NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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 jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

I hope everyone was able to spend time with their loved ones this week. When tragedy strikes I am reminded how blessed I am to hug my children and grandchildren at night. We are praying for the families and friends of the 17 innocent lives lost on Wednesday, and for our leaders, parents, and communities to come together to find a solution to senseless violence.

I am excited to spend the Legislature’s four day weekend in all three counties of District 17. Saturday I will be attending and speaking at the open house for the new Thurston County Jail, then I will be attending the Wayne County Republican Party’s Lincoln – Reagan Dinner. On Monday, I will be attending the 41st annual Joint Dakota City, County, and School Dinner. I enjoy taking any chance I can to talk to constituents about current events in the legislature.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of introducing LB 1040 to the Health and Human Services Committee. LB1040 is a bill to help grieving families by offering commemorative birth certificate for those who suffer a pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks gestation. Every pregnancy loss is a tragedy that has a profound impact on women and entire families, yet most go unrecognized. Any woman who has ever miscarried knows the pain and loss are real no matter the gestation. Whether a pregnancy is lost at 5 weeks, 12 weeks, 19 weeks or 20 weeks and beyond, the pain of that loss is severe and should be recognized and honored for those who wish to do so.

I was honored to introduce LB 1040 with Jennifer, Laura, Marci, Jennifer, Audra and Lisa. We also received many support letters from OBGYNs and the support of the Nebraska Hospital Association. I look forward to seeing this bill come out of committee and am hopeful it will earn a “yes” vote from fellow senators on the floor.

Next week, each senator and committee will have submitted their priority bills for the session. Priority Bills are placed on the agenda for debate before non-priority bills, and usually take up the remaining days of session leaving little room for other bills to be debated. Once all priority bill designations have been submitted, we will have a good idea of the subjects that will dictate session through April. To view Priority Bill designations visit: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/session/priority.php.

The budget shortfall will be discussed extensively this session as well. Governor Ricketts has released his budget proposal and the Appropriations Committee has held hearings to get public input on proposed budget cuts. The economic forecasting board will release predictions on state revenue projections at the end of this month, then the proposed budget will be adjusted according to the projections. To stay updated on the budget you can visit: http://budget.nebraska.gov/index.html.

The remaining Business and Labor Committee’s hearing for this legislative session will be on February 26th. The hearing will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: www.netnebraska.org/capitol. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is required that you turn your written testimony in to my office, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the legislative day before the relevant hearing. Please let us know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol, Room 2010s

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

 

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

The harsh weather this week was a good reminder to all of us to be mindful and safe when driving. I hope everyone stayed warm and safe. Although we had a short week in Lincoln, due to a recess day on Friday, my staff and I were hard at work preparing for committee hearings and upcoming bills.

On the floor, we had long and thoughtful debates on several bills, all but one passed on to Enrollment and Review to be advanced to Select File. We also passed bills on Final reading for the first time this session, a total of 19 bills that Governor Ricketts signed into law.

Additionally, my bill LB 949, which allows the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority to be a conduit issuer of bonds for private not-for-profit cultural institutions, passed the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee to General File. I am excited to present this bill on the floor to fellow senators.

On Thursday, we were fortunate to welcome Leadership Wayne Class IX members to our office as they toured the Capitol and learned about the government and Legislature. We also welcome multiple doctors and physical therapists from District 17 to the office. I enjoy when constituents engage with state government and visit the Legislature.

I am looking forward to presenting LB 1040 to the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15th. LB 1040 is a bill to help grieving families suffering from a miscarriage by giving them the option to honor and recognize their loss with a special commemorative birth certificate. The state of Nebraska currently makes birth certificates available for miscarriages that occur after 20 weeks, LB 1040 extends that courtesy to grieving families who lose a pregnancy before 20 weeks with a new type of certificate. I look forward to answering thoughtful questions from committee members and am hopeful that they will advance the bill to General File.

I was informed of a great opportunity for military veteran farms to attend a free conference in March I wanted to share.

Answering the Call is a free conference for military veteran farmers who are currently farming or want to begin farming. The conference is an opportunity for veterans to connect with fellow former service members who are engaged or interested in farming. Veterans can see firsthand how other veterans have translated the duty and drive of military life into a second career on the farm. Session topics include programs available to veterans interested in farming, diversified agriculture, conservation, and agritourism. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Answering the Call is set for Saturday, March 24, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Central Community College in Hastings, NE.

Conference attendance is free, but pre-registration is required by Friday, March 16. Register at www.cfra.org/AnsweringTheCall. For more information, contact Cora Fox at coraf@cfra.org or 402-687-2100 ext 1012.

The remaining Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is required that you turn your written testimony in to my office, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the legislative day before the relevant hearing. Please let us know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol, Room 2010s

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

 

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

What a beautiful week in Nebraska! I hope everyone has been staying warm and enjoying the sunshine. At the Unicameral, we spent much of the week continuing debate on Senator Crawford’s LB 589 and Senator Hughes’ 758. Following thorough debate, we did not vote to advance or indefinitely postpone LB 589. Senator Hughes’ bill was moved to Enrollment and Review (the step before Select File) with 47 senators voting “yes” and 2 “present – not voting”. After moving a few other bills to Enrollment and Review, we began debating LB 211 on Friday. LB 211, introduced by Senator Hansen, would increase the tipped minimum wage, the usual compensation method for those in the restaurant service industry. Many have raised concerns about this bill and I did not vote to advance it from Business and Labor Committee, but I look forward to hearing the remaining floor debate on the topic before the General File vote.

On Tuesday, I presented LB 949, which allows the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority to be a conduit issuer of bonds for private not-for-profit cultural institutions, to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. I was pleased to see the bill attract multiple proponents, with no one testifying in opposition. I am thankful for the committee members asking thoughtful questions and am hopeful the committee will advance it to General File next week.

This year, the Legislature will again work towards tackling high property taxes. Governor Ricketts’ tax plan, proposed by Senator Smith as LB 947, was heard in Revenue Committee on Wednesday. LB 947, the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act, allows residential homeowners a refundable income tax credit equal to a percentage of property taxes paid during the taxable year. Resident individuals paying property taxes on agricultural land, horticultural land, farm sites and improvements on farm sites shall also be allowed a refundable income tax credit equal to a percentage of property taxes paid during the taxable year. LB 947 also provides for a two-year phase down of the top individual income tax rate from 6.84% to 6.69%, as well as a two-year phase down of the corporate tax rate for all taxable income in excess of $100,000 from 7.81% to 6.69%. Additionally, the bill directs the State Treasurer to transfer from the General Fund a total of $10 million to the Job Training Cash Fund over the next two years. Governor Ricketts and Senator Smith have made it clear that this bill is a work in progress and have already submitted multiple amendments to address concerns. I will continue to monitor the progress of this bill and ensure that it is in the best interest of District 17, as well as the entire state. To keep up with developments on the bill, visit https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ and search for LB 947.

On Thursday my office was happy to welcome representatives from the Wayne Chamber of Commerce to the Capitol and to the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame banquet in Lincoln. I was delighted to sit at their table and talk about business in Wayne over dinner.

Monday will be the Business and Labor Committee’s second of four committee hearing days of the session. We look forward to hearing testimony on the following bills:

LB928 (McDonnell) Change provisions relating to compensation paid upon the death of an employee under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act

LB 952 (Albrecht) Change provisions relating to dismissals of actions under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act

LB953 (Albrecht) Change provisions relating to lump-sum settlements under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act

LB957 (Lowe) Provide procedures for choosing a method of payment for payments under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act

LB1024 (Wayne) Change references from Big Twelve Conference to Big Ten Conference in provisions requiring a stipend or restricting hours of participation for intercollegiate athletes

The remaining Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the legislative day before the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at bneel@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

 

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Friday, January 26th, marks the 16th day of the 60 day legislative session. We have been engaged in lively debate this week as we tackle a wide range of topics, two bills in particular have dominated time on the floor. LB 589 by Senator Crawford changes statute relating to the deposition, the process of giving sworn evidence, of a child witness. LB 758 by Senator Hughes would require natural resources districts that have acquired private land for the development of a stream flow augmentation project to collaborate with officials in the county where the project is located in an effort to lessen impacts to that county’s property tax base. I appreciate the consideration and time taken to debate legislation that greatly impacts the lives of many Nebraskans.

On Tuesday January 23rd, Governor Ricketts announced the new Endangered Missing Advisory (EMA) system. The EMA is a system designed to distribute information about a missing and endangered person to law enforcement, media, and the public. The missing person is considered to be in danger based on factors including age, health, mental or physical disability, environment, and weather conditions. Unlike Amber Alerts, the EMA has no age limit and does not require an abduction for alerts to be dispatched. EMA alerts also do not trigger the Emergency Alert System or utilize Wireless Emergency Alerts, instead alerts are issues based on Nebraska State Patrol areas and rely on local media to spread information. You can sign up to receive EMA messages directly at: http://statepatrol.nebraska.gov/vnews/display.v/ART/5a201cc89bd7a. On Monday, the EMA system successfully issued its first alert and assisted in the efforts of finding Kenneth Brummond of Rosalie, who was found Tuesday morning.

Friday, January 26th, I introduced a legislative resolution to congratulate and honor Jon Pickinpaugh for receiving the 2017-18 Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Awards, widely known as the “Oscars of Teaching”, publicly recognize teaching excellence to honor educators and to impress upon students and communities the importance of joining the teaching profession. Mr. Pickinpaugh has taught for eight years at South Sioux City Middle School, where he is currently an eighth grade science teacher and wrestling and football coach. He is known for his strategic and creative dedication to boosting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through highly interactive lessons. Mr. Pickinpaugh is one of just forty-four Milken Educator Award recipients for the 2017-18 academic year, and the only honoree from Nebraska. On January 11th, Lt. Governor Mike Foley presented the award, along with a $25,000 prize, to Mr. Pickinpaugh at a surprise assembly at South Sioux City Middle School. We are fortunate to have a teacher like Mr. Pickinpaugh that is dedicated to improving the lives of students inside and outside of the classroom.

This past week, January 22-26th, was National School Choice Week. Students, parents, and fellow senators gathered together to support giving families access to the best K-12 education options for their children. These options include traditional public schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. I proudly stood with Senator Linehan, Senator Smith, and Governor Ricketts, among other senators, to support school choice and Senator Smith’s LB 295. LB 295 helps to provide education options for families by adopting the Opportunity Scholarships Act. Under the Act, individual and corporate taxpayers would qualify for a non-refundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization. I look forward to supporting LB 295 and other legislation that works to give more choice to parents and families in deciding how to educate their children.

Tuesday, January 30th, in Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee I will be presenting LB 949. This bill renames the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority Act to include cultural institutions. This allows for cultural institutions, such as museums or visual arts centers, to finance or refinance cultural assets they deem important to the economic vitality of their locality. The Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority is governed by a Board appointed by the Governor, receives no state general funds, and operates entirely with user fees. I am excited to provide an avenue for cultural institutions that provide valuable services to the community to fund new projects, without spending state money.

The remaining Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on, February 5th, February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at bneel@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, January 18th, was the 10th day of the legislative session and last day to turn bills in for consideration this session. This year over 450 bills have been introduced and each will receive a committee hearing before being considered on the floor. I look forward to reviewing and considering every bill that comes across my desk.

I have introduced a total of seven bills for the 2018 legislative session:

LB 712 protects our employers and communities and encourages healthy and capable employees by disallowing unemployment benefits if the unemployment applicant was fired or denied a job due to illegal drug use.

LB 949 aims to rename the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority Act to include cultural institutions. This allows for cultural institutions, such as museums or visual arts centers, to finance or refinance cultural assets they deem important to the economic vitality of their locality.

LB 950 appropriates funds for the payment of certain claims against the state.

LB 951 denies certain claims made against the state.

LB 952 protects businesses by limiting the number of times an employee can file and dismiss the same case in Workers’ Compensation Court.

LB 953 corrects language in current Nebraska statutes regarding workers’ compensation to allow penalties for late payments to injured workers. LB 953 also allows parties in Workers’ Compensation Court to settle their case without court approval when there may be unpaid medical bills or the employee is a Medicare beneficiary. Court approval would still be needed if the employee is not represented by an attorney.

LB 1040 is a bill to help grieving families suffering from a miscarriage by giving them the option to honor and recognize their loss with a special commemorative birth certificate. The state of Nebraska currently makes birth certificates available for miscarriages that occur after 20 weeks LB 1040 extends that courtesy to grieving families who lose a pregnancy before 20 weeks with a new type of certificate.

I started last week off with an early morning meeting with Dakota City Fire Department Members, Pat and Nancy Moore and Jim and Kathi Gustin, along with many other Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters and the Nebraska Fire Chiefs’ Association. They came to support two bills, LB 737 and LB 760. I am happy to support the brave men and women who serve our communities every day.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of escorting the Nebraska Supreme Court Justices to the floor for the State of the Judiciary address to the legislature. Chief Justice Michael Heavican highlighted the ways the judiciary has made improvements to respond to concerns raised by the legislature. Some recent changes include two new veterans’ treatment problem-solving courts and re-entry courts, which provide additional supervision to those released from prison. I am excited by the progress the judiciary has made and by their commitment to pursuing ways to do their job better.

The Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on January 22nd, February 5th, February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at bneel@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

 

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

We have had another exciting week at the Unicameral, over 325 bills and 21 legislative resolutions have been submitted since convening on January 3rd. We have been moving through debate on many bills in General File that carried over from last year, while committees prepare to hold hearing for newly introduced bills.

On Wednesday, Governor Ricketts delivered his State of the State address highlighting his priorities and hopes for 2018. He pointed to the many successes Nebraska had last year, including winning the Governor’s Cup for most economic development projects per capita of any state in the country, Forbes’ ranking of Nebraska as the fourth best state for business, and achieving the lowest unemployment rate in the state since 1999 at 2.7 percent. As revenue continues to come in below projections and we face a $200 million shortfall, Governor Ricketts’ proposed budget dictates across-the-board budget cuts to close the gap without raising taxes while still protecting state priorities, including K-12 education, developmental disability services, child welfare and corrections.

Governor Ricketts also released a plan to address Nebraska’s crushing property taxes, through the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunity Act (LB947) proposed by Senator Smith. While this is a work in progress, I am excited to work together to pass bipartisan legislation for much-needed property tax relief.

Also on Wednesday, our office was delighted to welcome many guests from District 17, including South Sioux City School Board members and students, the South Sioux City Chamber of Commerce, South Sioux City, Dakota City, Dakota County, and 2018 Teacher of the Year Michelle Helt to the Capitol to watch the Governor’s speech. Senator Brewer and I also welcomed Tribal leaders from across the state to watch the State of the State address followed by coffee and a productive discussion.

I was proud to stand with Attorney General Doug Peterson, Governor Pete Ricketts, fellow Senators, and law enforcement at the reveal of the “Demand an End” awareness campaign on Thursday. The awareness campaign is the latest step Nebraska is taking to end the sale of minors and adults coerced or forced into sex. Awareness posters targeting the buyers of trafficking victims will be placed at all rest stops along I-80 and many more around the state. Governor Ricketts also declared January Human Trafficking Awareness Month to solidify Nebraska’s commitment to ending this heinous crime. Thank you to the brave men and women who have already begun this fight on the front lines.

This week I also introduced three additional bills, LB 949, LB 952, and LB 953:

LB 949 aims to rename the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority Act to include cultural institutions, allowing for cultural institutions such as museums or visual arts centers to finance or refinance cultural assets they deem important to the economic vitality of their locality.

LB 952 protects businesses by limiting the number of times an employee can file and dismiss the same case in Workers’ Compensation Court.

LB 953 corrects language in current Nebraska statutes regarding workers’ compensation to allow penalties for late payments to injured workers. LB 953 also allows parties in Workers’ Compensation Court to settle their case without court approval when there may be unpaid medical bills or the employee is a Medicare beneficiary. Court approval would still be needed if the employee is not represented by an attorney.

The Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on January 22nd, February 5th, February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the business day prior to the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.

You may submit your written testimony by email at bneel@leg.ne.gov or by mail to:

Senator Joni Albrecht

State Capitol

PO Box 94604

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Weekly Report- January 5, 2017

January 9th, 2018

We have had an exciting start to the New Year here at the Unicameral! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As the holidays come to an end, I am excited to start the 2018 session as I proudly represent the people from District 17 and serve as the Chair of the Business and Labor Committee.

We are starting off 2018 with two new additions to our staff. Amara Meyer is working as Legal Counsel for the Business and Labor Committee and Lauren McCarthy is working as our Legislative Aide for District 17. Beverly Neel of Wayne, who has served Legislative District 17 for seven years, will continue serving as my Administrative Assistant and Committee Clerk.

We have been preparing to go full strength into session to tackle looming budget issues, high property taxes, and our struggling corrections system. Nebraska will again be facing a large budget shortfall of $200 million due to revenues coming in below initial projections. As the session continues, I am committed to producing a balanced budget that ensures responsible government spending without raising taxes on hard working Nebraskans. I look forward to working with fellow senators and Governor Ricketts on his budget proposal, which he will unveil at the January 10th State of the State address. It is also essential for the Legislature to work towards tackling high property taxes. I expect this to be a high priority and controversial issue, considering the $200 million budget shortfall. Additionally, as we work to addresses the growing problems facing our corrections facilities, I am committed to ensuring dangerous criminals remain behind bars.

As Chair of Business and Labor Committee, I will continue to fairly consider every bill that comes to the committee and work to produce legislation to benefit Nebraska businesses and grow our economy. The Business and Labor Committee oversees legislation relating to workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, labor conditions, fair employment practices, health and safety regulations and claims against the state. We meet on Mondays, beginning January 22nd, in Room 2102 in the Capitol Building in Lincoln.

The senators serving on Business and Labor Committee include Senators Ernie Chambers (Omaha), Sue Crawford (Bellevue), Steve Halloran (Hastings), Matt Hansen (Lincoln), Sara Howard (Omaha), and John Lowe (Kearney). It is a good mixture of rural and urban Senators and ideologies.

In addition to Business and Labor, I serve on the Agriculture Committee, chaired by my good friend Sen. Lydia Brasch, and the Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Dan Hughes. I also serve on the State-Tribal Relations special committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Brewer.

Committee hearings begin the week of January 17th and will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.

During the first week of session, Senators submit proposed legislation and resolutions. These are then referenced to committees to await a hearing. Last week I submitted LB 712, which protects our employers and communities and encourages healthy and capable employees by disallowing unemployment benefits if the unemployment applicant was fired or denied a job due to illegal drug use. I also submitted two resolutions congratulating South Sioux City Cardinal Elementary School teacher, Michelle Helt, for being named Nebraska’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, and Pender Elementary School for being recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. I look forward to introducing more legislation in the next week, in addition to passing important legislation that was carried over from last year.

I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at:

Sen. Joni Albrecht
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509-4604

I look forward to hearing from you!

Weekly Report – October 13

October 13th, 2017

Fall is a wonderful time of the year. Harvest is coming along and the school year is in full swing. I’m proud of the schools in my district, and I wanted to begin this column with a hearty “congratulations!” to Pender Elementary School for being selected as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes outstanding schools throughout America which are demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels and affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming educational environments.

In its application, Pender Schools pointed out its work with the Teammates Mentoring Program, its efforts to recognize positive behavior and classroom success, and its high quality instruction to students. Only four Nebraska schools were selected and only 342 schools nationwide earned this recognition, putting Pender in some pretty good company.

Congratulations are also in order for Michelle Helt, of Cardinal Elementary School in South Sioux City who has been named Nebraska Teacher of the Year. She has spent her entire career working at Cardinal Elementary in various capacities. Later this year, she will participate in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

I’m proud of all of the schools and educators in my district that make such an impact and I love it when Nebraska schools can get these sort of national accolades.

Fall also brings the start of the severe weather season, which means it is time for the Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness/Preparedness Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest, sponsored by the Nebraska Association of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Open to all seventh and eighth grade media classes, the contest calls for multimedia products that promote preparedness, storm readiness, tornado safety, fire safety and other emergency topics. Entries may be a 30-60 second video or audio PSA, a 2-5 minute instructional video, or a digital image/educational graphic.

Contest rules and other information can be obtained at the Nebraska Association of Emergency Management website at www.naem.us. All submittals must be in by November 20, 2017.

While we are on the topic of safety, please remember that as the days grow shorter and the leaves fall off the trees, we are entering into Halloween season. To help ensure adults and children have a safe holiday, here are some tips to keep in mind:

• A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children as they go from house to house.
• If your older children are going out without you, plan and review the route the trick-or-treaters will follow and agree on a specific time for them to come home.
• Trick-or-treaters young and old should stay in populated, well-lit areas.
• Only walk on the sidewalk, and only cross the street at crosswalks.
• Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to ensure visibility. Glow sticks are also a handy item to have along.
• Trick-or-treaters should never enter a stranger’s home and they should never consume unwrapped food items or beverages.
• For motorists, enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
• Watch for children walking on medians and especially for young children darting between houses.

With students going back to school, farm equipment on the road, and Halloween coming up, drivers should be cautious and aware on our roads. Be safe!

Weekly Report – September 29

October 4th, 2017

I consider myself fortunate that I married into a farming family. It has truly been an eye-opening experience. I discovered early on that it is not easy. But I love the hard work, the early mornings and late hours. I have never doubted – nor regretted – my love for the farm for a second.

With nearly 50,000 farms and ranches across the state – combined with other agriculture related businesses – I’m proud to be part of the team that makes this state great. Our agriculture industry is the economic engine for our state.

One great example of Nebraskans working to grow our agriculture economy was on display Monday, October 2nd, when Thurston County received it’s designation as a Livestock Friendly County. This designation is given to counties that actively support the livestock industry. Since 2003, when it was first adopted, Nebraska has had 43 counties receive this designation.

Nebraska also leads the nation in a number of agriculture-related metrics:

Nebraska ranks first in commercial red meat production, first in Great Northern bean production, and first in popcorn production. Our state ranks near the top in ethanol production, alfalfa, sorghum, and soybeans– the list goes on and on.

In 2015, Nebraska exported $6.4 billion worth of agricultural goods. We rank number one in the nation for beef and veal exports, bringing in $1.1 billion.

Governor Ricketts has just returned from a trade mission to Japan to expand our trade opportunities and I have worked with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development on ways that the legislative branch can encourage Nebraska’s export opportunities.

While we want to encourage growth of our agriculture industry, I’m also committed to making sure family farm operations are able to compete. I want to find ways to encourage the next generation of farmers – to keep younger Nebraskans in their small downs and combat the “brain drain” that is happening in so many areas of our state.

As Chair of the Nebraska Legislature’s Business & Labor Industry and a member of the Agriculture Committee, one of my main goals is to make sure our state’s agriculture producers and businesses have the resources and freedom they need to survive and thrive.

The ag industry generates 25 percent of all jobs in Nebraska, and creates employment in other industries such as construction, finance, insurance, technology and law. If this is going to continue, we need to find ways to bring younger farmers into the fold.

Yes, hard times come and go and right now we are facing a downturn in the agriculture economy. This has created a lot of sleepless nights for many throughout our state.

I’m concerned about weak prices and tight margins, both as a state senator and as an agriculture producer myself. Unfortunately, there is no way to legislate success. My goal is to work to ensure that the opportunity for success is available to all.

The second half of the 105th Legislature will kick off in early January. It will be a short, 60-day session, but there will be time for us to discuss issues that impact our agriculture industry.

If there is one thing I’ve learned is that our ag producers are resilient. We are going to keep working to feed the world and keep Nebraska strong.

Nebraska will continue to be an agriculture leader thanks to the thousands of farmers and ranchers in our state. I’m proud of what you have accomplished and I look forward to working with them to strengthen our ag economy.

Harvest is just around the corner, so I want to make sure that everyone has a safe and bountiful year!

Weekly Report – September 8

September 10th, 2017

Next year will be on us before we know it, which means the second session of the Legislature will be underway. In preparation, I’m pleased to announce I have brought on Amara Meyer as Legal Counsel for the Business & Labor Committee.

Amara is originally from a farm near Brule, Nebraska. She holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law. Amara began her legislative career while still in college by serving as a Legislative Page. Since then, she has spent almost seven years working for the Unicameral in various capacities in the office of the Clerk of the Legislature.

She has also clerked for firms in Holdrege and Beloit, Kansas. Additionally, Amara has spent significant amounts of time serving the community through the Juvenile Re-Entry Project, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and Community Legal Education Project.

In my office, she will work with the members of the Business & Labor Committee to draft bills and amendments, analyze legislation, and perform legal research on committee subject matters which broadly include workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, labor and employment relations, fair employment practices, labor conditions, and other matters that fall under the Committee’s jurisdiction. She will also write the bill summaries and any special reports put out by the Committee which will be available on the Legislature’s website.

She will also work with my Committee Clerk Beverly Neel to ensure our committee meeting, hearings, and interactions happen smoothly and without a hitch.

I am confident that Amara will be a wonderful addition to our team and will effectively and efficiently serve the people of Nebraska.

For younger leaders, the Nebraska Department of Education recently announced two students will be selected to join 102 other delegates in Washington D.C. for the United States Senate Youth Program’s 56th Annual Washington Week in early March.

This merit-based leadership program brings two students from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity to Washington each year to experience an intensive, week-long educational program about the workings of the Senate and the federal government overall.

Most notably, each of the 104 student delegates will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship in addition to the expenses paid for the trip to the nation’s capital. This fantastic opportunity for qualifying students.

Commissioner of Education, Matthew L. Blomstedt, in cooperation with high school principals, will select Nebraska’s delegates from juniors or seniors, elected student offices and those belonging to a district, regional or state-level civic or educational organization who hold a high-level leadership position for the entire 2017-2018 academic year.
Interested students can find more information and an application at https://www.education.ne.gov/ss/ussyp.html. Applications are due to the Nebraska Department of Education by 4:00 p.m. CST on October 4, 2017. To see more information about the program itself, visit the USSYP website at http://www.usssenateyouth.org.

Finally, our hearts go out to those impacted by the forest fires and horrendous storms impacting our county. Nebraskans have historically been known to rise to the occasion and to help our neighbors.

But you should be aware that there are those who would capitalize on such tragedy. Never give any personal information to someone who calls you out of the blue, even if they claim to be from a charity. Also, beware of attachments in e-mails as these may contain viruses that could hurt your computer or worse.

The Federal Trade Commission is a wonderful resource if you have questions about a disaster relief charity. More information can be found at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity#Checklist

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room #2010
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2716
Email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov
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