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
November 6th, 2021

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

Weekly UPDATE December 3, 2021
December 3rd, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

Mike and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving seeing the faces of our children and grandchildren around our table. I hope you and your family were able to spend some extended time together as well. It is always a busy time as a State Legislator during the holiday season. I am working to prepare our home for Christmas while I and my staff work to be prepared for the Legislative Session to kick off at the first of the year. There is nothing more refreshing to me than to be back home, surrounded by my friends and family.  They are the very reason we do what we do at the Capitol each Session. The life we live in rural Nebraska is a rare experience worth fighting for.

 

CRITICAL RACE THEORY

It is vital today that leaders in public policy, education fields and throughout our society focus on building environments that help all Americans become better citizens. I find myself very concerned about the divisive ideology of Critical Race Theory (CRT) that is tearing at the fabric of our nation. I think it is important to stop and get some clarity on the reality of what CRT really is.

By definition, Critical Race Theory (CRT) denies that race is a natural, biological or physical attribute of human beings and teaches instead that race is a socially constructed or invented category used to exploit people of color.  Consequently, CRT holds that every American social institution is inherently racist and that all white people are automatically born into a position of privilege. CRT, founded in Marxism, contends that America is fundamentally racist and that its institutions are tainted by this racism. Proponents of CRT seek to “fix” America’s racism and achieve “equity” by a process of racial discrimination in which people in our country would be pitted against one another. Rather than identifying specific instances of racism and rooting them out, CRT seeks to define communities based on racial lines and to build public policy and redistribute resources based on skin color.

According to Fox News, “the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics released their biannual Harvard youth poll. They’ve been doing the poll for 20 years, asking 18- to 29-year-olds…what they think about the state of our country. Over a thousand young Americans were polled. The margin of error was three percent. …31 percent said America is the greatest country in the world. …Here’s why…31 percent matters. If you go by the old adage, “The children are the future,” then plain as day, this poll shows that the future hates America, or at least they think there’s nothing special about America. “It’s just…one of many countries.” America was founded on Western Christian principles. Our founders? The product of the fusion, the beauty, the brilliance of Athens and Rome and Jerusalem. They knew and understood the Bible inside and out. They knew Latin. They understood the classics, and they understood human nature: who we are as sinful creatures…hell-bent on power and greed. They built the system – the first in human history – designed to restrain government and protect God-given rights for the individual: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… So while for decades, patriots and conservatives fought for good things like free markets and defeating communists and Islamists, the left focused on culture and classrooms. They specifically targeted the way we educate our young people by focusing on removing the most important ingredients. They knew our Judeo-Christian faith and tradition were the key to our human freedoms. Our founders understood that; George Washington talked about it. So the progressives knew they had to get rid of it.”

In this day and age as social media has become a platform of misinformation it is vital that as parents and grandparents we know what is being taught to our children in our publicly funded schools. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars, our local school systems, and the heart of our communities are at risk of being infiltrated with an ideology that America and Amercians are bad. There is an attempt to rewrite the very history of this country and its formation. I appreciate Governor Ricketts recent comment about CRT and UNL where he said, “From racially motivated hiring practices to harmful trainings, the University’s plan would inject Critical Race Theory into every corner of campus,”  “It will pit people against each other by conditioning everyone to see others through the lens of race rather than as individuals with unique strengths.  UNL’s focus should be on educational excellence, not ideological indoctrination.”

I believe that if CRT continues to be taught to our children there will be no America left for our children.

 

PROUD OF WINSIDE

Winside Mutual Aid Meeting, Winside Fire Department

I want to congratulate Steve and Michele Jorgensen for receiving an honor from Governor Pete Ricketts as a result of their bravery in likely saving the lives of three people during a July 3 house fire. Steve and Michele were honored as Nebraska Navy admirals by Governor Ricketts in front of a crowd of volunteer firefighters. I am grateful to the Jorgensen’s for risking their lives in order to save others. We are proud to have you live in District 17!

 

NEBRASKA’S NEW 511 WEBSITE ADDS WEATHER RADAR

The new NE 511 site is mobile-responsive and includes new features such as the Weather Radar layer, My Favorite Cameras, and searchable list views of road reports, cameras, and weather stations. State officials said the additions to the 511 system will make it easier for motorists and truckers to determine whether it’s safe to travel. The update, which will cost $150,000, includes National Weather Service radar, a special page for commercial drivers and a new “crowdsourcing” feature, which will allow motorists to provide feedback on road conditions. The 511 app and website relay up-to-date information about road closures and road conditions (wet, snow-covered, etc.), and allow motorists to access roadside video cameras installed across the state. The website for the 511 system is dot.nebraska.gov/travel/511/. 

I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE November 19, 2021
November 19th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

As of Sunday Nebraska’s corn harvest was 96% complete, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. While it is wonderful to be done, I always feel like the process our family experiences bringing in the harvest together is great preparation to be together to celebrate the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to all in District 17 from my family to yours. I wish everyone safe travel and a wonderful time celebrating abundant blessings with those you hold dear.

WALLBUILDERS CONFERENCE

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the WallBuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. I found my time there very encouraging as I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with like minded conservative pro-family State Legislators from across the United States for an insightful briefing session with leading experts in a variety of fields that touch many of the most crucial areas of public service. What an inspiration to see so many men and women taking bold stands for what is right, creating excellent legislation that upholds truth, justice and liberty for all. 

While there I learned of First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious liberty for all Americans. They believe that every American of any faith—or no faith at all—has a fundamental right to follow their conscience and live according to their beliefs. They come alongside individual Americans who are in jeopardy of losing their individual rights with legal representation at no or very reduced expense.

Another highlight was hearing Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson who spoke on the 7 Core Principles of Conservatism. The core values he shared are the same values I live by as a fiscal conservative representing you on the Floor of the Legislature. You can find more about Congressman Johnson at mikejohnson.house.gov, the 7 Core Principles he shared were as follows:

  1. Individual Freedom

The birth of our great nation was inspired by the bold declaration that our individual, God-given liberties should be preserved against government intrusion. That same conviction informs our conservative policy decisions still today. In America, we proclaim the self-evident truths that all of us are created equal and granted by God the same inherent freedoms, such as the natural and unalienable rights to life, liberty, conscience, free speech and the free exercise of religion, and the ability to pursue happiness, own property, build wealth and defend ourselves and our families. The purpose of government is to secure these rights, and the ideas we advance should always aim to maintain and increase the liberty of the American people. 

  1. Limited Government

For individual liberty to be championed, government must be reduced. We believe, as our founders did, that legitimate government operates only by the consent of the governed, and is more efficient and less corrupt when it is limited in its size and scope. When applied as written, our incomparable Constitution provides important safeguards against government encroachment, a vital separation of powers, and a necessary system of checks and balances. Federalism, decentralized authority, and the elimination of unnecessary regulations and bureaucracy help ensure that government serves the people, and not the other way around. The best protection against government largesse is an engaged and informed electorate.

  1. The Rule of Law

Ours is “a government of laws and not of men,” and the rule of law is our foundation. To maintain ordered liberty and a civilized society, public and private virtue should be encouraged and justice must be administered equally and impartially to all. Each branch of government must adhere to the Constitution, and the judicial branch must not be allowed to assume or exercise legislative or executive powers. Transparency and accountability are keys to good government, and Congress must faithfully perform its constitutional responsibility of oversight.

  1. Peace through Strength

The first obligation of the federal government is to provide for the “common defense” of the United States by protecting our homeland and our strategic interests abroad. Because America serves in a natural role of moral leadership in an increasingly dangerous world, and weakness invites aggression, we must remain the strongest military power on earth fully prepared and capable of defeating any adversaries, tyrants or terrorists, under any circumstances, at any time. Adequate investment is necessary to maintain the air, land, sea, nuclear and cyber warfare.

  1. Fiscal Responsibility

Because government has refused to live within its means, America is facing an unprecedented debt and spending crisis. Federal debt now exceeds $26 trillion, and our current fiscal path is unsustainable and dangerous, jeopardizing our nation’s economic growth, stability and the security of future generations. Congress has a moral and constitutional duty to resolve the crisis, bring spending under control, balance the federal budget, reform and modernize entitlement programs, eliminate fraud, waste and abuse, pursue continued pro-growth tax reforms and permanent tax reductions, and restore regular order and accountability in the budget and appropriations processes.

  1. Free Markets

Government often stands as the greatest obstacle to the progress and prosperity of free people. Free markets and free trade agreements allow for innovation, improvement and economic expansion as risk-takers, entrepreneurs and business owners are given the liberty to pursue the American dream and create more jobs and upward mobility for more people. We believe competition should be encouraged, and government intervention and regulation should be limited. The people are better qualified to make decisions about their own lives and finances than bureaucrats, and the private sector will outperform the public sector in virtually every scenario. The free enterprise system rewards hard work and self-sacrifice, and is the basis and genius of the American economy.

  1. Human Dignity

Because all men are created equal and in the image of God, every human life has inestimable dignity and value, and every person should be measured only by the content of their character. A just government protects life, honors marriage and family as the primary institutions of a healthy society, and embraces the vital cultural influences of religion and morality. Public policy should always encourage education and emphasize the virtue of hard work as a pathway out of-poverty, while public assistance programs should be reserved only for those who are truly in need. In America, everyone who plays by the rules should get a fair shot. By preserving these ideals, we will maintain the goodness of America that has been the secret to our greatness.

 

ADOPTION AWARENESS MONTH

Governor Pete Ricketts has designated November as “Adoption Awareness Month”.  In his press conference they emphasized the need for additional families to provide a home and sense of belonging to the 600+ youth in Nebraska awaiting adoption.  Adoptions in Nebraska have declined during the pandemic, so parents are urged to consider providing a permanent home to a child in need.

I am continuing to work on the best legislation I can bring next Session to fight for the rights of parents and children that have made District 17 an extraordinary place to live for generations. I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE November 5, 2021
November 5th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

I am looking forward to celebrations throughout the nation honoring the brave men and women who have sacrificed to keep America the home of the free and the land of the brave. I would like to personally extend my gratitude to those of you who have served in the military to uphold the freedoms and liberties we enjoy everyday. I also want to recognize the families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost a loved one for the sake of this great nation. The theme for the year’s Veterans Day is “Honoring All Who Served.” I hope each young person will sit down and visit with a Veteran. Get to know their story and where they served. Let a Veteran know how much they are appreciated and we will always honor their service. 

NEBRASKA STATE COLLEGES ENTERTAIN POLICY CHANGE

The Board of Trustees for the Nebraska State College System, which governs Wayne State, Chadron State, and Peru State, is scheduled to vote on ideologically driven gender identity policies during their November 11th board meeting.

Wayne State College in District 17, is the reason I joined Senator Julie Slama who represents District 1, with Peru State College, and Senator Tom Brewer who represents District 43 with Chadron State College, in writing a letter to Chancellor Turman and the Board of Trustees for the Nebraska State College System imploring them to reject the proposed gender identity policies.

The proposed revisions to Board Policy 5007 (Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy) and New Board Policy 5012 (Chosen Name and Gender Identity) that incorporate gender identity ideology present many of the same issues from the Nebraska Department of Education’s proposed Health Education Standards, which drew opposition from the majority of state senators in the Nebraska Legislature and thousands of concerned parents and taxpayers. 

The policies would force employees—including professors, staff and students—to adopt a person’s preferred pronouns, even if doing so would violate the sincerely held moral and/or religious views of the employee. Failure to do so could constitute workplace harassment and result in disciplinary action by the State College System. Board Policy 5007 also infringes on the privacy and safety rights of women on campus by allowing biological males who identify as female. 

I have a growing concern about such controversial policies being introduced by the education systems across the state this year. It is a vital time for all Nebraskans to stay informed and let your voice be heard for the sake of the next generations. The State College Board of Trustees meeting will be at Wayne State College on November 11th at 3:30pm in the Niobrara Room in the Kanter Student Center. You can find all of the information at the NSCS website.

I find it very interesting that the University of Nebraska also came out with a memorandum last March, the same month that the Nebraska Department of Education published the first draft of their Health Education Standards. Memorandum #40 is the University’s Policy on Chosen Name and Gender Identity. During a time when thousands of parents gathered at public hearings to express their concerns about similar ideologies, the University was putting very similar policies in place. It seems to me like a lack of transparency. It should be recognized that it is often the parents who finance the college their children attend. In visiting with Chancellor Turman and asked this question, “Has there been any related issues to these policies at this time?” He assured me there was not. It makes me wonder why they feel they need to adopt these policies? Nebraskans need to wake up and pay attention. The next generation doesn’t have to stay in Nebraska to be educated. Students and parents have many choices where they can be educated, and I hope they choose to stay in Nebraska.

REVENUE COMMITTEE SPECIAL MEETING

As a member of the Legislative Revenue Committee, I was part of a joint meeting with the Appropriations Committee this week to hear a presentation of the 2021 Nebraska Tax Expenditure Annual Report from the Nebraska Department of Revenue. 

The Revenue Committee stood together and held a press conference to discuss the Lincoln Journal Star article entitled Property Tax Rate is Lower, but Lincoln Homeowners Could Still Pay More. The article states “The average assessed valuation of homes in Lancaster County jumped a record 11% — an increase sparked by a limited supply of homes for sale and huge demand that led to buyers competing and driving up sale prices. That means the owner of an average home in Lincoln — $226,341 this year — will pay $4,511 in property taxes. Thirteen governmental subdivisions make up a Lincoln homeowner’s tax bill. The biggest by far is Lincoln Public Schools, which comprises 62%. The city of Lincoln makes up 16% and the county 14%. The city’s 31.793-cent tax levy means the owner of that same home will pay $720 to support city services. The county’s 26.4076-cent levy means that homeowners will pay $598 to support county services, an amount which doesn’t include the amount levied by the Railroad Transportation Safety District.” 

I know this may not seem like it relates to District 17, but It is disheartening to work so hard as a Legislator to reduce property taxes and see local decisions like this erase the relief for their residents. 30% of a Lincolnite’s tax payment will go toward property taxes. This is a local issue. It is important to take a look where our taxes are being spent and rise up and pay attention to where your money is going. If we aren’t careful in Nebraska, we will be taxing people out of their homes or out of our state. 

VACCINE MANDATES

Many of Nebraska’s leaders are standing together to fight the government overreach of forced vaccine mandates. Earlier this month I joined 27 of my Legislative Colleagues requesting that Governor Ricketts call a Special Session to address the mandates. In his wisdom, Governor Ricketts said he would gladly call a Special Session if at least 33 Senators were in support. The Governor wanted to see 33 votes not only because a Special Session would cost Nebraska thousands of dollars, but also because it might possibly take 2-3 weeks of everyone’s  time only to fail by not having 33 votes. The Attorney General and Governor Ricketts are taking bold stands joining their colleagues across the county to fight the Biden Administration’s overreach. The 21 Senators who did NOT sign on in support of the Special Session to fight vaccine mandates were: Ray Aguilar, Carol Blood, Eliot Bostar, John Cavannaugh, Machaela Cavanaugh, Jen Day, Wendy DeBoer, Matt Hansen, Robert Hilkemann, Meagan Hunt, Mark Kolterman, Steve Lathrop, John McCollister, Terrell McKinney, Adam Morfeld, Patty Pansing Brooks, John Stinner, Tony Vargas, Lynne Walz, Justin Wayne, and Anna Wishart. I look for legislation to be created for the 2022 legislative session. 

I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE October 29, 2021
October 29th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

The weather is definitely cooling down and it is feeling more like Fall in Nebraska. My husband Mike and our crew finished harvesting beans last week and are now knee deep in combining the corn. I hope the rains are allowing everyone to have a little bit of needed rest in order to get ready for the next leg of bringing in the harvest. 

WELCOME JACKI

I am happy to welcome Jacki O’Neill as the new Administrative Assistant in my office. When you call in and make an appointment or have suggestions, Jacki will be happy to take down your details and direct you to the proper channels. Although she lives in Lincoln, Jacki has lived in District 17 in the past and continues to have many connections in our area. She has been married to Dan for 44 years and they have 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Jacki has also been a 41 year member of the Jackson, Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary. You can reach Jacki at 402-471-2716 or joneill@leg.ne.gov.

INTERIM STUDIES

LR 136- Senator Brewer introduced an interim study to examine and evaluate the causes, costs, and impacts of rolling electrical power outages during the extreme weather events of February 2021.

LR225- The Government and Veterans Affairs Committee held an interim study to review occupational regulation of truth and deception examiners pursuant to the Occupational Board Reform Act.

ROLE OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

As I prepare for the Session to begin in January I am looking at a few new bills I feel are vital to bring forward. One is in direct response to the controversy around the Health Education Standards draft created by the Nebraska Department of Education this year. I am looking at legislation that will go back to the drawing board and clearly define the original role of the State Board of Education regarding Education Standards. To give you a little history, in 2000 the Nebraska Legislature passed Statute 79-760.01 which requires the Nebraska State Board of Education to adopt measurable academic content standards for at least the grade levels required for statewide assessment. Those standards shall cover the subject areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and the State Board of Education shall develop a plan to review and update standards for those subject areas every seven years. Though the State Board of Education has created standards in other areas, they were only mandated to create standards for the five core subjects. The Legislature has heard many bills in the past regarding additional mandatory standards to be taught to our children. In fact, legislation has passed to mandate being able to read by 3rd Grade, Civic Education, Financial Literacy Education and a version of Health Education Standards. The Health Standards in that bill are defined in statute 79-712  Public school; health education; requirements. Provisions shall be made by the proper local school authorities for instructing the pupils in all public schools in a comprehensive health education program which shall include instruction (1) as to the physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of drug use, misuse, and abuse and (2) on intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism, and epilepsy, their causes, and the prevention thereof through proper nutrition and the avoidance of the consumption of drugs as defined in this section. For purposes of this section, drugs means any and all biologically active substances used in the treatment of illnesses or for recreation or pleasure. Special emphasis shall be placed upon the commonly abused drugs of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hallucinogenics, amphetamines, barbiturates, and narcotics. And 79-2,146.Suicide awareness and prevention training. (1) Beginning in school year 2015-16, all public school nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, school social workers, and any other appropriate personnel shall receive at least one hour of suicide awareness and prevention training each year. This training shall be provided within the framework of existing inservice training programs offered by the State Department of Education or as part of required professional development activities. Comprehensive Sex Education has been introduced in Nebraska several times in the past and has failed to advance every time. When the State Board of Education took liberties beyond current State Statutes and introduced Health Education Standards with extremely controversial content, they stepped outside of their lane. I am currently working with key stakeholders to take a hard look at getting those parameters defined to prevent similar chaos from happening in the future.

VACCINE MANDATES

I receive numerous emails every week with personal stories of Nebraskans from all ages, races and socioeconomic realities in the state. For some, the threat of a mandatory vaccine has jeopardized their health, their freedom, their place of employment and life as they’ve known it. I have added my signature, with many of my colleagues, requesting a Special Session to take a hard look at how vaccine mandates are impacting the individual lives of Nebraskans. There is a chance that a special session may not be granted. That is why I am so thankful Nebraska’s Attorney General Peterson also signed on to an Amicus Brief with 19 other Attorney Generals across the country to stand for the  individual freedoms of all Americans. Attorney General also jointly led with Missouri’s Attorney General a ten-state coalition in filing a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on federal contractors and employees. Governor Ricketts also announced that he had signed an executive order barring state agencies from enforcing coronavirus vaccine mandates on state teammates. I will continue to keep you informed as things progress.

I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE October 22, 2021
October 22nd, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

Happy Halloween! What a fun time to watch our children choose a costume and trick or treating. Keep a watchful eye on the little one as we go out to celebrate another Fall tradition. Nebraskans are fortunate to live in a state where we have spectacular sunrises and sunsets. We have a Harvest Moon that our hard working farmers can use as both inspiration and as a guide to bring in yet another bountiful harvest that helps feed the world. We are loyal to our traditions that have existed for generations and finally, we as Nebraskans know that ours is a way paved with the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers who knew the difference between right and wrong and were never afraid to say so. This year has shown me that I am representing the finest people in this republic and I am thankful. 

THANK YOU BEVERLY

Many of you know Beverly Neel who has faithfully served as the Administrative Assistant in the District 17 Legislative office for the last ten years. Beverly is the person who would answer the phone when you called and faithfully helped constituents with any type of question.  She came to Lincoln during Senator Bloomfield’s term in December of 2010. Of the many things she did to make a significant difference during her time at the Capitol, Beverly was instrumental in making the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance a daily practice in the Nebraska Legislature. This week Beverly retired from her work here in Lincoln and was awarded for her excellence in service by the State. Beverly will be greatly missed by everyone in the Legislature and most importantly in our office. I wish you the best Beverly in your next season of life. 

VACCINE MANDATES

I am continuing to work with a number of my colleagues to secure a Special Session to address vaccine mandates being put in place by the Federal government. After reaching out to the Department of Labor, I was informed that there are no details as of yet to how the President’s statements directed toward employers with over 100 employees facing potential fines of $14000 for non-compliance. I will keep you posted with the latest developments. We are hearing from many people everyday with personal stories and concerns if this moves forward.

CONGRESSMAN SMITH

Congressman Adrian Smith will be sending a representative from his office to our area next week to hear any thoughts or concerns we may have as his District 3 residents. Now encompasses all of District 17- if you have any questions related to the Federal delegation make time to attend one of these two events. 

Thursday, October 28 

Wayne Area Economic Development – The Max 

109 Main Street, Wayne 

11:30am – 12:45pm CT

 

South Sioux City, City Hall 

1615 1st Avenue, South Sioux City 

1:30pm – 2:30pm CT

 

LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT

This week the Nebraska Chamber hosted a Manufacturing Summit where my staff had the opportunity to take part in a unique opportunity to connect with Nebraska manufacturers as well as state and national industry speakers. The purpose was to exchange ideas and information and identify emerging trends. Covid has greatly impacted manufacturing at home and around the world. Much of the discussion centered around how to assist with a suffering global supply chain and low numbers in the workforce. It was encouraging to see how well Nebraska ranks in comparison to other states with the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the county. Governor Ricketts also shared that several both in-state and national companies are expanding significantly at their Nebraska locations, adding many attractive jobs to the state.

CONGRATULATIONS SHERYL TIETZ

District 17’s own Sheryl Tietz from Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Preschool in Bancroft was awarded Early Childhood Educator of the Year. Mrs.Tietz is special to our family because our three grandchildren;  Isaac, Ben and Evelyn have all been blessed by her love and kindness and dedication. Thank you for your service Mrs. Tietz, you are making a difference. District 17 is better because you are here!

I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE October 8, 2021
October 8th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

What a delightful time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the abundant  blessings of harvest. I never get more pleasure in life than to take a meal out to my guys in the field and enjoy the progress they are making. I pray for safety not only my own family, but all Nebraskan families who are busy this time of year.

Now that Redistricting is completed my staff and I are taking a deep dive into the Legislative Bills I still have in Committee or potential new legislation.      

INTERIM STUDIES

There are many Interim Studies taking place this Session. I sit on the Revenue Committee which held several key hearings this week:

LR23- Senator Dave Murmon introduced a Legislative Research Interim Study to examine a potential Constitutional amendment to limit property taxation for schools to residential property only. 

LR232- Senator Curt Friesen introduced an Interim Study to examine the assessment procedures of county assessors throughout the state of Nebraska.

Interim studies heard from other Committees include: 

LR145- Senator John Stinner introduced an Interim Study of the adequacy of current aged and disabled Medicaid waiver assisted-living provider rates.

LR180- Senator Lynne Walz introduced an Interim Study to examine the identification of at-risk and economically disadvantaged students as a qualification factor for state-funded, education-related programs.

LR182- Senator Lynne Walz introduced an Interim Study to examine the school enrollment options available to students.

LR209- Senator Mike McDonnell introduced an Interim Study to examine the appropriations necessary for creating public health crisis zones.

LR212- Senator Mike McDonnell introduced an Interim Study to examine the healthcare workforce shortage in Nebraska.

Together my staff and I are paying close attention to all Legislative Studies in order to discern how each issue could impact Nebraska. We don’t agree with every topic, but we are careful to stay on top of the issues because generally a Bill will follow each Legislative Study.

BILLS STILL IN COMMITTEE 

The Legislature will enter the Second Session of the 107th Legislature in January. At that time, we will continue the legislative process with all bills introduced last year that remain in Committee with a chance to come to the Floor for debate. I still have the following Bills remaining in the process:

LB111- First Responders- defines and enacts criminal violations related to rioting, aggressive rioting, inciting riots, looting, assault on first responders; to prescribe penalties including, but not limited to, minimum sentencing, fines, and restitution.

LB112- Open Meetings- Requires that members of the public be afforded the opportunity to speak at any public meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act.

LB280- Insurance Board- amends legislation to eliminate a state residency requirement for the board of directors of an insurance company.

LB282- Obscenity Law- Repeals the exemption from prosecution for those in educational institutions providing obscenity to minors in grades K-12.

LB325- Art Therapy -would provide for licensing of qualified art therapists as Licensed Mental Health Practitioners and Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioners with a credential as a Certified Art Therapist.

LB523- School Bonding Authority- Clarifies that the special tax (building fund) could not be used to build a new school building, add additional footage to an existing school building, or purchase sites upon which new buildings will be located. School districts looking to use the building fund for those purposes must receive approval through a vote of its citizens at a general or special election.

LB596- Higher Blend Ethanol- Creates the Nebraska Higher Blend Tax Credit Act for Nebraska retail dealers that sell and dispense E-15 or higher blends. 

CONSIDER RUNNING FOR OFFICE 

I want to strongly encourage anyone interested in running for office to make sure to take a good look at the new Redistricting maps to make certain you live in the District you are interested in representing. Candidate filing information for the 2022 election cycle will become available in November. I will keep you posted. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE September 30, 2021
September 30th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE SPECIAL REDISTRICTING SESSION

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Not only is the foliage changing into beautiful colors, but the fields are getting ready to be harvested. I love seeing children anxious to get home from school so they can help with the chores and be the first one to jump on the combine or tractor to help grandpa and daddy harvest the crops. In September we celebrated Farm Safety and Health Week. Living in an agricultural community, we know that farm safety needs to be shifted into high gear throughout the entire Harvest season. Please be very careful to slow down for machinery on the roads, especially when traveling over hilly areas where you can come upon someone rather unexpectedly. Also, with long hours in the field, take care to get plenty of rest and eat a good diet so you can stay healthy and alert throughout the day. I want to wish everyone a safe and bountiful harvest.

REDISTRICTING FINALIZED

Redistricting in Nebraska is complete and Governor Pete Ricketts has signed off on the final versions.  What does that mean to Legislative District 17?

Legislative District 17 (LD17) grew with the addition of Wakefield and Emerson moving into the District from Dixon County to make those communities whole.  For those who are familiar with Highway 35 coming from Emerson towards Wakefield if you continue to drive straight west along the country gravel road at the junction of Highway 35/9 this area would fill the cavity seen on the 2011 redistricting map.  The population of the redesigned LD17 is 40,122.  

Congressional District 3 (CD3) grew also with the addition of the following counties:

Washington, Burt, Thurston, Otoe and western Polk.  Making CD3 made up of 79.5 counties out of 93. Congressman Adrian Smith will continue as representative of CD3, which now includes Thurston County in Legislative District 17.

Public Service Commission D4 keeps Legislative District 17 in the same district noting that Washington and Adams counties were added and Webster, Wheeler, Greeley, and Howard counties are now in District 5.  Rod Johnson is the District 4 voting member of the Commission.

Supreme Court Judicial District 3 keeps Legislative District 17; however Platte and Colfax counties moved into District 5.  Justice William B. Cassel is the District 3 Justice.

Board of Regents District 3 keeps Legislative District 17 in place but loses Knox and Pierce counties and adds Polk, Butler and Saunders counties.  Jim Pillen is the District 3 voting member of the Board.

State Board of Education has considerable change.  Legislative District 17 was in District 3 at the 2011 redistricting; however, it is in District 6.  District 6 through the 2021 redistricting map now consists of Thurston, Dakota, Dixon, Cedar, Wayne, Knox, Pierce, Antelope, Wheeler, Boone, Greeley, Nance, Howard, Merrick, Buffalo, Hall and Adams counties.  Maureen Nickels is the District 6 voting member of the Board. 

REVENUE COMMITTEE  INTERIM HEARING

I continue to serve on the Revenue Committee. We had the opportunity to hold a special Interim Hearing on LR 261 directly following the Redistricting Session this week. The  purpose  of  the  interim  study  was  to  examine  the  structure  and administration of and compliance with Nebraska’s  Individual and Corporate Income Taxes, Financial Institutions and Insurance Premiums Taxes,  State and Local Sales and Use Taxes, Real and Personal Property Taxes, as well as other taxes. We invited 17 Nebraska based organizations to share their unique perspectives on tax reform in our state. 

For the purposes of the study, we were provided the following information on Nebraska’s tax situation as it ranks nationally. The information came from The Tax Foundation.

  • Nebraska ranks #14 for overall total tax burden for a resident at 9.01%.
  • Nebraska ranks #10 for property tax burden at 3.77%.
  • Nebraska ranks #26 for individual tax burden at 2.30%.
  • Nebraska ranks #36 for total sales and excise tax burden at 2.94%.
  • Individual income tax rates in Nebraska are 6.84%.
  • Nebraska ranks #29 for combined state and average local sales tax rates at  6.94%.
  • Nebraska ranked #7 in 2019 for property taxes at 1.54%.

BELLS ACROSS AMERICA

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Dakota City Fire Department’s “Bells Across America” service to remember fallen firefighters, Captain Andy Zalme, Captain Eric Speck, and Firefighter Lowell Satterwhite. No words can convey our deep appreciation of these local heroes. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

NEBRASKA ECONOMIC TAX CREDIT IN DISTRICT 17

I greatly appreciate the hospitality of the Darling family hosting myself and the History Nebraska staff for a tour of The Palace Hotel. What a delight to see the extensive renovation work being done. While we were in town, the Nebraska History staff and I also drove to Walthill to admire the progress taking place at the historic Susan La Flesche Picotte Hospital. I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit has on the communities of Pender and Walthill for decades to come.

WAYNE STATE COLLEGE

I was excited to hear that the Class of 2025 at Wayne State College is one of the largest Freshman classes in the College’s history totalling 801 students. Wayne State’s headcount increased by 384 students over 2020, with significant gains in degree-seeking students.  Wayne State has also made substantial headway in its 4-year graduation rate for undergraduates, which has grown by 3.5%. The College also experienced a considerable increase in graduate students (8.6%), the largest increase in over 30 years. Congratulations Wayne State College, we are proud to have you in District 17.

If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE August 30, 2021
August 30th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

The 2021 Nebraska State Fair kicked off this week and Mike and I were thrilled to spend the weekend in Grand Island enjoying the wonderful tradition of the best Nebraska has to offer; agriculture, families and cotton candy! I want to encourage everyone to make the Nebraska State Fair an annual festivity with friends and family. Many people go to significant effort to make it an excellent event for Nebraskans to enjoy. Let’s continue to keep it thriving in our state.

LOSS OF NEBRASKA SOLDIER

Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of the members of our Armed Forces who lost their lives helping Americans trying to escape Afghanistan.  U.S. Marine Corporal Daegan Page of Nebraska was one who died in the terrorist attack in Kabul. These brave and selfless acts are an example to all Americans and to everyone around the globe. May God bless our troops and may God bless the United States of America.

REDISTRICTING

I will be headed back to Lincoln on September 13 for a special Redistricting Session of the Legislature. Together we will work to enact legislation related to redistricting the boundaries of Supreme Court judicial districts, Public Service Commission districts, Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska districts, State Board of Education districts, Legislative districts, and Congressional districts. The process takes place every 10 years and I count it a privilege to be involved in it during my tenure as a State Senator.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETS

Friday, September 3rd the State Board of Education will meet at the LaVista/Hotel & Conference Center Windsor V, 12520 Westport Parkway LaVista. They want members of the public to enter from the main entrance of the LaVista Conference Center. I and my colleagues will be keeping a close watch on the board’s next steps in order to make sure the children of Nebraska are afforded a healthy, safe, excellent education. Personally, I would like to see the State Board of Education concentrate on raising our assessment scores in the core subjects, Math Science, English, History and Social Studies. They are the most important building blocks to our children’s education.

I always appreciate hearing from you, the Constituents of District 17. Your input helps me know how to effectively serve you in the Legislature. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE August 20, 2021
August 20th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

One of my favorite things about living in the rural Nebraska culture is the way our local school is the hub of our community. Our children and their progress inspire something in us that reflects great hope for our future. We know each other’s children and grandchildren well and to get to see them develop right in front of our eyes. That is about as rich as life can get… and this school year will be no different!

NEBRASKA STATE FAIR

The 2021 Nebraska State Fair will begin on Friday, August 27 and ends on Monday, September 6.

Mike and I are excited to see our grandchildren show their exhibits and enjoy the tradition of great music and fun each year at the State Fair.

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS

Many of my constituents are contacting me out of their concern about the mandates being put in place forcing employees, nursing home residents, the Nebraska National Guard, etc. to receive a Covid vaccination in order to remain employed and enjoy the freedoms that our constitution guarantees. During the last Session Senator Ben Hansen introduced LB 643 which protects an individual’s right to accept or decline a vaccination under a mandatory directive. LB 643 maintains the individual liberty, parental rights, and free market principles of the citizens and businesses of Nebraska during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or anytime thereafter, it is the right of each citizen, the right of parents with respect to their dependents, and the right of each business with respect to its employees, to accept or decline a mandatory vaccination directive by the Nebraska state government. The bill currently sits in the Health and Human Services Committee until at least January, but I want to assure you that I believe it is the right and privilege for every American to decide for themselves whether or not to receive medical care of any kind, and will be voting in full support of LB643.

STANDING UP FOR LIFE

Governor Pete Ricketts published an article this week that I greatly appreciated and because I believe it is extremely important for all Nebraskans to be aware of, I have included it below. 

“In the next year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make its most important decision regarding abortion law and states’ rights in over a quarter-century.  The Court’s ruling could overturn Roe v. Wade and give states more latitude in passing pro-life initiatives, including legislation limiting abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. 

 In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision deprived Nebraska and other states of the authority to prohibit abortions before a baby can viably live outside of his or her mother’s womb.  Prior to Roe, many states banned or limited the killing of unborn babies.  After the court’s decision, judges have applied the viability standard to abortion law, but with scientific and medical advances the point of viability has been changing as premature babies survive earlier and earlier. The Roe decision not only ignored the humanity of unborn children, but it was also decided on the basis of novel legal doctrine.  In his dissenting opinion, Justice William Rehnquist, who heard the case and later served as Chief Justice, strongly condemned the Court’s majority opinion.  “To reach its result,” he wrote, “the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment.”  He presented convincing historical evidence showing that Congress, in passing the Fourteenth Amendment, had never intended to prevent states from enacting legislation to restrict abortion. In effect, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe decision singlehandedly amended the U.S. Constitution to protect abortion.  In doing so, the Court usurped the authority given to Congress and the states in Article V of the Constitution to decide on amendments to our country’s most important governing document.  Because this decision circumvented the amendment process and usurped states’ rights, it has lacked legitimacy since it was decided.  

 Fast forward to the present: The State of Mississippi has taken legal action to challenge Roe v. Wade by asking the Supreme Court to review the authority of states to regulate abortion.  In May, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, which is known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  The question at hand in the Dobbs case is whether Mississippi law can prohibit abortion after 15 weeks of gestation.  Both chambers of Mississippi’s legislature passed the bill with overwhelming majorities.  After Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed it into law, an abortion clinic—Jackson Women’s Health Organization—sought to have the law overturned.  The Supreme Court is expected to hear the Dobbs case during its 2021-2022 term, which means it will likely be decided sometime next year.

Nebraska is a pro-life state, and we will be watching the Dobbs case closely.  Nebraska state law says that it is “the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible.”  In Nebraska, we have a long tradition of protecting unborn life through state law.  In recent years, State Senators Joni Albrecht, Suzanne Geist, and others have championed legislation to protect the lives of babies and support mothers.

       In 2017, Senator Joni Albrecht championed the Compassionate Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.  Tragically, some unborn children are diagnosed with lethal fetal anomalies.  The Compassionate Care Act ensures that doctors fully equip women with information on perinatal hospice care at the time of these difficult diagnoses.  By doing so, patients and their families gain immediate awareness of resources and support services to help them cope with this heartbreaking challenge.

  •       In 2018, the Legislature approved LB 1040, another bill sponsored by Senator Albrecht, to provide commemorative certificates to mothers who miscarry.  The bill affirms the dignity of life and humanely acknowledges the loss that a mother undergoes through miscarriage.
  •       In 2019, Senator Albrecht successfully secured the passage of a bill to bolster the state’s informed consent protections.  It requires doctors to direct women to information on how to reverse the abortion pill when the drug is prescribed. 
  •       In 2020, Senator Geist put forward LB 814 to end the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion in Nebraska.  It’s the most consequential pro-life legislation enacted in our state over the past decade.
  •       This year, State Senators worked together to pass a new tax credit for families who have a stillborn baby to help offset medical bills, burial expenses, and costs of preparing for the baby’s arrival.

And it’s not just state government stepping up.  Nebraska’s crisis pregnancy centers are doing great work every day across our state to provide services to expectant mothers and help them learn about pro-life alternatives to abortion.  Leaders like Toni Clarke of Assure Women’s Center in Omaha and Sarah Kroner of Women’s Care Center in Lincoln are dedicated, compassionate advocates for the welfare of women and babies. Moving forward, we will continue to work together to protect life in Nebraska.  If you have questions about any of these pro-life initiatives or any other matter, please contact my office at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2244.  As the Supreme Court takes up the Dobbs case, it is my hope that their decision will return abortion law to the states, so Nebraska and others can take action to protect the right to life.”

STATEWIDE PETITIONS

There are currently two petitions active in Nebraska, a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID for voters, and medical cannabis proponents are opting for two initiatives, one removing criminal penalties for medical use and one protecting producers and suppliers. 

I always appreciate hearing from you, the Constituents of District 17. Your input helps me know how to effectively serve you in the Legislature. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 12th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
Email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov
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