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 – April 20, 2015

April 20th, 2015

This week at the Legislature marked Days 62 through 65 of our 90-day session. Two key items are worth mentioning from this week’s business.

First, and with great disappointment, it has become clear the Revenue Committee has no interest in supporting my priority bill (LB350) to reduce the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land from 75% to 65% for the purposes of property taxation. Currently, LB350 is one vote short of advancing out of committee. The objection of some rural Senators is the lack of benefit LB350 would provide their districts. Despite efforts to add an amendment providing state aid funding for their rural school districts which do not receive any state aid, there continues to be a lack of support by these rural Senators. Notably, the Department of Revenue just released its Property Assessment Report for 2014-2015 indicating a nearly 20% average statewide increase in property tax valuations for agricultural land.

Second, this week largely focused on prison reform and the death penalty. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Legislature debated LB605, LB598, and LB173. These bills are considered the prison reform bills and respond to the prison overcrowding issue which is a major concern.

As amended, LB605 would restore a state law requiring the minimum sentence for a serious felony be no longer than one-third the length of the maximum sentence. In addition, LB173 would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for several felonies and restrict the use of enhanced penalties for habitual criminals to a limited list of violent crimes.

Overall, these bills are concerning. While we unquestionably face a serious problem with prison overcrowding, LB605 and LB173 are not the solution. Rather than be soft on crime, we need to remain tough on violent crimes and habitual criminals. We should address other solutions, such as assisting non-violent criminal’s rehabilitation and their re-entry into society.

LB268 was somberly addressed on Thursday morning. Introduced and prioritized by Senator Chambers, LB268 seeks to repeal the death penalty for first-degree murder and replace it with life imprisonment without parole. LB268 opponents, of which I am a part, insist on the necessity of capital punishment for the most heinous crimes to ensure strict justice is served. In addition, capital punishment provides an effective deterrent to other crimes. As well, our Attorney General offered data refuting the claim prosecution of capital punishment is a cost-burden and financial hardship to the State. Also, in response to affirmations about our God-given human dignity, opponents affirm the State has a unique God-given authority to ensure society is protected from violent criminals, even to the extent of using deadly force.

LB268 advanced to second round with 30 votes. While this is sufficient support to become law and override a Governor’s veto, LB268 needs 33 votes to override a filibuster. I voted against the repeal of the death penalty—the need for capital punishment is a rare but necessary tool for our civil society.

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 – April 13, 2015

April 13th, 2015

With the end of the week, Friday, April 10, the legislature entered our final thirty days of session. This week also marked the third full week of all-day floor debate and, when not stalled, things are beginning to move in full force. We discussed a number of key concerns in debate this week such as tax relief, foster parenting, economic development, and Medicaid expansion.

The Medicaid Redesign Act (LB472) was debated on Wednesday afternoon. While the intention of LB472 to “increase economic efficiencies and better serve all Nebraskans in the medical assistance program” seems ideal, the floor debate exposed crucial bill flaws. LB472 would have added approximately 54,000 additional Nebraskans to Medicaid at a cost to the state of nearly half a billion dollars beyond the limited Federal funding. While I support the need to provide effective medical services at lower costs, LB472 is simply economically unsustainable. After it was clear LB472 had insufficient support, the bill was bracketed which means the issue can no longer be debated during this session.

LB414 also received significant attention. LB414 exempts fraternal benefit societies from property taxes. Discussion on this bill revolved around two issues. First, LB414 was criticized as special interest legislation to satisfy a fraternal benefit organization from Omaha, Woodmen of the World. Second, there was considerable conversation regarding the Legislature’s priority efforts on property tax relief. Many Senators, including myself, expressed the need to address property tax relief for our farmers and ranchers.

LB449 was also discussed and easily advanced to second round of debate. LB449 changes provisions of the Business Innovation Act and the Nebraska Visitors Development Act. LB449 was prioritized by the Appropriations Committee. It was also amended to include LB569 which is a bill I introduced. 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.

Finally, LB623 was considered by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in an executive session. I serve as vice-chair of the committee. LB623 addresses granting a drivers license to those brought here by illegal immigrant parents as a child. These children are now teenagers and young adults and have been granted deferred action by an executive agency. LB623 would grant them ‘lawful status’ for the purposes of operators licenses and ID cards. Every other state has already extended some form of drivers license or state ID benefit. LB623 received the five votes necessary to advance to the whole legislature. I was present but did not vote because of my strong belief and support of legal immigration. However, due to sincere compassion for those in this situation I withheld strict opposition to the bill. I cannot fully support LB623 because I believe we have an obligation to pass state laws that uphold legal paths of immigration which many others lawfully and patiently follow.

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 – April 6, 2015

April 2nd, 2015

With the last day of business for the week, Thursday, April 2, the Unicameral closed Day 57 of this 90-day session. Moving forward, time is truly of the essence. Earlier this week, Speaker Galen Hadley addressed the Legislature urging us to be prudent with remaining debate time. Basically, his point was directed at senators choosing to use floor time to talk about other bills or topics unrelated to the bill being debated. While the Legislature has a constitutional obligation to pass a budget this session, many important bills are at risk of not reaching floor debate before Day 90.

This week the Legislature discussed a couple important bills. Many from District 16 contacted me about these bills. The first bill, LB106, intended to create the Livestock Operation Siting and Expansion Act. The original LB106 directed the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (DOA) to develop an assessment matrix to be used by county officials when determining whether to approve an application for a livestock operation siting permit.

There was both substantial support and opposition of LB106. The opposition viewed LB106 as stripping local control from county officials regarding planning and zoning decisions for livestock operation siting and expansion. The supporters viewed LB106 as economic opportunity and being considered “a more livestock friendly state.” Many amendments were offered during a lengthy and robust debate. The amendment adopted resolved most issues raised by opposition.

The second bill, LB610, increases the fixed motor fuels tax rate by 1.5 cents every year for four years, leading to a 6 cent total increase. The supporting argument for raising the ‘gas tax’ was the need to provide additional funding for roads and bridges across the State. The majority of our District expressed opposition to this bill or raising any taxes, with only a small number of constituents wanting a gas tax believing it will expedite long awaited road and bridge repair funding, especially at the county level.

I opposed LB610 for several reasons. First, I am against a tax increase and, as stated, this is the consensus of the District. The major concern I hear with taxes is the need to lower taxes, especially with regard to property taxes. Second, Governor Ricketts is in the process of hiring a new director for the Department of Roads. The new director should have the opportunity to assess the needs of the State rather than defend a ‘gas tax’ increase. Third, in 2011, the Legislature passed LB84 (Build Nebraska Act) which reassigned a quarter of a percent of sales tax receipts for the State Highway Capital Improvement Fund (Nebraska Department of Roads) and Highway Allocation Fund (Counties and Municipalities). The first disbursement of funds were recently allocated in the fall of 2013. We need time for other funding mechanisms to accomplish their job before we resort to drastic measures such as raising taxes. Notably, LB610 barely received the 25 votes necessary for advancement to second round.

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 – March 30, 2015

March 30th, 2015

Monday, March 23rd, marked the 50th day of the legislative session and the beginning of all day floor debate. The week was full of robust debate with no shortage of controversy.

Thursday debate was largely consumed with recent, unacceptable statements made by Senator Ernie Chambers regarding law enforcement. During a Judiciary Committee Hearing held on March 20th for LB635 providing an additional location where a concealed carry permitholder has the right to carry a concealed handgun, Senator Chambers went on a reckless diatribe equating law enforcement officers with the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). While Senator Chambers’ comments can sometimes be hyperbolic and politically charged, this time he went too far. Multiple times I urged Senator Chambers to apologize for equating law enforcement with ISIS and statements which could be taken to incite violence and retaliation against law enforcement. Many others Senators did the same.

While many Senators invoked the importance of free speech, I made it clear our liberty of free speech is not about the ability to say whatever we want whenever we want. Rather, our liberty of free speech is connected to the exchange of ideas in pursuit of the truth. With regards to politics, our speech should promote truth for the common good. Additionally, our exercise of free speech can promote good actions, or have consequences inciting harmful reactions.

In this instance, while citing specific cases of abuse of law enforcement power, Senator Chambers did a great disservice to the overwhelming majority of our men and women in blue who serve us well. Although I certainly respect the good things Senator Chambers has done throughout his years of Legislative service, Senator Chambers was out of line and should offer an apology for his infuriating comments. On that note, I want to take a special opportunity to thank all of our law enforcement for their selfless and virtuous service to our communities and state.

The Legislature also debated important issues regarding motorcycle helmet laws, term limits, and organ donation. LB31 would have repealed the motorcycle helmet law, providing the operator the choice whether to wear a helmet. LB31 fell short by nine votes to end debate and provide a vote for advancement.

LR7CA gives voters the opportunity to decide in the 2016 general election whether to extend a state senator’s term from four to six years. The committee amendment offers the question whether state senator’s term limits should be increased from two to three four-year terms. This sparked a discussion over issues such as frequent senator turnover, loss of institutional knowledge, issue familiarity, and the desires of the citizens. LR7CA will receive additional floor debate before it is voted on.

LB47 also received significant attention. LB47 requires applicants for drivers licenses or identification cards to answer the question whether to place their name on the donor registry and donate their organs and tissues at death. Currently, this question is optional. The debate focused on the need for increased organ donors and whether LB47 violates the constitutional right of free speech by mandating an answer regarding organ donation to obtain a drivers license or identification card.

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

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