NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Lydia Brasch

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lincoln, Nebraska – December 1, 2011 – Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16, signed on to a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor expressing great disappointment with the department’s proposed changes to the Child Labor Regulations that will prohibit the employment of young workers in agriculture.  The letter is signed by other state senators and many Nebraska ag groups.  Posted below, the letter urges the proposed regulations to be withdrawn by the department to allow an opportunity for discussion with agriculture producers who are directly involved and affected by any proposed changes.

Emphasizing the importance of engaging our youth in agriculture, Senator Brasch said, “Safety of our youth assisting in farm and ranch operations is critical; however, the Department of Labor must enact reasonable regulations.  Our youth need opportunities to work in agriculture and continue the legacy of this invaluable profession.”

 

Secretary Hilda L. Solis
United States Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division

200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

RE: RIN 1235-AA06

 

Dear Secretary Solis,

Early and extensive training of younger generations is vital to the future of the agriculture industry.  On behalf of agriculture producers in the state of Nebraska we write today to inform you of our disappointment in the most recent proposed Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation; Child Labor Violations—Civil Money Penalties as published at 76 F.R. 54836-54885.

The proposed regulations demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of agriculture and the people whose livelihood stems from the industry.  Rather than working together to achieve pragmatic safety solutions, the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a set of regulations that will effectively prohibit all young workers from being employed in agriculture.  We would encourage you to withdraw the proposed regulations and bring together a group of interested stakeholders, including agricultural producers, to discuss such an important issue—safety. 

Involving agricultural producers in this dialogue is imperative to shed light on how illogical the proposed regulations are and to coordinate a safety effort that emphasizes the improvements that have already taken place within the agriculture industry.  A few instances showing the necessity of involving agricultural producers are:

·   Farm and ranch operations often organize as business entities to take advantage of tax and liability benefits.  These entities are created by family members or neighbors. The safety precautions justifying a parental exemption still exist when a child is employed by such an entity.  The parental exemption is completely eroded if it does not allow children to still be employed by these types of operations under the exemption.

·  Dramatic improvements in the area of rollover guards and operator presence technology make power driven equipment much safer than in decades past and have been adopted on most new equipment coming off production lines.  Completely banning children from operating all power driven equipment is unreasonable when these types of protections exist.

·  The extensive education and vast adoption of low stress handling techniques for livestock, like those advocated through the Beef Quality Assurance program, Pork Quality Assurance program (PQA+), United Egg Producers Certified Animal Welfare Program or Animal Care – Best Management Practices for Production & Slaughter program have increased the safe handling of livestock.  Prohibiting children from herding livestock, interacting with them in pens and administering care is unfounded when these types of techniques are in place.

These are just a few examples indicating the safety improvements in agriculture that have been entirely disregarded in the proposed regulations and point out why it is essential that they be withdrawn and further discussion opportunities be established where agricultural producers are involved.

 

Sincerely,

Farm Credit Services of America

Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association

Nebraska Cattlemen, Inc.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association

Nebraska Farm Bureau

Nebraska Grain Sorghum Producers

Nebraska Poultry Industries

Nebraska Pork Producers

Nebraska State Dairy Association

Nebraska State Grange

Nebraska Soybean Association

Lydia Brasch, Nebraska State Senator, District 16

Tom Carlson, Nebraska State Senator, District 38

Deb Fischer, Nebraska State Senator, District 43

Norm Wallman, Nebraska State Senator, District 30

Doug Bergman
Arapahoe, Nebraska

John M. Childears, ARA
President, Broker
Agri Affiliates, Inc.
North Platte, Nebraska

Glen Amateis, Clay Leithead & Naomi Loomis
Double A Feed, Inc.
Bridgeport, Nebraska

Jim Fehringer
Fehringer & Mielak, LLP
Columbus, Nebraska

Larry Wilcox
Sr. Vice President
Minden Exchange Bank & Trust Co.
Minden, Nebraska

Ryan Reiber
Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association
Alliance, Nebraska

Janice Harrop & Jeremey Shiers
Security State Bank
Ansley, Nebraska

Russ Ropte
Shonsey & Associates
Grand Island, Nebraska

 

 

###

November 30th, 2011

After fifteen days, the special session of the Legislature adjourned on November 22. I consider the session to have been a success and believe most citizens are satisfied with what was accomplished – addressing concerns with pipeline siting. In brief, TransCanada agreed to move the Keystone XL out of the Sandhills, and two bills were passed, LB 1 and LB 4.

LB 1, introduced by Senator Dubas, creates a process for routing future pipelines in Nebraska, known as the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act. The bill requires an application be filed with the Public Service Commission, including a statement about why the particular route was selected in order to construct a major oil pipeline. The applicant is responsible for paying the fees for a public hearing for citizens to voice their opinions on the proposed route. The PSC must schedule the public hearing within 60 days and will be required to follow a 7 month timeline, with the possibility of a 12 month extension, to determine approval of the application. LB 1 requires the application be approved before eminent domain rights may be granted.

LB 4 enables us to collaborate with the federal government, specifically the U.S. Department of State, on oil pipelines in Nebraska. We will conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) on a new Keystone XL route proposed by TransCanada. The Department of Environmental Quality is charged with conducting this study, and in an effort to complete a transparent and objective study and to serve the citizens of this state, LB 4 does require that the state pay for this study, estimated to be approximately $2 million.

As I previously mentioned, the special session gave me an opportunity to introduce a legislative resolution, LR 12, regarding the Missouri River floods. On November 21 this resolution was voted on by the Legislature and adopted with full support. Senators spoke on the floor about those who went above and beyond to serve in the midst of the flooding and addressed the need for necessary changes to avoid another devastating flood event. It was a privilege to bring much needed attention to the flooding, victims, damages, volunteers, government officials, and the critical clean-up measures ahead.

The body also took up LR 8, introduced by Senator Louden, to “urge the United States Postal Service to reconsider its plan to close rural post offices in Nebraska.” This impacts our legislative district as the Village of Craig faces the closing of its post office. As you know, the post office is a valued community center. I believe our postal services needs to look for inefficiencies elsewhere as these rural post offices are run efficiently and have a significant role in our towns. LR 8 also was adopted by the Legislature.

Lastly, it’s widely known we are experiencing a diesel shortage. I have heard from several of you who have serious concerns with the availability of this essential commodity. I sent a letter to Governor Heineman to encourage him to issue a hours of service waiver for diesel haulers, so they have extended driving time to haul more diesel since they must now travel greater distances or wait longer. Hopefully such a waiver will ease some of the problems experienced with the shortage, and the refineries will complete maintenance and other services to resume regular diesel supply soon.

During this November month, we reflect on families, veterans, harvest, and all that we are thankful for. May you also remember and recognize all of the blessings in our lives as we celebrate this holiday season.

It is an honor to represent you, and I look forward to picking up this pen again when the Legislature convenes for session on January 4, 2012.

Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

November 30th, 2011

With summer a memory, fall in the air, and harvest nearly completed, legislative activity is mounting. During the interim I have been privileged to meet so many new faces and work on important issues in our district. My staff and I visited many communities and look forward to future visits. These face-to-face meetings provided an opportunity to speak openly about legislative questions, potential policy issues, and simply to say “hello.”

With new district boundaries established in May, our legislative district has taken on a new appearance, and I have met many new constituents and friends. Unfortunately, meetings were not always under the best of circumstances as I was introduced to many impacted by the Missouri River flooding. With Burt and Washington Counties experiencing flood devastation, I spent a great deal of time attending meetings, touring damage, and even spending a few nights at the dormitories in Blair with flood victims. The outpour of assistance from our communities is humbling and encouraging. I had extensive and regular communication with government agencies, representatives and many others participating in the flood response. Although the flood waters receded, the repairs and damage are present with a lasting impact. As your elected representative, I continue to be engaged in this critical issue as we move forward.

The proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline has also taken the spotlight in the Legislature and captured the attention of citizens statewide. Although the proposed pipeline route does not run through our district, I have heard from many of you on this issue. As you are likely aware, this issue has prompted Governor Heineman to call a special session to enact pipeline legislation. The proposed route is of concern to many, including me, because of the plan to route it through the Sandhills and over the Ogallala Aquifer, our precious water resource. As an international pipeline, the U.S. Department of State approves or denies the pipeline; a decision is expected before the year’s end, although recent rumblings indicate a potentially delayed decision. Nevertheless, there are a number of legal questions with regards to what laws our state can enact for pipeline siting, specifically, to impact this pipeline.

Leading up to the announced special session, on October 3rd we received draft legislation from Senator Annette Dubas to create a process for pipeline siting in Nebraska. Following this, Speaker Mike Flood held a press conference on October 5th to announce a meeting between TransCanada and Senators Chris Langemeier, Annette Dubas, and Kate Sullivan. The meeting resulted in TransCanada declining to move the pipeline route, instead, offering additional safety reinforcements. Speaker Flood presented us with his legal analysis of Senator Dubas’ bill draft where he acknowledged constitutional and federal pre-emption concerns that went into his decision not to support a special session. Since this time, Senator Dubas has revised her bill, engaging several reputable attorneys in the process.

This brings us to the present with the Governor’s call for a special session beginning on Tuesday, November 1. What will come of this is yet to be determined. Most importantly, we are carefully considering all prospective legislative action, weighing all legal and constitutional constraints, and listening to constituents. I have appreciated hearing from many of you. To be candid, my position is not in opposition of the pipeline; rather, I share the view of Gov. Heineman, U.S. Senators Johanns and Nelson, State Senators Avery and Fulton, among many others, that we must safeguard our water resources to protect the people and future generations, as well as our agriculture industry. We owe it to our citizens to carefully review and openly discuss this issue. Please feel free to contact me regarding your views on the pipeline, as well as any other legislative issues as we prepare for the upcoming legislative session in January.

Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Senator Brasch will be speaking at West Point-Beemer High School in honor of Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, 2011.  Senator Brasch is grateful for the men and women who have graciously served our country and sacrificed so much that we might have the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today.

Thank you to the veterans in District 16, Nebraska, and the United States for your courageous service!

District 16 County Fairs

July 21st, 2011

Senator Brasch will attend upcoming county fairs in District 16.  She hopes to visit with many constituents and looks forward viewing the 4-H talents from the district.  The following are the upcoming 2011 fair dates:

Washington County, Friday, July 29 – Wednesday, August 3

Burt County, Friday, August 5 – Tuesday, August 9

Cuming County, Thursday, August 11 – Sunday, August 14

Senator Brasch hopes to see you there!

Senator Brasch will have an extended stay in Blair at the Dana College dormitory to visit with flood victims.  She will stay in the dorm along with flood victims Tuesday, July 5 – Friday, July 8, 2011.  Senator Brasch hopes to meet with all those displaced by the flood and address questions and concerns.

Senator Brasch looks forward to visiting with you about legislative matters at a community coffee event on Wednesday, June 22 from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at The Country Pub, 409 Main Street, Bancroft.

June 14th, 2011

June 9, 2011

Greetings to my new Legislative District 16 constituents!  It is an honor to represent you in our Nebraska Legislature.  As you may or may not be aware, redistricting took place during the first session of the 102nd Legislature, changing the face of many legislative districts effective May 27th, including District 16, which now encompasses all of Washington County. 

As your elected representative in the Legislature, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  I am a resident of rural Bancroft, elected as the District 16 senator last fall.  I am married to a farmer and have two married adult children and three grandchildren.  In my private occupation, I am able to work across the country from my farm home selling education software to schools.  Because of my professional experiences working nationally from the farm, I do believe there are unlimited opportunities for growth statewide.  Nebraska has untapped potential from our fields, our homes, and our main street businesses.

I am enthusiastic, yet humbled at this great responsibility to be your senator.  In brief, I am an advocate for agriculture; I am conservative; My expectation is for people, not government, to initiate and achieve great outcomes; I support economic development programs, particularly in our rural communities; I have high expectations for all Nebraskans to contribute to the legislative process and all functions of government; and I have a vision for growing the Nebraska good life.

My experiences thus far in the “new” District 16 have been inspiring.  Although flooding has threatened the comfort and security of many families, there has been heightened effort by so many to ensure preparedness and refuge for those in need.  I have personally seen people in the community come together, along with state officials and others, to provide accurate and timely information to citizens and to anticipate needs and issues that require action.  Please be assured that I will remain engaged and at the forefront of addressing these dire flooding issues.

I am certain that you have been well-served by Senators Scott Lautenbaugh, District 18, and Beau McCoy, District 39, and I recognize that I have big shoes to fill.  I am privileged to serve you and look forward to meeting you over the interim for meetings and events.  I will also periodically issue a newsletter to update you on current legislative happenings.   Please contact me with any legislative questions or concerns at:

E-mail

lbrasch@leg.ne.gov

Phone

(402) 471-2728 

Mailing Address

State Capitol

P.O. Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

 

Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

June 14th, 2011

May 31, 2011

Thursday, May 26 marked the conclusion of the first session of the 102nd Legislature and the end of my first session as your District 16 state senator.  Serving as your state representative is and has been a pleasure.  On our final day of session, five senators and I had the esteemed privilege of escorting Governor Heineman into the legislative chambers for his closing remarks. It is an honor to be able to work with 48 other senators on making policy and history and serving the people of this great state. 

This session is highlighted by successful passage of momentous legislation.  To summarize, we passed a responsible and conservative budget that leaves nearly $300 million dollars in the Cash Reserve fund without any tax increase.  Additionally, after negotiations and hard work, groundbreaking legislation was passed to reform the Commission of Industrial Relations, providing a tool for fair wages to public sector employees, yet allowing for fiscal constraint for public sector employers.  Another focal point of the session that will have a significant impact in the years to come is a state financial commitment to fund road construction at $70 million a year by utilizing a portion of sales tax revenue.  This session the Legislature also had the obligation of fulfilling redistricting lines.  Although highly controversial, we fulfilled passage of redistricting proposals, drawing new districts for congressional, legislative, Supreme Court, Board of Regents, Board of Education, and Public Service Commission boundaries.

Another accomplishment that I was personally invested in was passage of LB 690, my priority bill for the session.  LB 690 passed into law with the support of 41 senators to require pregnant minors to obtain notarized parental consent for an abortion.  It was undoubtedly a humbling experience to debate this emotional issue and see it come to pass and be signed into law.  The young girl has always been my focus with LB 690, so that she will have guidance and physical and emotional support for a life-altering decision. 

Throughout the course of the session, I was visited by more than a dozen constituents plus students from schools in District 16.  If you didn’t have an opportunity to visit the Legislature while we were in session this year, I hope that you will try to join us next session and be recognized on the floor.  If you travel to Lincoln during the interim, please know you are welcome to visit my office at the Capitol. 

With redistricting officially accomplished, I must say goodbye to wonderful constituents in Stanton and Thurston Counties and welcome into District 16 all residents of Washington County.  I look forward to serving new territories and making new friends throughout the district.  In fact, over the summer months, I will be traveling the district and scheduling townhall meetings and community coffees that I hope you will plan to attend, so I can visit with you about legislative issues that are important to you.    Although I will not compose a weekly column, you can expect that I will drop you a note periodically this summer.

On Monday we honored and remembered those who served, sacrificed, and gave their lives.  May we always remember them and pray for their families.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer.  I look forward to seeing you in our district!

Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

June 14th, 2011

May 9, 2011

As June 8, our final scheduled day of the 102nd Legislature of the 1st Session draws nearer, and legislation moves through the stages of debate, a number of bills were on Final Reading last week.  Many of the bills passed were on Consent Calendar, meaning the bills are non-controversial and each were granted fifteen minutes maximum for debate.  The budget was passed on Final Reading to provide a moderate increase of 2.6% growth in the first year and $7 billion total spending in the biennium.  Additionally, the Legislature voted to pass: 

  • LB 84, the “Build Nebraska Act” to designate a portion of sales tax to roads funding;
  • LB 22, prohibiting use of tax dollars for abortions through a health insurance exchange under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act;
  • LB 229, allowing the Department of Natural Resources to apply for Nebraska Environmental Trust funds for water projects; and
  • LB 165, limiting the occupation tax rate that municipalities may collect.

The Legislature debated LB 521, introduced by Senator Fulton, on General File on May 10.  LB 521 requires a physician to be present in the room with a woman when conducting an abortion.  LB 521 responds to a practice, particularly seen in Iowa, in which chemical abortions are performed via webcam without any physical examination of the woman.  LB 521 was advanced to Select File with my support.  

Also seeking to reduce the number of abortions and provide protection for women, my priority bill, LB 690, was advanced by the Judiciary Committee.  LB 690 will strengthen Nebraska law by requiring parental consent for an abortion instead of current law requiring only parental notification.  The Judiciary Committee amendment amends the bill to allow an exception in cases of abuse, giving a grandparent the authority to provide consent.  I look forward to debating LB 690 and appreciate your support of this important legislation.

Interim study resolutions are introduced up to May 17th. An interim study resolution is a formal request submitted by a senator to study a bill or specific need of a district or the state.  Public hearings are held on interim studies where committees will gather policy and subject information and hear testimony.  I introduced LR 230 as a follow-up to one of my bills this session, LB 691, to more closely study how biobased products can be more readily used in state government.  Biobased products include those derived from corn and soy, for example, and I believe using such products is one more way to advance Nebraska agriculture.  The issue of declining populations is also important to our district and the state and is the subject of LR 226.  I will follow this study during the interim to actively look for ideas to attract people to our rural communities.

On Friday, May 13, redistricting hearings were held by videoconference at locations statewide on five bills proposed by the Redistricting Committee.  Hearing testimony focused primarily on LB 703, boundaries of legislative districts, and LB 704, boundaries of the congressional districts.  In LB 703, District 16 experiences a notable change.  Stanton County is proposed to be divided among Districts 19 and 22, and Thurston County moves into District 17.  Making up this population, District 16 is proposed to gain representation of all Washington County.  The redistricting bills will soon be debated by the Legislature.    

Congratulations to all of our District 16 high school and college graduates!  We are so proud of your accomplishments and wish you great success in your future endeavors. Always remember, there is no place like home, especially District 16! 

Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16
Room #1022
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2728
Email: lbrasch@leg.ne.gov
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