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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.
Sen. Joni Albrecht
My office has remained busy during the interim as all of us prepare for many town halls that I will be hosting on June 17th, 2019 in all three of the counties in my district.
I am excited to be able to have the opportunity to connect with my constituents and to be able to fill you in on the ins and outs of this year’s legislative session. I would also like to thank all of you that called or emailed us at my office with concerns and ideas that you would like to hear and talk about at the town hall meetings. Hearing from constituents is always something that I look forward to and it helps me be a more effective Senator.
In addition to preparing for the town halls, my calendar was also filled with several great events in the District. On Saturday, June 15th I was able to attend the “Cornerstone Laying Ceremony” with the Brethren in Rosalie, NE. The ceremony for the new Olive Branch Masonic Lodge No. 274 was a traditional ceremony for the laying of the first stone. It is virtually the same ceremony that was used by Brother and President George Washington when he laid the Cornerstone for our nation’s Capitol. In Wayne, NE I was able to attend a joint event between the Nebraska Diplomats and the Nebraska Economic Developers Association. At the event they gave awards to those who have contributed to Nebraska’s economic development. It was an honor to be around such great Nebraskans. Also in Wayne, I was able to attend the Northeast Cattleman’s dinner and fundraiser at the Wayne County Fair Grounds. The Nebraska Cattlemen raise money for various youth scholarships for Nebraska students. It is always such an enjoyable event for a great cause.
I would also like to take some time to wish all of the fathers in my district a heartfelt, Happy Father’s Day. I am truly grateful for all of the lessons and love that I have received from my Dad through the years.
This week, we had another great program take place. The Junior Law Cadet Program of the Nebraska State Patrol and the American Legion occurred.
Every year, high school juniors from each of The American Legion’s 14 Districts in Nebraska are chosen to participate in the Junior Law Cadet Program. The purpose of the program is to allow male and female students the opportunity to explore and experience the various aspects of law enforcement training. Students participate in daily calisthenics and receive training in firearms, self-defense, fingerprinting, K-9 handling, accident and criminal investigation, lie detector testing, and state patrol car driving. Students stay at the Nebraska State Patrol Training Academy in Grand Island. This year’s Junior Law Cadet Program began on June 10th and ended on June 13th. I am proud to announce that District 17 had two students participate in this year’s program. I would like to congratulate Daityn Chase from Jackson and Stuart Hasemann from Wayne. I am excited to see where life takes you both.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have entered into our first week of the interim. Even though the legislative session has ended, our office has maintained a busy schedule. I was able to enjoy a few days back in the district before I had to head back to Lincoln for the Nebraska Workforce Development Board Meeting on Friday. The Nebraska Workforce Development Board is established by the Governor in accordance with Section 101 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA). The Nebraska Workforce Development Boards purpose is to convene state, regional, and local workforce system partners to help enhance the capacity and performance of the workforce development system while aligning and improving outcomes and effectiveness of federally-funded and other workforce programs and investments. Through these efforts, they promote economic growth, engage business, education, economic development, labor representatives, and other stakeholders to participate in a systematic way to address workforce needs to achieve the State’s strategic and operational vision and goals as outlined in the State Combined Plan.
It has been a true honor to be appointed to this board again for the third year in a row by Governor Ricketts. Nebraska is in desperate need of workers. Other than property taxes, one of the most important issues facing Nebraska is developing our workforce. Through my role on this board, I hope to help grow our economy through improving our workforce. In developing our workforce, we cannot neglect the role education plays and the role parents play in helping their children find the right path in Nebraska’s workforce after high school. For some, education will mean continuing their studies beyond high school in a college or university. For others, their strengths may be found in vocational training or a similar path. High-skill workers are in great demand and preparing our youth is one of the steps that can help grow our state economy. I am excited to see what our board is able to work on this year and to watch our progress. I will be sure to keep you updated on this exciting opportunity.
In addition to the Workforce Development Board taking place this week, Nebraska’s Cornhusker Girls and Boys State also occurred. The American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high-school male students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government. Boys State was founded in 1935. The American Legion Auxiliary also developed a citizenship training program based on the formation of the American Legion’s Boys State program called Girls State. This program offers training in the positive process of self-government and good citizenship as practiced in democratic societies. Girls State began as one- and two-day sessions in the late 1930’s. Then in 1939, Girls State was altered to make it a week-long government education program. Since 1948, it has been a regular part of the Auxiliary’s Americanism curriculum. Each summer approximately 50,000 young women and men participate in Boys and Girls State sessions across the nation. District 17 had several dedicated young women and men participate in this year’s Boys and Girls State. Emily Walsh of Wakefield, Lilly Fellin of Dakota City, Senior Counselor Dylan Kent of Pender, Faith Junck of Carroll, Kathryn Baker of Homer, Elizabeth Gerkin of South Sioux City, and Middle Counselor Corina Burkhart of Dakota City were the young women representing the district. Jacob Aitken of South Sioux City, Alex Carlson of Winside, Tyrus Eischeid of Wayne, Matthew Georgesen of Hubbard, Jagger Horken of South Sioux City, Jacob Huerta of Hubbard, Luke Kramer of Rosalie, Edward Olander of Winside, Zach Rapp of South Sioux City, and Joshua Shadbolt of Dakota City were the young men representing the district. I am very proud of these young men and women and am excited to see where life takes them.
I have also set my town hall meetings for the month of June and they will be as follows: Wayne County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 9am at Tacos & More at 509 Dearborn in Wayne, NE. Thurston County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 11am at the Pender Community Center at 614 Main in Pender, NE. Dakota County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 2pm at South Sioux City’s Hy-Vee at 2501 Cornhusker in South Sioux City, NE.
As always it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at email@example.com.
We are down to our final day for this 90-day session. Yesterday on Thursday, May 30th, my priority bill, LB 209, which would expand the information required to be provided during a medical abortion passed while on final reading. This legislation will simply strengthen Nebraska’s informed consent law. I believe that women deserve to know all of the medical information before receiving a chemical abortion. A medication abortion is a two pill process and my bill requires a woman be informed that it may be possible to continue their pregnancy after taking the first pill. The required information will direct the woman to the Department of Health and Human Services to be referred to a medical professional who can assist her in continuing the pregnancy. This was the longest that I have debated a bill before. The debate for this bill took all of the allotted time that it was given at every stage. We debated 10.5 hours on LB209. The vote was 36 to 12. I am very pleased that this pro-woman bill is headed to Governor Ricketts’ desk.
Even though I was a no vote on this year’s budget I am pleased that we took a step in the right direction by getting the great people of the state of Nebraska some needed property tax relief. This year’s budget had a 2.9% average two-year increase in spending. The increase rate in spending was irresponsible which is why I voted in opposition of the budget. I want to cut spending not increase it. However, I am pleased that the budget will deliver $550 million in direct property tax relief over the next two years.
LB720, known also as the ImagiNE Act, did not pass. The ImagiNE Act is a replacement package for the Advantage Act for business incentives designed to keep Nebraska competitive. I was originally in favor of the bill but that changed once I saw the amendments that were put on the bill. I believed that the amendments hurt the bill rather than helped it. The amendments did not help bring any additional property tax relief which is what led several rural Senators to pull their support from LB720. We still have another year before the Advantage Act sunsets in 2020 so I am confident that we will see some form of this bill again next year.
On May 24th we had a reading of LR150 recognizing National Poppy Day. The Poppies were given to each Senator for the recognition of Memorial Day. U.S. Army Veteran, Dennis Otte, of Wayne, NE handmade the Memorial Poppies. In attendance for the reading were the Department Officers of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Beverly Neel is the Nebraska Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary. She serves as my Administrative Assistant and has been the assistant in District 17 since 2010. Her work this year has been exemplary and I am happy to have her as a part of our team.
In addition to the excitement of the end of the Legislative Session, our office is delighted to welcome a new staffer to our team! Mackenzie Martin-Fisk has joined our office as our new Legislative Aide. She will be your main contact at the Capitol office. Mackenzie has worked in both the Missouri State Capitol and the Nebraska State Capitol. She worked in the Missouri State Capitol in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for a few years before moving to Nebraska to work for a local nonprofit. After two years in the nonprofit sector, she chose to get back into state government and worked for Senator John Kuehn in District 38 for more than a year. Mackenzie and her husband, Shayne Fisk, live in Lincoln, NE with their three year old corgi, Athena.
The Governor’s Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) is also now accepting applications. Applications are available on the NE Children and Families Foundation at www.projecteverlast.org/councils/gyac.html or by calling 402-817-2003.
The First Session of the 106th Legislature is ending a week sooner than scheduled. We were set to Sine Die on June 6th but Speaker Scheer choose to end on Friday, May 31st. I am excited to head back to District 17 and to be with you, my constituents, again. I will be planning town hall meetings for June so stay tuned for that. It has been a true honor and one of my greatest privileges to represent District 17 during this 90 day session.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been a busy week in the Nebraska Legislature as we move closer and closer to the end of session. On Wednesday the budget bill was advanced to final reading despite my no vote. The $9.3 billion budget has a 2.9% average two-year increase in spending. I voted in opposition to advancing the budget bill because the increased rate of spending is irresponsible. More cuts needed to be made to bring down spending growth and deliver property tax relief.
LB 720, also known as the ImagiNE Act, was debated for the first time this week. The ImagiNE Act is a replacement package for the Advantage Act for business incentives designed to keep Nebraska competitive. Keeping Nebraska competitive and showing we are a great place to do business is important but we cannot offer these incentives until we deliver property tax relief. We debated LB 720 for three hours without a vote and now Senator Kolterman needs to show he has 33 senators’ support to bring the bill back for debate.
Senator Linehan’s tax bill, LB 289, was discussed for three hours without a vote last week. The bill raises the tax on all sales, as well as imposes new taxes on many services like home repair, pet services, self-care services and even bottled water. These new tax dollars would be used in an effort to “offset” spending by local governments, hoping they will reduce spending and in return – our property taxes. The problem with this approach though is it has been tried twice and failed miserably both times. It led to increased local spending on educating while property taxes continued to increase. Any tax hike without spending cuts, limitations, or changes to our school funding formula is not property tax relief. It is now up to Senator Linehan to show that she has 33 senators’ support to bring the bill back for debate. I believe the bill will need significant changes to garner enough support for a return.
My priority bill, LB 209, which would expand the information required to be provided during a medication abortion will be up for select file, the second stage of debate, soon. A medication abortion is a two pill process and my bill requires a woman be informed that it may be possible to continue their pregnancy after taking the first pill. The required information will direct the woman to the Department of Health and Human Services to be referred to a medical professional who can assist her in continuing the pregnancy. We want women to have every chance to choose life. I hope to have the votes to advance this critical pro-life bill to final reading when it comes up for debate.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. If you would like to follow along with live coverage of the session you can do so at www.netnebraska.org/capitol
Congratulations to all graduates this spring. The journey ahead is what you make of it. So do your best, follow your heart and keep to those special habits instilled in you through your parents, grandparents and teachers. Be willing to give to others, accept recognition and enjoy the future. We hope many of you will remain in Nebraska to find a career, attend higher education and raise a family. Parents and educators I thank you for giving of yourselves to these young people over the years to bring them to this stage of life.
After months of dedication and discussion on creating a balanced budget for the next two years the Appropriations Committee brought forth the proposed budget to the Legislative floor on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. After three hours of floor debate the budget passed to Select File. The budget was amended to include a transfer from the rainy day fund of $51-million to the Property Tax Cash Fund. Select File will have another round to address additional amendments.
LB289 was heard on Tuesday, May 8th for three hours of floor debate. This bill addresses sales tax increases, school funding and several other topics. LB289 is our only property tax relief bill at this time. We have other amendments being proposed which will be discussed in the following days. I am hopeful we can come to an agreement that is beneficial to the greater good of Nebraska.
LB209 has been advanced to Select File and will again have floor debate. To date the conversation has been very informative and educational. This bill offers any female the choice to reverse a chemical abortion within a short period of time after taking the first medication. It gives every female a second chance at choice. This is a pro-life, pro-woman bill with emphasis on informed consent.
I was honored to address the Wayne Area Economic Development (WAED) Government Affairs group on Monday, May 6, 2019. Gathering with our constituents is one of the highlights of serving as a public servant. The exchange of ideas is very important to all elected officials and well appreciated. Wayne will host the 2019 Economic Development Conference June 12-14th and I plan to be there to listen and learn.
As schools begin to close for the summer keep our children in full sight and safe as they cross streets, play in the parks, ride their bikes, and more. Their attention may not be on us but we must have our attention on them for safety and security.
Spring planting is in full swing and many implements are upon our highways and byways. Please give these farmers the room they need to travel safely. Nebraska’s number one industry is farming. With the recent flooding and blizzards across the state we need to be mindful of all farming and ranching operations that may not be able to continue this year their share of growing the good life. Keep all in thought and prayer and look forward to a bountiful harvest this fall.
With only 16 days remaining of the 90-day session, much work is on the table. Some will move forward and others will be held over. Over the interim these bills may become a Legislative Resolution Interim study seeking public input.
Check out nebraskalegislature.gov to follow the bills’ progress or tune into Nebraska TV when the Legislature is in Session.
As always our office welcomes your emails, calls and letters sharing your concerns, support, non-support on topics important to you. You may reach us at email@example.com or 402.471.2716
At the close of this week, we will be 24 days out from the close of the Legislative Session for 2019. Many bills have passed across our desks and many were mere adjustments to bring up-to-date or take off the books as obsolete. Discussing of Priority Bills from here on out will be our main focus.
This week there was a joint hearing with the Revenue, Nebraska Retirement Systems and Educations Committees. As you know our main objective here at the People’s House is to pass a balanced budget. This hearing addressed LB289 and AM1361 that will change provisions relating to county assessor inspections of real property for property tax purposes.
Creating a budget, educating on the budget and then taking discussions on how this or that may or may not result in our purpose of a balanced budget for the good of all of Nebraska. Much give and take will be on the table to ensure all avenues of revenue are earmarked correctly and that the spending habits of the state stabilize so this process will be a less stressing function of the state every year. Even though a balanced budget is presented every two years, it does affect the in-between years rightfully so.
Property tax relief for all Nebraska has been a main focus of Governor Ricketts and myself. Finding that right avenue to leveraging the burden of taxation is a complicated task. Many Senators have spent endless hours in conversation of the pros and cons of legislation that will bring about this relief for you.
The mid-March weather across Nebraska has placed an unforeseen task to the State to meet the needs of those who have been impacted greatly from the blizzards and floods. We have hundreds of people in our communities assisting with ensuring citizens’ damages and needs are being addressed in a timely manner. From last week’s briefing with the Nebraska Department of Transportation the agency has gone from 3,300 miles of closed roadways down to 11 miles closed. The Nebraska Director Kyle Schneweis had nothing but praise for the roads department employees, the contractors and citizens for the progress that has been made through this horrific season of storms and damages.
The JAG Advantage – taking JAG to the next level! Now this is a new concept based on a promise. That promise is that JAG will deliver student-centered programs to help young people achieve their fullest potential. JAG is about giving students an advantage that will set them apart for all other youth in today’s emerging workforce. JAG stands for “Jobs for America’s Graduates.” We are fortunate in District 17 to have students from Omo ho Nation Public School, Macy NE, currently participants in this program. Two other school systems in Columbus and Fremont also are in the pilot program. We were fortunate to have these students visit the Capitol this week and give their personal story of what this program has provided for them. There are 39 states that have this program in one stage or another and Nebraska is hopeful to have greater participation from schools in the near future. Commissioner John Albin, Nebraska Department of Labor, was instrumental in bringing this learning aspect to the state and looking forward to expansion. Currently we operate under I-JAG (Iowa) with hopes of having a Nebraska JAG. You may access www.jag.org to learn more of this concept in education and across the nation.
As always hearing from you is very important to the work we do in Lincoln. You may follow the legislative process from your local Nebraska TV station and can check the progress of bills at nebraskalegislature.net
Looking forward to hearing from you via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 402.471.2716.
We are three-fourths the way through the 90-day legislative session and late nights are on the horizon. Priority bills from all levels; i.e., Senator, Committee and Speaker are being discussed on the floor on a daily basis. There is quite a variety of topics. You may witness the floor discussions on the Nebraska TV station provided in your local area.
We welcome constituents’ calls and visits into our office. This is the time of year we welcome our 4th graders throughout the District. It has been a pleasure to greet them at the tour office when time allows and give them an introduction to what we do in their state house. The students and adults in the group each receive a booklet outlining the Nebraska Unicameral.
LB657 (Adopt the Nebraska Hemp Law) had its first found of floor discussion this week in General File and has advanced to Select File. Between now and Select Files revisions may be made to address concerns aired in the floor debate this past week.
LB538 (Change provisions relating to possession of a gambling device and provide for approval of certain mechanical amusement devices by the Department of Revenue) came to the floor for debate under General File and has also been advanced to Select File with revisions seen before it comes to the floor once again.
LB610 (Adopt the College Savings Tax Credit Act) came forward in General File and advance to Select File. This Act would take effect in 2022 and thus does not have a fiscal note attached to it at this time. Much discussion was held and more is sure to come.
We continue to get daily updates on the mid-March 2019 Flooding and Blizzard across the State. These updates are important to the Senators to know how and where progress is being made to get our citizens back to a somewhat normal routine and lifestyle. Our county roads, bridges and highways are a major investment in our current and future plans.
The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee received a briefing on April 17th from Director Kyle Schneweis (NDOT) regarding flood damage to Nebraska’s public infrastructure. I am proud of all Nebraskans for taking the time and energy to allow our state road workers to do their work in a safe and timely manner. Please abide by the road blocks, speed limits and all that is related to getting our roads back to the community for use.
We have heard stories of how well the folks on the ground from NEMA, FEMA, SBA are doing their job and keeping our citizens informed and educated on the what, when, where, how of getting their claims properly submitted and processed. Thank you all for lending your assistance to these agencies.
We are not out of the multi-weather conditions that can arise in Nebraska so continue to be alert, watch out for your neighbors, and keep everyone safe. Please keep your radio and televisions ready for the latest updates in warnings, watches and recommended action.
Once again it has been a privilege to represent you at the Nebraska Unicameral and we do so appreciate hearing from you. You may contact our office at 402.471.2716 or email email@example.com and check the status of bills at NebraskaLegislature.gov
We have completed the 58th day of the 90-day Legislative Session which equals out to 14 weeks. As we get closer to June 6th we will have “late nights” where we will continue floor debate beyond the 9 AM to 5 PM business hours of most.
High Schoolers from Legislative District 17 (Dakota, Thurston and Wayne counties) learn what it’s like to serve as a state senator. The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators, staff and lobbyists. Bill topics are based on legislation considered during the most recent legislative session. From driving laws to the death penalty, topics selected for the legislature are diverse and engaging. Legislative activities are conducted at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in the historic Warner Chamber, which was home to the Nebraska Senate until the state consolidated to a one-house legislature in 1937. The youth legislature is organized by the Nebraska State 4-H Office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office youth development program. The Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature, through the Unicameral Information Office, serves as a technical consultant for the Unicameral Youth Legislature. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available. Contact the Unicameral Information Office for more information. Phone: (402) 471-2788 firstname.lastname@example.org
LB222 was advanced to Enrollment and Review (E&R) Initial for preparation for Select File, which will leave only the Final Reading left to get this bill into law. The bill offers a tax credit to volunteer emergency responders once they have met eligibility. This is a good bill and will benefit those who protect us every day.
LB227 will change provisions governing determination of a public or private nuisance under the Nebraska Right to Farm Act also advanced to E & R. This was a bill which received a lot of attention. Select file will surely extend that discussion.
LB270 would make texting while driving a primary offense; thus, allowing law enforcement to make a stop and issue a warning or ticket for the violation. This passed Final Reading and sent to the Governor on April 11. 2019.
It is always a pleasure to receive correspondence from our constituents. We look forward to engaging in a conversation and learning your view of the legislative process. Please continue to contact our office at 402.471.2716 or email@example.com and check out NebraskaLegislature.gov for bill updates.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation announced a new website dedicated to the 2019 flood on April 4th. Nebraskan’s will be able to view updates on the progress on repairs to State highways and bridges as connectivity is restored by going online at: https://dot.nebraska.gov/news-media/nebraska-flood-2019/.
Governor Ricketts signed LB 399, introduced by Senator Slama (LD1), into law last week. LB 399 passed the Legislature on a 44-2-1 vote and updates Nebraska’s law on American civics in public schools. The Governor also signed LB 302, introduced by Senator Hughes (LD44), which merges the Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Energy Office into a single agency. Starting July 1, 2019, the new Department of Environment and Energy will be under the direction of current Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy.
On Tuesday, April 2nd, we began full-day debate at the Legislature and advanced multiple priority bills from General File. This week we advanced LB 268 (Friesen, LD34) which would expand broadband access by making it easier for customers to switch telecommunications companies. Under LB 268, customers would only be required to show that he or she is not receiving high-speed broadband service at the time of application to be eligible switch service providers. In passing LB 268 we hope to encourage larger telecommunications companies to invest in new rural broadband service or maintain current infrastructure. Increasing access to rural broadband is extremely important as we grow the communities in our state. I supported LB 268 and the bill advanced to Select File on a 37-0 vote.
We also debated LB 483 (Erdman, LD47) which would change farmland value for property tax purposes based on the income it can produce. Beginning in the 2020 tax year, the newly created Agricultural Land Valuation Board would create an agricultural land valuation manual that county assessors would determine capitalized net earning capacity. Agricultural productivity value would be determined by: dividing agricultural and horticultural land into major use categories described in the bill and then dividing those categories into subclasses based on soil productivity classifications; computing a net revenue based on an eight-year Olympic average of annual net incomes, in which the highest and lowest one-year values are discarded; and dividing the net revenue by a discount rate determined by each county’s eight-year Olympic average of annual precipitation. LB 483 stalled on General File but may come back for a second round of debate.
Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is available at www.netnebraska.org/capitol.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage my constituents to reach out to me and I look forward to hearing from you.