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

2015 State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Report

March 24th, 2015

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Venzor
Office: 402.471.2728
E-Mail: tvenzor@leg.ne.gov
 

State Treasurer’s 2015 Unclaimed Property Report Published

State Senator Lydia Brasch encourages constituents of District 16 to review State Treasurer Don Stenberg’s 2015 Unclaimed Property Report. Senator Brasch stated that “a large number of District 16 individuals have been pleasantly surprised to discover they indeed had unclaimed property held in trust by the State.” In fact, the State Treasurer’s Office recently featured Rosie Linnenbrink, a constituent from West Point, in their annual published report and on their website.

Upon request from the Office of the State Treasurer, Senator Brasch was able to obtain specific lists of unclaimed property pertaining to each of the counties within District 16: Burt, Cuming, and Washington Counties. According to each individual report, Burt, Cuming, and Washington County total 764, 754, and 2032 total unclaimed properties, respectively.

The State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division is a repository for money and other personal assets considered lost or abandoned. Unclaimed property includes certificates of deposits, checking and savings accounts, commissions, contents of safe deposit boxes, death benefits, and dividends, gift certificates, insurance payments, money orders, paid-up life insurance, refunds, stocks, uncashed checks, unpaid wages. The unclaimed property can be a small dollar amount or even ranging into the hundreds of dollars or more from several combined smaller amounts found.

The Unclaimed Property Report is scheduled to be published in 16 Nebraska newspapers, as required by State Statute, during March and early April. Currently, the State Treasurer’s Office holds more than $135 million in property for more than 350,000. In 2014, the State Treasurer returned more than $11.7 million to more than 16,000 owners and plans to return even more in 2015.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the entire Unclaimed Property Report, you may contact the State Treasurer’s Office at 402.471.2455 or check for unclaimed property at any time online at http://treasurer.nebraska.gov.

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Weekly Session Update – March 23, 2015

March 24th, 2015

The 104th, First Session of the Nebraska Legislature is officially halfway done with its 90-day session with Friday marking the close of Day 49. Up to now, we have spent our first half of the day in floor debate and the other half in committee hearings. With only occasional exception moving forward, we will no longer hold public afternoon hearings since all 663 bills introduced have been heard. As of Monday, Day 50, we began all day floor debate and stop only when the Speaker adjourns us. Our legislative day must not end later than 11:59 p.m. as midnight would begin the next official legislative day. Thank you to everyone who came to testify on legislation, as well as those contacting our office through e-mail, phone calls, or personal visits. The next notable day for our legislative process is Day 70 when the Appropriations Committee must introduce a budget proposal to the body of the Legislature.

As you may know, my priority bill, LB350, which provides a reduction in the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land from 75 to 65 percent, did not originally have enough support to be voted out of the Revenue Committee. Nevertheless, I have continued to work diligently in an effort to gather the five committee votes necessary to advance this bill for floor debate. My staff and I spent a good deal of the week compiling further statistical information on the impact of LB350 as well as talking individually to senators from the Revenue Committee to gather more support. My hope is the voice of Nebraskans from across the state will not go unheard. Continue doing your part to urge the Legislature to address this issue.

This week’s floor debate was mostly on LB31. Introduced and prioritized by Senator Bloomfield, LB31 repeals the motorcycle helmet law and provides the operator the choice to wear a helmet or not. Much debate revolved around individual liberties versus government regulation of public health and safety, as well as the positive economic impact LB31 would bring from enthusiasts nationwide. In the past, I supported this bill when amended to prohibit young children as passengers. While I certainly support the operators individual liberty to decide whether to wear a helmet or not, this year’s original bill as introduced did not provide important safety provisions of last session with regard to child passengers and inexperienced operators. For this reason, I have not been able to offer my full support.

A special thanks to this week’s visitors: former-Senator Matt Connealy and his wife, Judith (Decatur); Bob Jones and Rod Giese (Beemer); and LeRoy and Anita Bray (Rosalie). Finally, while we have had a number of pastors from the District serve as Chaplain of the Day, we would like to encourage those pastors who have not served to consider this great opportunity to provide God’s blessing and grace over the Legislature.

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 – March 16, 2015

March 20th, 2015

Monday, March 9, marked Day 41 of our 90-day session. With almost half the legislative session behind us, the Legislature steadily marches forward to address a variety of issues. At this point, there are 148 bills due for first round debate, 6 for second round debate, and 82 bills priority bills. In addition, 25 bills have been passed by the Legislature awaiting the Governor’s signature and another 58 already approved by the Governor.

I am happy to announce the passage of my first bill for the session. LB179 provides for continuing education requirements for apprentice electricians. It passed through the Legislature with relative ease with some amendments added to ensure apprentice electricians not wanting to advance further in their career to journeyman will not be negatively affected. It currently awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.

I also introduced LB569 to the Appropriations Committee. In my five years representing you at the Legislature, this was my first time before Appropriations. They have the important and difficult task of proposing a budget to the rest of the Legislature. LB569 makes some changes to the Business Innovation Act (BIA). The BIA encourages and supports the development of Nebraska-based technology and innovation in rural and urban areas through a variety of programs, such as the Value-Added Agriculture Program and Research and Development Program. LB569 increases the amount maximums allowed for grants offered through the BIA programs. This change gives the Department of Economic Development more flexibility in allocating the $7 million given to them for grant funding.

Unfortunately, LB350, my bill to decrease the valuation on agricultural and horticultural land for property tax purposes from 75% to 65%, was not voted out of the Revenue Committee. Only Senator Jim Scheer voiced support for the bill during executive session. Many other senators voiced concern LB350 would not provide enough relief farmers and ranchers. However, I have heard overwhelming support for this bill from those in the district, as well as statewide. Since 2008, agricultural land has shot up in assessments by 180% and placed a tremendously disproportionate burden on farmers and ranchers. This is deeply disappointing and unfair for a state built on agriculture, and continues to be sustained by agriculture as our #1 industry. I hope the committee will reconsider LB350 and support its advancement to the floor for debate.

As winter sports wrap up, a few special congratulations are due. Congratulations to Bancroft-Rosalie for taking second place in an amazingly close, yet heartbreaking double overtime loss in the D-2 Boys State Basketball Championship game. Also, congratulations to Guardian Angels Central Catholic (WestPoint) on taking third place in the C-2 Girls State Basketball Tournament. Additionally, congratulations to Oakland-Craig and the West Point-Beemer wrestling teams for both finishing in the top 5 team rankings at State Wrestling. It was nice to have District 16 visitors: Ed Hernandez (Nebraskans for Founders Values); Judy Mutzenberger and John Ross (Cuming County Supervisors); and Gayle Roberts, Aaron Loyd, Celeste Lux (Blair) and Nancy Black (Tekamah) attending Nebraska Library Advocacy Day. We were also blessed to have Pastor Lewis Miller of Beemer Mennonite Church serve as Chaplain of the Day on Tuesday leading the Legislature in grace-filled prayer.

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 – March 9, 2015

March 20th, 2015

Monday, March 2, was Day 36 of our 90-day session. The Legislature’s workload continues increasing and discussions remain, as always, interesting. Returning to the final hours of first round debate on LB10, the Legislature discussed reinstating the winner-take-all system for electoral votes. Our state used this method until 1991. After 1991, this bill was introduced nine times before 2008 and passed twice by the Legislature, but vetoed twice by then-Governor Ben Nelson. LB10 received thirty-one votes in favor of advancing to second round of debate.

Debate on LR10CA resumed which allows the voters to decide whether or not to remove the prohibition on legislative authority over games of chance. The Nebraska Constitution only permits the Legislature to authorize a small number of games of chance. The Legislature indefinitely postponed the resolution by a vote of twenty-seven ayes and sixteen nays.

Testifiers waited during many lengthy public hearings. LB623, introduced in our Transportation Committee, clarifies lawful status for eligibility for a motor vehicle operator’s license or state identification card. Currently, to receive a license or ID you must demonstrate lawful status by submitting certain federal or state documents. It is a difficult and emotional situation for children brought here years ago by parents who are, or were, illegal immigrants. Many of these children are now young adults painfully caught in the middle of wanting to do the right thing yet knowing their legal status inhibits them. Some are now college graduates with some form of legal documentation, but not the long-awaited citizenship. Some legal means of residency and citizenship can take nearly twenty-five years. Many rural employers expressed the value and appreciation of their hard work in helping fill longtime vacancies in jobs important to agriculture. For example, the Nebraska Cattlemen testified in support. District employers have contacted us and our federal delegation requesting assistance resolving the complex and stagnant immigration process on behalf of this work force. In 2012, then-Governor Heineman stated these young adults, known as deferred action childhood arrivals (DACA), would not be given operator’s licenses. I respect, understand, and supported this 2012 position. However, Nebraska remains the only state not granting this privilege. As a daughter of legal Ukrainian immigrants and a 1st generation American, this bill is extremely difficult. While we must not undermine legal means of immigration and the consequences for entering illegally, this bill provides compassion and opportunity for youth who came here by no choice of their own but made Nebraska their home. Constituents have weighed in heavily: many support and many oppose.

LB268 replaces the death penalty with a sentence of life without possibility of parole. It is also one of Senator Chamber’s bills passionately re-introduced. As I left the Capitol after 6 p.m. on Friday, the LB643 hearing was still underway. This is the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act supported by many testifying parents of children suffering from seizures. Notably, the Nebraska Medical Association was in opposition.

In our Revenue Committee, a few notable bills were heard: LB398 (eliminate tangible personal property from property tax), LB610 (raise gas tax to provide additional revenues for roads and bridges), and LB542 (provide sales tax exemption for agricultural society purchases).

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 – March 2, 2015

March 2nd, 2015

On Monday, February 23, the Legislature marked Day 31 of our 90-day session. With one-third of the session behind us, we are feeling greater concern to get bills out of committee and onto the floor for full debate. As the Legislature has a constitutional obligation to set a balanced budget this session, there is also the need to focus on bills regarding the budget and their fiscal impact. Sometimes the priority of these bills limits the time for debating other bills that have been introduced. Ideally, when our bills are heard in committee we not only want the five votes to advance the bill out of committee, but we also want all eight committee members to vote in favor of the bill so the it can be considered for consent calendar by the Speaker of the Legislature. Consent calendar bills are typically non-controversial bills receiving a limited amount of floor debate before they are voted on by the whole body of the Legislature.

From Monday through Wednesday, the morning floor debate was spent debating LB10. LB10 would reinstate the winner-take-all system for electing presidential and vice-presidential candidates, awarding all electoral votes to the candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the state. The current system is a ‘district method’ which was initiated in 1991. The district method allows for one presidential elector to be chosen from each congressional district and two presidential electors to be chosen at large. Only one other state, Maine, uses the district method. All forty-eight other states uses a winner-take-all method. While there has been some controversy by some individuals who believe this bill is simply a party-politics response to the election of President Obama and the one electoral vote given to him from the 2nd Congressional District, this is not the case. This bill was introduced nine times before 2008, was passed twice by the Legislature, but vetoed both times by then-Governor Ben Nelson.

On Thursday, I introduced LB571 before the Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee. LB571 would provide the Tourism Commission the authority to establish uniform highway tourism signage. The Tourism Commission was newly created in 2012 and serves the purpose of administering general tourism promotional activities for the State. The intention of the legislation is to allow the Tourism Commission to work in cooperation with local public and private groups to establish uniform highway tourism markers for unique and significant tourism attractions. As you know there are many beautiful and unique tourism attractions not only in our own District but all across the State. This bill would help attract tourists, as well as citizens, to visit these exceptional attractions. Overall, LB571 would give the Tourism Commission an additional tool for promoting tourism without placing any significant cost burden on the State.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – February 23, 2015

February 23rd, 2015

Session began as scheduled on Tuesday, February 17, marking Day 27 of our 90-day session. In observance of President’s Day, the office was closed on Monday. This resulted in a short work week where my staff and I worked extended hours due to the normal legislative workload in addition to preparation and public hearings for LB568 and LB350.

On Tuesday, I introduced LB568 before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB568 presents a potentially difficult policy question before the committee and legislature. LB568 addresses a finding of non-compliance with the Nebraska Commercial Driver’s License Act by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). LB568 would bring Nebraska into compliance with the FMCSA by separating the administrative license revocation (ALR) process from the underlying criminal prosecution for the holder of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) following an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or implied consent. As Sen. Seiler recognized during hearing, this leads to an inefficiency in the process where a lower administrative hearing entity is not able to defer to a more authoritative and legitimate judicial process. Continued non-compliance would result in a loss of $18 million in federal aid highway funding. This potentially leaves the legislature with the decision of complying with an inefficient federal mandate and securing millions of dollars in federal aid highway funding or not complying and losing those federal dollars. Notably, the Department of Motor Vehicles is still in discussion with the FMCSA arguing present Nebraska law is in compliance.

On Thursday, I introduced LB350 before the Revenue Committee. LB350 was heard alongside of an identical bill, LB288, introduced by Sen. David Schnoor. LB350 reduces agricultural and horticultural land valuations from 75% to 65%. A number of organizations and individuals supplied proponent testimony, such as: Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, former-Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, Certified Appraiser Bill Kaiser, Chairman of the Washington County Supervisor Jeff Quist, and Washington County Assessor Steve Mencke. There was some opposition by Nebraska Association of County Officials, Nebraska Farmers Union, Open Sky Policy Institute, and Central for Rural Affairs. Two main arguments were offered in opposition: a) LB350 does not take property relief far enough and b) LB350 is merely a tax shift. While I would agree LB350 does not provide all the property tax relief needed, it does provide a substantial and critical step in the right direction. LB350 is not a tax shift, but provides a crucial realignment of the disproportionate tax burden that has occurred in the last five years. I will continue to fight for property tax relief, especially for our farmers and ranchers, and to represent the concerns of our district and state.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – February 16, 2015

February 17th, 2015

Session began as scheduled on Monday, February 9, marking Day 23 of our 90-day session. So far, we have heard over 81 bills of which 9 have been passed, 43 are due for second round of debate, and 15 are set for final reading. Currently, there are 24 bills awaiting first round of debate with many more of the 600+ bills introduced to come.

Tuesday, I presented LB570 for public hearing before our Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB570 expands the authority of cities, villages, and counties to permit (or deny) usage of golf car vehicles within their local jurisdiction. Currently, local governing bodies are only permitted to allow usage where the street is contiguous or adjacent to a golf course. The bill also received some positive press attention. The next step is waiting to see if 4 others in our 8-person committee will also vote to advance it to General File. If it advances, it then needs 25 votes from the whole Legislature to continue moving forward.

LB70 and LB18 received significant floor debate. LB70 provides an additional occupation tax on certain mechanical amusement devices. During public hearing before the Revenue Committee, vendors and establishment owners expressed concerns regarding a specific device litigated before the Nebraska Supreme Court. The device had elements of gambling in violation of our state’s constitutional provision prohibiting certain forms of gambling. After being voted out of committee but before floor debate, an amendment was offered. The amendment raised a number of concerns regarding the intention of the bill and whether it authorized certain forms of illegal gambling. Because of the serious concerns raised and the lack of sufficient answers, I could no longer support the bill.

LB18 requires students entering the seventh grade and entering the academic year following sixteen years of age to have an immunization containing meningococcal vaccines. The debate revolved around issues concerning government mandates and individual liberty, as well as whether meningitis is a high-risk disease triggering mandatory immunization. The bill was debated for over six hours then bracketed until June 5, 2015.

LB350, my bill lowering property tax valuations on agricultural and horticultural lands from 75% to 65%, is scheduled for public hearing on Thursday, February 19. Introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, I encourage everyone to come testify and let others know about the hearing as well. It is crucial our voices are heard on this important legislation providing for property tax relief.

We also received a number of District visitors, most of whom came to testify on bills: Steven and Jana Kruger of Arlington; Jay Schrad and Chad Anderson of Blair (LB570); Derek Wegner of West Point and Daniel Tankslay III of Oakland with Brehmer Manufacturing (LB321); and Tanna Wirtz of Blair and Gary Lambrecht of Kennard (LB106). We appreciated their stopping by our office as well.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – February 9, 2015

February 9th, 2015

Despite weather conditions which led me to sadly leave home early and return to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon, we began business as usual on Monday. I arrived early to prepare for the big day of introducing LB 351 to the Education Committee. As mentioned last week, LB 351 increases income tax directed to local school districts from the current 2% to 20%. This helps schools receive important sources of local revenue and provides equitable distribution of the tax burden for education financing. During the hearing, questions were raised by three senators representing Lincoln and Omaha districts. These senators were concerned LB 351 would reduce funding for urban schools and result in a mere tax shift. In response, I explained LB 351 returns more local dollars to schools and not less, especially to schools not receiving equalization aid from the state. Currently, property taxes are the main source of local revenues for our schools and, especially in our rural communities, the property tax is a disproportionate and burdensome mechanism for funding education. LB 351 is the sister bill of LB 350 which reduces agricultural and horticultural land valuations from 75% to 65%. LB 350 will have a public hearing on February 19.

Other bills I introduced have public hearings soon. LB 570 expands the authority of cities, villages, and counties to expand the use golf carts within their local jurisdiction and will be heard on February 10. LB 568 addresses a potential federal non-compliance issue regarding the administrative license revocation procedures of commercial driver’s license operators who have been arrested for driving while intoxicated and will be heard on February 17. LB 571 provides authority to the Tourism Commission to establish and promote tourism signage and will be heard on February 26. LB 340 would establish a definition for ‘conspicuous signage’ in regards to a person, entity, or employer in control of property prohibiting a concealed carry handgun permit holder from carrying on the premises and will be heard on March 20. One other bill, LB 569, has yet to receive a hearing date. Please know that you are invited to testify on bills of interest to help the Legislature in determining what is good for the State.

Finally, a special thank you to all those who visited our office this week. I met with Tom Black on behalf of retired teachers of the Nebraska State Education Association, members of the AFL/CIO, as well as members of the Burt County Extension’s Leading Locally Program, and James Moseman and his parents. We are proud of James as he received his VFW district’s Voice of Democracy award.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Weekly Session Update – February 2, 2015

February 2nd, 2015

Monday, Jan. 26th, marked the 13th day of the Legislature which started off great as District 16 Pastor Russ Faust of Kennard led us in prayer. We were also blessed to have Pastor Gregg Gaham from Oakland lead us in prayer on Friday. Thank you to both who travelled to Lincoln to grace us in prayer.

By Monday, a total of 16 bills advanced out of committee and were sent to General File for first round of floor debate. Of those bills, all but LB 177 were immediately heard. LB 177 was the first bill debated on Tuesday. LB 177 changes a few provisions related to board members of public power districts. The main component of the bill prohibits an employee of a public power district from serving as a member of the board of directors of any other public power district. Essentially, the bill attempts to manage conflict of interest situations. Concerns were expressed by two District 16 public power districts in Cuming and Burt Counties.

The rest of the week’s floor debate was consumed by LB 88. This bill increases the marriage license fee from $15 to $50. Senator Chambers objected to the fee increase, arguing it was a tax and not a fee and criticized the increase being over 300% on those seeking marriage. I am also opposed. As a state, we should value ease of access for those desiring to enter into the serious commitment of marriage.

The Nebraska Association of School Boards also held a luncheon. Several District 16 school superintendents and board members attended. This offered an important opportunity to discuss two of my bills. LB 350 reduces agricultural and horticultural land valuations from 75% to 65%. This bill offers needed relief to our farmers who make up less than 3% of the state’s population but carry 30% of the tax burden for education. LB 351 provides an increase of income tax directed to local school districts from the current 2% to 20%. This helps schools receive important sources of local revenue and provides equitable distribution of the tax burden for education. The bills strike a crucial balance between two vital interests.

The Legislature was honored to have Chief Justice Michael Heavican deliver the State of the Judiciary address Thursday. Chief Justice Heavican outlined some problems addressing the justice system such as prison reform and shortage of rural attorneys, as well as advancements such as improvements in the juvenile justice system.

Finally, I was pleased to be visited by a number of wonderful folks of the District, ranging from individuals visiting from the FFA and FBLA to those interested in issues related to gambling and motorcycle helmet laws. As always, I encourage you to visit Room 1016 if you are at the Capitol.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

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