla
  • Communications Director Mary Jo Oie
  • Government Affairs Director Andy Cunningham

###

Interim Update

November 20th, 2014

In just over seven weeks, the 104th Legislature will convene with 17 new senators beginning their tenure, along with a newly elected governor, attorney general, and state auditor. I will also be starting my second term representing District 16. The Capitol is once again filled with increased activity preparing for the upcoming session. This interim has been especially busy and challenging, but fulfilling.

I was heartened by our community spirit witnessed when, like countless others, I worked in various capacities following multiple natural disasters. Becoming whole once again to some may have seemed very distant or unachievable from the mounds of broken glass caused by damaging baseball sized hail to twisted metal silos, feedyards relentlessly beaten beyond recognition, countless piles of uprooted trees that once stood tall, and scattered remnants of homes and farmsteads left behind from devastating tornadoes. Yet today, one sees where determination and strong will prevailed as communities are rebuilding ever stronger and more resilient.

Thankfully, most received enough rain over the summer to pull out of prior drought conditions. Despite weather related setbacks a successful harvest has been completed or nears completion as we wait for the snow and frigid temperatures to subside.

As in years before much of my time was spent visiting or working with constituents of District 16. In the 151 work days since adjournment, I attended over 150 district events, including:

  • Our three County fairs, with 11 parades;
  • An annual ride-along review of District 16’s Game and Parks land;
  • Two annual Road Department ride-alongs (I even operated the concrete paver equipment!); plus
  • Multiple grand openings/ribbon cuttings or constituent meetings.

In September, I was honored to be chosen among 48 policymakers nationwide to participate in the prestigious Henry Toll Fellowship Program coordinated by the Council of State Governments in Lexington, Kentucky. I learned additional skills to effectively advocate for my constituents and navigate and build sound agency relationships for best results for legislation. I also gained valuable advice and a new network of 47 Fellow leaders from coast to coast.

A number of important issues we responded to include:

  • The proposed rule change to the Definition of the Waters of the United States by the EPA;
  • Various Army Corp of Engineer projects along the Missouri River which disregard landowners’ property rights; and
  • Multiple Department of Roads issues.

I look forward to building upon my work and the privilege to once again serve our district and state. We are scheduling Town Hall meetings on December 4 in each county seat to listen to constituents’ views in considering legislation to introduce, support or oppose prior to session commencing January 7, 2015. We also invited representatives from the Nebraska Department of Roads to join us for an update of district projects underway.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me and my office via email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov or via phone at 402-471-2728; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Lydia Brasch
Senator, District 16

Burt County Plaindealer Guest Column

October 1st, 2014

Since our April adjournment of the Second Session of the 104th Legislature, I have attended over 95 community events and meetings in Legislative District 16.  During this interim, we also assisted many constituents affected by catastrophic weather damages such as wind, hail, and tornadoes.  The constituents of District 16 continue to prove their resiliency when dealing with Mother Nature.

During my interactions with constituents I am almost always asked about legislation.  The most frequent questions for our district consistently address taxes, primarily ag land and income tax relief, ag land tax relief being the top concern.  Discussions often transition into other state agency-related questions, such as four lane highways, road repair and shoulder work, internet connectivity gaps, energy, game and parks, law enforcement, insurance, and much more than can be discussed in a newspaper column. Therefore, my focus here will be about tax policy and concerns of expanding federal jurisdiction and oversight and our efforts to help address them.

In 2013, I introduced LB145 and designated it as my priority bill in 2014 following the Tax Modernization Committee’s statewide hearings during the 2013 interim.  Because Nebraska was challenged four years ago with meeting fiscal obligations of a billion dollar deficit, the Tax Modernization Committee was formed during the 2013 session with the task of reforming Nebraska’s tax code.  Studies developed by the Committee supported the fact that farmers and ranchers are disproportionately taxed in our district and statewide.  My legislative bill would have decreased the assessed valuation of agricultural and horticultural land by ten percent, from 75 percent to 65 percent of its actual value.  This bill was also previously introduced by former State Senators Deb Fischer and Lavon Heidemann during their time in the legislature.  Unfortunately, LB145 was not advanced from the Revenue Committee.  Various other tax relief bills introduced by Revenue Committee members advanced only to stall on General File due to our short 60-day session calendar.

Over the last four years, the Unicameral enacted legislation to reduce spending and increase revenue.  The Nebraska Constitution requires the Governor to introduce a balanced budget, and state statutes require the Legislature to enact a balanced budget.  As a result of diligent lawmaking and responsible fiscal policies, our Net General Fund revenue for fiscal year 2013-2014 is $4.117 billion, including a cash reserve of $707.5 million, also known as a “rainy day” fund.  This puts our cash reserve right at the recommended 16.7 percent of annual revenues, which is very important if our state should experience a future revenue shortfall due to another economic downturn.  A healthy cash reserve, if it continues, provides options and opportunities moving forward for re-introducing additional tax relief measures.

In 2014, we provided a good legislative start to tax relief in a very short time window with Legislative Bills 986 and 987.  Together, they are expected to give Nebraskans more than $500 million in tax relief over the next five years.  In addition, LB1087 provides a 100 percent property tax exemption for veterans who are receiving compensation for a 100 percent disability, have an honorable or general discharge, and do not qualify for the existing total homestead exemption.  LB96 exempts from state sales tax the sale of repairs and replacement parts for agricultural machinery or equipment. Although we passed these valuable tax reform bills, property tax relief continues to be a priority, as some tax valuations rose more than 30 percent last year.  In fact, the average increase statewide for ag land valuations was 29.1 percent, which heavily contributed to a 12.45 percent increase overall.  Because we have seen these taxes continue to rise in the past decade, we will continue to explore various options to address further increases.

It is also important to remember our public schools are funded primarily by property taxes levied individually by Nebraska’s 93 counties.  One of the obligations we must meet as lawmakers is Nebraska’s constitutional mandate to provide a free public education for all persons between the ages of five and twenty one.  We must carefully balance the financial needs of our schools and our taxpayers.  To manage this important task the Education Committee will hold public meetings beginning in October to gather information to develop a statewide vision for education in Nebraska.  The public hearings will help determine how to properly fund the public school system.  I am hopeful that we can find a solution to help fund education, yet I hope such funding will not place the burden so heavily on the backs of one group, our farmers and livestock producers.

Another item of great concern stems from federal regulation overreach affecting our district and state.  First is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Waters of the United States” proposed rule change; second is the Middle Decatur Bend Shallow Water Habitat construction project in Burt County; and third, the Nebraska Department of Roads has been mandated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to re-route a once approved plan to repair bridges due to newly impacted protected wildlife species.  In an effort to protect Nebraskans from the ongoing broadening of the Clean Water Act, I have been in contact with Governor Heineman, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), the EPA, Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and our federal delegation, only to learn of continued resistance by federal agencies to take into consideration the voice and rights of our property owners.  The question I continue to ask is whether the decades-old task of “protecting” these birds and fish is truly based on sound science and  a matter of national urgency.  More importantly, in 2011, we experienced a 500-year flood on the Missouri River that struck a devastating blow to our farmland and livelihoods.  Certainly, the protection of fish and wildlife cannot reasonably be more important than protecting the rights of our citizens and the land on which they live.  It is my belief that our endangered fish and wildlife may not be as endangered as the Corps will have us believe.  In fact, the interior least tern, one of the protected species on the Missouri River, is cited by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as of “Least Concern.”

As a district we have faced and will continue to face important issues of public policy.  From September 5 through 10 I will be joining in conversation and study with 48 other state-level leaders across the country at the Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellowship Program, asking questions and looking for solutions to better serve my constituents and our state and nation.  I will continue to search for ways to provide the best possible education for our children, build and promote strong families, strengthen agriculture and create jobs, build and maintain a viable and affordable infrastructure, and provide public safety and wellbeing for all.

Final Week of 103rd Legislature

April 23rd, 2014

Weekly Legislative Update

Thursday April 17 brought the last day of the session and the 103rd Legislature, as well as the last day of service for 17 term-limited senators.  In between filibustering attempts by Senator Chambers as retribution for his failed mountain lion bill, the Legislature individually recognized Senators Greg Adams, Brad Ashford, Bill Avery, Tom Carlson, Mark Christensen, Danielle Conrad, Annette Dubas, Tom Hansen, John Harms, Russ Karpisek, Steve Lathrop, Scott Lautenbaugh, Amanda McGill, John Nelson, Pete Pirsch, Norm Wallman, and John Wightman for their hard work and dedication to serving Nebraska.

There has been some speculation that the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (PMRNRD) has plans to build a dam on the Bell Creek in an unknown location.  PMRNRD General Director, John Winkler, assured me last Monday that these reports are based on an old U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Study outlining such plans, but that there is no current plan or funding for the project and that the NRD will remove the Bell Creek reference from the Draft Integrated Management Plan within the next few days.  According to Mr. Winkler, “There are simply no plans to begin a Bell Creek dam.”

Governor Heineman, in his statement to the Unicameral, congratulated the members for efforts on issues such as water sustainability, prison reform, and tax reform.  Tax measures passed by the Legislature this session included indexing individual income tax brackets for inflation, eliminating sales tax on repair parts for agricultural machinery and equipment, and expanding the homestead exemption program.  “It’s been a very good year for Nebraska taxpayers.  We are providing more than $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans over the next five years.  That is meaningful, responsible, and significant tax relief,” Heineman stated.

We have had a fantastic presence from District 16 clergy who have travelled to Lincoln to offer morning prayers before the Unicameral convenes.  Thank you to Pastor Jonathan Ripke of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hooper for joining us as Chaplain of the Day on Tuesday, April 8 and to Pastor Lewis Miller of Beemer Mennonite Church in Beemer for joining us as Chaplain on April 9.

Now that the session is over, I am looking forward to several official appointments in District 16, as well as other various meetings and events.  As usual, I anticipate a very busy summer, and my calendar is already starting to fill up.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Joe Neuhaus, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Week of April 7

April 14th, 2014

Weekly Legislative Update

Last week was the final full week of this session, and now we have only one session day remaining.  The Legislature will remain adjourned until Thursday, April 17, when we will debate the override of Governor Heineman’s last vetoes, if there are any, before we adjourn sine die.  The final week was certainly full of twists and turns as several senators were amending bills to include introduced legislation that did not successfully proceed through the traditional stages of consideration.  On several occasions, because it was questionable whether certain amendments were “in a natural and logical sequence to the subject matter” it was necessary to invoke motions as to germaneness.  Overall, this this week was indeed an important, interesting, and valuable exercise in applying our Legislative Rules.

Two of my five bills from this year (LBs 964 and 1093) and my resolution, LR395, passed through the Legislature for Governor approval.  LB964 makes the bankruptcy homestead exemption apply to all claimants and updates the statutory language; LB1093, which was amended into LB464, provides for a more streamlined funding process for the Nebraska Supreme Court to fund its juvenile conferencing services; and LR395 recognizes February 10, 2014 as the 60th Anniversary of the addition of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.  I believe these are all important pieces of legislation, and I hope to have the opportunity next year to re-introduce those issues and others that did not pass through the Unicameral this year.  LB964 was signed by the Governor, and LR395 was adopted on April 10.

Governor Heineman held signing ceremonies for two key bills this week that favorably affect our district and state.  LB1067 extends the Nebraska Advantage Act, our major comprehensive economic development tool for expanding or relocating businesses to Nebraska for another two years.  LB1067 helps create more certainty for businesses utilizing these job-creation and investment incentives.  Included in the package were extensions of the angel investment credit, the microenterprise credit, and the R&D Act.  LB96, which exempts farm machinery repairs and parts from our state sales tax and which is implemented in neighboring states, was signed by the Governor April 2.  LB 96 makes agriculture implement businesses in Nebraska more competitive and is expected to provide $47 million of tax relief for ag producers over the next five years.

LB526, which expands the scope of practice for optometrists in Nebraska, was placed on Final Reading Wednesday.  Discussion from constituents on this bill turned out to be more disputed than I had expected.  Both opponents and proponents provided solid arguments to support their positions.  In the end, I believe that greater Nebraska will have the potential for more ready access to these simple procedures, whereas people from rural areas currently have to travel to bigger cities such as Omaha to have them done.

We enjoyed welcoming FFA students from Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Wisner, and Blair High Schools Wednesday.  Thursday, we welcomed West Point FFA students as well.  It is encouraging to see our Future Farmers of America and their dedication to continue the tradition of Nebraska’s significant agricultural importance in the world.  Fourth graders from Fort Calhoun and Bancroft-Rosalie also visited.  Their high energy and spirit of excitement and wonder are always very contagious, beneficial, and welcome to everyone!

We have had a fantastic presence from District 16 clergy who have travelled to Lincoln to offer morning prayers before the Unicameral convenes.  Thank you to Pastor Jonathan Ripke of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hooper for joining us as Chaplain of the Day on Tuesday, April 8 and to Pastor Lewis Miller of Beemer Mennonite Church in Beemer for joining us as Chaplain on April 9.

As the session is almost over for the year, I recommend you contact me early in the interim to share your thoughts on any issues you would like addressed next year.  Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Joe Neuhaus, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Week of March 31

April 14th, 2014

Weekly Legislative Update

April Fools’ Day marked the 51st Legislative Day of the 103rd Legislature, Second Session.  There are five legislative days remaining until we adjourn Sine Die on April 17.  Thank you to Pastor Shawn Linnell of Trinity Lutheran Church in Blair for joining us as Chaplain of the Day on Tuesday, April 1 and to Pastor Coral Parmenter of United Methodist Church of Christ in Wisner for joining us as Chaplain on April 2.  We always appreciate the clergy from District 16 who volunteer to travel to Lincoln and offer their prayers.

After the passage of LBs 130, 905, and 906 (budget appropriation bills), Governor Heineman returned them to the Legislature with line-item vetoes.  On Tuesday, we carefully examined these bills and fully debated the potential outcomes.  The Governor stated his line-item vetoes returns $65 million dollars to taxpayers for the property tax relief they requested.  Among some of the vetoed items were:

  • $14.5 million from the Cash Reserve to the Nebraska Capitol Construction fund for the erection of fountains in the Capitol courtyards and renovation of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system;
  • various new Salary Limits for state agencies, new state agency positions, and a transfer from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Contingency Fund Program to the Behavioral Health Aid Program (in order to offset costs to the state due to implementation of the Affordable Care Act);
  • $12.5 million transfer from the Department of Motor Vehicles Cash Fund to the Vehicle Title and Registration System Replacement and Maintenance Cash Fund and $5 million of the $15 million to the Game and Parks Commission for maintenance and improvement projects.

All vetoes were overridden Tuesday by the Legislature.  I supported the Governor’s vetoes and not the override of the Legislature, as I believe more extensive tax relief is possible for our taxpayers.  However, I appreciated the privilege of attending the bill signing press conference with the Governor in support of valuable tax relief efforts for Nebraskans.

Senator Chambers introduced a motion Wednesday to override Governor Heineman’s veto of his mountain lion hunting bill, LB671.  The motion failed on a 24-21-4 vote. Senator Chambers has taken a firm stand that it will be a “rough rest of the session” for those of us who voted for the override.

We enjoyed welcoming Lyons-Decatur Northeast High School seniors and two of their teachers Wednesday.  Unfortunately, I was unable to meet the Lyons-Decatur 4th graders who visited the next day, as they were pressed for time.  We also had student visitors from the Federation of Women’s Club of Nebraska.  I was able to sit down for lunch at the Governor’s Residence with a Cuming County student and his Dodge County friends, and we enjoyed a refreshing trip together to the top of the tower and looked out across a brisk, extremely breezy capital city.

Our session is winding down as the issues continue heating up.  As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts on pending legislation before we adjourn sine die.  Please continue to contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Joe Neuhaus, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16