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Ben Hansen

Sen. Ben Hansen

District 16

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Senator Hansen’s Weekly Column
February 18th, 2021

As of February 18th, the climate of the Nebraska State Legislature is shifting. Committee hearings are winding down and floor debate is just starting. I am confidant a good number of the ten bills I introduced back in January will have a proper discussion on the floor as they move out of their various committees.

I want to thank all the constituents who came out to support my bills LB 643 and LB 644. LB 643 focused on individual liberties pertaining to an individual’s right to choose for themselves if they want to get vaccinated or not. LB 644 is a transparency bill that makes political subdivision mail out postcards informing the public if and when they will hold public hearings to discuss the potential of property tax increases. I always encourage the constituents of District 16 to reach out to my office and see ways they can stay informed or offer support for pending legislation.

Last week, I testified  for my bill LB 301, which will change drug schedules, penalties and adopt federal drug provisions under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This bill would update the Nebraska Controlled Substances Schedule to conform to the federal Controlled Substances Schedule. It would also de-schedule FDA-approved drugs containing CBD for seizures, such as the brand named drug Epidolex.

On March 3rd, I will testify on behalf of my 2nd amendment bill that will change provisions relating to carrying a concealed weapon. This is a cleanup bill that would allow an individual to transport a firearm to and from a store without penalty. Example being, if an individual bought a firearm and was transporting it to his car or truck after purchase, there would be no penalty.

Office Staff
February 15th, 2021

Ellie Stangl- Administrative Assistant and Committee Clerk for the Business and Labor Committee

Christopher Prosch- Legislative Aide

Benson Wallace- Legal Counsel for the Business and Labor Committee

Senator Hansen’s Weekly Column
February 11th, 2021

The second week of February has been very energetic. As of February 11th, I have testified before the Health and Human Services Committee, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the Revenue Committee for eight out of my ten bills. On Tuesday, I met with a number of constituents and colleagues to discuss various bill that will be coming up. Every bill is important and I greatly appreciate getting a broad spectrum of people’s thoughts and concerns before rendering my vote or deciding on what to move forward on in the Business and Labor Committee.

The rest of the week, I had two more committee hearings on Wednesday and Thursday. The first bill I had was on Wednesday, before the Revenue Committee. LB 644, better known as the Truth in Taxation bill, is a bill I feel particularly passionate about. Essentially, this bill is a transparency bill that would require a postcard to be mailed out to every taxpayer when a governing entity wants to raise their taxes. Also, a governing body that wants to raise your property taxes must hold a public hearing and demonstrate directly to the public why they want to raise property taxes. Other states have implemented the Truth-in-Taxation initiative and it has been a direct benefit to their high property tax issues. I’m not saying this will directly lower our property taxes, but this will make governing bodies more accountable to the taxpayers.

On Thursday, I testified in support of my bill LB 436. This bill will expand the scope of work the athletic trainers in the state. It would allow Athletic Trainers the ability to work on other patients outside the spectrum of just athletes, such as the elderly or ex-athletes. It has received support from the Nebraska Medical Association, Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association, the Occupational Therapy Association and the University of Nebraska. I believe in the state of Nebraska, athletic trainers have a wealth of knowledge and training that our healthcare system could benefit from and by stymieing them, we are not utilizing the full range of our healthcare workers.

It has been a great honor to be the Chair of the Business and Labor Committee and we have heard a wide variety of great bills that will have a significant impact on the business community of Nebraska. Additionally, my time with the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Committees has been of great importance. As we shift from committee hearings to floor debate, my staff and I will be prepared to fight for the issues that are important to District 16 and the rest of the state of Nebraska.

The first week of February has been incredibly active. As of February 5th, I testified for more than half of the bills I introduced before the Health and Human Services Committee and the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. As Chairmen of the Business and Labor Committee, Mondays are the scheduled time we hear testimony on the numerous bills that go through my committee.

On Tuesday I testified before the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee about LB581, a bill to modify the helmet law for motorcycle riders. This is a particular issue I have been working on for some time and have a strong passion for. The testimony I gave was well received and I appreciate constituents for their additional testimony of support, including former State Senator Dave Bloomfield.

I had two more committee hearings on Thursday. These two bills were an emphasis on government accountability, personal liberty, and parental rights. In the morning, LB 645 was heard which increases the fine or penalty for an elected official who signs off on a directed health measure and is caught breaking that mandate. In the afternoon, LB 643 was heard with an exuberant amount of supportive testimony. This bill would maintain ones right to accept or decline a mandatory vaccine during a declaration of emergency by the Governor. And finally, Friday morning I had my last hearing of the week with LB 435 that focuses on the continuation of election integrity for the state of Nebraska by watermarking mail-in ballots.

It was a very busy week and I appreciate all that my staff does for me and the great people of District 16. When not committee hearings, I am reaching out to my fellow colleagues to gain better understanding of the wide array of bills that are presented to me. I also take time to talk with and email back all the great Nebraskans who call my office or send an email. It is so important for the people of District 16 to reach out to me and my office for any thoughts, concerns or updates you may have. I encourage you to track bills of interest and to testify at the public hearings.

As I look ahead to next week, my staff and I will continue to prepare for the public hearings of the rest of the bills that I have introduced. There are 4 left and next week my Athletic Trainer Bill, LB 436, will go before the Health and Human Services Committee as well as my Property Tax Bill, LB 644, which will go before the Revenue Committee on Wednesday.

The first couple weeks of the 107th Legislature saw an uptick in activity as senators finalized bill introduction and committee hearings began.  As of January 19th, 500 bills have been introduced and counting – all during the first 12 days of the session.  Each of these bills will be routed to one of 14 standing committees and receive a public hearing where stakeholders will testify as proponents, opponents, or in a neutral capacity.  Public hearings are an extremely important part of the work we do in the Legislature.  Without input from our constituents, we will not have all of the information necessary to make the best decisions for our state.  I encourage you to track bills of interest and to testify at the public hearings.  If you need information about how or when to do so, please contact my office.

When I am not debating rules of the session on the floor or attending committee hearings, my schedule is full of meetings with constituents, government officials, and other individuals who will be resources as I represent everyone in District 16.

I will continue to serve on the Health and Human Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee. I am also pleased to announce I am the new Chairman of the Business and Labor Committee. This a tremendous responsibility to head up the issues surrounding labor rights that advance the cause of business and free market values all across Nebraska. On this committee, I will be able to ensure the state abides by sound policy implementation standards and the fiscal responsibility Nebraskans deserve. I believe one of my primary duties as your representative is to be a good steward of taxpayer money.

As I look ahead to next week, I’ll continue preparation for the public hearings of the ten bills I have introduced. The bills are of particular importance and I believe best reflect important issues that the voters of District 16 care about. The bills that have gone to committee hearings this week are LB 296 and LB437. Both of these bills were directed to the Health and Human Services Committee where I testified in support of both of them.

Greetings to all in Legislative District 16 and the surrounding area.  On August 13th we officially adjourned the 2020 legislative session and though it was only my second session as your senator, it was a session unlike any other.  When we first convened in January of this year no one could have predicted a worldwide pandemic would change our lives so much in such a short amount of time.  After breaking in March we reconvened mid-July to finish the final days of this 60-day session with a very different feel than when we started.

The legislative floor, relatively untouched since the completion of the building in 1932, was outfitted with plexiglass panels between rows of senators and legislative staff was not allowed on the floor except in only a few circumstances.  Lobbyists who typically stand in the rotunda were nowhere to be found and some senators were quarantined to the balcony at times due to exposure to others who had tested positive for COVID.  Tempers ran high for much of the second half of the session and too much taxpayer time was taken up discussing emotions and hurt feelings.  The legislature is a place to come to work for the people, and in that role, there is little space to take things personally when another senator disagrees with you.  Our priority is to represent our constituents and I’m grateful to be your senator.

Though the session was marked with temper flares and extensive safety requirements, we were able to accomplish a few things.  Through LB 1107, which was passed on a 41-4 vote, Nebraskans were given some measure of property tax relief and the message was sent to businesses around the country that we want them here.  Though LB 1107 does return a portion of your property taxes paid for schools by way of a refundable income tax credit, I remain convinced that our school funding formula needs an overhaul and that comprehensive tax reform of our entire tax code is the only way to accomplish this.  This is a step in the right direction, but there is much more work to do.

I introduced six different bills in 2020, of which three were incorporated into other bills, passed, and signed into law.   Over the past two years I served on the Agriculture, Business and Labor, and Health and Human Services Committees and enjoyed these committees as they fit my skills and experience.  I’ve not decided if I will look to serve on different committees over the next two years or continue in my current roles.

Another major accomplishment this session was the passing of LB 814, a bill introduced by Senator Geist of Lincoln that will prohibit the practice of dismemberment abortions in Nebraska.  I spoke often in favor of the bill and against the inhumane practice of dismemberment abortions.  Our office received more phone calls, emails, and other contacts about this bill than any other during the session.  As a cosigner of the bill, I was very pleased to see it across the finish line.

As I have traveled around the district and talked to many constituents about what is important to them, two topics have consistently been mentioned that I am glad to see get some attention this session: the over-taxing of military retirement benefits and rural broadband development. During this session, we passed LB153, a bill that would exempt 50% of military retirement benefits from the state income tax. I was a proud Co-Sponsor of this bill and happy to be fighting for tax relief not just for our military, but for all Nebraskans. Another bill, LB 996, is a bill designed to improve broadband access to rural and other underserved areas in Nebraska passed as well. Getting proper internet access to underserved rural areas in Nebraska is paramount in improving not just the lives and financial stability of Nebraskans, but improving economic growth as well.

Over the short interim, I’ll continue to work on priorities for the next session and would love to hear from you about what you think we should accomplish in the Legislature.  I may also write columns from time to time as issues arise.    As always you can contact me at or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you another year.

This column covers legislative days 44 through 48.

Days 44 through 48 of this 60-day legislative session were full of heated debate, name-calling,
and more than enough drama. What was missing, however, was real, tangible action on property
tax relief for those in District 16, the region, and the state. Our first day back in the Capitol since
a break due to COVID in March was on Monday, July 20th. We’ll finish the remaining days of
the session and adjourn on August 13th, hopefully with more progress than took place the first
week. My focus over the next few weeks remains property tax relief and helping retirement
homes that have been hit especially hard by the COVID shutdown. I’ll continue to fight for
those in District 16.

My office received a great number of calls and emails in favor of LB 814, a bill that would
prohibit the practice of dismemberment abortions in the state of Nebraska. LB 814 did not
receive enough votes in the Judiciary Committee, so the bill’s sponsor, Senator Geist of Lincoln,
brought a motion to “pull” the bill from committee and bring it to the floor for debate. This “pull
motion” is well within the rules of our legislature and utilized often. I spoke in favor of the
motion to “pull” the bill from committee, as did many of my colleagues. However, eight
senators voted against the motion, seven did not vote, and four were absent even though the
motion was scheduled well in advance. The motion was successful and the bill will be brought
to the floor for debate where senators will decide whether we’ll allow unborn babies to be pulled
apart limb from limb in our state. Thank you for those who called or emailed our office to show
your support for the bill – I will do everything in my power to make sure this bill advances into
law and this barbaric practice ends.

LB 1160, a bill that would change some portions of school funding in our state, and LB 720, a
business tax incentive bill have been tied together for most of this session. Both were debated
this past week although votes were taken on neither of the bills. As I’ve said before, property tax
relief remains my number one priority in Lincoln, and action must be taken this session. LB
1160 and LB 720 should both come for votes this session to deliver property tax relief that is
sorely needed.

On Friday, July 24th we adjourned early due to escalating tensions and unruly debate. Three
senators began an argument that had little to do with actual legislation and much more to do with
hurt feelings and name-calling. This sort of child-like behavior is what I’ve found to be most
disappointing since I was elected as your Senator. I came to Lincoln to get stuff done, to
represent District 16, and to fight for your freedoms. I did not come to Lincoln to listen to
senators argue about whose feelings have been hurt the most. We need to get back to work and
pass legislation that will make life easier for Nebraskans across the state; and right now that
means property tax relief and support for those who need it most, including nursing homes and
retirement facilities.

As always you can contact me at or contact the office to speak with my
Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  To read all
introduced legislation please visit You may watch the live stream of the
session when available at

Greetings to all in LD 16 and the surrounding area.  The Legislature will reconvene on July 20th after a break since mid-March due to COVID-19.  When it does, the situation will have changed dramatically in some ways, and in some ways stayed the same.  Let’s review a bit where we are at.

Property taxes remain my top priority along with ensuring that we are being responsible with taxpayer money during our COVID response. There’s been plenty of media coverage discussing how any property tax solution this year is tied to a business incentive package.  Our current business incentive program is set to expire at the end of the year, giving the business community plenty of urgency to make sure something gets done when session reconvenes from July 20th to August 13th.  I agree that a property tax solution and business incentive package are tied together.  Currently, it does not seem like there are enough votes to pass either, but that may change.  At the very least, I think these bills should come to a vote.

Of course, plenty has changed since we last met in the Capitol as a legislature.  COVID-19 has changed our economy and our way of life more than we ever thought possible.  Protests and riots have taken place throughout the country, and many Nebraskans are unsure about what their future looks like.  Nebraska has led well through the pandemic with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.  Our people have too much grit to be kept down.  Farmers and ranchers still need to put crops in the field and work with their livestock, no pandemic is going to change that.

The remaining days of the session could go by quickly with little distraction, though that’s unlikely.  It’s more likely that we’ll take up the majority of the session discussing social issues and emotional topics.  Let me be clear, those issues do matter, but if Nebraskans needed tax relief before the pandemic they need it even more now.  The next tax forecast will be officially released during the first week of the session, but it sounds like our state tax revenues have not dropped as much as expected.

The floor of the legislature has been fitted with plexiglass partitions and the practices have been changed significantly.  No staff members can be on the floor with senators except for specific situations and the balconies will be closed to the public.  Like practices on the floor of the legislature, the Capitol has changed some of its visitor policies to accommodate social distancing and safety concerns.  If you’re planning a visit to the Capitol, please contact our office so that we can discuss some of those changes with you.

I’ll write weekly columns while we’re back in session to keep you updated.  As always you can contact me at or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  To read all introduced legislation please visit You may watch the live stream of the session when available at

Instead of writing about the week’s happenings at the Capitol, I wanted to take some time and update constituents of the region on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting this session currently and how it may continue to affect the session.  I’m writing this as of March 16th, 2020.

We ended last week by voting to pass the budget on its first round of debate.  As you may know, each bill must pass through three rounds of voting: General File, Select File, and Final Reading.  Our state budget now sits on Select File.  Speaker Scheer announced the potential for a break in the session depending on how the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the state.  We adjourned under the impression that we would be back this week, but that a break may be possible.

Over the weekend senators were updated about a community spread case in Douglas County, which then triggered further discussion and debate about a break in the session.  On Sunday, March 15th, senators were notified of an upcoming announcement and advised not to travel to Lincoln until after the announcement.  Today, March 16th, Speaker Scheer in concert with Senator Mike Hilgers who serves as Chair of the Executive Committee, announced a break in the session.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends gatherings be limited to 10 or fewer people and Governor Ricketts recommended the same.  Our leadership decided it was in the best interest of the state to abide by this recommendation and “pause” our session until further notice.

At this time I am unsure when we may be returning to the Capitol for business.  We’ve been advised that senators may be called in for an emergency appropriation if further funds are needed to prepare for or combat the spread of this virus, but we are unsure if or when that may be.  My staff is currently working from home, but is available by email and will be checking the phones regularly.  We will still be available to the constituents of Legislative District 16.

For the time being, please “like” or follow my Facebook page for the most up-to-date information regarding changes in the Legislature and other news.  I will try to post important information to that page as it comes in.  This is certainly a strange time right now in world history.  We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of this virus and keeping its impact to a minimum.  I hope that it will pass over quickly and that we will be able to return to normal life; visiting our local restaurants, businesses, and returning to our seasonal and community traditions.  Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed with accurate information.  Thank you all for your calm approach to this odd time in all of our lives.  I’m happy to serve you.

As always you can contact me at or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  To read all introduced legislation please visit You may watch the live stream of the session when available at

This column covers legislative days 37 through 40.

Greetings to all in Legislative District 16 and the surrounding region.  Only six weeks are remaining in this 2020 legislative session, and although some substantial bill work was done this last week there remain many heavy lifts for the session.  Property taxes, business incentives, and a proposed multi-billion investment into an all-hazard response facility project with UNMC have yet to be decided upon.

Last Monday I attended the annual Chiropractic Physician Association Reception.  As the only Chiropractic Physician in the legislature, I have to admit this reception is my favorite of the many we are invited to each year.  I’m thankful for the work of chiropractic physicians throughout the state who provide preventative and rehabilitative care to Nebraska’s residents, keeping them healthy, able to attend work and spend meaningful time with their families.

Since I was elected and sworn into office, one of the primary focuses of constituents has been the improvement of roads around legislative district 16.  Last Spring’s floods put even more pressure on the infrastructure of the region, destroying entire highways, knocking out bridges, and uprooting families.  I’ve worked hard to ensure our region has as much help as possible repairing the damage from the floods as well as the issues that existed before the flooding.

On March 5th I held a meeting with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to discuss our infrastructure issues and to communicate the needs and desires of our residents.  One area of focus was a proposed bypass in Blair to divert the increasing truck traffic resulting from the growth of Cargill’s campus.  Kyle Schneweis, the NDOT Director agreed to meet with Blair leadership to discuss the proposed project and ways the state can facilitate or help with the process.  This is an important step in providing safety and security to the city of Blair.

News continues to come in about the COVID-19 virus and its potential spread in Nebraska and around the country.  I must repeat that proper personal hygiene is essential in slowing the spread and mitigating any effects it may have on people, especially those with weak immune systems.  Washing your hands often, proper diet, and avoiding any unnecessary contact with others are the best ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus.  I’ll keep the public updated with any information I have if the threat continues to grow.  In the meantime, I hope all are staying safe, healthy, and that disruption to our everyday lives is as minimal as possible while we try to get a good hold on the current and future threat of this virus.

As always you can contact me at or contact the office to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl, or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell.  To read all introduced legislation please visit You may watch the live stream of the session when available at

Sen. Ben Hansen

District 16
Room 1402
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2728
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