Welcome

January 7th, 2015

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 3/27/15

March 27th, 2015

People talk all the time about how unique and special the Unicameral is, and I would agree. I have, however, discovered that we seem to be becoming more and more like Washington, D.C. all the time, which I find heartbreaking.

I learned this week just how similar we are becoming to Washington, D.C. when my priority bill (LB31 to repeal the motorcycle helmet law) was debated and voted on. I chose not to play the political games played by some and I paid the price. I will not vote for something I fundamentally disagree with (Medicaid expansion) to gain votes. Whether you agree with my positions or not, you know where I stand. If I give you my word, I will stand by it. Unfortunately, that cannot be said about all of my colleagues. My bill died due to a lack of votes to stop the filibuster – had all of the individuals who said they were going to give me a vote for cloture, done so, we would have a had an up or down vote on the actual bill. The advancement of the helmet repeal was the closest it had been in years . . . I will continue to fight for it! It is to me a matter of freedom. I will never give up on freedom.

I often use my newsletter to make the readers aware of opportunities available to our youth. If you are a junior or senior in high school and remotely interested in the agricultural industry I would encourage you to apply for the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). NAYI is a five day long conference on the UNL East Campus focusing on career opportunities within agriculture. This year the conference will be held July 6-10, 2015. Applications are due on April 15, 2015. Applications can be found at www.nda.nebraska.gov or by contacting my office.

Newsletter 3/13/15

March 13th, 2015

It was another busy week in Lincoln as committees are trying to wrap things up. All of the committee hearings will be completed by on or before March 20th. By then we will also know all of the bills that have a priority designation – senator, committee, or speaker.

I thought the people of Nebraska sent a clear message the last few years – they wanted tax reform and something had to be done about land valuations. Unfortunately, it looks like most of the members of the Revenue Committee missed that message. It is essential that this committee come to some agreement, which will allow for some additional property tax relief.

This week the Revenue Committee, with a vote of 5-2, advanced LB610 a bill that would increase the gas tax 6 cents over a four-year period. This would bring our gas tax to 31.6 cents per gallon. The increase is being proposed to pay for bridges and roads. It would generate $19 million a year for our roads and bridges and introducer, Senator Jim Smith of Papillion said it is a “user fee” for motorists.

The Revenue Committee also looked at LB350, introduced by Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, which would reduce the taxable value of farmland from 75 percent to 65 percent. LB350 only received two votes to advance it from the eight-member committee. Senator Brasch has selected this bill as her priority bill, which tells me that she still has hopes or it advancing from committee.

 

Newsletter 3/6/15

March 9th, 2015

This session continues to be full surprises and at times frustrations. We are nearing the end of committee hearings and senators are in the process of identifying their priority bills so committees are busy working on bills.

I have had a few frustrating moments in the last few weeks. The first came when LB176 was advanced from the Agriculture Committee. This bill narrows the Competitive Livestock Markets Act prohibiting livestock packers from directly or indirectly owning or feeding livestock and it removes the restriction on packers owning swine during production stages. The committee amendment moves to clarify language and remove ambiguous phrasing throughout the bill. I fought this bill in committee and I will continue to fight it on the floor. I am convinced that allowing the packers, most of whom are foreign owned, to control the production side of the market equation will do irreparable damage to the independent hog producers.

Another frustrating moment came when The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee that I serve on, advanced LB106 to the full Legislature. LB106 allows the Department of Agriculture, with input from an advisory committee, develop a scoring matrix to approve or disapprove a proposed or expanding livestock operation.  The assessment matrix will be reviewed at least once every four years. Additionally, it creates a seven member Livestock Siting Review Board to be appointed by the Governor. I have had issues with this bill since it was brought to my attention and it is again, one I plan to fight against on the floor. This appointed board would have the ability to override county officials and county zoning regulations. In short it would remove local control from the counties and give it to the state. To my way of thinking local control is of vital importance.

On a better note my priority bill, LB31, which would repeal the motorcycle helmet law, was advanced from committee with an amendment this week. The amendment would allow individuals 21 and older to decide if they want to wear a helmet or not. If they decide not to wear a helmet, they would have to have eye protection.

LB479, a bill that I introduced to allow communities to honor veterans was advanced from committee this week as well – it is my hope that this will be on consent calendar.

LB303, another bill I introduced which would task the Department of Education with creating a model child sexual abuse policy that schools could then adopt if they wanted to, will have its fate decided by the Education Committee this week. I would like this bill to come out of committee unanimously so that it can be considered for consent calendar. I am also requesting that it be considered for a speaker priority bill.

Newsletter 2/20/15

March 9th, 2015

This was an interesting week in Lincoln. LB111, a bill that would require photo identification to vote was bracketed until June 5, 2015. This means that we will not be able to discuss this bill again until next year. This was disappointing and frustrating to say the least.

LB118, a bill introduced by Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill, which I co-sponsored, received final approval on Friday. LB118 once again creates authorization for cigar shops with liquor licenses. It advanced with a vote of 45-3-1 and will be sent to Governor Ricketts for approval this upcoming week.

It proved to be a busy week for me as well. I worked on an amendment for LB88 – a bill that would increase the fee for marriage licenses and copies. A compromise was worked out on General File regarding the fee for marriage licenses but nothing was done to address the increase proposed for the copies of marriage licenses. I filed several amendments to address this issue. My intent was to get the fee for copies down around $8.50 from the $16 proposed in the original bill. We ended up compromising on a $9.00 fee for copies. I introduced LB479 to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. This bill would allow communities to erect memorials commemorating service members of the United States armed forces. Current statutes specify the wars and conflicts members must have served in to be recognized and did not include our most recent wars/conflicts. Rather than add them into the statute I thought it made more sense to strike the specific language. I also introduced LB256 to the Revenue Committee. LB256 would increase the sales tax one-half of a percent and designate all of the revenue generated to the Property Tax Credit Fund.

Newsletter 2/13/15

February 12th, 2015

This week I introduced LB31 to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB31 would repeal the motorcycle helmet law in Nebraska if passed. This is an issue that many individuals feel passionate about, which was evident at the hearing.

While my ideal situation would be for LB31 to be advanced from committee as I introduced it, I am realistic, and understand that the chances of it being amended from its current form is great. As with any bill, finding that delicate balance of addressing your opponents concerns can be a challenge.

The day of the hearing, there was a motorcycle accident in Lincoln. Obviously, this garnered a great amount of coverage with the rider saying he would have been all for repealing the helmet law before his accident but now he thinks we should keep the helmet law. This issue often tugs at the heartstrings of individuals causing people to make decisions about the law based on emotions and not facts. As the FACTS started coming out about this particular accident we discovered that this motorcyclist was cited for negligent driving, improper registration of a motor vehicle and no motorcycle operator’s license. People like this individual do not respect our current laws and they are going to break them regardless of the laws. What I find disgusting is that the opponents of my bill are proud to parade this individual around as the new poster child for requiring helmets with no regard for the fact that that accident never would have happened had he obeyed the law and not been operating a motorcycle that he had neither license nor ability to operate, safely.

Last week I had introduced LB651, a bill that would have addressed the unfunded mandate that are often passed down to counties in the form of uncollectible court fees. This week the Judiciary Committee killed that bill. This week I also withdrew LB604, a bill I introduced that would allow the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to make disaster payments for projects as they are completed. I worked with NEMA to address the concerns of payments being made in a timely manner. I introduced the bill but NEMA was able to make the necessary changes through internal policies and they are now making payments upon the completion and inspection of projects. If appropriate change can be made without legislation that is a good thing.

Newsletter 2/6/15

February 8th, 2015

We were finally able to move on from LB88, a bill to increase the fee for a marriage license or for copies of a marriage license, this week. A compromise was reached that allowed the bill to advance from General File.

The compromise lowered the proposed increase from $50 for a marriage license down to $25. It is my intention to bring an amendment on Select File that would change the increase in for the marriage license copies from the $16 proposed by LB88 to $8.50. This would reflect the same increase that we are proposing with the compromise change in the marriage license fee.

This week I introduced LB651, a bill that would address uncollectible court fees, to the Judiciary Committee. I also introduced LB191 to the Revenue Committee. LB191 would exempt veteran service organizations from having to pay the sales and use tax on food or food products they sell.

On Tuesday, February 10th the Agricultural Committee will hear LB176, a bill that would change the Competitive Livestock Markets Act, introduced by Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala. Under current law, packers are prohibited from owning and feeding hogs in Nebraska. LB176 would change the law which would then allow packer involvement in the production of pork. It is my fear that such involvement would be harmful to the private producers in our state. This is a bill that we dealt with last year and it is back again with a few changes.

 

Newsletter 1/30/15

January 30th, 2015

The session is now in full swing – complete with spending eight hours on a bill that really does not warrant it. The morning debate this week was pretty much consumed by LB88.

LB88 was introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell of Lincoln and it would increase the fee for obtaining marriage license from $15.00 as it now is to $50.00. Additionally, LB88 also increases the fee for obtaining certified copies of a marriage license. Both of these called for increases are in excess of 300%. Senator Chambers and I were the only senators in vocal opposition of this bill when it was introduced. While it may be time to revisit the fee, I do not feel that a $35 increase is necessary. Senator Chambers has said that he will take debate on this bill eight hours and Senator Campbell shows no sign of pulling her bill, so it looks like we will start next week off once again with LB88.

I understand that in the last ten years the state has cut funding across the board and now counties and agencies are trying to find ways to compensate for that. I know that this bill will not be the last bill we will hear this session that attempts to increase a “user fee” of some kind. LB85 that was just heard by the Agriculture Committee would allow the Nebraska Brand Committee to increase the brand inspection to fee $1.25 up from $0.75.there may be some compromise that will be reached, but I ask that all of you please understand that when I see requested increases that are excessive, I will be in opposition.

In other legislative happenings, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee has indefinitely postponed LB112. LB112 was known as the National Popular Vote bill and it was introduced by Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill. LB112 would have effectively destroyed the Electoral College system we use to elect the president of the United States. My bill, LB190 was advanced from the Judiciary Committee and is currently on General File. I have also added my name to LB118 which has become known as the cigar shops bill which is now on General File.

 

Newsletter 1/23/15

January 23rd, 2015

Bill introduction has now concluded with a total of 663 bills and several resolutions being introduced. I ended up introducing 11 bills, the most I have ever introduced in a single year.

Last week I told you about five of the bills that I had introduced. The other six consist of the following. LB479 which would change provisions relating to memorials for veterans. LB 601 is a bill that would prohibit a school board member or an immediate family member from being employed with the school district. LB603 is a bill thatwould provide for the processing and certification of federal firearms forms as prescribed. The next bill, LB604, is a bill that would change provisions relating to reimbursement to political subdivisions under the Governor’s Emergency Program. I am working withNEMA with hopes that I will be able to withdraw this bill because NEMA will have made the necessary changes with internal policies. LB651, would change the liability for certain court costs with the intent of saving the counties some money.Finally, LR31CA is a constitutional amendment to change legislative term limits to two consecutive full terms. This would provide that even though a senator was originally appointed he or she would be allowed to run for and be elected to two full terms.

Yesterday, LB190, was heard by the Judiciary Committee and I am hopeful that it will be advanced from committee early next week. I think it only right that we afford military spouses the ability to be considered a resident of the state for the purposes of obtaining a concealed carry permit when they are here because their spouse has a permanent duty assignment to our state. We already afford that status to the service person.

Newsletter 1/16/15

January 16th, 2015

This week the Legislature has been busy with bill introduction and organizational meetings for committees as well as debating the rules. So far this session, with two days left to introduce bills, 430 bills have been introduced.

I have introduced five of the 430 so far. LB31 is similar to bill that I have introduced before, this bill would repeal the motorcycle helmet law. LB190 is a bill that died in the black hole that was the Judiciary Committee last year. LB190 would allow the spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces assigned to a permanent duty station in Nebraska to be considered a resident for the purposes of the Concealed Handgun Permit Act. LB191 would provide a sales tax exemption on food sold by veterans service organizations. In order to provide a vehicle for discussion, I introduced LB256, a bill that would increase the sales and use tax a half a cent and designate that money for the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. This bill has already generated some interest from the press and would provide approximately $140,000,000 for property tax credits. LB303 is another bill that I have brought before granting schools the ability to adopt a child sexual abuse policy.

Additionally, this week I was elected to be the vice chairman of the Business and Labor Committee as well as the Rules Committee. Committee hearings will begin on Tuesday, January 20th and will run through the middle of March.

 

Newsletter 1/9/15

January 9th, 2015

The first session of the 104th Legislature is underway and as expected it has been a busy few days. While we knew we would be seeing a changing of the guard there were still some surprises as the members of the legislature elected our leadership for the next two years.

As normal in an odd year, the session begins with the election of the speaker and committee chairs. Senator Galen Hadley, of Kearney, was elected to replace Senator Greg Adams, of York, as speaker. Ten of the fourteen standing committees have a new chairperson.  The Agriculture Committee is now chaired by Senator Jerry Johnson, of Wahoo. The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee is now chaired by Senator Jim Scheer, of Norfolk. Senator Burke Harr, of Omaha, leads the Business and Labor Committee. The General Affairs Committee has new leadership, our neighbor to the west, Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill. Senator John Murante, of Gretna, is the new chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. For the first time in eight years the Judiciary Committee has much needed new leadership with Senator Les Seiler, of Hastings. It is my hope that under Senator Seiler the Judiciary Committee will no longer be a black hole for legislative bills. Senator Ken Schilz, of Ogallala, decided to leave the Agriculture Committee chairmanship to lead the Natural Resources Committee. The Revenue Committee is now chaired by Senator Mike Gloor, of Grand Island. Senator Jim Smith, of Papillion, is the new chairman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. And Senator Sue Crawford, of Bellevue, is the chairperson of the Urban Affairs Committee.

The following four committees will continue under the leadership that they previously had. Senator Heath Mello, of Omaha, continues to serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee; Senator Kate Sullivan, of Cedar Rapids, is once again the chairperson of the Education Committee; the Health and Human Services Committee continues under the direction of Senator Kathy Campbell, of Lincoln; a single vote keeps Senator Jeremy Nordquist, of Omaha, as chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.

In addition to the standing committees a new chair was elected to serve the Executive Board. I ran against Senator Bob Krist, of Omaha, for this position. I was unsuccessful in my bid.

After the election of the committee chairs the Committee on Committees, which I am now a member of, started the process of assigning members to the committees they will serve on. For the last two years, I served on the Agriculture, General Affairs and the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. I will continue to serve on the Agriculture and the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committees but will no longer be serving on the General Affairs Committee; I have made a move over to the Business and Labor Committee. I will be seeking the vice chairmanship position of this committee.

In addition to electing new leadership and finding out committee assignments we also have the opportunity to move offices. My office will stay in room 1206 and my office phone number will remain the same.