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Sen. Lydia Brasch

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16

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Week of April 22nd

April 22nd, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

April showers continue to bless our agriculture producers with the hope of a productive year. Our work in the legislature goes on rain or shine. We continue to take up a variety of topics ranging from Medicaid expansion to less controversial subjects contained on our consent calendar which we debated last Friday.

Last week, floor debate on LB577, also know as Medicaid expansion, began here in Lincoln. As senators on both sides of the issue expressed their support and opposition, I provided my colleagues with feedback on the issue that I received from constituents via correspondence and during town hall meetings across the district. Many have raised concerns about the cost of this reform, both from at the federal and state levels. Even though the federal government would cover 90-100% of costs for the first years of the expansion, the state would still be responsible for millions in general fund spending that will compete with education and roads funding priorities.

Other questions were raised by constituents. Some who already qualify for Medicaid raised concerns about the quality of services and delivery after expansion. Right now, many are experiencing lengthy waits for approval of assistance. Expanding Medicaid will add tens of thousands to our state plan’s enrollment, and the impact of this to our medical delivery system. During floor debate, Senator Mike Gloor, a former hospital CEO, shared similar concerns about the impact of Medicaid expansion during floor debate on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is especially concerning because no study has been conducted to study the impact of expansion on the quality and delivery of healthcare services. After 2 days of discussion, debate on LB577 ceased because its supporters were unable to garner the 33 votes they needed for cloture to advance the legislation. It is unlikely this bill will receive further debate this year.

This week, we start debating LB407 which provides for state aid to our school districts. The State of Nebraska provides state aid to school districts based on their needs and the amount of resources they have available. Changes to this formula have been made to try to equitably balance the interests of urban and rural school districts. This means, however, that rural school districts, like Arlington, will lose their equalization aid. Many schools in our district receive no equalization aid already. Other schools in our district will see changes made to their share.

As the session continues, I will continue to hold town halls as previously announced. I will be spending May 3rd and May 6th traveling Burt and Cuming Counties and holding listening sessions. I will announce times and locations in next week’s column. If you need timely assistance, or you hear about an issue or bill that concerns you and are unable to attend one of the town halls, please feel free to continue to contact me or my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of April 15th

April 15th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

We continue to await the arrival of spring! As the legislature continues floor debate, discussion on many controversial topics has continued to extend the length of our work days. In the near future, the Unicameral will take up our consent calendar which is composed of a variety of non-controversial bills that will likely gain the full support of all members of the body.

Last week the legislature began discussion on a bill that would get rid of the current system of park fees and roll the park fee into the motor vehicle registration. Senator Bill Avery of Lincoln introduced and prioritized LB362. While some have raised important questions about attaching this registration fee, it is important to understand that Nebraska Game and Parks is on the verge of shuttering a number of state parks because of a large revenue shortfall. Nebraska parks are underutilized as family destinations because the many of the parks are in dire need of facility maintenance and improvements. To ensure our great parks remain competitive, they need adequate funding and revenue to attract visitors. Floor debate this week revealed that this legislation will need additional work to build consensus before the full legislature will approve it.

Proposals changing penalties for both adult and juvenile offenders have been advanced by the Judiciary Committee for debate by the full legislature. Later this session, the Unicameral will debate a perennial piece of legislation brought by Senator Chambers that would repeal the death penalty. Last week, senators debated LB44 which changed sentencing requirements for juvenile convicted of a Class IA felony. This legislation was introduced to bring Nebraska into compliance with the 2012 US Supreme Court ruling of Miller v. Alabama, which prohibited as a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the sentencing of juveniles to a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

It is important for our state to provide opportunities for our young farms and young Nebraskans who are interested in agriculture and agribusiness. The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute brings together young Nebraskans to connect them with speakers from various sectors of the agriculture industry, help them learn about the different facets of agriculture, and network them with like-minded young Nebraskans. This year the NAYI will be hosted on the UNL-East Campus in Lincoln from July 8th to the 12th. NAYI is free, and applications are available online at

As I mentioned last week, our office is planning coffees and town halls in Burt and Cuming Counties as I continue to travel the district to listen to your concerns about legislative issues this session. Until then, please feel free to continue to contact me or my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of April 8th

April 8th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

This week the legislature extended floor debate hours as several pieces of legislation drew lengthy discussion. Most days, the Unicameral will work until 6:30pm at night, and in a couple weeks, we will begin “late nights” when debate will continue until 8, 9, or even 11:59pm, but not past midnight so we stay within that legislative day!

The legislature started its week with LB57 introduced by Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill. LB57 requires the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to approve any purchase of real property made using NET funds given to a grant recipient either to purchase real property directly or through the use of a revolving fund. Some concerns have been raised that grant recipients have utilized NET funds to purchase property that has ended up in the hands of the federal government even though the funds were granted only for the organization’s use. Our state agencies and commissions need checks and balances to provide the transparency Nebraskans need to assure that their government is functioning openly and honestly.

During floor debate this week, senators also discussed LB637 which requires the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to provide an economic impact statement for any regulation when considering the adoption of regulations imposing requirements different than federal regulations or increase costs on regulated persons and other entities. On the floor, I talked about a situation in our district where the NDEQ’s requirements exceeded those required by EPA regulations, and how it has severely impacted this person’s cattle operation. It is important for the future of all communities that regulatory costs remain contained.

Young people from our district are invited to participate in the Unicameral Youth Legislature program that will be held June 9th-12th in Lincoln. The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day model legislature that allows students ages 14-17 to play the part of senators. During this simulation, students will get to experience many components of the legislative process by debating legislation and conducting committee hearings among other activities. Interested students can find more information by calling my office at the number listed below or online here at:

My office continues to schedule town halls and coffees around the district. On Monday, April 15th, I will be spending the day in Washington County, and you are welcome to join me for any of the events listed here. My day will start in Arlington, where I will have coffee from 8:30-9:30am at the Arlington Multi-Purpose Senior Center, 305 N 3rd Street. From 10am-12noon, I will attend a coffee hosted at the Blair Chamber of Commerce, 1646 Washington Street in Blair. Finally, I will conclude my day in Ft. Calhoun from 6:30pm-8:00pm at Too Far North, 111 N. 14th Street. These are meetings will give me an opportunity to listen to your thoughts regarding legislation being heard on the floor this session.

During the week, we welcomed many outstanding FFA students from District 16 to our office. It is always a blessing to learn about all the amazing work they are doing! This weekend provided an opportunity to attend the Cuming County Feeders Association Banquet in West Point. It was an enjoyable evening with over 650 people attending. It was good to visit with several constituents in agriculture, from cattle feeders to the many other agribusiness men and women whose services are important to our feeders and community.

Events in Cuming and Burt counties will be announced shortly as I continue to travel the district to listen to your concerns about legislative issues this session. Until then, please feel free to continue to contact me or my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of April 1st

April 1st, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

Happy Easter to you and yours! I especially look forward to this time of the year as my family and other Christians around the world gather to celebrate our Risen Saviour. It is always a most wonderful time to share in our church services, and it is a joy to participate in the many celebrations that our district offers. From the sound of church bells ringing to the bountiful Easter Egg Hunts where children of all ages shout with glee as they discover colorful eggs and hidden surprises, we realize and count our blessings.

During this season, we must also remember and pray for our military who stand guard far from their homes, so we may feel secure and safe in ours as we gather to pray, play and work. Regardless of where you are, with family or perhaps alone in prayer, this holy weekend provides for a time of reflection and renewed faith. With the dawn of this spiritual new year, our work begins once again with renewed spirits.

Full days of debate started last Wednesday for our legislature, as committees concluded the many public hearings on new legislation. The legislature adjourned on Thursday as senators and staff returned home to their district to spend this holiday with their families, friends and communities.

As floor debate continued on senator priority bills, the legislature took up LB528 which allows for treatment of partners who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases without examination by a physician. In last week’s column, I raised some concern that this legislation does not provide protection for minors who may be in abusive relationships. During floor debate, I also raised concerns that this legislation did not provide civil immunity for medical providers, and that allowing doctors to prescribe medication for persons with whom they have no relationship has the potential to change the standard of care. Unfortunately, this bill passed the first round of debate, but several senators have ongoing concerns which will hopefully be addressed in the second round of discussion.

The legislature also debated LB97 which allows for the creation of land banks. Some municipalities in other states utilize land banks to purchase blighted and tax delinquent properties to help revitalize struggling neighborhoods. Some senators pointed out that a land bank could potentially compete with private investors who purchase tax liens. During floor debate, I discussed the importance of ensuring that revitalization efforts do not come at the expense of affordable housing for low-income Nebraskans.

On Thursday, the full Unicameral debated LB517 which creates the Water Sustainability Project Task Force to study the needs of all Nebraska’s water users during the interim. Water is one of our state’s most precious resources, and with many demands on this highly demanded resource, it is important for Nebraska to look at ways to ensure the longevity and abundance of our water supply. As this task force looks at the future of Nebraska’s water usage, it is important that the Unicameral preserve the local control of our Natural Resource Districts over water management. Nebraska’s NRD system is unique, and provides a voice for local water users statewide.

Visitors this week to the office included chambers of commerce from our district that co-hosted Northeast Nebraska Day. I had the pleasure of visiting with representatives from the West Point Chamber and the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce about legislative priorities important to their members. U.S. Senator Mike Johanns also paid us a visit to hear our concerns as state elected officials.

On April 15, I will visit Blair for coffee from 10AM-12Noon at the Blair Chamber of Commerce, 1646 Washington Street. Our office is working on community coffees around the district and will announce those in next week’s column once the places and times are confirmed. As priority bills continue to receive debate, please continue to provide feedback. You can contact me or either my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of March 25th

March 25th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

Even though last week marked the first day of spring, winter continues to linger. Hopefully warmer weather and rain comes quickly! Last week, the Unicameral passed the halfway mark for the session as hearings concluded. This week, full days of debate start as the legislature continues to discuss priorities designated by senators and committees.

As hearings concluded, the Judiciary Committee heard almost a dozen bills related to the use of guns. Many of these bills sought to protect our 2nd Amendment rights. Senator Kintner introduced his priority bill, LB293, to prohibit the disclosure of any applicant or permit holder information regarding firearms registration or sale. This legislation was introduced after a newspaper in New York published information disclosing the identity of gun owners, raising concerns that gun owners would become targets of crime.

Medicaid expansion continues to be a topic of heated discussion as legislative debate on the subject draws closer. Our District 16 hospitals and healthcare facilities deliver high quality, affordable healthcare, and help administer the state Medicaid program which provides access to healthcare for those in need. Currently, Nebraska’s Medicaid program costs $1.6 billion a year including $576 million in state general fund.

Obamacare already imposes and additional $227 million in direct costs to Nebraska’s Medicaid program meaning that the entire Medicaid program will cost Nebraska $770 million by 2020 without expanding coverage. Currently, about 242,000 Nebraskans are enrolled in Medicaid, and that number will likely grow by almost 50,000 in 2020. If LB577 passes and Medcaid coverage is expanded, this would cost the State of Nebraska another $116 million in general funds, bringing the total cost of Medicaid to $2.7 billion by 2020.

Many who support this expansion argue that Nebraska should not turn down federal funds that have been offered under Obamacare to support this expansion. During the first few years, federal funds would cover over 90% of the costs associated with expansion. In my view, this expansion poses two major concerns. First, these federal funds do not represent actual tax revenue, but rather additional deficit spending. Second, after the federal government’s commitment to the state ends in a few years, Nebraska taxpayers may be obligated to pick up the cost, potentially at the expense of other important budget priorities. We often say here in Nebraska, “we don’t spend money that we don’t have.”

As session continues, this column continues to highlight legislation that impacts Nebraska families. LB528 would allow for treatment of partners who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases without examination by a physician. Under this legislation, doctors would be able to prescribe antibiotics to patients and their partners with chlamydia and gonorrhea. Concerns have been raised that this legislation does not provide protection for minors that have been subject to abuse, and does not provide any protection for unexamined patients that may be taking additional medication.

In Lincoln this week, I had the honor of attending events hosted by the Nebraska Legislative Sportsmen’s Forum and the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance. On Friday, I spent the morning of our recess day at Wayne State speaking to the Northeast Nebraska Legislative Forum about issues of concern to people who live in our corner of the state. Even though hearings have concluded, I still want to hear your feedback on pending legislation as issues arise. Please contact either my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471 2728 or with your concerns.

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of March 18th

March 18th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! I had the pleasure of walking in the Wisner St. Patrick’s Day parade this past weekend. It was a cold and very brisk day, but the sun was shining and with the first day of spring almost here, we can hope that even better weather will arrive shortly.

Senators designated their priorities bills this past week as the legislature closed in on the halfway mark for this year’s session. Each senator is allowed to select one piece of legislation as their priority each year. My priority this year, LB296, doubles the deduction limits for contributions made to the Nebraska College Savings Program. This legislation is important because it provides additional tax relief to hard-working Nebraskans who save for their child’s college education. This program can also be used for tuition to our vital vocational and technical colleges as well.

On Thursday, our office had two final hearings in the Judiciary Committee on LB498 and LR42 that ran into the evening. As I mentioned in last week’s column, LB498 provides an additional protection against the practice of libel tourism. Bob Evnen of Lincoln testified in support of the legislation, arguing that the bill would provide a much-needed update to Nebraska’s libel statutes. The Judiciary Committee wrapped up a very long day by hearing LR42 which calls on Congress to pass the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Family First and the Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association both testified in support of LR42 and in support of reaffirming the fundamental status of parental rights by adding specific language to the U.S. Constitution.

Last week in this column I highlighted LB380, legislation that would provide for adoption by two adult persons jointly, and expressed concerns I have about the legislation’s impact on our families. This week, I will focus on LB619 introduced by Senator Ken Haar of Malcolm which requires mandatory comprehensive sex education. Currently, the content of sex education curriculum is largely determined by individual school districts and their respective school boards. LB619 gives authority over this subject area to the Nebraska State Board of Education, centralizing control over curriculum standards for sex education away from school districts and removes local control. Additionally, I also have several technical concerns about the bill, including the failure of the legislation to define the term “comprehensive,” leaving this open to interpretation by bureaucrats.

This week, I was honored to be appointed to the Transportation Public Policy Committee of the Council of State Governments (CSG). My appointment follows Senator Deb Fischer’s tenure on the committee. CSG is a national policy forum with regional divisions that provides networking and development opportunities to lawmakers and leaders to share ideas on a variety of public policy initiatives. This appointment will complement my work with the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in the Unicameral, allowing me to collaborate with other legislators nationally on transportation issues and solutions.

On Sunday, I attended a Young Americans Performance at Blair High School. It was an uplifting and enjoyable evening of spectacular singing and dancing by talented students from grades four through twelve who participated in a two-day workshop at the school under the direction and motivation of The Young Americans, a traveling national and international musical troupe. If you have community events in your town that you would like to share with our office, please contact either my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or We look forward to hearing from you in the near future!

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of March 11th

March 11th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

The snow keeps coming even though the first day of spring is less than a week away! We are certainly grateful for this much-needed moisture, however, I am looking forward to the gentle April showers.

Last week the Unicameral completed its thirty-ninth day of this ninety day session and finished out the week with a recess day to allowing senators from rural districts to spend time home with constituents. As scheduled hearings are near their end, committees continue to hear important legislation, including a law that would require voters to present identification at their polling place to vote. This continues to be a highly contentious debate despite the fact that we are required to produce identification for many purposes in day-to-day life. Committee hearings will continue through next week until every bill introduced for the session has had a public hearing.

In the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee last week, we heard several pieces of legislation to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to honor our veterans. LB383 introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont provides for approved specialty license plates that honor branches of the military. Senator Annette Dubas of Fullterton introduced LB93 which would provide for notation of veteran status on drivers’ licenses.

The Transportation Committee also heard LB393 introduced by Senator Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins which repeals a requirement that motorcyclists over the age of 21 wear a helmet and replaces it with a new requirement that riders wear eye protection. As I listened carefully to opposing views on our helmet law during my first 2 years in office, I heard many concerns on both sides of this issue. I believe riders over the age of 21 should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their own safety gear. Our country was founded upon principles of self-government. It is important to preserve these individual freedoms, particularly where these freedoms do not come at the expense or safety of others.

As the session continues, this column will continue to highlight legislation I believe is important to our district as well as legislation that is cause for concern. One such bill is LB380 which provides for the adoption of a minor child by two adult persons jointly. Traditionally, joint adoptions have only occurred between married couples, but this bill would allow any two adults, regardless of their relationship–financial, legal, or otherwise–to adopt. Should the legislature chose to make this policy change, I believe that it could ultimately place our vulnerable children in unstable or fragmented households. Policies like these undermine the nuclear family which has formed the foundation of Nebraska households for generations.

This week, my last bill and a legislative resolution that our office introduced this session will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. First, LB498 provides an additional protection against the practice of libel tourism. Libel tourism occurs when a plaintiff files a lawsuit in a jurisdiction that provides few protections for persons who may not have the means to defend their reputation in an overseas foreign court. Second, LR42 calls on the U.S. Congress to pass the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would ensure that parental rights are treated as a fundamental right by our courts. Recent court decisions have raised some concern that the traditional rights of the parent may not be viewed with due deference in matters of education, health care, religion and others family life decision making.

This past week, State Treasurer Don Stenberg published the 2013 Unclaimed Property Report. If you would like to obtain a copy of the report, you may contact the treasurer’s office at 402-471-2455 or you can check for unclaimed property at any time online at The treasurer’s office currently holds more than $125 million in unclaimed property. If you have any questions, my office
continues to work diligently to answer your questions or comments on bills before us this session. You can reach either my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or We hope to hear from you soon!

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of March 4th

March 4th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

With this past week, the Unicameral completed about a third of this ninety-day session. It was another week full of filibusters and floor speeches on a variety of bills. Committees heard legislation ranging from a proposed expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, to conscience protection for licensed physicians who could decline to perform certain procedures to which they morally object.

Committees heard three of my bills this week. I brought LB244 at the request of electrical instructors at Northeast Community College to provide a requirement for continuing education courses for apprentice electricians. Typically, apprentices who sit for their qualifying exam do so with little or no exposure to the National Electrical Code book, which is a regionally adopted standard for electricians. This puts the apprentice in a position to fail the exam as nearly half fail one or more times. If they have a knowledge of basic electricity and the National Electrical Code Book from these offered courses they’re in a position to more readily pass an exam. Courses offered only cost between $92 to $120 a year to meet the requirement.

LB500 was introduced in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee at the request of the Nebraska Association of School Boards and Lincoln Public Schools to provide an exception to a provision contained in LB1039 that I introduced last year. LB500 provides an exemption for school districts from the sign requirement for school buses making a stop without four hundred feet of clear vision in either direction. The exemption is limited to school buses stopping to load or unload pupils inside the corporate limits of any city or village, except on any part of the state highway system within the limits of a city or village. Many of these stops addressed are curbside for students with special needs and are essential for their safety and well being.

On Thursday, I introduced LB145 in the Revenue Committee at the request of the Nebraska Farm Bureau and agricultural land property owners in our district and also from testimony expressed statewide at our hearing . As Nebraska conducts a wellness check on its tax code, it is my belief that this discussion should look at all components of our tax structure, especially property taxes which have not been a part of the discussion to this point. Every day, I hear from constituents about the burden that property taxes place on their families, businesses, and way of life. Nebraska is the only state to tax property the way we do because we levy property tax by real estate value and because several subdivisions of government have overlapping taxing authority.

The downward slide in Nebraska’s rural population has continued even as property taxes on agricultural land have continued to increase. Senators in the Unicameral have introduced several policy proposals over the years to attempt to stop the population decline and grow our tax base in rural communities. Meaningful property tax relief for agricultural producers would be a first step towards creating a more tax friendly atmosphere for the young agricultural producers we need to attract.

Another constituent from our district was nominated for an appointment to a state commission. Helen Feller of Wisner was nominated again by Governor Heineman to the State Racing Commission, and the General Affairs Committee held a hearing on her nomination last week. Her nomination was advanced by the committee on an 8-0 vote.

This past weekend, I enjoyed the honor to serve as a judge for the Youth Engaged Award Project at the Fort Calhoun High School. These student presentations visionary in how they presented plans to keep and attract young individuals and families to Washington County. My office is planning coffees as town halls around the district if you or your community have an interest in participating, please let us know. We welcome questions or comments on bills before us this session. Please contact me at (402) 471-2728 or We look forward to hearing from you!

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of February 25th

February 25th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

Last week marked the Unicameral’s sixth week of session, and we are now one-third of our way into our ninety-day session with much critical work remaining. We faced the challenges of a shortened work week in Lincoln with President’s Day last Monday and a snowstorm in the forecast. Fortunately, the snow storm only canceled committee hearings on Thursday afternoon, and the legislature was able to resume regular business on Friday.

The Revenue Committee voted 8-0 to indefinitely postpone Governor Heineman’s tax plan. While the governor expressed that he no longer intended to pursue tax reform this session, this action was important for businesses and families in and around our district who had faced uncertainty from this proposal. Tax reform remains a long-term goal of the legislature and Governor Heineman, who will likely team together to study potential options over the interim.

We experienced a number of filibusters this session, making it difficult to know when your bill, or others, will be heard on the floor. On the floor of the legislature, the filibuster of LB21, that provides for worker’s compensation benefits for first responders, ended, and the Unicameral voted to advance this legislation to final reading. Business on the floor, however, slowed dramatically again when Senator Chambers initiated a new filibuster against LB52 introduced by Senator Christensen of Imperial. This legislation changes employment provisions for incarcerated persons.

The full legislature also debated LB434 introduced by Senator Price of Bellevue that allows emergency management agencies and public agencies to create registries that include persons who have special or exceptional needs in the case of emergencies. This is particularly important for our communities along the Missouri River that experience flooding. Such registries can assist our emergency management services and first responders in providing immediate, direct assistance to those who are truly in need in a time of crisis. It is my hope this information can help expedite assistance from these agencies.

Last week the Natural Resources Committee heard LB634 which I cosponsored because it would provide the Nebraska Forest Service and our volunteer fire districts with additional resources to protect our families and communities. For example, it directs the Nebraska Forest Service to take additional steps to preventatively thin forests and expands a program to provide volunteer fire districts with fire suppression equipment. At this point no action has been taken by the committee on this bill.

As session continues, constituents from across the district continue to visit Lincoln to make their voice heard on a variety of issues. I enjoyed the privilege to visit with representatives from the Civil Air Patrol, the Nebraska Rural School Association, and others. I also had the opportunity to share dinner with a Russian delegation of members from their parliament, legislative assembly, institute of public administration, Russian Federation Moscow Regional Duma and others who visited our Unicameral to observe how our legislature conducts business. They were here as a part of the Lincoln Friendship Force program.

This week, three bills that I introduced will be heard in committee

  • LB 145 reduces the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land for property tax purposes from 75% to 65% of assessed value.
  • LB244 provides a requirement for continuing education courses for apprentice electricians.
  • LB500 makes modifications to current school bus stop laws to accommodate special bus stops within city or village limits.

In late March and April during recess days, I hope to schedule town halls and community coffees throughout District 16. If you would like to schedule a meeting in your village or town, please contact David Slattery, my administrative assistant in my office, for more information. If you have any interest in testifying on these bills or at any other hearing, please contact my office at (402) 471-2728 or As always, you can watch debate on channel 13 or online at It is important for all of us to remember the age-old adage engraved on the side of the Capitol in Lincoln that says, “The salvation of the state is in the watchfulness of the citizen.”

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

Senator Lydia Brasch

Week of February 18th

February 18th, 2013

Weekly Legislative Update

This week the Unicameral debated LB21, which extends legislation previously passed to allow first responders to receive worker’s compensation benefits. This legislation would help protect our firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement that sustain mental injuries on the job. The law previously was scheduled to sunset in 2014. LB21 removes the sunset date. Volunteer fireman Micheal Dwyer of Arlington visited the legislature this past Thursday to support the bill and to monitor it behind the scenes while watching debate closely. Unfortunately, this legislation is facing a filibuster at this time, but I fully expect the filibuster to end sometime next week after a cloture vote.

The Natural Resources Committee heard LB325 this week. LB325 allows a hearing on a proposed division of an NRD that contains a city of a metropolitan class to be initiated by a signed petition of twenty-five percent of the legal voters within the area proposed to be divided. Currently the Papio-Missouri NRD is the only district in the state that contains a city of a metropolitan class. Our office narrowly tailored this legislation to only impact the Papio-Missouri NRD to resolve long-standing concerns from property owners and agricultural interests over how their taxpayer dollars have been budgeted.

The Papio-Missouri NRD takes in Dakota, Washington, Douglas, Sarpy, and portions of Burt and Thurston Counties. The four rural counties only have 1 seat on the NRD’s board of directors. While these same counties pay about $1.5 million in taxes, the NRD has consistently budgeted only about $800,000 for conservation projects such as terracing or only about 1% of it’s $87 million budget in the last 5 fiscal years. No other NRD in the state has such a clear disparity between the rural and urban interests contained within its boundaries. Property owners and agricultural interests in the rural counties have been looking for a way to increase their representation on the board. LB325 would remove the veto power of the Papio NRD over proposals to divide the NRD.

Several taxpayers from our district attended the hearing for LB325 this past Thursday. NRD Director Scott Japp of Washington County testified about the challenges he has faced in attempting to represent the needs of the rural portion of the district on a heavily urban board of directors. Washington County Commissioner Jerry Kruse also testified in support of the legislation.

The Natural Resources Committee also heard LB517, which was introduced by Chairman Tom Carlson of Holdrege. This bill creates the Water Sustainability Project Task Force to study possible water management methods and priorities to promote coordination amongst Nebraska’s diverse water users. While many of Nebraska’s NRDs have done an excellent job at managing their water resources, Nebraska has compact obligations to other states that compete with the water usage needs of Nebraska’s water users. This task force would be composed of stakeholders from six different regions of the state that represent every interest group and expertise in the subject area of water.

Last Saturday, Governor Heineman announced that he was pulling his tax legislation because the criticism of it that he has heard is “loud and clear.” Heineman promised to study the issue of tax reform over the interim and return in 2014 with new legislation to provide another way forward for tax reform. Over the past several weeks, I received feedback from many constituents on this tax proposal. While many are interested in tax reform, it was very clear that the proposal at hand would have been devastating to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors that make up the backbone of our district.

This week, I hosted the Papio Valley Preservation Association for lunch at the State Capitol. I also had the opportunity to attend events held by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Banker’s Association, and the Nebraska Nurses Association where I visited with constituents. If you have time to visit the Unicameral in the near future, please let me know if you would be interested in testifying at a hearing or if you want to visit with me at my office. I can be reached at or (402) 471-2728.

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16
Room #1022
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2728
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