NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Lydia Brasch

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16

Welcome

January 6th, 2016

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

This is my last legislative update of the session. Wednesday, April 20 was the final day of the 104th Legislative Session. We adjourned Sine Die (Latin for “without day”), meaning “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” The last day of the second session of a biennium is more ceremonial in recent years because of term limits.  It is not only a time to debate and vote on motions of gubernatorial overrides, but also for farewell speeches by term-limited senators. I, myself, will be term-limited in two years. There were 11 senators who said their goodbyes and bid the rest Godspeed. There are another 14 current members up for re-election, where three are unopposed. Next year, the Legislature will elect a new speaker, new committee chairmen, and could potentially welcome 22 new senators.

A motion was made to override the Governor’s veto of LB947. After two hours of debate, thirty-one senators voted to override the veto; thirteen, including me, voted to sustain the veto; five abstained from voting.

My opposition to LB947, and to uphold the Governor’s veto, is from the high regard I hold our immigration laws, especially as a daughter of Ukrainian, legal immigrants. Many others, sharing this same sentiment, called or emailed and referenced their ancestry and other generations of legal immigrants. As of 2013, exactly 123,182 legal immigrants made Nebraska their home, many with extended family waiting patiently to join them through the legal process. There are exactly 4,422,600 foreigners waiting to legally immigrate to the United States. The American Dream was not created through lawlessness, but through a just and stable law. The passage of LB947 sends the wrong message to individuals and families who, out of deference and fairness, abide by our laws and wait to enter our country legally.

Nebraska’s LB947 allows anyone who is work authorized to obtain a professional or commercial license. Many individuals who entered the United States illegally are now work authorized via President Obama’s expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. As of 2012, it is estimated there are approximately 55,000 illegal immigrants in Nebraska. President Obama’s expansion of DACA, and the implementation of DAPA, are what 26 states, including Nebraska, sued the Federal Government over. A Federal District Court judge in Texas initially blocked the program, and a federal appeals court ruled 2-1 in favor of the injunction. The Supreme Court will submit its opinion in June.

These two programs were implemented via executive orders and therefore can be undone via executive orders. To prevent such inconstant and impulsive lawmaking, America’s Founding Fathers divided authority. A foundational principle of the U.S. Constitution is separation of powers: laws are not passed by one person in this country, not even by one branch. If Congress, elected by the people, is deadlocked on an issue and chooses not to act, that does not give the President the authority to act independently. If the people elect divided government, then that is final until the next election. Either we will have rule of law and therefore a stable government, or we start down the road of anarchy. Unfortunately, our immigration predicaments are a result of a decades-long negligence of duty by the Federal Government to not secure our borders and enforce immigration laws.

LB947 puts Nebraska far beyond other states, even California and New York, in terms of issuing professional or commercial licenses to illegal immigrants of every profession. In Iowa, professional licensing boards issue commercial and professional licenses if a person issues a valid social security number. California offers professional or commercial licenses in over 50 professions to individuals, regardless of their immigration status. New York offers licenses for 53 different professions to only DACA recipients. Illinois and Florida allow DACA recipients to receive a license to practice law. Lastly, Nevada grants only a teaching license to DACA recipients. After the passage of LB947, Nebraska now grants professional or commercial licenses to any person – including those who are waiting to be approved for asylum – with work authorization for over 170 professions who might not have been educated in Nebraska or even our country.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol.

Day 60, the final day of this short session, is Wednesday, April 20. It will be used for – among other legislative business – any motions made by members of the Legislature to override gubernatorial vetoes; but is also used to present awards and to say farewell to those legislators who are term-limited.

During the two days the Legislature was in session last week, there were numerous bills that easily passed Final Reading and only a few which caused extended debate.

A few of the bills that passed Final Reading were the following:

  • LB958, LB959, and LB1067, were the trio of bills dealing with property taxes, education, and the learning community, respectively. All three bills underwent significant debate and transformation since the time they were introduced to the time they passed Final Reading. In their final forms: LB958 added $20 million to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, LB959 eliminated the minimum levy requirement for state aid purposes and the levy requirements for the averaging adjustment, and LB1067 eliminated the common levy for the Learning Community, while adding a component to the state aid formula for schools with 40% of their students in poverty, and it also adds the option for educational service units and learning communities to create community achievement plans for state aid purposes. I voted in support of all three bills.
  • LB1106 adds another component of transparency to government throughout Nebraska. The bill requires that in order for law enforcement to seize property from an individual, the individual must at least be charged with a crime. If law enforcement do seize property from an individual, the law enforcement entity must report any and all property seized to the Auditor of Public Accounts, along with the value of the property seized. Also, the bill provides a way for innocent property owners to reclaim their property if it was involved in the seizure. I voted in support of this bill.
  • LB960 creates the Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which was my priority bill. The bill initially started off by transferring $150 million from the Cash Reserve Fund through 2023, but was lessened to $50 million by an amendment. The intent of the bill is to speed up the pace of construction for Nebraska’s expressway system by making more funds available and to provide a way for counties to repair their bridges through the County Bridge Match Program. I voted in favor of this bill.

One bill that passed Final Reading with extended debate was LB824. This bill eliminates some regulatory barriers for private wind energy developers that will make Nebraska a more wind-friendly state. The opponents of LB824 presented their concerns about the potentially negative impact that privately developed wind farms may have on our public power system in this state. However, the regulations related to building wind farms that LB824 left in place, are still stricter than several neighboring states. This legislation would not preempt any existing local ordinances or zoning laws that regulate the building of wind farms; and will also require consultation with Game and Parks 30 days prior to the start of a project. While there were very compelling arguments on both sides of this issue, I believe the evidence in favor of the bill outweighed the concerns presented by the opponents of it. I voted for the bill.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

The fourteenth week of session adjourned Thursday. There are only three session days remaining before we adjourn for the year. Several bills advanced to Final Reading last week, even with all the extended debate that took place.

On Tuesday we had six hours of debate on LB643, a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana. It was an emotional debate, because we all want more treatment options available for individuals suffering from various medical maladies. However, legislators must make decisions not from emotion, but with as much prudence as possible based on the current information. It would not have been prudent to provide another option that is absent the necessary, objective scientific research.

I had many concerns with this legislation. First, while there is anecdotal evidence that marijuana has helped some individuals with medical ailments, the use of marijuana as a medicinal drug lacks rigorous, objective scientific research involving double-blind studies. There is a lack of data regarding marijuana’s potency, efficacy, proper dosage, interaction with other drugs, and safety, which concerned many senators, as well as major medical associations and health care practitioners. Not only could it be harmful to adults, but also it could be more harmful for children. Neurologists in Colorado have reported increases in the number and severity of seizures in their epileptic patients who have tried using medical marijuana. The bill fell three votes short of advancing, and I did not support it.

For patients and physicians who are out of treatment options, the FDA has a compassionate use exception whereby a physician, whose patient wants to try a drug that is not FDA-approved and is not available for prescription, can complete the necessary paperwork and obtain the drug for use. One such drug is Epidiolex; it contains the CBD oil found in marijuana, and is used to treat epilepsy. See: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ExpandedAccessCompassionateUse/ucm20080392.htm.

Bills advanced to Final Reading:

  • LB10 allocates all five of Nebraska’s Electoral College votes to the winner of Nebraska’s popular vote in presidential elections. Currently, Nebraskans have a diminished voice in choosing their president than, for example, citizens in New Mexico which also has five Electoral College votes and allocates them on a winner-take-all basis, rather than by congressional district, like Nebraska does. Based on the principles of federalism, I believe states should speak with one voice for their choice for president. I voted to advance this bill.
  • LB824 furthers the development of wind energy in Nebraska. I was a cosponsor of this bill and voted to advance it.
  • LB1106 prevents law enforcement personnel from seizing personal property without due process. If an arrest and a charge is made, this legislation also provides a way to retrieve seized property. I voted to advance this bill.
  • LB958, LB959, and LB1067 also advanced to Final Reading. I have explained these bills in previous columns which can be found here: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist16/.

On Thursday we had a signing ceremony with Governor Ricketts for LB891, The Down Syndrome Diagnosis Information and Support Act, which passed Final Reading April 1. Many families with children with Down syndrome, along with Down syndrome organizations, attended the event.

Thank you to Chaplain Jean Vargo who said the opening prayer at the start of the Legislative day on Monday. Chaplain Vargo is from Grace Lutheran Church in West Point. Also, thank you to Chaplain Rebecca Hjelle, from First United Methodist Church in Blair, who said the opening prayer on Tuesday.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Following a long weekend celebrating Easter, our thirteenth week were days 50-53, with only six session days remaining. Unfortunately, time is running out to find agreement on solutions to the property tax burden. Last week saw some progress but not a long term solution.

LB958 and LB959 are complementary bills introduced at the request of Governor Ricketts to specifically address the growing property tax burden. LB958 was introduced in the Revenue Committee and LB959 was introduced in the Education Committee. Both bills underwent significant transformation, both in their respective committees and during long and heated floor debate. LB958 passed General File with a vote of 39-2 and the form it eventually took was adding $20 million more to the $204 million Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, and also cuts $120 for every $100,000 of valuation for agricultural land. LB959 passed General File with a vote of 38-3, and it repeals the minimum levy requirement that school districts must abide by in order to not lose state aid. I supported both bills.

LB1037 was also debated. This bill was brought to me by the Department of Revenue and the Governor’s Policy Research Office to address the property tax burden on agriculture in counties whose first acre valuations have dramatically risen due to non-agricultural housing development adjacent to farmland. LB1037 redefined agricultural and horticultural land to include farm home sites lying in or adjacent to and in common ownership or management with other agricultural and horticultural land. It would have required land underneath homes to be valued at 75% of its market value, but the house itself would still be valued at 100% of market value. The home site for farmers and ranchers is different from individuals who live in town because for almost all of the people who live in town their livelihood is not tied to their home. When property taxes rise dramatically in town, those individuals have the option to move. When property taxes rise dramatically on farmers and ranchers, they do not have the option to move because their house is tied to their livelihood. In the interest of time I pulled the bill after extended debate.

LB1032, Medicaid Expansion, was debated last week. Since the inception of Medicaid in Nebraska, it has grown from 2% of our state budget to 20% of our state budget. For Fiscal Year 2015-16, the Legislature appropriated about $820 million to Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid to another 134,000 individuals is something our citizens cannot afford – it is unstainable. The estimated expenditures, which comes from the Legislative Fiscal Office, was about $155 million for fiscal year 2017-18. The cost would only increase as more people will be added to the program. LB1032 failed to pass and I did not support it.

LB1067 caused another lengthy debate. It eliminated the Common Levy for the Learning Community and adds the option for multi-district educational service units to submit community achievement plans. The bill also adds a poverty aid component to the TEEOSA formula for school districts with poverty students comprising more than 40% of total students. LB1067 was another bill that required extended debate but passed General File 40-1. I supported this bill.

Thank you to Chaplain Jonathan Ripke who came to the Capitol to say the opening prayer at the start of the day on Tuesday. Chaplain Ripke is from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Washington County.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Our eleventh week of session – days 46 – 49 – adjourned Thursday. Week eleven consisted of long days, quick working lunch breaks, and heated debates. Many bills advanced to the next round, but several bills failed to advance after hours of debate.

On Day 49 a special public hearing was held by our Revenue committee on AM2617 to LB958. Both the bill and amendment passed with 7 yes and one not voting. I supported the amendment and the bill. AM2617, if adopted by the body, increases the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund for agricultural landowners by $30 million a year. AM2617 also restricts the growth of Community College budgets by 3% a year. It starts to address growing property tax burdens placed upon farmers and ranchers. Taxes are not a tool to punish or burden any person, or group of individuals. Taxes are intended to be balanced like a 3-legged stool, today taxes are not balanced.

LR378CA, introduced by Sen. Kuehn as a constitutional amendment, guaranteed the right to engage in certain farming and ranching practices. Surprisingly, this resolution created unexpected controversy. Especially disappointing, is when certain agricultural groups in the past have testified and supported the right to hunt and fish, but then voiced their opposition to LR378CA. Concerned animal rights groups protecting our pets, please note it was Senator Kuehn who introduced LB389 last year, which increased the fees and available funds for the Department of Agriculture to inspect and enforce standards for pet breeders in an attempt to identify and clean up puppy mills. The Supreme Court has made it clear that dogs and cats are not included in the definition of livestock or animal husbandry operations. LR378CA was bracketed until April 20, this year.

Another bill debated was LB586. This would prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, not limited only to employment. Our office received dozens of emails in opposition to this bill, with only a few emails in support. I opposed LB586 as it will create numerous problems. For example, at a public pool or a local gym, like the YMCA, men, women, and children could be forced to share a locker room, restroom, or changing area with a person of the opposite sex who identifies as a sex opposite their biological sex; this would violate our constitutional right to privacy. Additionally, business owners with deeply held religious beliefs who operate a for-profit business that provides a service – like bakers, florists, restaurant owners, etc. – could be forced to participate in ceremonies celebrating a view of marriage that is prohibited by their religious beliefs. This violates two First Amendment rights: freedom of speech (creating forced speech), and the free exercise of religion (by preventing people from exercising their religion). Finally, there was no evidence offered by the proponents of obvious widespread discrimination in Nebraska. Successful business owners in Nebraska do not discriminate and are simply looking for talented, hardworking individuals. Employers are disinterested in employees’ private and personal sexual beliefs that belong outside the place of employment. The question asked before hiring is: can they adequately do the work, it cannot be whom they love. The protection of privacy, speech, and freedom of conscience are important constitutional protections we should not take for granted.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Our eleventh week of session – days 42-45 – adjourned Friday.

We convened Tuesday, March 15 ready to press onward the best we can despite seeming endless hours of debate as we draw closer to sine die (final day) scheduled for April 20. Much work remains and late nights most certainly prevail starting March 21.

Despite determined opposition for different reasons, the Legislature advanced LB745 on Tuesday. This raises caps on fees the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can charge. In a separate section, the hunting season for upland game birds and mallard ducks in breeding and controlled shooting areas is extended two weeks; I supported only this. I introduced an amendment to strike everything except the extension of the hunting season, but it failed to pass. I cannot support raising caps on fees because this is their second increase during my tenure in the Legislature. Collectively, citizens of Nebraska already pay too much in taxes and fees for the Legislature to raise them again. This advanced intact despite my and a few other senators’ opposition.

Later on Tuesday, several other bills of interest passed first round of debate:

  • LB960 creates a transportation infrastructure bank funded by transferring $50 million from the Cash Reserves over an eight-year period. These funds can be utilized by the state and counties for road and bridge projects. As I prioritized this bill, I voted in favor of it.
  • LB843 provides immunity from prosecution for victims of human trafficking. The intent of the legislation is to encourage victims to seek help from law enforcement to report traffickers. The bill also creates the Sexual Assault Payment Program Cash Fund, to be used to pay for forensic medical examinations for victims. I voted for this bill.

On Wednesday we began a six hour debate of LB900 which would have repealed the motorcycle helmet law in Nebraska. The bill set an age limit at 21 or older for those who would be allowed to ride without a helmet; and also, children under the age of eight would be prohibited from being a passenger on a motorcycle. LB900 also created the Motorcycle Safety and Brain Injury Trust Fund by adding $19 to the motorcycle registration fee. I did not like the fee increase, but I supported LB900 because it prohibited children from being passengers on a motorcycle – my primary concern with the bill in the past. The bill was defeated Thursday morning.

Another bill of note is LB1109. This changes the level of transparency the University of Nebraska is required when recruiting applicants for key administrative positions, such as president or chancellor. Currently, all public agencies, including the University, must disclose the top four candidates for a public vetting process. Under LB1109, that process is altered so as to require the disclosure of only a single “priority” candidate followed by a 30-day “public vetting process.” Proponents argued this makes the search process more competitive, while opponents countered LB1109 eliminates public input on the selection of the final candidate. The bill advanced to Final Reading without my support.

The Revenue Committee will be holding another public hearing on LB958, the Governor’s property tax bill. The reason for the additional hearing is the amendment that was introduced significantly altered the original bill. The amendment is AM2617 and can be found here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/AM/AM2617.pdf. The hearing will be held Thursday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m. in room 1524 in the Capitol Building.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol.

Our tenth week of session – days 38-41 – adjourned Thursday.

Monday was day 38, moving us into the final third of this biennium. Our calendar days continue to fly by, yet on the floor it’s as though time stands still when a single bill takes hours or even days to debate; that may be good news or bad news, depending on what your position is on a bill. It is good news for those believing there are too many laws, unfunded mandates, fee or tax increases, or other burdens created by legislation. It is bad news when there is legislation you consider good public policy and offers relief, be it tax relief or removes regulations imposed by current laws. Without regard to anyone’s beliefs on policy, the rules were written to provide for full debate, and slowing the process down is oftentimes a good idea.

Adjourned Thursday — Day 41 — we fully realized there were now less than 20 session days remaining of the 104th Legislative session. My goal of property tax relief remains steadfast. The Revenue Committee, I am a member of, is working to make meaningful progress in property tax relief. Not perfection yet, but progress. In a short session and with little time remaining, we realize perfect property tax relief has become unrealistic and even some progress is a step in the right direction.

Coming weeks hold a bittersweet undercurrent. The final group of senators who have been here longer than I, will complete their final session. These statesmen are masterfully rich in knowledge and experience, many of whom were often allies, will bid their farewells as they leave due to term limits. Five of us will become the “Senior Class”.  Yes, sometimes we agree to disagree. However, at the end of the day we realize our now ever-changing body of 49 were elected by the second house. We live much alike, a day at a time, wanting only the best for those we serve.

Because I wanted to share my thoughts, below are only highlights of notable bills debated this week:

  • LB683 Change provisions relating to homestead exemptions for surviving spouses — passed to second round of debate; I supported
  • LB344 Provide natural resources districts with the power to issue general obligation bonds — defeated during debate; I opposed
  • LB817 Adopt the Direct Primary Care Agreement Act — passed to second round; I supported
  • LB1109 Change public records provisions and provide for an enhanced public scrutiny process for certain University appointees — passed to second; I was present not voting
  • LB 467 Change provisions relating to State Patrol retirement — Advanced to second round; I was in Executive Session, and unable to vote
  • LB745 Change Game and Parks Commission fee and permit provisions — Currently being debated on first round

We were honored to have Pastor Brian High of First Baptist Church in Tekamah lead the Legislature in prayer last Tuesday. We welcomed the Nebraska Christian Homeschool Association students.  Other visitors over the past few weeks also include Michaela Ott of Blair, who recently achieved her Girl Scout Gold Award, the Hrbek family who were in Lincoln for the GACC Girls State Basketball Tournament, and a delegation of Ukrainian officials learning about our Unicameral and public health.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://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

Our ninth week of session – Days 34 through 37 of our 60-day session – adjourned Thursday.

On Monday, and part of Tuesday, we debated and defeated LB371, which created the Nebraska Council for Educational Success. The council would have consisted of 21 members, including the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, the Chancellor and President of the Nebraska State College System, Commissioner of Labor, and an individual representing the business interests. There also would have been one parent on the council with a child in any of grades K-12. The objective of this council would have essentially been to recommend policy changes to the Education Committee of the Legislature.

The proponents argued a new council was necessary because of term limits, since the council would help add consistency and permanency to Nebraska’s educational policy. Opponents countered two councils already exist with many of the same goals and individuals: the P-16 Council and the council created by Governor Ricketts. LB371 would have been duplicative and also carried a fiscal note of $50,000 from the state’s general fund and $250,000 from the Department of Education’s budget. I voted no with the opponents.

LB919 advanced to Select File. This bill expands the use of problem-solving courts in Nebraska. Problem-solving courts use evidence-based outcomes to achieve positive results to address specific needs and problems that could not be addressed in traditional courts. Problem-solving courts promote results that benefit the offender, the victim, and communities. Types of problems addressed by these courts are drug abuse, mental illness, DUI’s, and domestic violence. The bill expands the use to include problem-solving courts for veterans to help address the issues unique to our nation’s soldiers.

Another bill debated was LB83 – it advanced to Select File with a small majority. The amendment to LB83 replaced the bill entirely and redefined the word “employer” in Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1220. For the purposes of discriminatory wage practices based on sex, employer shall now mean “any person engaged in an industry who has two or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year[.]” Prior to LB83, the definition of employer applied to any person engaged in an industry who has fifteen or more employees. The smaller number of two employees creates more burdens for our smaller, rural businesses, including women in agriculture. It was made into a gender issue on the floor of the Legislature. I did not support this bill.

Finally, an additional bill that merits mentioning is LB344. This bill was hotly debated on Thursday. It would grant NRDs the authority to issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of financing all or part of the cost of non-revenue-producing water projects authorized by law. Issuance of the bonds shall be approved by two-thirds of the members of the board of directors of the district. I, along with other senators, argued that Nebraskans right now are struggling to pay their property taxes, so why introduce another avenue through which the people would be charged more property taxes? I oppose this legislation.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://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

Press Release

March 4th, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brett Waite,

Legislative Aide to Senator Brasch

Office: (402) 471-2728

E-Mail: bwaite@leg.ne.gov

 

State Treasurer’s 2016 Unclaimed Property Report Published

State Senator Lydia Brasch encourages constituents of District 16 to review State Treasurer Don Stenberg’s 2016 Unclaimed Property Report. Many individuals from District 16 have been pleasantly surprised to discover they indeed had unclaimed property held in trust by the State.

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, dividends, gift certificates, insurance payments, money orders, paid-up life insurance, refunds, stocks, uncashed checks, and unpaid wages. The unclaimed property may be a small dollar amount or could be in 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 statute, throughout March and early April. The State Treasurer’s Office holds more than $170 million in property for 350,000 Nebraskans. In 2015, the State Treasurer returned more than $11.8 million to more than 15,000 owners and plans to return even more in 2016.

March 6 – Omaha World Herald and Scottsbluff Star-Herald

March 19 – Norfolk Daily News, Beatrice Daily Sun, Fremont Tribune, York News-Times, and   Columbus Telegram

March 20 – Lincoln Journal Star

April 1 – Holdrege Citizen, McCook Gazette, and Sydney Sun-Telegraph

April 2 – Alliance Times-Herald, Hastings Tribune, and Kearney Hub

April 3 – Grand Island Independent and North Platte Telegraph

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 https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/.

 

###

Our eighth week of session – Days 30 through 33 of our 60-day session – adjourned on Thursday.

LR35 – debated on Monday of last week – was a Legislative Resolution that called for Nebraska to add its name to the requisite 34 states needed in order to call a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution, the authority for which is granted to the State Legislatures under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. To date, only five states have passed the resolution. The language of the resolution stated that the amendments proposed be limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. However, as opponents we believed the outcome of such a convention is uncertain and there may be unintended consequences that result from having a convention and proposing amendments. The resolution failed to pass. I voted against the resolution.

LB188 was debated for over four hours. This bill defined who would be considered an innocent third party in vehicular pursuits by law enforcement. LB188 sought to place a definition in statute and narrowly define who would be considered an “innocent third party”. As a compromise, the introducer of the bill removed portions that would have disqualified a person from being considered an innocent third party if they entered a vehicle without coercion and with a reasonable belief that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or drugs. Also removed was if a person failed to take reasonable steps to persuade the driver to stop the vehicle, they would not be considered an innocent third party. As part of the compromise, the word “immediately” was added to describe the time frame for which a person who engaged in criminal activity in the past may or may not be considered an innocent third party in the vehicular pursuit. For example, if someone did not file their income taxes three years prior to the pursuit, but are in the vehicle being chased by the police, but not for anything they have done – they simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time – then they can still be considered an innocent third party.

However, the opponents wanted another provision in the bill that would have been difficult for law enforcement to engage in future pursuits. And that is, prior to the chase, the law enforcement officer must identify the suspect they are pursuing. The opponents were successful in defeating the bill as it fell two votes short of a cloture vote. I was for this bill.

On Friday I attended a meeting of the Supreme Court Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorships. The Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court appointed me to the commission in 2015. The Legislature created the Office of Public Guardian in 2014, which serves as guardians and/or conservators to Nebraskans who are unable to make decisions on their own, and have no private individual or organization to support their decision-making needs. The purpose of the commission is to propose solutions or improvements to help meet the challenges of caring for vulnerable adults and children that can be placed in statute, added to the court rules, and court procedures. The Office of Public Guardian can be appointed by a court when it is determined that guardianship and/or conservatorship is the least restrictive way to meet an individual’s decision-making needs, and there is no one else to serve.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://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

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16
Room #1016
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2728
Email: lbrasch@leg.ne.gov
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