Welcome

January 8th, 2014

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 17th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Please feel free to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have regarding public policy or your state government, and let me know how I may assist you. My staff in my State Capitol office in Lincoln look forward to hearing from you and assisting you. Please feel free to contact me using the contact information on the right.

Sincerely,
Sen. Dave Bloomfield

Newsletter 11/14/14

November 14th, 2014

Now that the elections are over and behind us, it is time for the focus to change and to begin to deal with the message that you the voters have sent.  Like every other election there are consequences and we will now begin to see the consequences of our recent election.

Nebraska voters made the decision to increase the minimum wage with the passage of Initiative 425. This initiative required signatures of voters across the state in order to be placed before the voters on the ballot.  Individuals behind Initiative 425 took this route after they were unable to pass a bill increasing the minimum wage through the Legislature.  By a vote of the people, the minimum wage will go from $7.25 up to $9.00 over the next 2 years.  While that may seem innocent enough, it may have long term implications for the state. That is an increase of over 20% which could make it more difficult to attract new business to Nebraska. This increase could also cause some small businesses that may be just “hanging on” to close or to lay off employees.

With the success of Initiative 425 the discussion has already started on what other issues may be successful in this manner and be able to get around the legislative process. Remember, you vote on your representatives to the Legislature. You do that, hopefully, with the confidence that they will represent your thoughts and beliefs and act in the best interest of Nebraska. Like it or not, there are usually reasons for bills not being advanced in the Legislature. What may sound really good in a 30 second sound bite is not necessarily good policy. In some cases, circumventing the Legislature and taking issues directly to a vote of the people may have dire consequences; case in point – Medicaid expansion.

At first glance, expanding Medicaid sounds great. Why wouldn’t we want to make free or cheap health care available to more people? When you really start to look into it, the tough questions start to appear: How much will this cost? How will the state finance this?  Will we have to cut funding from other programs including education and roads for this? These are questions that are asked during the legislative process, will they be asked and answered with complete understanding by each voter that would be voting on it?  While I am a firm believer of the petition initiative process the over use of this method of redress could create unintended problems.

Newsletter 11/7/14

November 13th, 2014

On Tuesday, November 4th twenty-five legislative seats were up for grabs. Of those twenty-five seats, seventeen were open because of term limits and now have newly elected senators.

Five of the newly elected senators represent districts in the Omaha area. They are Robert Hilkemann, Joni Craighead, Merv Riepe, Brett Lindstrom and John McCollister. Matt Hansen, Patty Pansing-Brooks, Roy Baker and Adam Morfeld were elected to represent Lincoln area districts. The remaining members of the newly elected class are: Mark Kolterman of Seward, Laura Ebke of Crete, Curt Friesen of Henderson, Matt Williams of Gothenburg, John Kuehn of Heartwell, Michael Groene of North Platt, Dan Hughes of Venango and John Stinner Sr. of Gering. I would like to congratulate all of the newly elected senators, some of whom were in some hard fought battles for their seat. I look forward to getting to know all of them.

Additionally, three of the senators that currently represent districts that surround District 17 were up for reelection.  Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16, Senator Paul Schumacher, District 22 and Senator Tyson Larson, District 40 were all reelected to continue serving their constituents.

Newsletter 10/31/14

November 3rd, 2014

As part of last weeks “update letter” I mentioned Veterans Day which is November 11th. I have been asked, and intend to speak at ceremonies being held at Winside Public School on the morning of Nov 11th. I am honored to do so.

I would like you to consider the following quote which I read on a veterans memorial somewhere, I think it was Oregon. It is called:

TRUE MEANING OF HONOR.

“A ‘Veteran,’ whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America for an amount of up to and including his life.’ “

Please let that soak in a little while, and then whisper a little prayer for those who have served, are serving now or will serve in the future.

This past week I had the opportunity to participate in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing that was held in South Sioux City.

The hearing was held in South Sioux at my request and I am very grateful that Senator Bill Avery, chairman of the committee, agreed to venture to northeast Nebraska.

I had asked for the hearing to be held in northeast Nebraska because it dealt with timely payment of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) being made after disasters. Through the two hearings that were held on LR527 I think we uncovered some valuable suggestions on ways the process could be improved.

One suggestion that came from the hearing in South Sioux City that I am going to look into is the possibility of NEMA making payments for projects as they are finished. Currently, NEMA makes payments for projects after the completion of ALL projects which means that some communities will wait three to four years for NEMA’s share of the cost. I think this is something we can look into changing.

Newsletter 10/24/14

November 3rd, 2014

There are a few important dates just around the corner. Tuesday, November 4th is Election Day and Tuesday, November 11th is Veterans Day. These two days go hand-in-hand.

We have the privilege, the right, and a duty to vote and it is all of these privilege, right, and duty. We, by voting, determine the individuals who represent us at the local, state and national levels.

Voting is a privilege: Too many in our country do not understand the price that has been paid by those who have served this nation in the armed forces during war or in times of peace to preserve this privilege. We get to choose because men and women since the Revolutionary War have stood strong to preserve that privilege.

Voting is a right: Our nation has struggled since it’s very inception with the question of who among us should enjoy the privilege and the right to vote. Should it be only those who own property, only the educated, only men, only white folks, only those who can go to the voting place? These questions have all been answered with a resounding NO! We, as a nation, do require that an individual be registered as a resident of a given location, there are not many other restrictions.

Voting is a duty: As a voter, you have a duty to inform yourself. You need to know that you are voting for what you know is in your best interest. Do you really think an increase in the minimum wage is in your best interest, learn the facts BEFORE you vote, there are two sides to this issue. Does the candidate that you are thinking about share your beliefs? If you are pro-life, don’t vote for someone who thinks abortion is OK. If you are for the right to keep and bear arms, don’t vote for someone that believes in gun control. If you want smaller government, don’t vote for those who think government should do more. If there is an area where you do not know, it might be best to leave that space open, an uninformed vote could come back to haunt you.

Many have sacrificed to give you the opportunity to express your beliefs at the ballot box. Don’t mock them by casting an uninformed vote.

Newsletter 10/17/14

November 3rd, 2014

One of the more enjoyable parts of my job as a state senator is getting the word out about opportunities for the youth in our district and the state. The Secretary of State, John Gale, and the Nebraska Bankers Association are once again sponsoring the Youth Election Service (YES) program.

The YES program allows students ages 14-18 to volunteer to assist at polling locations on election day. They may be greeters, data entry clerks, election assistants and more. Most importantly, it is a hands-on civics lesson.

264 students from 27 Nebraska counties took part in the YES program in 2012. Participating students receive a certificate from the Secretary of State and those who work at least four hours are eligible for a drawing to win a gift card.

If you know any 14 – 18 year old interested in the program, you can contact your county election office, my office, or the Secretary of State’s office.

Some of the more aggravating parts of the job are watching as the government, both state and federal, reach more and more into our lives and spend our money on nonsensical ideas. Why either or any branch of government feels it is their or our responsibility to provide subsidized transportation to perfectly healthy individual citizens is beyond me but it appears that we are and will. I will have more information about this travesty in future “updates”.

Are you aware that Nebraska offers special tax breaks and incentives for beginning farmers and for established farmers who are working with beginning farmers?

As a beginning farmer you could get an exemption on up to $100,000 of property and equipment used for farming. To qualify, the beginning farmer and the established farmer need to apply together and the beginning farmer must be leasing land from the established farmer.

The deadline for those seeking these breaks for next year is November 1 which is quickly approaching. Since 1999 this program has provided $6.4 million in tax credits and has helped over 300 beginning farmers.

November 4th is just around the corner; please remember to exercise your right to vote.  It is not only a right and a privilege, it is also a duty.

Newsletter 10/10/14

October 10th, 2014

Every spring senators have the opportunity to introduce Legislative Resolutions to be studied during the interim. This past session I introduced three such resolutions.

It looks like only one of my three resolutions is actually going to have official hearings by the committee that it was assigned to be heard by. LR527, a study to examine the reasons why emergency disaster payments made by or through the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seem not to be made in a timely manner once awarded. I introduced this study as a result of local representatives of the South Sioux City community contacting me regarding payments that they were still waiting on from the flooding in 2011.

LR527 was sent to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. My staff and the committee staff have met with and had several conversations with NEMA over the last few months learning the process that a community goes through following a disaster and it is not as simple as one would think or hope it would be. Through the conversations and the communications that my office has had with NEMA I have confidence in NEMA and the processes they use.

That being said, Nebraska and northeast Nebraska has seen numerous disasters in recent years. I think NEMA told us that Nebraska has had 17 federal disaster declarations since 2007 and our neighbor to the west, Colorado has not had this many since 1950.

While I felt like I had received answers to the questions regarding the process and payments I still felt that it was important for the discussion and learning process to continue. With all of the storm damage in northeast Nebraska in mind, I asked the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee to go ahead and have hearings on LR527. On Friday, October 24th there will be a hearing at 1:30 p.m. in room 1507 of the State Capitol. To make the process more accessible, there will be an additional committee hearing on Wednesday, October 29th at 1:00 p.m.in the city Council Chambers at city hall in South Sioux City.  Both of these hearings are open to the public (this means you) and in particular to officials from all communities that have suffered recent storm damage. The State Senators representing Dixon, Stanton, Cuming and Burt Counties have also been invited to attend. It is my hope that anyone needing to deal with these two government agencies would gain valuable information and insight from these hearings. I hope to see you there.

Newsletter 10/3/14

October 6th, 2014

One year ago, a large part of Nebraska was severely affected by adverse weather. Western parts of the state were hit with an early snow storm, the central part of the state was pummeled by tremendous amounts of rain and northeast Nebraska was ripped apart by tornados. The city of Wayne and Wayne County was probably the hardest hit area but we cannot forget there was also much damage in Thurston County including the town of Macy. Dixon County also did not escape the wrath of the storms.  October 4th, 2013 and its aftermath is a date and time that no one who was even slightly involved in will forget any time soon.  There was a great deal of damage and devastation, homes and business were destroyed, lives were changed and how God could allow these kind of things to happen was questioned.  One thing I do not remember is a lot of hand wringing or questions of why me or why us.  What I do recall is a lot of:  “Do you have a place to stay?”  “What do you need?”  “What can I do to help?” “Where can we donate?”.

Fast forward one year and look around at what has happened, not all of the scars are gone nor are all the shattered dreams of each individual completely restored, but what has happened is nearly miraculous. First and foremost among the many good things is that people have come together. Folks who did not even know one another now call each other friend. People have found within themselves a strength and courage that they never knew existed. Life has a greater meaning to a lot of people than it did before “the storm”. New buildings have sprung up to replace those that were destroyed, new businesses have come to Wayne and for the most part the “old” businesses have rebuilt better and stronger. There is one glaring exception to this pattern, and that is too bad, Pacific Coast Pillow decided not to rebuild. While the jobs lost were and are a hard hit to the Wayne area, I truly believe that the greater loss will be to that company. Northeast Nebraska has, I think, the best labor force anywhere in the country.

While we were working to rebuild what was taken in the October storms, northeast Nebraska was hit again in June of 2014. Pilger in Stanton County was devastated and lives were lost. Farms in Wayne and Dixon counties were destroyed; Coleridge and farms in Cedar County were also hit. Once again we saw and are seeing the grit of the people of Nebraska. These people and places will also rise again, it is the NEBRASKA WAY.

Newsletter 9/26/14

September 30th, 2014

With fall upon us I would like to remind all of you that the mid-term elections are quickly approaching, as well as many dates for voters to be aware of.

If you are 18 years of age or will be before the November 4th election I would encourage you to register to vote. If you plan to register in person you have until October 24th. If submitting your registration by mail it needs to be postmarked by October 17th.

If you have already registered to vote and would like to vote early, October 29th is the last day to request a ballot be mailed to you.

The first day to vote in person is October 4th.

There is absolutely no reason not to vote, there is also no excuse for not being informed.

A while back I did a few newsletters on the minimum wage initiative and I have some additional information for you. Three public hearings (one in each congressional district) have been planned to discuss the initiative to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2016. The first hearing is October 8that 6:30 p.m. in the Theater Room at College Park in Grand Island. The second hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Omaha Public Schools TAC Building board room. The final hearing will be at 6:30 p.m.  on October 21st in room 1507 of the State Capitol.

Secretary of State Gale is holding these hearings because the public never had the opportunity to be heard on this measure since it was a ballot initiative. Generally, these issues go through the legislative process and have a public hearing but this did not so Secretary Gale is holding a hearing in each congressional district. While those of you in our district would have to travel to one of these hearings, it is an opportunity to inform yourself and hear arguments for and against raising the minimum wage.

Newsletter 9/19/14

September 19th, 2014

It has been year full of twist and turns in the political scene here in Nebraska and there is no reason to think things will calm down before the November 4th election.

Last week Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann resigned from office and withdrew his name from consideration for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket because of issues arising from a family matter. He was quickly replaced on the Republican ticket by current State Auditor Mike Foley. Secretary of State John Gale was then asked to change the ballots to reflect the changes.

By the end of the week Secretary Gale had announced his decision that Foley’s name would appear on the ballot despite the fact that the change occurred after the September 1st deadline. This was a troublesome decision in the eyes of some and a case was quickly filed in the Lancaster County District Court.

While there is a September 1st deadline, Secretary of State Gale also has the responsibility to make sure ballots are accurate. The case was ultimately dismissed. The court decided that there was no legal duty for Secretary Gale to deny the request.

This has brought about discussions on deadlines in state government. This week Governor Heineman entered the deadline debate by stating that he had received budget requests from most state agencies with the exception of the Legislative Council. Budget requests were to be submitted to the Governor by Monday, September 15th.  It is the Legislature’s Executive Board that is charged with developing the budget request for the Legislature.

The Nebraska budget office was notified, prior to the deadline, that the Legislature’s budget request would be late because the Executive Board was not able to meet until Friday, September 19th to vote on the budget request.

I mention this because it is my intention to run for Chairman of the Executive Board in January when the Legislature convenes. There are several reasons that I have decided to seek this position. I will expand on them in future updates.

I may not have a newsletter next week because I will be traveling to Long Beach, California for a conference on “Veterans Initiatives: Increasing Educational Attainment”. I think this will be a worthwhile conference because I serve on the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee which deals with most issues related to veterans. This is an invitation only conference that I was invited to and I am attending it at no cost to Nebraska taxpayers.

Newsletter 9/12/14

September 15th, 2014

Last week I mentioned that as we were preparing to send the newsletter out we received word that the Nebraska Supreme Court had passed down a ruling that would not allow voters to decide on whether or not we should allow betting on “historic” horse races. As promised I will tell you a little more about this decision.

When it came down to it the decision from the court had very little to do with the issue of gambling. The issue was actually about the fact that the ballot measure contained two separate issues. The two issues found in the ballot language were 1) whether to allow betting on “historic” horse races and 2) how the revenue derived from the betting on “historic” horse races should be distributed. Constitutional amendments are required to contain only one subject matter and this measure clearly contained two as noted by the court. This Legislative Resolution (LR41CA) was in my opinion not only poorly written, but a bad idea as well. I am personally pleased with the high court’s decision.

The 33 page ruling cited cases that went as far back as 1889. The decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court was unanimous that the ballot measure was in violation of the one subject matter requirement. This overturned a July decision by Secretary of State John Gale that said while it did contain two subject matters the two subjects were “natural and necessary connection.”

While I know this is a blow to the hopes of many in District 17, I feel it is the correct decision. We must protect and abide by our Constitution. We spent hours discussing this measure before it was eventually passed and a good part of that discussion regarded the fact that these were two different issues that we were putting on a single ballot.