NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 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 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.

 

Weekly UPDATE August 13, 2021
August 13th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

A fresh start with new opportunities can change the trajectory of our year in new and empowering ways. With the school year 2021-22 kicking off, I look forward to seeing all the new ways the youth in our district learn and grow this year. I want to wish all of our students and teachers from elementary to college well as they step into a new season.

I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the over 50 school districts across Nebraska who publicly stood to let the parents and guardians in their local communities know that they would not allow Comprehensive Sex Education or Critical Race Theory to infiltrate the wholesome environment we have fought to provide for our children in Nebraska. The courage and intentionality each board member showed is to be commended… well done! As we look to our future, it is of utmost importance that we understand the value of boldly standing for what we believe is right, and these school board members are an excellent example of this to us all. I especially want to thank the District 17 school districts of Pender, Wakefield and Winnebago who have sent Resolutions in opposition to the proposed Health Standards. Your diligent watchfulness makes District 17 a better place to raise the next generation. 

FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT

The Nebraska Chamber held a Legislative Summit this week at the SAC Museum in Ashland. We had the privilege of hearing from keynote speaker Jill O’Donnell, the Director of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance who addressed issues critical to maintaining the competitiveness of Nebraska business and trade. There was also a Q&A with Congressional Representatives Senator Deb Fischer, Senator Ben Sasse, Representative Jeff Fortenberry, Representative Adrian Smith and Representative Don Bacon. They all gave insightful information on world trade, taxes, immigration, education, business partnerships, workforce and regulation.

NEBRASKA HIGHWAY UPDATE

I-129 both directions between Exit 2: Dakota Avenue and Iowa State Line (South Sioux City). 

Road construction work is in progress and the roadway is reduced to one lane. Traffic maintained, one lane road eastbound and westbound, bridge repair is anticipated and completion date is November 2021.

I- 129 Both directions between the start of I-129 and Iowa State Line (South Sioux City). Traffic restrictions are in force. There is a 12-foot width limit. Traffic maintained eastbound and westbound pavement and patching and bridge repair eastbound loop at Dakota Ave interchange closed, use marked detour. Anticipated completion is September 2021.

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 6, 2021
August 5th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

It has been a busy and exciting time of travel the last couple of weeks, but I am so glad to be home for the Dakota-Thurston County Fair this weekend. I love seeing all of the exhibits watching all of the children compete in 4-H Livestock Shows, especially our grandchildren as they show their bucket calves, breeding and market cattle. 

Mike and I just returned home from a trip to Salt Lake City where we attended the American Legislative Exchange Council Conference. It was an extremely informative and beneficial time for those in attendance.

Then it was out to Kearney for Governor Ricketts’ first Ag and Economic Development Summit where I participated in the Next Generation Value Added Ag, Growing Education Opportunities, Building a Broadband Infrastructure, and Protecting Private Property classes. The highlight was hearing Terry Branstad, the 12th U.S. Ambassador to China and former Governor of Iowa, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Banstad, the longest serving Governor in American history, openly shared many experiences that inspired over 400 leaders in attendance. 

Northeast Community College-Wayne State College Agreement

I also had the opportunity to meet with the president of Wayne State College, Dr. Marysz Rames and Chancellor Paul Turman of the Nebraska State College System. They shared some exciting news that will create new opportunities for students and business leaders right here in our own backyard. They the presidents of Northeast Community College and Wayne State College have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that creates the Associate of Applied Science/Bachelor of Science Technology program. It allows graduates who complete their associate degrees at Northeast to transfer all of their completed academic credits to Wayne State to study industrial technology and earn a bachelor degree. The agreement has the potential to strengthen the region’s industrial technology workforce.

 Students enrolled in a number of concentrations qualify for the new program including agriculture, business services, computer, construction, drafting, industrial management, industrial trades, management services, manufacturing, and safety-related occupations. Transfer students from Northeast will have the opportunity to apply for transfer student scholarships through Wayne State.

 Northeast Community College and Wayne State College have had a long-standing working and transfer relationship to serve students since 1986. Over the years, various institutional and programmatic agreements have been signed to create a seamless transfer of pathways for students between the two colleges. In addition, both institutions offer classes in the College Center in South Sioux City.

 Health Education Standards

The Nebraska Department of Education held a public hearing on Friday, August 6th for the second draft of their Health Education Standards. After reading the draft, I find myself asking, “who gave the NDE the authority to spend the time, energy and taxpayer money and resources to put together their new Health Standards?”  Was it the State Board of Education? Was it Commissioner Blomstedt? And why are we even talking about adding so many topics for our teachers to teach when they are already working so hard. I believe we should stay focused on the core topics: Math, English and Science so that when our children graduate and head on into all that life holds for them, they are well prepared to thrive from the excellent education they received in District 17. 

That question prompted me to do some research. Each year the Nebraska Department of Education makes the Nebraska Education Profile (NEP) available. It provides information and data about Nebraska public schools and student performance. The NEP highlights the performance of students by district and school building in English language Arts, mathematics, writing, and science. Beginning in 2017, 11th grade was tested via the ACT. The 2017 & 2018 statewide percentages include only students in grades 3-8 and 11th grade alternate assessment students. The NEP represents a transformation of data from the State of the Schools Report and is intended to help inform the public and school officials about school and district performance. The NEP is also intended to inform parents, community leaders, and policymakers about our education system and to provide data needed for sound decision making by education leaders. The NEP will continue to grow and change as data is added to the system.

The NDE suggests that our school district officials can best explain local data and how it applies to the district, but encourages us to take time to explore the NEP and learn how schools and students in your community are performing. They encourage parents to talk to the teachers of their students, and to local school officials, about the results and the needs of their students.

So I had my staff compile the following Education Profile Report on each school in District 17. Due to Covid, the most recent data available is 2018-2019.

 

School Date English Math Science
Bancroft-Rosalie 2018-2019 41% 51% 84%
Emerson- Hubbard 2018-2019 48% 48% 61%
Homer 2018-2019 51% 53% 63%
Pender 2018-2019 77% 85% 84%
So Sioux City 2018-2019 45% 53% 56%
Umo N Ho N 2018-2019 5% * *
Wakefield 2018-2019 53% 58% 67%
Walthill 2018-2019 14% 15% *
Wayne 2018-2019 55% 56% 77%
Winnebago 2018-2019 23% 17% 30%
Winside 2018-2019 56% 45% 88%
State of Nebraska 2018-2019 52% 52% 66%

 

* This website masks or hides data for groups with fewer than 10 students to protect confidential information about individual students as required by federal law.  

I encourage you to take the time to review the second draft for yourself at education.ne.gov. 

The August 6th State Board of Education meeting was recorded and is available on the NDE YouTube channel. Link to Live Internet Broadcast:  https://www.education.ne.gov/live/.

Legislative Page Program

The application process for the Page Program at the Legislature is now available to any Nebraska college student who may be interested. The deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2022 legislative session will be Friday, October 1 at 5:00 p.m. The page selection committee will meet in October to select individuals to fill those

positions. For more information, go to https://nebraskalegislature.gov. Please feel free to give me a call if you have any questions. 

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 July 23, 2021
August 3rd, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

It’s hard to believe that the summer is nearing an end and just around the corner our schools will be opening their doors. I hope that the children in District 17 have had a chance to enjoy a summer full of rest and fun.

As we prepare for the 2021-22 school year, I cannot help but think about curriculums and the situation we have faced this year with the unacceptable Health Education Standards proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education.

I have been at a National Conference for Legislators this week, where numerous national education statistics are being reported. It has been a bit sobering to see where Nebraska stands academically in comparison to other states. We simply need to go back to the basics, where our focus is doing an excellent job teaching Math, English, Science, Social Studies and History. Though it is vital for every child to learn the value of taking care of themselves and other people, those things are and should be taught first by parents and guardians. If children do not get an excellent education in the core subjects between K-12, it is probable they never will, and that will greatly affect their ability to thrive throughout their lifetime. 

Currently, 49 School Districts across the state have stood in public opposition to the first draft of the Nebraska Department of Education Health Standards,  they are: Alma, Arcadia, Amherst, Axtell, Beatrice, Bertrand, Boyd County, Broken Bow, Bruning- Davenport, Cairo, Chase County, Clarkson, Columbus, Cozad, Eustis-Farnam, Gehring, Gordon- Rushville, Gothenburg, Harrison/Sioux, Hayes Center, Hitchcock County, Holdrege, Keya Paha, Lincoln Christian, Logan View- Hooper, Loomis, Loop County, Madison, Mayfield, Maywood, McCook, Mead, Mullen, Newman Grove, Norfolk, O’Neill, Potter-Dix, Scottsbluff, Sidney, Thayer Central/ Hebron, Thedford, Yutan, Wakefield, Wallace, Weeping Water, Wilcox- Hildreth, Winnebago and Wood River.

The second Health Standard draft came out this week. I would implore any local school boards in District 17 and throughout our state who have not signed the Resolution, to join the thousands of Nebraskans who are greatly concerned, and reject the proposed Health Standards all together. 

I am in complete agreement with Governor Ricketss when he said, “While this new draft of the health education standards scraps many of the topics Nebraskans found objectionable, the standards still need improvement, for example, this draft proposes to teach the concept of ‘gender identity.’ The continued presence of gender ideology in the standards leaves the door open for this material to be expanded either before these draft standards are approved or in future years when these standards are revisited. Sex education and other controversial topics should be addressed at home.This responsibility should not be shouldered by teachers in schools.”

I encourage you to take the time to review the second draft for yourself. I know it is not convenient to sit down and read, but as the gatekeepers for our children’s minds and hearts, it is VITAL that we proactively engage ourselves in stewarding their education. I can tell you, there are others who absolutely have an agenda for our children, and if we do not pay attention, they will win this battle. You can review the new draft  at education.ne.gov. 

Next Friday, August 6 at 9:00 am the State Board of Education will hold its next meeting at the Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln, NE 68508. Access to the meeting will be made available to members of the public and members of the media at the meeting site and by live internet broadcast via the Nebraska Department of Education’s YouTube channel. The meeting will be recorded and available after the meeting on the NDE YouTube channel. Link to Live Internet Broadcast:  https://www.education.ne.gov/live/

In the meantime, continue to contact your state and local school board members and representatives and ask them to sign on the Resolution rejecting the draft of the proposed Health Education Standards. I am so proud of the hundreds and even thousands of Nebraska’s parents, grandparents, teachers and guardians who have drawn a line in the sand and made their voices heard, that teaching our children value systems that we do not align with is not going to be okay here in this great state.

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 July 16, 2021
July 16th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

It is my hope that as your summer progresses, you have the chance to take vacations and see the people and places that refresh you. I have truly enjoyed the extra time I have had with Mike and our children and grandchildren. The kids and the crops are growing and life continues to be so good in Nebraska!

Tri-state Governor’s Conference

Since the inaugural conference in 1988, the Governors of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have met almost every other year to exchange ideas on topics of regional importance. I had the privilege of joining Governor Pete Ricketts, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem at the Tri-state Governor’s Conference this week where they interacted with several key issues, including the challenges Siouxland businesses currently face while trying to fill job openings, affordable workplace housing, medical malpractice and telehealth and the KC-135R Aircrew Training System placement in Sioux City. 

I appreciated Governor Rickett’s update about how Nebraska compares to other states across the country in regard to Covid responses, low unemployment and successes in the Legislative Session this year where spending was controlled, tax relief, military and social security tax exempted, and broadband significantly expanded in Nebraska. It was very encouraging to hear from all three Governors and I greatly appreciate the strategic leadership of each one of them.

Ag-Land and School Bonds

This last session, LB 2 was enacted to correct an unfair property tax burden on ag-land owners. Over the last 25 years ag-land valuations have skyrocketed. In rural Nebraska, residential and commercial property has increased at a much slower rate, or in some instances stagnated or even decreased. LB 2 addresses this inequity in school bond elections; it attempts to bring back a fair proportionality of who pays when new school buildings are erected.

 Adding to the injustice, while small town populations may have declined, farmer numbers have declined even faster. Farmers today are more productive, and in order to be profitable larger farms are a necessity and thus fewer workers are needed. Ag-land owners in most school districts have very little voter representation and are simply out voted when it comes to bond elections. If you have your home in a rural school district, you may have noticed over time that what you pay in school taxes have actually declined–if so, you can thank a farmer, because due to rising farmland valuations the cost of operating your school and paying off existing bonds has shifted to them.

To address the problem, LB 2 lowers the unadjusted valuation of ag-land from 75% to 50% for school bond levies only. Residential and commercial values remain the same at 100%. The effective start date of the legislation is January I, 2022. Ag-land will still be valued at 75% for all present schools bonds or any new projects approved before that date.

 In government sometimes when you fix a problem, another is broadened. LB 523 is a sister bill to LB 2 that is still on General file, and it needs to be enacted to plug a loophole in present law. Because ag-land valuations have skyrocketed, many school districts can fund their operations with a levy well under the 1.05 limit. Districts have the ability to levy up to 14 cents for a building fund if their total levy stays under the lid. As long as a school district doesn’t use bonds to pay for a building project the school board–using the building fund–can on its own approve it without a vote of the people. Since LB 2’s 50% ag-land valuation only applies to bond funding, more school districts will be tempted to build schools with general funds where farmland remains at 75% of appraisal. Nebraskans historically have expected to vote on major school construction projects, LB 523 would force all school boards to honor those expectations.

NDE Health Standards

The first draft of the Health Education Standards are available for review at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

The NDE has communicated that the next draft will be available for review by August 1. It is vital that we all stay engaged in the process to ensure that our local voice is heard so that our children’s education is representative of the desires of our District.

The August 2021 meeting of the State Board of Education will be held at the Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln, NE 68508.  The agenda for the August meeting will be posted on or about July 29, 2021; check back to this site at that time for additional meeting details. Access to the meeting will be made available to members of the public and members of the media at the meeting site and by live internet broadcast via the Nebraska Department of Education’s YouTube channel. The meeting will be recorded and available after the meeting on the NDE YouTube channel.

Link to Live Internet Broadcast:  https://www.education.ne.gov/live/

In the meantime, contact your state and local school board members and representatives and ask them to sign on the Resolution rejecting the first draft of the proposed Health Education Standards.

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.

 

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

Happy 245th Birthday America! I stand eternally grateful to have been born and raised in the most amazing place on earth! We appreciate the military who allow us to be the home of the free and the land of the brave. 

This week I joined forces with 29 other State Senators to take a public stand in opposition to the Nebraska Department of Education’s new Health Education Standards. Thursday morning, July 1, the following press release was sent out to media outlets across the state.

Thirty Nebraska State Senators stand together in support of Resolution for school boards across the state to oppose Nebraska Department of Education’s new Health Standards.

Nebraskans have spoken loud and clear—they do not want their children subjected to the Health Education Standards proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education. To our disappointment, despite three months of feedback from parents, the NDE has not been responsive to their objections and concerns.

But Nebraskans can always count on parents and local school boards to take action. The Nebraska State Senators listed below respect parents as the first educators of their children. We therefore call on local school boards in our State to adopt Resolutions to reject the proposed NDE Health Education Standards and retain local control over the content of their health curriculums.

The group includes Senator Julia Slama (LD 1), Senator Robert Clements (LD 2), Senator Robert Hilkemann (LD 4), Senator Mike McDonnell (LD 5), Senator John Arch (LD 14), Senator Ben Hansen (LD 16), Senator Joni Albrecht (LB 17), Senator Brett Lindstrom (LD 18), Senator Mike Flood (LD 19), Speaker Mike Hilgers (LD 21), Senator Mike Moser (LD 22), Senator Bruce Bostelman (LD 23), Senator Suzanne Geist (LD 25), Senator Myron Dorn (LD 30), Senator Rich Pahls (LD 31), Senator Tom Brandt (LD 32), Senator Steve Halloran (LD 33), Senator Curt Friesen (LD 34), Senator Ray Aguilar (LD 35), Senator John Lowe (LD 37), Senator Dave Murman (LD 38), Senator Lou Ann Linehan (LD 39), Senator Tim Gragert (LD 40), Senator Tom Briese (LD 41), Senator Mike Groene (LD 42), Senator Tom Brewer (LD 43), Senator Dan Hughes (LD 44), Senator Rita Sanders (LD 45), Senator Steve Erdman (LD 47), and Senator John Stinner (LD 48).

A RESOLUTION FROM LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS

The following is the Resolution many local school boards across the state are signing and sending to the State Board of Education letting them know that Nebraskan’s want to decide when their children learn the delicate topics of life. The local public schools of Nebraska have been a safe, wholesome environment for decades, and we want to keep it that way.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICT NO.__________ IN THE STATE OF NEBRASKA AS FOLLOWS:

 Section 1. The Board of Education (the “Board”) hereby makes the following findings and determinations:

 (a) Parents and guardians are the primary educators of their own children, especially in matters of faith and morals, including sex education; and

 (b) The school district is to support and assist the education of children, not to replace the parent or guardian; and

 (c) The Nebraska Department of Education has proposed Health Education Standards which could infringe on parent’s and guardian’s role as primary educators of their own children; and

 (d) Parents and guardians in this district have voiced their concerns over some of the proposed

Standards, making it clear that they do not intend to relinquish their role as primary educators of their own children; and

 (e) Parents and guardians who support some or all of the proposed Health Education Standards have every right and every opportunity to avail themselves of any and all educational material necessary to educate their own children in a manner consistent with the proposed Health Education Standards from the Nebraska Department of Education, and their right and ability to do so is not adversely affected by this District’s decision to decline the adoption of the proposed Health Education Standards.

 Section 2. The Board hereby directs and determines that the District will not adopt or utilize the Health Education Standards proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education. The District will make its own determinations regarding the content of its health education curriculum.

 Section 3. At such time as the Nebraska Department of Education removes all content which promotes ideological positions on human sexuality, the District will consider the adoption of new Health Education Standards.

  RESOLVED on this _____ day of ________________, 2021

Again, I strongly encourage all Nebraskan’s to read the Standards and inform themselves about content that is being considered. Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. A draft of the Health Education Standards are available for review at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

The most important step you can take moving forward is to contact your state and local school board members and representatives and ask them to sign on the Resolution rejecting the first draft of the proposed Health Education Standards.

AN END TO COVID-19 

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the State of Emergency implemented in March of 2020 would end on June 30, 2021, removing the last official pandemic measure issued by the State of Nebraska. Isn’t it wonderful to be on the other side of this unprecedented event. We will never forget how we made it through together!

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 at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE June 25, 2021
June 25th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

It’s hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through the summer already. One of my favorite seasons is upon us with the celebration of America’s birth and Independence Day! It is always so fun to live in a place like rural Nebraska to experience our local parades and celebrations. I hope to see you there!

STOP 30 X 30

I was honored to attend Governor Pete Ricketts signing ceremony for an executive order aimed at pushing back on President Biden’s 30 x 30 plan.  30 x 30 is a goal set by President Joe Biden to permanently protect or conserve in its natural state 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030.

I thought it would be beneficial to highlight this Session by Committee. This week we will take a look at the significant bills that came out of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in 2021.

FIREARMS

LB236, introduced by Senator Brewer of Gordon, updated several concealed carry provisions and the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act. As introduced, the bill would have allowed certain Nebraska counties to allow residents to carry a concealed weapon without a state-issued permit. Amendments removed those provisions and added provisions of:

  • LB85, introduced by Brainard Senator Bostelman, which requires the Nebraska State Patrol to notify the holder of a concealed carry permit four months prior to the permit’s expiration;
  • LB173, introduced by Blair Senator Ben Hansen, which exempts from concealed carry prohibitions the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle for lawful purposes or carrying a concealed weapon directly to or from a vehicle if the firearm is unloaded, stored in a case and kept separate from ammunition;
  • LB244, introduced by Elmwood Senator Clements, which allows a 30-day grace period to renew a concealed carry permit; and
  • LB301, also introduced by Hansen, which removes CBD contained in a product approved by the FDA from the definition of hashish or concentrated cannabis and updates Nebraska drug schedules and penalties to conform to federal law.

GOVERNANCE

Local political subdivisions have greater flexibility to meet virtually under LB83, introduced by Norfolk Senator Flood. The bill allows authorized political subdivisions to hold meetings virtually during a declared emergency. The bill defines virtual conferencing as a meeting conducted electronically or by phone.

Under LB83, political subdivisions subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act and currently allowed to conduct one half of their annual meetings by video conferencing and teleconferencing can hold virtual meetings and discuss regular business during a governor-declared emergency.

Current requirements regarding advanced public notice and at least one physical site available for public participation still will apply. An official participating in such a virtual meeting may do so from any location.

The bill also reaffirms the validity of any actions taken by a public body between March 17, 2020, and April 30, 2021, in reliance on an executive order from the governor that waived open meeting requirements during the pandemic.

Government entities that fail to file required reports with the state auditor of public accounts may be fined $20 a day — up to $2,000 total per filing — under LB368, introduced by Senator Sanders of Bellevue.

ARMED FORCES

More Nebraska service members are eligible to receive a military grave marker under LB261, introduced by Elkhorn Senator Linehan. A Nebraska National Guard member who served on or after July 1, 1973, or served in active duty federal service is eligible.

The bill, which passed 41-0, also removes a requirement that a member of the armed forces have served during wartime to receive a marker. Markers will be available to all members of the armed forces in active duty or the U.S. Reserve Forces.

PROPOSED HEALTH STANDARDS

I strongly encourage all Nebraskan’s to read the Standards and inform themselves about content that is being considered. I plan to spend the summer traveling to Legislative Districts across Nebraska, to hear concerns firsthand, so legislation can be enacted next Session to address these issues. Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. A draft of the Health Education Standards are available for review at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

The most important step you can take moving forward is to contact your state and local school board members and representatives and share your personal perspective.

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods June 17, 2021 to June 24, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +9 (4144)

Thurston County: +1 (1190)

Wayne County: +0 (1162)

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 at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE June 18, 2021
June 17th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

In a world where things seem to be changing in many ways, I am finding myself thoroughly enjoying being back in the comforts of rural life, basking in the peacefulness and beauty as far as my eyes can see. It makes me realize how much I have to be thankful for, as a Nebraskan and an American.

I am going to continue a review of some of the bills Governor Ricketts has signed into law this Session that I have not covered with you before.

Joint Hearing for Property Tax Request Increases

Under LB644, introduced by Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair, counties, cities, school districts and community colleges must participate in a joint public hearing and pass a resolution or ordinance before increasing their property tax request by more than an allowable growth percentage. The bill requires counties to notify affected taxpayers of the hearing by postcard, the cost of which will be shared by the political subdivisions seeking to increase their property tax request.

The hearing, which must be held on or after Sept. 17 and before Sept. 29, must be open to public testimony. Its agenda may include only the proposed property tax request increase. LB644 also includes provisions of LB189, introduced by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, that require a political subdivision’s governing body to make provisions in its next budget to pay a refund of real or personal property taxes. The measure also repeals a provision allowing political subdivisions up to five years to pay the refund. Under the bill, interest on refunds accrues at a rate of 9 percent on the unpaid balance beginning 30 days after the date when the county assessor certifies the amount of the refund based upon the final non-appealable order or other action approving the refund.

Inland Port Authorities

LB156, introduced by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, allows up to five inland port authorities to be established in Nebraska. An inland port authority may be established in a metropolitan, primary or first class city or a county with a population greater than 20,000. A qualifying city and one or more counties that contain a qualifying city — or in which the extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction of such city is located – may form a joint inland port authority.

To be eligible, an inland port site must be at least 300 acres in area and meet two of the following criteria of being within:

  • one mile of a navigable river or waterway;
  • one mile of a major rail line;
  • two miles of a major airport; or
  • two miles of any federal interstate or any four-lane divided highway.

An inland port authority is authorized to engage in marketing activities, issue and sell revenue bonds and acquire rights-of-way and property. All authorities established under the bill will be administered by an appointed governing board. The bill prohibits inland port authorities from levying sales taxes and states legislative intent to transfer $5 million in general funds for the next two fiscal years to the Site and Building Development Fund to be earmarked for large, shovel-ready inland port authority projects.

Legal Framework for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration

Under LB650, sponsored by Norfolk Sen. Michael Flood, the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will regulate facilities that inject carbon dioxide through wells into underground geologic formations for permanent or short-term storage. LB650 allows geologic storage only if a storage operator obtains a permit from both the Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Underground Injection Control program. Before the Commission issues a permit, it must hold a public hearing and consult with the state Department of Environment and Energy and the federal permitting authority. The Commission must find that the proposed storage facility would not endanger surface waters or underground drinking water sources and that the storage operator will establish a testing and monitoring plan to assess the location and migration of injected carbon dioxide. LB650 requires storage operators to pay the Commission two fees on each ton of carbon dioxide injected for storage, one to defray administrative expenses and another to defray expenses incurred in the long-term monitoring and management of a closed storage facility.

Statewide School Safety Reporting System 

LB322, sponsored by Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams, requires the state Department of Education to establish a statewide, anonymous reporting system to support threat assessment teams with the goal of reducing violent incidents. The reporting system- the Safe2HelpNE report line — allows students, school staff, parents and community members to report information about concerning behavior or possible harm to people or property anonymously and free of charge by telephone, mobile app, website or email. The report line will be available to any public or nonpublic school that has a threat assessment team and maintains a current list of contact information for at least five team members designated to receive alerts from report line staff 24/7.

Report line staff immediately will alert the appropriate threat assessment team of any concern directly regarding a student, school staff member or school property or that is likely to impact a student, school staff member or school property. The bill requires parental notification within a reasonable period if a report regarding a student is deemed credible, unless such notification reasonably could be believed to contribute to the endangerment of the student or others. Any information or material in the possession of the threat assessment team will remain separate from educational records. 

Proposed Health Standards

I strongly encourage all Nebraskan’s to read the Standards and inform themselves about content that is being considered. I plan to spend the summer traveling to Legislative Districts across Nebraska, to hear concerns firsthand, so legislation can be enacted next Session to address these issues. Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. A draft of the Health Education Standards are available for review at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

The most important step you can take moving forward is to contact your state and local school board members and representatives and share your personal perspective.

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods June 10, 2021 to June 17, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +9 (4144)

Thurston County: +1 (1189)

Wayne County: +0 (1162)

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 at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE June 11, 2021
June 11th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM 

It has been so good to be back in the District and to able to catch up with so many of you.  In addition to working in the garden, Mike and I look forward to hosting family who will be traveling in from around the country.  The sweetest of times are when we have the delight of spending time with our grandchildren. 

On Tuesday this week I had the pleasure of attending the Wayne Area Right to Life gathering. Sandy Danek, President of Nebraska Right to Life also joined me and shared a pro-life update of where things are at on the Federal level. They asked me to give a review of new legislation in Nebraska and an update on the Nebraska Department of Education Health Standards. 

Before we step away from the First Session of this Legislative Term, I thought it would be beneficial to review some of the bills Governor Ricketts has signed into law that we have not covered before.

Highway Reporting Requirement 

LB579, introduced by Columbus Sen. Mike Moser, requires the state Department of Transportation to include in its annual report to the Legislature information detailing the amount of money spent to date on the state’s expressway system, the number of miles yet to be completed and expected milestone dates. The report also must include a statement of all state highway projects under construction and the estimated cost of each project.

Tax Incentive Program 

LB18, sponsored by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman makes three changes to the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, a business tax incentive program that replaced the Nebraska Advantage Act. Currently, the act requires that all qualifying new full-time jobs be filled by individuals who reside in Nebraska. The bill removes this provision and instead requires that an individual in a qualifying job be employed in the state and be subject to Nebraska income tax on compensation received.

Microenterprise Tax Credit 

Under the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act, a business with five or fewer full-time employees can apply to receive a refundable tax credit designed to help decrease the cost of startup and expansion. The program, which offers a tax credit to approved microbusiness taxpayers for new investment or employment equal to 20 percent of the investment amount- up to a maximum of $20,000 – is set to expire in 2032. Total credits approved under the program are limited to $2 million annually. LB366, introduced by Albion Sen.Tom Briese, also strengthens reporting requirements and allows certain family members of a person who has received the maximum credit also to participate in the program – as long as ownership is not shared and the businesses are completely separate.

Residential Water Tax Eliminated

LB26, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, exempts the gross receipts received from the sale, lease or rental of and storage, use or consumption of residential water services.

Tax incentives for nuclear energy firms

Under LB84, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, a renewable energy firm that uses nuclear energy to produce electricity will qualify for incentives under the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.

Special Committee on Flood Control, Water Resources Created

LB406, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Mike McDonnell, creates a special committee, consisting of at least seven members of the Legislature, that will study the need to protect public and private property, enhance economic development and promote private investment along the Platte River and its tributaries from Columbus to Plattsmouth.

The committee will conduct similar studies on the Lake McConaughy region and the region in Knox County that includes Lewis and Clark Lake and Niobrara State Park. 

The committee may hold hearings and request reports from federal, state, county, city and village agencies and natural resources districts on matters pertaining to the studies. It also may hold closed sessions to receive confidential information with a majority vote of committee members. With the Executive Board’s approval- the committee may enter into contracts for consulting, engineering and development studies. The committee will complete each study no later than Dec. 31, 2022, and will terminate on that date.

Statewide Farm-to-School Program

LB396, introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, requires the state Department of Education to hire a coordinator to administer the program, which also may provide students with hands-on learning activities, such as farm visits, cooking demonstrations and school gardening and composting programs. The coordinator will partner with public agencies and nonprofits on a public engagement campaign and build a communication network that links farmers and schools. They also will encourage schools to develop and improve their nutrition plans using locally grown or processed food and provide technical assistance to school food services staff, farmers, processors and distributors regarding the demand for and availability of Nebraska food products.

Livestock Brand Act Changes

The Nebraska Brand Committee may use electronic devices, nose prints, retinal scans or DNA matches to identify. LB572, introduced by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, allows the committee to provide for electronic inspection of enrolled cattle identified by certain approved nonvisual identifiers. The committee will establish procedures for cattle enrollment that include providing acceptable certification or evidence of ownership and submit a report to the Legislature describing actions taken to implement electronic inspection. 

The bill creates an electronic inspection fee of no more than 85 cents per head and lowers the physical brand inspection fee to the same amount. The new fee schedule takes effect Oct. 1, 2021, and ends June 30, 2023. LB572 also increases fees for new brand applications and brand renewals and authorizes the committee to charge for actual mileage incurred by an inspector to perform a physical inspection.

Additionally, the bill requires the committee to provide a certified bill of sale and a certified transportation permit to qualified dairies that sell or move calves under 30 days of age out of the brand inspection area. Dairies first must provide required information electronically to the committee. LB572 also makes violations of several Livestock Brand Act provisions infractions enforceable by citation. The bill makes it a Class III felony to willfully or knowingly apply, remove, damage or alter an approved nonvisual identifier — or corrupt the information recorded on an identifier — if it is done to steal or falsely assert ownership of livestock.

Proposed Health Standards

I strongly encourage all Nebraskan’s to read the Standards and inform themselves about content that is being considered. I plan to spend the summer traveling to Legislative Districts across Nebraska, to hear concerns firsthand, so legislation can be enacted next Session to address these issues. Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. A draft of the Health Education Standards are available for review at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

The most important step you can take moving forward is to contact your state and local school board members and representatives and share your personal perspective.

 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods June3, 2021 to June 10, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +7 (4140)

Thurston County: +1 (1189)

Wayne County: +0 (1162)

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 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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