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
November 26th, 2015
Back in 2012, I had a constituent contact me wanting to me to introduce Erin’s Law in Nebraska. Erin’s Law is legislation that deals with teaching our students about child sexual abuse in our schools. After researching Erin’s Law, I was not convinced that it was the best option for Nebraska and honestly, I was not willing to place another mandate on our schools.
That being said, I did see great value in encouraging our schools to address this issue. The question was how. In 2013, I introduced LB143, which would have required the Nebraska Department of Education to develop a model policy addressing child sexual abuse. If a school decided to adopt a policy there would be certain things they would have to do in order to comply with the bill. I modeled my bill after a similar bill that had been passed in previous years dealing with dating violence. LB143 never made it out of the Education Committee.
In 2015, I introduced LB303, which was the same bill as LB143 with a few technical changes made at the request of Health and Human Services regarding language used. After discussions with committee counsel, I decided to request that the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) develop a model policy and make it available to schools wanting or looking for a policy addressing child sexual abuse.
NDE has formed a committee tasked with developing a model policy. I am pleased to announce that this committee started their work this week. My legislative aide is one of several members of this committee and she was very impressed with committee and the work that was done this week. It is our hope that there will be a model policy in place and available for schools to adopt for the 2016 – 2017 school year.
I have taken some heat over this bill for the last three years, mostly from an individual that does not seem to understand the legislative process and thinks that the only way to proceed is their way. I am sure that this individual will once again attack me and tell me that I do not care about children but I think that we are making great progress and we will end up having a much better policy available for schools by going this route. It has taken a long time to get to the point that we are at, we are moving forward, and it will not require another law or mandate, we have too many now!
November 23rd, 2015
As most of you are aware, I will not be able to run for re-election in 2016 due to term limits. Since I was appointed less than half way through Bob Giese’s term, I am allowed only six years in the Legislature. There are currently two people who have announced that they intend to seek the position.
The first to announce was Ardel Bengtson from South Sioux City. Ardel is a retired South Sioux City school teacher and a small business owner. Ardel has been close to city politics as her late husband, Al, served on the city council for a number of years. I have met her several times since her announcement.
In early November, Joni Albrecht announced that she would also be a candidate for the job. Joni farms with her Husband Mike and their family between Emerson and Thurston in Thurston County. Joni has some previous political experience having served in both city council and county board positions. I have known Joni for several years, having first met her through her work with Farm Bureau and at the Dakota/ Thurston County Fair.
There may or may not be others that get into this race, but at the very least you will have two candidates to choose between. The choice will be yours; it is up to YOU to learn where they stand on the issues that are most important to you. Given my five years of experience, I think you may want to find out where each stands on some of the following ongoing issues: TAXES–lower taxes or more state funding, you can’t have both. ABORTION–pro-life, or pro-choice, SECOND AMENDMENT — gun-rights or gun control, DEATH PENALTY–for or against, ANIMAL RIGHTS there are people who want to add many regulations as to how farm animals are raised, where do the candidates stand?
I have listed only five of the issues that the legislature struggles with nearly every year, I will try to mention more as we get closer to election day, The Primary will be held on May 10, 2016
I am sure that Ardel and Joni will make themselves available to you as time passes. There are very few things more important than who you elect to serve you.
November 16th, 2015
I have seen several articles recently regarding increased costs of the State Patrol. The articles hurry to point out that the governor’s security detail is a main force behind the increased State Patrol costs.
According to some reports, which I have not verified, the Patrol is spending $50,000 a month more in overtime costs than last year and all previous years dating back to 2002. The governor has troopers assigned to his security detail and they protect the governor around the clock as they have with previous governors. There are usually two troopers on at a time; the governor is never without security, nor should he be in today’s world.
Since taking office in January, Governor Ricketts has left the state 14 times – trade missions (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, and Japan), various conferences, and for some Chicago Cubs games and meetings, (he has family ties there). Additionally, he has spent a lot of time traveling our great State talking to people (not just senators and lobbyists). These trips, in and out of state, are important – he is connecting with Nebraskans, addressing concerns and issues and he is out promoting our state. Those who wish to complain about Ricketts’ travel need to understand that. I have been pleased that our Governor has traveled several times to the 17th District. He, in less than a year, has been to events that I have been able to attend in Wayne, South Sioux City, Winnebago and Macy that I can think of tonight. I know he has been in the district several times when I could not attend. People complain that our leaders are inaccessible, and then when we get one who wants to meet and visit with the folks, they complain about that as well. I for one hope that Governor Ricketts continues to reach out to the people of Nebraska. I would be honored to welcome him to our district anytime.
November 6th, 2015
On Wednesday, November 11th, government offices and banks will be closed in honor of Veterans Day. As we prepare for Veterans Day, I cannot help but think that to many it has become just another day that is taken for granted. It is far more than a holiday that some individuals have off.
Here is a brief history of the day we now know as Veteran’s Day.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany took effect becoming known as the end to “the war to end all wars.” In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day with the following: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations. . .” Originally, the day was observed with parades and meetings – which we still do today in some cases. In 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday to honor the veterans of World War I. After fighting in World War II and Korea veterans group pushed for a change in the name and on October 8, 1954 President Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation”. This change was made to insure the proper observance of this anniversary, for all veterans and veterans’ organizations.
November 11 is not simply another day, it is a day to remember, honor and thank those men and women and their families who have served our great nation in a branch of our armed forces. You can thank them for all of the freedoms that you enjoy today. Our military has never lost a war, our politicians over the last fifty years or so have managed to prevent straight forward victories, with less than courageous leadership, but our warriors do not fail.
If you are a current member of our armed forces or a veteran, I would personally like to thank you for your service!
October 30th, 2015
A few years ago, I did a couple newsletters on the fact that the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) was looking at adopting a policy addressing transgender students. That policy was never adopted, in large part because the public did not want the proposed policy. The NSAA is once again looking into this issue.
The NSAA currently requires students to participate in activities based on their biological gender. Exceptions are made due to Title IX, which allows girls to participate on a boys’ team when there is no team for girls.
Thirty-eight states have a policy in place regarding transgender students. The policies range from those that allow students to participate based on the gender they identify with, some policies leave it up to the individual school, and other policies require the student to have had hormone treatments or surgery. NSAA board has met in executive session to discuss a possible policy. Once they have drafted a policy it will be introduced at an open meeting with a vote at the following meeting.
There are groups that are already weighing in on the issue. The Nebraska Family Alliance and the Nebraska Catholic Conference are encouraging the board to look at a policy that would require students to participate in activities based on the gender on their birth certificate. The ACLU of Nebraska has also contacted the board, according to news releases, giving them examples of policies found in neighboring states. Those examples range from allowing participation based on their expressed gender, to the gender affirmed by their parents/guardians, or being allowed to participate based on a gender determined by a “confidential evaluation” (whatever that means) conducted by the student’s school.
NSAA Executive Director Jim Tenopir has said that he knows of two transgender students that have expressed an interest in sports. The proposed policy could be introduced at the November or December meeting. If you have strong feelings about this issue, it is time to contact the NSAA. They can be reached at (402) 489-0386, fax (402) 489-0934, email at email@example.com, or by mail at NSAA, 500 Charleston Street – Suite 1, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-1119. It is YOUR tax money that funds our schools; YOU should have some say into what policies are put in place.
October 23rd, 2015
It is official; the death penalty will stay in place until voters decide the issue on the ballot in November of 2016. The Secretary of State, John Gale, announced that enough valid signatures were collected by death penalty supporters to prevent LB268 (the bill that repealed the death penalty) from going into effect until after the vote.
Back on Wednesday, August 26, a day before the deadline, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty turned in 166,692 signatures to place the issue on the 2016 ballot.
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty needed to collect roughly 114,000 signatures to suspend the repeal of the death penalty and place the issue on the ballot in 2016. Additionally, the signatures had to meet thresholds in at least 38 of the 93 counties. Secretary Gale stated that after county officials had verified more than 143,000 signatures the minimum signature threshold had been met in 85 counties.
In comparison, last year the Nebraskans for Better Wages submitted 134,899 signatures to place the minimum wage issue on the 2014 ballot.
This does not mean you have heard the last of the death penalty until you go to the voting booth next November. Nebraskans for the Death Penalty have said that they are launching the “Repeal the Repeal” campaign. While the Nebraskans for Public Safety, the group supporting repeal, have said that, they will also continue to reach out to voters.
Campaigns for and against the death penalty are not the only reason we will continue to hear about it. Currently, two lawsuits have already been filed challenging the measure. The first one alleges that Governor Pete Ricketts should have been listed as sponsor of the petition drive. The second one deals with the language used by Attorney Doug Peterson’s office. I have no doubt that these are just the first two of many lawsuits that will be filed in an attempt to prevent the good people of Nebraska from deciding if we will move forward with or without a death penalty in the future. It is my sincere hope that the courts stay out of this decision and that “we the people” decide at the ballot box.
October 16th, 2015
We are living at a time when our country is peppered with veterans. Some have been educated, some have served and are now seeking an education, some have been educated, served and are now trying to find employment. As a country, we are starting to do more to assist our veterans regardless of the position they find themselves in.
On September 11, 2015, the Military and Veteran Success Center opened at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. The center located in the Nebraska Union is to serve as a place where military personnel and veterans can seek support. Life transitions can be difficult for anyone, for veterans those transitions can be an even greater challenge. The Military and Veteran Success Center will be a source veterans at the university can seek out for support in making the transition into academic life. The Center can provide academic and transition coaching and peer mentors to support the success of students. This is a step in the right direction, Nebraska as a state has been behind the curve as to how we treat our veterans. Our colleges and universities are also lagging behind schools in other states. Wayne State is hoping for a major expansion in the field of technology in the near future, I have asked that they consider including a veteran’s center in their expansion. I will be hard pressed to support their plans without something for the veterans. We, in the Legislature, cannot escape criticism in this area, I had a bill last year (LB191) which would have exempted Veterans Service Organizations from Nebraska sales tax, and it went nowhere. While LB191 lays dying a slow death in the Revenue Committee and VSO’s across the state are forced to close their clubs, we were able to exempt zoos across the state from the same tax that we force veterans groups to pay. I do not understand the logic and will continue to work to pass LB191! If it is allowed for lions and tigers and bears, oh my, it should be DEMANDED for our warriors!
In the last few years, the Nebraska Department of Labor has also increased efforts to aide veterans in finding employment. If you are a veteran or the spouse of a veteran and you are looking for employment I would encourage you to look into services offered by the Department of Labor. You can access information at https://dol.nebraska.gov/Veterans.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.