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.

Sen. Dave Bloomfield

Newsletter 10/2/15

October 2nd, 2015

From time to time, we receive requests from the governor’s office requesting help finding individuals to fill open positions on various boards or commissions that are appointed by the governor. This week we received an email with about eleven pages of positions that are looking to be filled.

I will not go into detail on all of the boards or commissions that have openings or will have openings by the end of the year, there are just too many. It seems that we have a commission or a board for just about everything – jail standards to developmental disabilities; ethanol to fire safety appeals; and judicial nominations to keeping Nebraska beautiful.

Some of the positions have specific qualifications and requirements where others have a broader set of qualifications. There are a few of the appointments that do require a Legislative confirmation hearing.

As I looked through the list there was one commission that caught my eye and I wanted to make sure to share the opportunity. It appears that in September there were several positions that became open on the Commission on Indian Affairs. The term is for four years and they meet quarterly. According to the list that I have, they were looking to fill the following positions: Winnebago Tribe, SW Panhandle (Garden, Deuel, Cheyenne, Kimball, Banner, Morrill and Scotts Bluff Counties), Ponca Tribe (two positions), and the Omaha Tribe.

If you have any interest in serving on a board or commission, I would encourage you to view the list on Governor Ricketts’ web page or contact Kathleen Dolezal at (402) 471-1971 or at Kathleen.dolezal@nebraska.gov. Applications can be found at https://governor.nebraska.gov/board-comm-req. If you have any questions, you can always contact our office for more information as well.

Newsletter 9/25/15

September 28th, 2015

It has been a busy time for Secretary of State John Gale. As I told you last week, on September 22nd, an online voter registration program was launched. While the 2016 general election is over a year away, his office is busy gearing up for it already.

Early reports had over 800 people using the online registration in less than a week. If you need to register to vote or know someone who does, I would encourage you to go to https://www.nebraska.gov/apps-sos-voter-registration/ and follow the step-by-step process of registering. For those of you who, like me, are not wild about using the computer for everything, a quick trip to the court house will still get the job done.

Most of you are aware that 2016 will be my last year in office due to term limits. This means that next year you will be deciding who will be the next representative of District 17.  Anyone interested in seeking the position will need to file with Secretary of State Gale’s office after December 1, 2015 but before March 1, 2016. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or the office. If you or someone you know might be thinking about running for the position, I will be more than happy to visit with you and share my experience with you. There is currently one announced candidate that I am aware of and another who I am pretty sure will run.

Newsletter 9/18/15

September 18th, 2015

The end of August means a new set of laws go into effect.  This year just over 180 new laws took effect (way too many) ranging from the cost of marriage licenses to prison overcrowding and the cost of brand inspections to under age drinkers.

The cost of marriage licenses is now $25 with certified copies costing $9, increased from $15 and $5 respectively. The bill originally would have increased the license fee to $50, which I fought. Some people are of the opinion that Senator Ernie Chambers and I disagree all of the time; this is one of the areas where we did agree and working together, were able to prevent a much larger increase.

Another new law worth mentioning is one that would allow underage drinkers who seek medical help for a friend or themselves for alcohol poisoning can now receive legal immunity from alcohol charges in some situations.

While underage drinking is illegal, this law will allow a minor to seek help for another individual whose life may be at risk. The bill does require the minor calling for help to remain at the scene and cooperate with law enforcement to receive immunity. While this may help us save a life or two the best option is still for parents to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking and the fact that it is against the law for them to drink.

On September 22nd, Secretary of State John Gale will roll out a new program aimed at improving registration and turnout. The program is online voter registration.

The new system is in the final stages of testing and will create a system that is more streamlined. Additionally, the system will allow for more accurate record keeping while decreasing administrative costs. Voters will be able to register online using their driver’s license or their state identification card.

While bills pushing for online registration were introduced in 2010 and 2011, LB661 introduced by Senator Bob Krist of Omaha was passed in 2014. Currently, around 20 states have online voter registration. Iowa will begin offering online voter registration on January 1.


Newsletter 8/21/15

August 22nd, 2015

School has started and teachers are back in the classrooms. After hearings this spring, Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt emailed school districts reminding them of a few statutes on the books in Nebraska that may have been over looked or forgotten.

The statutes in question deal with Americanism and then an oath for teachers and school employees to sign. The latter of which has become a hot topic for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The statute was adopted in 1951 during the Red Scare of the McCarthy era and the language of the statute is as follows.

 “All persons engaged in teaching in the public schools of the State of Nebraska and all other employees paid from public school funds, shall sign the following pledge:

I, ………., do believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; an indissoluble nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I acknowledge it to be my duty to inculcate in the hearts and minds of all pupils in my care, so far as it is in my power to do, (1) an understanding of the United States Constitution and of the Constitution of Nebraska, (2) a knowledge of the history of the nation and of the sacrifices that have been made in order that it might achieve its present greatness, (3) a love and devotion to the policies and institutions that have made America the finest country in the world in which to live, and (4) opposition to all organizations and activities that would destroy our present form of government.”

The ACLU is telling school districts that enforcing this statute is unconstitutional and will expose the school districts to lawsuits.

Honestly, I want the individuals that our teaching in our schools to love America and to have an appreciation of it and the people who have defended and fought for it. Like every country, our past has had moments that were less than stellar but we must learn from the mistakes while not losing sight of the good. Maybe if our schools were to start focusing on the how great this country is, rather than the flaws of our country, the students would start to develop a sense of community. We are after all, all in this together.  After developing a sense of community, maybe they will be able to see people for who they are and judge them on their character and we can once again unite this country. God, let it be so.


Newsletter 8/14/15

August 16th, 2015

It is once again time to bring your attention to an opportunity for the youth that call District 17 their home. Every year legislative pages are selected in the fall to work for the upcoming legislative session, beginning the following January. Pages work in the center of the action on the floor of the Legislature and in committee sessions. As a legislative page you will respond to senators’ request lights on the legislative floor, run errands, deliver messages, photocopy materials, assist the presiding officer, set up and staff committee hearings and perform other duties as assigned.

Pages must be high school graduates who are currently enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. They must be able to work 20 hours a week during session and it is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day. The legislative session will begin January 6, 2016, and will go through April of 2016. This is a paid position with first year pages earning $10.23 per hour and second year pages earning $10.58 per hour. In addition, a page may also be able to receive credit hours through their college. This is a great opportunity to learn about the legislative process here in Nebraska and make a few dollars to help with school expenses. Jessica, my Legislative Aide, once served as a page, she can explain the process better than I can if you have any questions.

Applications are available from my office in Lincoln: Senator Dave Bloomfield, State Capitol – District 17, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604 or from the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street, Lincoln, NE 68509. If you are interested in becoming a legislative page or have any questions I encourage you to contact my office. I would be happy to submit a letter of recommendation for any eligible student from District 17. This year applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.


Newsletter 8/7/15

August 10th, 2015

It has been a busy time for Attorney General Doug Peterson. If you ever had any doubts regarding the fact that actions taken in Washington, D.C. have an effect on each and every one us look no farther than the work currently being done by our attorney general.

In June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states had to recognize same-sex marriages and unions. While we all knew that meant that the constitutional amendment we had on the books was no longer valid, I think many thought it stopped there. It does not, this week Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn ruled the state must follow the same procedures when looking at placing children with heterosexual or same-sex married couples, and we must use that same process when looking at placement with unmarried and unrelated people living together.

In February a memo written 20 years ago banning same-sex and unmarried couples from being foster parents was rescinded but the state continued to treat those cases differently. Now regardless of being married or unmarried, a heterosexual or homosexual couple you will now face the same process when looking to become a foster parent.

Attorney General Peterson also announced this week that Nebraska has joined with twelve other states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) in suing the Environmental Protection Agency over new federal regulations aimed at reducing power-plant carbon emissions.

The proposed regulations would in theory cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, each state has a target and Nebraska’s target is to reduce emissions by 40 percent between 2012 and 2030. Nebraskans would see the cost of energy continue to increase under these regulations because we rely heavily on coal-fired plants. While our current coal-fired plants meet, current regulations they will more than likely be significantly affected by the new regulations.

This is just one more example of how the overreach of our federal government will cost you even more. The federal government is not alone in their desire to overreach, Nebraska continues to tell its adult citizens that they can or cannot do too many things, when in reality it is none of the state’s business. Whether or not you allow smoking in your business or if you must “protect” yourself with a helmet when you ride a motorcycle come to mind. I would remind you that I neither smoke nor am I licensed to ride a motorcycle.  I just do not like government intruding into our lives and/or our businesses.


Newsletter 7/24/15

July 27th, 2015

A few weeks ago, Governor Ricketts revealed the plan that would require Nebraskans receiving unemployment benefits to take part in a reemployment plan if they want to continue receiving those benefits. The program that is scheduled to start in October will be the only one like it in the country.

The goal of the program is to help workers find jobs sooner and help employers fill vacancies. Finding the right fit can be difficult in our state, which enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Currently, the state helps to reemploy about 6,800 people a year. The hope is that with the implementation of this program they will be able to help an additional 8,000 a year.

The Nebraska Department of Labor will implement the program, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor that is providing a $354,000 grant to fund the program. The grant funding will be for new staff and the technological updates that will be required.

Presently, unemployed claimants identified as being likely to exhaust benefits were required to participate in a reemployment plan. The new plan will require most all claimants to participate. The program will include training workers on using online resume and job searches within the Department of Labor’s website. They will also take a “career interest assessment” and an individualized reemployment plan will be drawn up with the help of a job coach.

Currently, Nebraskans are eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits but they must demonstrate that they are actively pursuing employment. In recent months, the state has been paying about $4 million a month in unemployment claims down significantly from the close to $40 million a month being paid out in 2009. The Nebraska Department of Labor online job search engine has about 18,000 searchable resumes and 57,000 job openings that are listed.  I believe this program is a step in the right direction, it should help cut spending by the state and help people who really want to work find a job.

The next thing that I think needs to happen is for us to drug test able-bodied people who refuse to work and still expect to draw benefits from the state.

Newsletter 7/17/15

July 17th, 2015

I spent most of the last week (Friday thru Wednesday) in Bismarck, North Dakota at the Midwestern Legislative Conference hosted by the Council of State Governments. This is a conference where lawmakers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan gather to share ideas regarding policy.

This is a good way to gain some prospective on how others are dealing with similar issues that we face here at home. Last year, this conference was held in Omaha.

Here is a little “tidbit” that might keep a few dollars in your pocket and avoid some hassle.  Now that water levels are low enough throughout the state that people are able to enjoy tubing down our many rivers, I want to point out an important though easily overlooked law. In Nebraska, inner tubes (that you are floating on) are considered to be a vessel and as such, it is considered boating. This is significant because it then requires you to have a life jacket accessible for each person. This also applies to rafts and canoes.

As part of the budget, Governor Ricketts included funding for an initiative that would create opportunities for students to connect to the manufacturing and technology sectors in Nebraska. The program will provide up to $125,000 to two eligible businesses per year starting in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. Qualifying businesses are those that need high-skill information technology professionals or those in manufacturing. One of the two businesses must be in a county with a population of less than 100,000. The selected businesses will work with schools to engage students in hands-on career exploration. Applications need to be submitted to the Department of Economic Development by 5 p.m. on August 7th. Time is running out to make this application.


Newsletter 7/3/15

July 2nd, 2015

Do you get annoying calls on your cell phone – you know those calls that want you to support a certain candidate or want to send you on “free” cruise? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided that we can now tell our phone company that we want those calls blocked.

The FCC decided that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and other carriers have no obligation to connect “robocalls” if you the customer do not want them. Consumers and a few states had asked the FCC to rule on this issue because phone carriers were concerned that they would face ramifications if they did not connect every call – there are rules requiring them to connect every call.

In the decision, the FCC said that blocking technology should be allowed and even encouraged. Several companies already allow you to “block” individual numbers but this will not solve the problem.

“Blocking” the number means you will no longer receive calls from that number but the callers often spoof their numbers. Spoofing their numbers means that they will then call you from another number.

This week Congressman Adrian Smith announced the “The Good Life Showcase”. The showcase is looking for pictures from the Third Congressional District that can be displayed in Rep. Smith’s office in Washington, D.C.

You may submit your original high quality photo along with your name, photo location and a short description to thegoodlifeshowcase@mail.house.gov.

Rep. Smith encourages you to submit photos of all kinds – agricultural, business, nature.  They do have a few rules: you need to own the copyrights of the photo; the photo needs to be submitted by the person who took it or submitted with attribution. Photo must be from within the Third Congressional District. When you submit your photo, you give Congressman Smith’s office permission to use it. You may submit multiple photos. There is no submission deadline – the showcase is ongoing. For more information, you can contact his office at 202-225-6435.

I will be attending both the Dakota / Thurston and the Wayne County Fairs in July; I will try to have petitions to sign if you are in favor of letting the people of Nebraska vote on the death penalty issue. If you are not interested in signing, that is fine also. I am not looking for any arguments; just want to provide the opportunity to those who wish to participate.

Newsletter 6/26/15

June 29th, 2015

While I make no pretense of being a legal scholar or of ever having studied “the law”, I do have my opinions and an opportunity to share them. I believe we have witnessed this week, judicial activism at the highest level. In two rulings handed out by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the courts have pretty much said that they no longer respect the letter of the law nor the rights of the separate states.

In the first ruling, SCOTUS ruled in favor of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affirming nationwide subsidies for poor and middle class Americans.

In the 6 – 3 ruling the court was asked to interpret the portion of the law that said that tax credits are authorized for those who buy insurance on marketplaces that are “established by the state.” The questions came because most states, like Nebraska, did not create their own exchanges rather they participated in exchanges established by the federal government.

As of March, about 6.4 million people across the country are reported to have been receiving subsidies to assist in covering the costs of their health care in 34 states, which had not established their own marketplaces. Had the court ruled the other way those individuals would have lost their subsidies worth roughly $1.7 billion a month.

The fact remains that the ACA is a broken and costly program that needs to be fixed. While I am all for AFFORDABLE healthcare for all – this program is anything but that.

The second ruling came today, Friday, June 26th, and SCOTUS ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Governor Ricketts has already said on his Facebook page that, “While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”

As I write this, marriage licenses are already being issued to same-sex couples in Lancaster and Douglas Counties. While I disagree with this ruling, I will respect it, it is now the law of the land but it I fear that this decision has only opened the door to even more questions and concerns. It is my firm belief that SCOTUS waded into unchartered territories that it often avoids, by taking the definition of marriage away from the states.

I think Justice Scalia said it best, in reference to these two cases, he said the cases “will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.” I, like Justice Scalia find this to be unacceptable! I fear these rulings will haunt our nation for decades to come. Much like the case of Roe vs. Wade with abortion, we are destined to learn again that just because a thing is legal it does not mean that it is right.