NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

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

Welcome
January 5th, 2022

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

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Joni Albrecht

This has been an exciting week for announcements from Governor Pete Ricketts’ office. On November 1st, he issued Executive order 22-06 to provide emergency relief so that drivers can work extended hours to haul gasoline or gasoline blends, diesel, fuel oil, ethanol, propane, and biodiesel. (https://governor.nebraska.gov/press/gov-ricketts-temporarily-waives-regulations-truckers-hauling-critically-needed-fuels) This will help keep delays to a minimum and help with the supply chain.

As many of you know, I worked hard to create a Nebraska Higher Blend Tax Credit for Nebraska retail dealers in LB 596. It was amended into LB 1261 and signed into law by Governor Ricketts in April. On Tuesday, November 1st, Governor Ricketts released his weekly column and talked about how we are growing biofuels production right here in Nebraska. Ethanol saves money at the pump, leads to a cleaner environment, and strengthens Nebraska agriculture by providing opportunities for farm families. Nebraska continues to conduct research into the benefits of higher ethanol blends. In October, we received EPA approval to expand a study into the benefits of E30. (https://governor.nebraska.gov/press/leading-way-cleaner-more-affordable-american-made-fuel

I am proud to be a part of the Revenue Committee. On October 28th, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board raised the State’s revenue forecast by $2.5 billion through fiscal year 2024-2025. “In Nebraska, we’ve built a record-high rainy day fund, and State revenues continue to exceed expectations,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Today’s action by the forecasting board reflects the steady growth we’ve seen across Nebraska. The State’s financial strength puts the 2023 Legislature in a great position to build on the historic tax relief we delivered to Nebraskans earlier this year.” This is exciting news for our state. (https://governor.nebraska.gov/press/gov-ricketts-state%E2%80%99s-revenue-forecast-reflects-nebraska%E2%80%99s-strong-growth-sets-stage-more-tax)

This past week U. S. Senator Deb Fischer hosted a roundtable at Northeast Community College to discuss her Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) Act and precision agriculture. “There’s so much technology out there that would help make farmers and ranchers more efficient, much better stewards of the land, and conservationists,” Fischer said. “They can build on what they have already.” (https://northeast.newschannelnebraska.com/story/47618381/us-senator-fischer-discusses-pal-act-during-roundtable-at-northeast-community-college) According to News Channel Nebraska the federal government is expected to give about $200 million to Nebraska to bring broadband to under- or non-served communities. She also talked about new opportunities for students as companies offer potential internships. “I mean how exciting for a young person to be able to know that they are going to be involved not just in the current technology but planning for the future,” said Senator Fischer. “That they are going to be involved in watching AI be able to work in a combine here in the state of Nebraska.” “When ag does well, the state of Nebraska does well,” Fischer said. I think this is a great opportunity for students in northeast Nebraska as well as others throughout the state. Encouraging students to attend a 2-year college or going into a field that offers hands on training such as linemen or plumbing is always a good alternative to attending a four year college or university.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me by calling (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly News–October 28, 2022
November 2nd, 2022

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Tourism Awards Banquet hosted by the Nebraska Tourism Board at the Marriott Riverfront Hotel in South Sioux City on October 27th. Leaders from around the state helped acknowledge and support their colleagues as they promote tourism throughout the state of Nebraska. According to Governor Ricketts Facebook post, “Tourism in the Good Life is thriving. In 2021, the industry brought in a record $3.6 billion as people from near and far enjoyed all Nebraska has to offer.”

I encourage everyone to explore Nebraska. From hunting and fishing to winerys and rodeos, there is something for everyone. Please checkout the Nebraska Passport program at www.nebraskapassport.com. According to their website, The purpose of the Nebraska Passport is to help travelers discover Nebraska’s hidden gems. The Nebraska Passport is special because it offers a wide variety of travel adventures, including museums, parks, restaurants, wineries, retail stores and more. The 2022 Nebraska Passport program ran from May 1 to September 30, 2022. The Nebraska Holiday Passport will run from November 19, 2022 – January 1, 2023. Enjoy exploring Nebraska.

On Thursday, October 20th, the news came out that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), recommended including the COVID-19 vaccine to the childhood and adult immunization schedules (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s1020-immunization-vote.html), I know that many of you are concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine and have received many emails about your concern.

According to the website, the CDC only makes recommendations for use of vaccines, while school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions. Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer released the following statement on October 20th: “If approved, these recommendations DO NOT require a child to take the vaccine to attend school. The State of Nebraska establishes vaccine requirements, NOT ACIP or the CDC. If the CDC follows ACIP’s recommendation, it would put the COVID-19 vaccine at the same level as the flu and HPV vaccines. I encourage parents to consult with their child’s physician regarding the benefits of receiving the vaccine as they make their own decision.” – Dr. Gary Anthone, CMO (https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Statement-from-Dr–Gary-Anthone-DHHS-Chief-Medical-Officer.aspx)

The weekend of October 22nd fires broke out in the state of Nebraska. I want to personally thank the local firefighters and farmers who give of their time and energy to put these fires out and other volunteers who came to the aid and rescue of their local fire departments. Losing a life, property, and crops is not something we want to happen. With weather and drought conditions as they are, conditions are right for fires to continue to break out. Please be careful and heed all Red Flag warnings.

This past Saturday, October 29th, I attended a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for the Emerson Post 60 Market. Emerson is happy to have a local grocery store in their community. Hats off to everyone who helped bring this to town. It will be a staple for years to come.

I am always mindful of staying close to home during harvest. Over the past week, I have been called in to drive the grain cart. What an experience. I am always grateful when harvest is over.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me by calling (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly News–October 21, 2022
October 21st, 2022

Weekly News—October 21, 2022—Senator Joni Albrecht

The weather has definitely taken a turn towards winter and I am enjoying the beauty of the fall foliage. Harvest is on the downswing and the holiday season is right around the corner. Again, keep a keen eye on slow moving equipment on the roads in order to stay safe.

On Monday, October 17th, I attended a local candidate forum in Wayne where I heard from the candidates for mayor, city council, and Wayne Community Schools Board of Education hosted by the WAED Government Affairs Committee and Craftology!, a local maker space business.

November 8th is quickly approaching and it is your opportunity to get out and vote. Most newspapers are printing a copy of your sample ballot and, possibly, a voter’s guide. It’s so important to research the candidates to see who you would like to represent you.

Last week I mentioned the two voter initiatives that will be on your ballot November 8th. I would like to talk more about Initiative Measure 432 regarding Voter ID. Most Americans support both easier access to early voting and requiring photo identification to vote, according to Monmouth University Poll.

You have an opportunity to support this change to the Nebraska Constitution by voting “FOR” this initiative. You deserve to have confidence in the election process because it ensures our entire system of democracy, which protects our freedoms. Nebraska is one of 16 states where no documentation is required to vote. “When a valid ID is required to drive or just hold Epson or spray paint, or even see an R-rated movie,” Slama said. “The overwhelming majority of states have successfully implemented voter ID systems, and we should follow their lead to make our elections as secure as possible.” (from Nebraska News Service)

You also have an opportunity to oppose this change to the Nebraska Constitution by voting “AGAINST” this initiative. Opponents contend that this constitutional amendment will impose severe restrictions on your right and ability to vote. It is unnecessary and no cases of voter impersonation have ever been found in Nebraska’s elections. In other voter ID states, seniors, low-income, and highly mobile workers are often prevented from voting. Heidi Uhing, public policy director for Civic Nebraska, cited Nebraska’s constitution, which says that all elections shall be free, and there shall be no hindrance or impediment to the right of a qualified voter to exercise the elective franchise. She said 54,500 qualified voters do not have valid government-issued IDs and could not vote if the initiative passed, according to a Civic Nebraska study. (from Nebraska News Service)

If Initiative 432 passes and amends the state constitution, it will authorize the state Legislature to pass laws to implement voter ID including determining what type of photo identification will be acceptable.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me by calling (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly News–October 14, 2022
October 14th, 2022

The smell of fall is in the air, the colors are changing on the trees, and the days are getting shorter.

It was Fire Prevention Week this past week. We have encountered many fires this week due to high winds and dry conditions. Hats off to all the firefighters, volunteers, and farmers who come to the aid of their neighbors. We appreciate you and all you do.

After redistricting, I now represent an area of Dixon County. On Sunday, October 9th I was invited to the Ponca School to listen to the school board candidate forum. They also had two District 40 state legislative candidates in attendance to answer any questions.

This week I have been busy traveling in District 17. On Tuesday, October 11th, I was in South Sioux City with Governor candidate Jim Pillen. I was invited by Lance Hedquist, administrator, and Oscar Gomez, assistant city administrator, to visit with the administration and school board members of the South Sioux City Community School. We also visited Northeast Community College and visited with Dakota County Chairman Giese and Commissioner Launsby about concerns with the road leading to Kramper Lake. We finished with a wonderful lunch at Kahill’s Steak, Fish and Chophouse where we had a roundtable discussion with other community leaders. I enjoyed hearing the good things that are happening as well as the concerns of the community. It was wonderful to see where the new Veterans Victory Housing and Small Business Center is being built. It is very evident that there is a need for more housing in South Sioux City.

On Wednesday, October 12th, I attended the Dakota County Government Day at the Dakota City Hall. There were 27 students from South Sioux City School and 19 from Homer Public School. It is always good to visit with the students in my district and share my experiences of working in government to help my constituents and the people in the state of Nebraska. I would like to thank The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary for hosting this event every year.

National Farmers Day was Wednesday, October 12th. I would like to thank all the farmers that work so hard to contribute to our economy, feed our nation and the world, and make Nebraska what it is. They work hard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take care of the land, natural resources, animals, and provide for their families. Thank you so much to the farmers in District 17 for all you do for your communities and the state of Nebraska!

After visiting with people throughout my district, I am hearing there is still confusion regarding the pink postcards that were sent out. I would like to clarify some of the questions you had about the information I wrote in my last weekly update.

The pink postcards come from your county assessor but may be for the county, city, more than one public school district, or community college.
If one or more of these entities is asking for a property tax amount that exceeds the annual allowable growth percentage (2% plus real growth), then the additional hearing is required. The point of the postcards is to inform taxpayers that while the levy is not going up, their property taxes are, due to increases in value. Political subdivisions should lower their levies when values go up to help offset the increase, rather than taking the windfall and increasing their budgets. That is why the Legislature enacted this law to make sure taxpayers know what is happening. I understand your confusion and know timing is not ideal. Senator Ben Hansen is reaching out to me and my colleagues to streamline the process if possible next session.

Election day is Tuesday, November 8th and time for you to have your voice heard. There are two initiatives that received enough petition signatures to be put on your ballot this November.
The first is Initiative 432, Photo Voter Identification otherwise known as Voter ID. This would amend Article I of the Nebraska Constitution to require voters to present a valid photo ID to vote. A “yes” vote supports amending the state constitution and would authorize the state legislature to pass laws to implement it. A “no” vote opposes this amendment.

The second is Initiative 433 which would increase the state’s minimum wage in increments beginning in 2023 from $10.50 up to $15.00 by 2026. Currently it is $9.00 per hour. A “yes” vote supports this ballot initiative and a “no” vote opposes it.

I would like to encourage all of you to do your research into each candidate on your ballot and into each initiative to make a sound decision. I strongly encourage you to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 8th.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me by calling (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly News-September 30, 2022
September 30th, 2022

Fall is here, harvest is in full swing and school has been in session for almost nine weeks. With harvest in full swing, I want to remind you to be aware of the increase in traffic on the roads due to harvest.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce new staff in my office. After session finished, I went most of the summer with limited staff. Jacki O’Neill, administrative assistant, is still working hard in my office. I would like to introduce my new Legislative Aide, Glenda Ward, who came to work for me on August 1st. She is married to her husband of 28 years, Kevin and she is a former Nebraska music educator. She currently teaches piano lessons to 12 students. She is a welcome addition to my staff and she looks forward to working with me and taking your phone calls.

I would like to take a moment to comment on questions and concerns I have been hearing about Senator Ben Hansen’s Truth in Taxation law that passed in 2021 and went into effect in 2022 (https://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/107/PDF/Intro/LB644.pdf). This law provides taxpayers a well-defined time and place to let their elected officials know how they feel about plans to raise their property taxes. You should have received a pink postcard in the mail this month stating your property taxes will be raised by more than two percent and there is a public hearing about the increase. Dakota and Wayne Counties were destined to have pink postcards sent while Dixon and Thurston Counties did not meet the threshold for property tax increases.

I am proud to be a part of the Revenue Committee. This past year the Legislature passed the largest tax credit in Nebraska history. “The State of Nebraska’s financial responsibility has made record tax relief possible,” said Gov. Ricketts. “For tax year 2022, the property tax credit rebate on taxes paid to K-12 public schools will grow from 25% to 30%. Nebraska property taxpayers will also be eligible for a new 30% rebate on property taxes paid to community colleges. This relief is especially significant as families deal with historic high inflation. I encourage Nebraskans to make sure they claim all the tax credits they’re eligible to receive.”

I feel a sense of urgency to share with you about this tax credit as only 60% of Nebraskans have taken advantage of this on their taxes. These tax credits are retroactive for the past 3 years and you will need to file an amended tax return in order to claim these tax credits.

There are 2 types of tax credits that you are eligible to receive from LB873 (https://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/107/PDF/Intro/LB873.pdf). Tier 1 is Property Tax Credit which automatically shows a credit on your property tax statement that you receive in the mail from the assessor’s office. Tier 2 is the Credit Against School Taxes Paid which you have to claim on your tax return. This rebate was 6% in tax year 2020 and 25% in tax year 2021. LB 873 also creates a tax rebate on property taxes paid to community colleges. For tax year 2022, this equates to a 30% rebate. For more information you can go to revenue.nebraska.gov/about/nebraska-property-tax-credit and click on the Nebraska Property Tax Look-up Tool. You receive this credit on parcels you own, but you won’t receive this credit if you are renting a house or live in an apartment. If you know your parcel ID number, you will be able to look up information on the credit you will receive. There are also links on this website for more general information as well as frequently asked questions.

I will not be in the office much in the next few months as harvest is in full swing and my husband will be having surgery in November. I do anticipate many calls from you and my staff will gladly take your calls and inform me of your questions and concerns. Please call (402) 471-2716 or email me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov. Please stay safe and watch for increased traffic on the roads.

April 22, 2022 News
April 22nd, 2022

Weekly News – April 22, 2022 – Senator Joni Albrecht

Spring has arrived and we should be excited to get outside. The students have been outside participating in school activities. I enjoy reading the school sports articles and seeing so many great accomplishments. The 107th Session has come to a close; Sine and Die was on April 20th. THE MOST HISTORICAL SESSION IN NEBRASKA’S HISTORY. Included in this was a tax package that has something for every Nebraskan that will have an impact for many years to come.

Senators Mike Hilgers, Myron Dorn and Steve Lathrop paid tribute to Nebraska State Senators who have passed. My office and I extend our deepest sympathy to their families.

Brad Ashford and Dennis Michael Byars. Senator Ashford served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1987 to 1995 and from 2007 to 2015. Additionally, he represented Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District in Congress from January 2015 to January 2017. Brad spent his adult life in service to our state. He passed on April 19, 2022 at the age of 72.

Senator Dennis Michael Byars served Gage County from 1988-1994 and from 1999-2006. He was very active in public service. He most recently was serving as Gage County Commissioner at the time of his death. He passed on April 14, 2022. He was 81 years old.

The Legislature passed 119 bills out of 593 bills presented. They included tax relief, public safety, water investments and allocating more than $1 billion in federal ARPA funds for Nebraskans. Which includes investments in police training, Perkins County Canal project, a new marina and road safety for Lake McConaughy, a new boat access facility and event center on the Niobrara River, a marina expansion at Lewis and Clark Lake, flood control near Schuyler and Wahoo and a new 4,000-acre reservoir between Lincoln and Omaha. These are just a few of the many bills that will benefit Nebraskans throughout the state.

The Governor so far has signed 29 bills into law. My most memorable moment in Nebraska history was standing with Governor Ricketts as he signed LB873 into law. It is now on the books in the107th Legislative Session as the most momentous bill signing. It was an honor representing District 17 as I served on the Revenue and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees this session. Again, every Nebraskan will benefit from the 107th Unicameral Session. Nebraska taxpayers will be keeping more of their own money.

When we heard the Governor’s last State of Address, he used one word to explain it all, WOW!
It has been a privilege to serve with Governor Ricketts. Nebraska had some trying times with floods, Covid19 and fiscal responsibilities, he succeeded them all. He is Second to none.

Governor Ricketts invited Senator Dave Murman, the sponsor of LB1261e and I the sponsor of LB596 for the bill signing. Those in attendance were Senators Myron Dorn and Tom Brandt and the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Dairy Association, Nebraska Corn Board, Agricultural Leaders, Renewable Fuels Advocates as well as Ethanol Board members. LB1261e extends the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act which was set to expire at the end of 2022. This bill promotes investment in Nebraska agriculture (livestock modernization or expansion) and to encourage businesses to locate in rural Nebraska. I amended LB596 into LB1261e to provide tax credits to fuel retailers selling E15 or higher blends of ethanol.

The Legislature approved a Resolution submitted from my office, saluting the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards. For 50 years the Nebraska Extension still remains a strong asset for the state in both urban and rural areas in all 93 counties.

As the Session came to a close, we heard from the Senators who will not be returning next year. We want to wish them well in their future endeavors. We will be looking forward to new faces on the floor of the 108th Legislative Session starting in January of 2023.

I will not be in the office much during the interim but I do anticipate many calls from you. My staff will gladly take your calls and inform me of your questions or concerns. I will not be publishing a newsletter weekly, but I plan to send news to the newspapers and on my webpage if I feel there is something of importance to share. Please call 402-471-2716 or email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.


April 12th, 2022

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the flowers are starting to bloom. April brings
warmth to Nebraska as the spring season advances rapidly.
HISTORICAL TIME IN NEBRASKA –The Legislature delivered the most significant tax relief for Nebraskans. $900 million package of tax cuts were approved. Income tax, corporations, property owners and Social Security recipients will benefit.
The biggest tax cut in over 30 years was LB873. This bill cuts the top income tax rate from 6.84% to 5.84%. It also cuts the corporate income tax rate from 7.81% to 5.84%. both cuts will be phased-in over five years. Nebraska has the highest income and corporate taxes of any state in the central time zone.
This legislation phases out income taxes on Social Security payments by 2025.
In addition, LB873 creates another refundable income tax credit for the portion of property taxes paid to community colleges. This is a credit you’ll claim starting next year on your state income taxes.
It has been a long 60 day session, but all 49 Senators worked diligently trying to get their bills passed.
Nebraska Human Life Protection Act LB933, the speaker made as his priority bill, fell two votes short of the 33 needed to end the filibuster and force a vote. The vote was 31-15. Those who denied protecting life were Senator Blood, Senator Bostar, Senator J. Cavanaugh, Senator M. Cavanaugh, Senator Day, Senator DeBoer, Senator M. Hansen, Senator Hunt, Senator McCollister, Senator McKinney, Senator Morfeld, Senator Pansing-Brooks, Senator Vargas, Senator Walz and Senator Wishart. Senators that were excused – not voting were Senators Lathrop, Pahls and Wayne. This bill would have prohibited the performance of an abortion on live, unborn child upon the occurrence of one of three events: the overturn of Roe v. Wade, an amendment to the United States Constitution, or the passage of enabling legislation by the United States Congress. I will continue to fight to protect and promote society’s respect for human life, including the life of the unborn. We made be called back in June for a special session if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The battle may have been lost this week but the war on the unborn, the voiceless and most vulnerable will be won.
My personal priority bill LB1213 – would ensure that outside database providers contracted to provide digital and online resources to students in grades K- 12 that make obscene and harmful materials available; was stopped due to lobbyist interference and will come back next year. In the mean time be aware of what your children are exposed to through their devices provided by tax dollars. “More to come”.
I thank all of you that supported the Nebraska Human Life Protection Act. My office received numerous emails and phone calls. Not all people were in support, but your comments were heard.
By this time next week, the session will be over. In my next letter I will report to you what was achieved during those past 60 days.
LB1014, introduced by Speaker Hilgers contains appropriations. Among the appropriations are $100 million for “shovel-ready” projects for qualifying sports complexes and nonprofits related to the arts, culture and humanities, $91 million for workforce housing and $20 million for water transportation infrastructure grants.
The bill also contains provisions of more than 20 proposals introduced this session, including:
• LB1089, sponsored by Gering Sen. John Stinner, which appropriates $55 million to the state Department of Health and Human Services for licensed and Medicaid-certified nursing facilities;
• LB1066, sponsored by Stinner, which appropriates $28 million to DHHS and the University of Nebraska for behavioral health care services;
• LB1172, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann, which appropriates $55 million for rate increases for certain providers of developmental disabilities services; and
• LB1201, sponsored by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, which appropriates $20 million to DHHS for grants to nonprofit organizations providing food assistance.
Lawmakers passed LB1014 on a 40-4 vote and the bill took effect immediately. There is something for everyone.
The bill allocating American Rescue Plan Act dollars would provide funds to some 40 projects and initiatives across the state. Among them: replacing aging rural ambulances, boosting health and human services provider payment rates, repairing wastewater systems in state parks, and funding nonprofit construction projects that were interrupted by the pandemic. Others include: developing rural and urban low-income housing, updating a climate change study, building a rural health complex at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and repairing an irrigation canal that runs from Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to Gering. Senators also provided for a grant program to start or expand child care centers, expanded mental health treatment, scholarships and loan repayments for health care providers and a program providing education and preventative medication to people at high risk of getting HIV.
My Legislative Assistant, Lisa Weeks has left. She was an asset to this office. We wish her well and will miss her. Please don’t hesitate to call the office and speak with Jacki, she will be happy to assist you.
The work that I do as your Senator I do for you, my constituents. Please contact my office with any comments or concerns. Your views are appreciated, I enjoy hearing from you. My Lincoln contact information is (402) 472-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov. Have a great week.


March 25th, 2022

2ND SESSION OF THE 107TH LEGISLATURE 

This week the Legislature spent the majority of the week debating how to use the 

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds granted to the state of Nebraska from the federal government as part of the Covid stimulus package. The American Rescue Plan granted $1.04 billion to the State of Nebraska for spending needs, which is more than 25% of the state’s annual general fund budget. The money is to be used for needs that have arisen as a direct result of Covid 19 has made on our communities. Having the extra resources to steward has undoubtedly made our job as Legislators extremely more complicated this Session.

Pro-Life Bill 

Earlier in the year I introduced LB933, which would prohibit the performance of an abortion on live, unborn children upon the occurrence of one of three events: the overturn of Roe v. Wade, an amendment to the United States Constitution, or the passage of enabling legislation by the United States Congress. This is one of the most important bills that has been before the Legislature since my time in office. After filing a pull motion to bring the bill out of committee to a debate on the Floor, the pull motion succeeded on Friday and the bill will be debated on the Floor when it is scheduled.

Ag Week in Nebraska

Monday morning Governor Pete Ricketts held a press conference to proclaim March 20-26, 2022 as Agriculture Week in Nebraska.  He was joined by representatives of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, and Nebraska Corn Growers Association. I salute the tremendous farmers and ranchers not only in District 17, but in the state. You are our backbone. Nebraska would not be the same without you.

Cash Reserve Budget Bill Advanced 

The Legislature gave first-round approval on March 22 to the last of three main bills comprising the Appropriations Committee’s mid-biennium budget adjustment package. The state budget is structured on a two-year basis, with the budget enacted during legislative sessions held in odd-numbered years. Adjustments are made during sessions held in even-numbered years. The mainline budget bill and another measure that would authorize and provide certain fund transfers, create funds and change and eliminate provisions regarding a fund were advanced last week after successful cloture votes. LB1013, introduced by Speaker Mike Hilgers of Lincoln at the request of Governor Ricketts, would change provisions relating to the state’s Cash Reserve Fund, also known as the rainy-day fund. Gering Senator John Stinner, chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, said the cash reserve serves a “dual purpose” for Nebraska. “It serves, certainly, as an economic stabilizer for the state’s budget, but it also serves as a one-time source of funding for different projects”. An Appropriations Committee amendment would use $513 million from the cash reserve for a variety of transfers outlined in bills introduced this session, including:

  • $80 million to the Jobs and Economic Development Initiative Fund, from LB1023, introduced by Hilgers;
  • $53.5 million to the Perkins County Canal Project Fund, from LB1015, introduced by Speaker Hilgers;
  • $50 million to the Surface Water Irrigation Infrastructure Fund, from LB1074, introduced by Brainard Senator Bruce Bostelman;
  • $50 million to the Nebraska Rural Projects Fund, from LB788, introduced by Gordon Senator Tom Brewer;
  • $30 million to the Military Base Development and Support Fund, from LB1233, introduced by Bellevue Senator Rita Sanders;
  • $30 million to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund, from LB1071, introduced by Gothenburg Senator Matt Williams;
  • $20 million to the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Fund, introduced by Omaha Senator Tony Vargas; and
  • $15.6 million to the state Department of Health and Human Services for construction, renovation and equipment replacement at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, from LB792, introduced by Kearney Senator John Lowe.

Among other provisions, the committee amendment also would set aside $175 million to be released to the Nebraska Capital Construction Fund for a potential new state penitentiary but would not appropriate those funds until certain conditions are met. Following approximately three hours of discussion Stinner offered a motion to invoke cloture, which ceases debate and forces a vote on the bill and any pending amendments and motions. The motion was adopted 39-4 and lawmakers then voted 40-3 to adopt the committee amendment. LB1013 advanced to Select File on a vote of 39-4.

Budget Package

Several amendments were offered during debate on LB1012, which would authorize and provide for certain fund transfers, create funds and change and eliminate provisions regarding a fund.

-Brainard Senator Bruce Bostelman offered an amendment, adopted 42-0, that would ensure that a $955,000 transfer from the interest on the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund to the 211 Cash Fund is a one-time transfer rather than an annual one. The USF must be protected in the future for its intended purpose of making universal access to telecommunications services available to everyone in the state.

-Omaha Senator Mike McDonnell, whose LB911 initiated the transfer, supported the amendment. He said he would find a different source of funding going forward for the 211 Information and Referral Network, which is a free hotline that connects Nebraskans with non-emergency health and human services. A cloture motion after four hours of debate, which was adopted 43-2, and lawmakers advanced LB1012 to final reading on a voice vote.

-Omaha Senator Steve Lathrop offered an amendment, adopted 42-0, to LB1011, the mainline budget bill. In addition to a series of technical changes, the amendment would correct the omission of a $5 million transfer to the Governor’s Emergency Cash Fund. LB1011 advanced to Final Reading.

-Lawmakers also advanced LB1013, which would change provisions related to the Cash Reserve Fund, to final reading by voice vote following the 41-3 adoption of a cloture motion.

I always appreciate each of you who intentionally stays informed and engaged in the Legislative process. You can contact me at my Lincoln office by phone (402) 471-2716 or email jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov. I will enjoy hearing from you. Have a great week!


March 11th, 2022

2ND SESSION OF THE 107TH LEGISLATURE 

Daylight Savings Time, potential snow and sunshiny days. It’s that time of the year where you get a sense that things are changing. Spring is upon us after a mild Nebraska winter. I have always loved the change of seasons in Nebraska. As our family prepares for calving season, I look out over a pasture to see our cows, anticipating the coming of a new calf, and new life. 

DMV and State Patrol Bill

I was pleased to introduce LB720 on behalf of the Nebraska State Patrol and the Department of Motor Vehicles. LB720 adopts the most recent version of federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2022. Maintaining alignment between federal regulations, state statutes, and operational activities, ensures Nebraska remains compliant with federal requirements and is eligible to receive 100 percent of their allotment of federal highway funds. The bill passed to Select File with 35 votes.

Eliminate Concealed Handgun Permit

A bill that would eliminate Nebraska’s permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun was placed on general file March 8 after a pull motion. LB773, introduced by Gordon Senator Tom Brewer, would prohibit counties, cities and villages from regulating the ownership, possession and transportation of a concealed handgun. Under the bill, registration and training requirements for concealed handguns no longer would be required. Individuals who currently are prohibited from possessing or carrying a gun still would be prohibited from doing so under the bill. Carrying a concealed handgun while under the influence of alcohol also would remain illegal. Concealed handguns would remain prohibited in schools, certain government premises and private businesses that have such rules in place. The bill advanced to Select File.

Bills on Final Reading

Unemployment Benefits– LB 567 was introduced by the Chair of the Business and Labor Committee at the request of the Department of Labor. This bill will require the Department of Labor to only look at an applicant’s most recent separation from employment when determining maximum unemployment benefits and reductions. LB567 would make permanent the relevant provisions of Executive Order 20-26, which streamlined the application process in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diabetes– LB 698 was introduced by Senator Kolterman. The purpose of Legislative Bill 698 is to direct Nebraska Medicaid to cover diabetes patient access to continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). Continuous Glucose Monitors allow individuals with diabetes to track their glucose levels at regular intervals and help patients with diabetes more accurately dose insulin. Patients with better management of their diabetes have better outcomes, a higher quality of life, and cost significantly less to the state. In Nebraska, some Medicaid plans already cover CGMs for their patients in order to save long term costs of hospitalizations. However, not all plans provide this coverage. LB 698 would provide equitable access to these devices for all Medicaid patients with diabetes.

Pharmacy Benefit Manager– LB767, introduced by Senator Kolterman, would enact 12 new sections to be known as the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licensure and Regulation Act. The bill would establish standards and criteria for the licensure and regulation by the Director of Insurance of pharmacy benefit managers providing a claims processing service or other prescription drug or device service for a health benefit plan. The bill is based on the State Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licensure and Regulation Model Act of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

County Surveyors– LB 791, introduced by Senator Lowe. The qualifications and role of the county surveyor are set in part based on the population of the county that they serve. The county surveyor serves in multiple roles in most Nebraska counties, including that of surveyor, county engineer, and county highway superintendent. The largest counties break out these same responsibilities across several county offices. County surveyors in the largest counties must also possess more specific qualifications relating to their position. This bill would increase the population threshold at which the first tranche of qualifications requirements is applied from 60,000 to 100,000.

South Platte River Canal Project 

Lawmakers gave first-round approval March 9 to a proposal to build a canal that would divert South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska under a 1923 interstate compact. The compact entitles Nebraska to 120 cubic feet of water per second during the summer. Nebraska also has a right to 500 cubic feet of water per second during the non-irrigation season but only if it builds a canal to divert it from the river in Colorado to a reservoir system in Nebraska. Lincoln Senator Mike Hilgers, who introduced LB1015 on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts, said Nebraska has received those winter flows for the past century, but Colorado now is seeking to capture as much of that water as possible to support rapid population growth along the Front Range. The bill would authorize the state Department of Natural Resources to develop, construct, manage and operate the canal and its associated storage facilities, called the Perkins County Canal Project, under the terms of the compact. It also would authorize the department to use eminent domain to acquire land and resolve any legal disputes that arise as a result of the project. I gave the bill my green light because I believe that Nebraska could make up for reduced Platte River flows only by releasing water from Lake McConaughy, which would affect irrigation, hydropower generation and municipal water supplies. If we don’t assert our rights, less water will cross the state line in the future. 

Lake Development and Water Recreation

LB1023, introduced by Speaker Hilgers, creates the Lake Development and Water Recreation Enhancement Act based upon recommendations by the S.T.A.R.W.A.R.S. Task force created by LB406 in the 2021 session of the Legislature. The Act directs the Dept. of Natural Resources and the Game and Parks commission to oversee construction and management for certain projects such as (1) A reservoir in between Lincoln and Omaha near Sarpy County, (2)projects at Lake McConaughy, (3) projects in Niobrara State Recreation Area and Lewis and Clark Lake. On behalf of the state, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Game and Parks Commission will each manage the construction and development of certain aspects of the projects in a way that encourages public-private partnerships, donations and investments. Coming from the farming industry, I look for wants and needs and the greater good for the state of Nebraska. I may see our water resources very differently than someone from the city. I believe water is a commodity. It is highly essential to the backbone of survival in the agricultural community. Without sufficient water our livestock and production suffer significantly. This bill would take some farm families who have lived on their land for generations, completely out of production for the purpose of recreation. That does not make sense to me. I also have real caution about the projected cost in years to come. All that being said, I gave LB1023 a red, no vote. 

I always appreciate each of you who intentionally stays informed and engaged in the Legislative process. You can contact me at my Lincoln office by phone (402) 471-2716 or email jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov. I will enjoy hearing from you. Have a great week!


February 25th, 2022

2ND SESSION OF THE 107TH LEGISLATURE 

Breaking the halfway point in the Unicameral this Session is a welcome, yet surprising reality. Next week will be our last week of committee hearings and we will go into full swing of floor debate. Short sessions create a very intense dynamic for the Legislature, demanding focus on Priority Bills, which means the most important legislation rises to the forefront. 

Pro-Life 

Three major pro-life bills were heard by the Legislative Judiciary Committee.

I introduced LB 933 – the Human Life Protection Act which provides that if or when Roe v. Wade is overturned, the performance of an abortion in Nebraska will be an illegal act. There is an exception for a medical emergency to preserve the life of the mother. No woman who obtains or seeks an abortion may be prosecuted. Senator Julie Slama introduced LB 781 the Heartbeat Act which prohibits an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Senator Suzanne Geist introduced LB 1086 – Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol Act which improves safety and reporting requirements for chemical abortion and prohibits chemical abortion after 7 weeks gestation.

Tax Reform Bill

Senator Lou Ann Linehan’s LB939 advanced to Select this week. A Revenue Committee Bill, LB939 is an income and corporate tax reduction plan that would attract businesses and talent to Nebraska, helping meet the challenge posed by our current workforce shortage and opening the door to growth in the state. The bill will reduce the top individual income tax rate from 6.84% to 5.58% as follows: TY 2023 6.34% TY 2024 6.14% TY 2025 5.84% bringing consistency between the top rate for both individual and corporate income taxes. This bill could be historical in the efforts to bring tax reform to help grow and keep people in our great state. I foresee amendments coming and will keep you posted to what happens with LB939.

Ethanol 

The state’s ethanol stakeholders asked me to carry LB596, which became a Speaker Priority Bill. The bill creates the Nebraska Higher Blend Tax Credit Act for Nebraska retail dealers that sell and dispense E-15 or higher blends. The Act would become effective January 1, 2022. The ethanol industry in our state supports jobs for more than 1,400 Nebraskans and directly impacts our state’s economy by $5 billion. There are 25 ethanol plants who have the capacity to produce more than 2.5 billion gallons of ethanol– making Nebraska the No. 2 ethanol-producing state in the country. Ethanol production increases demand for field corn, which helps Nebraska’s agriculture thrive.

Elective Soil Education

Senator Tim Gragert’s LB925 also advanced to Select this week. The bill would require the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide technical and legal assistance to a producer learning community — a nonprofit, voluntary membership organization led by agricultural producers — to foster skills and share knowledge related to healthy soils management. The proposal also would require the DNR to divide the state into different regions representative of each area’s diversity of soils, topography, rainfall, cropping systems and other factors. I voted in favor of the bill because it does not require producers to take part, but rather simply encourages producers to weigh in on best practices. It is my perspective that, if passed, I would like to see the DNR cover the cost. I foresee some amendments coming on this bill. Stay tuned.

Future Farmers of America Week

Governor Ricketts has proclaimed February 19-26 as FFA Week in Nebraska. Designated as a national week in 1947, selected to celebrate the impact George Washington had on agriculture, FFA chapters across the country are using this week to help others in their school and community learn about FFA and agriculture education. In 2020-2021 there were 200 FFA Chapters in Nebraska, involving 229 FFA teachers and advisors and over 10,000 members strong.

I always appreciate each of you who intentionally stays informed and engaged in the Legislative process. If you have taken the time to reach out to my office, please understand that with over 1200 bills being heard over the next 60 days, I am not able to personally respond to all of the emails and calls I receive. Have a great week!

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 12th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
Email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov
Search Senator Page:
Topics
Archives
Committee Assignments
    Committee On Committees
    Revenue
    Transportation and Telecommunications
    State-Tribal Relations
Search Current Bills
Search Laws
Live Video Streaming
View video streamView live streams of floor activity and public hearings

Streaming video provided by Nebraska Public Media

Find Your Senator