NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. 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 9th, 2019

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 October 11, 2019
October 11th, 2019

As we draw closer to the beginning of the 2020 Legislative session, the number of interim hearings and office meetings increase, as staff works diligently to prepare for the session. I have been visiting with many constituents, business owners, and organizational leaders across District 17 as I am able.

In addition to working with fellow senators towards meaningful property tax relief, an area of particular interest to me during the interim has been the expansion of broadband into the rural areas of Nebraska, District 17 chief among them. I had opportunity this past week to tour and visit with folks at NE Nebraska Telephone in Jackson. The company is working to deliver fast and efficient fiber optics to the rural communities in order to provide high speed internet service, which in turn will open up educational and economic avenues to countless rural residents. I look forward to the December 4, 2019 Transportation and Telecommunications Committee meeting where we will review the report of the Rural Broadband Study Task Force. The task force was created by LB994 in the 2018 session with the intent that citizens in rural Nebraska would have comparable broadband service to those citizens in urban areas.

COUNTY GOVERNMENT DAY DRAWS DISTRICT HIGH SCHOOLERS
It was wonderful to speak to and visit with the 40 to 50 high school seniors at County Government Day in Dakota City this past week. Every year, The American Legion-sponsored County Government day provides high school students with a chance to learn more about how their local government works. According to the Legion’s website, each year, over 5,000 students in more than 60 counties visit local courthouses to learn more about the duties and responsibilities of various county officials. Having served in a county position in the past, and now serving in the Legislature, I was honored to share my knowledge and insights with students from South Sioux City and Homer High Schools. I am thankful for The American Legion’s purpose in planning County Government Day and wholeheartedly embrace the organization’s quest to engage youth in the workings of the local government which will be run by their generation in no time.

ROADWAY UPDATES
On Tuesday, my office learned the good news that the Pender Highway 94 Bridge will officially open on Saturday, October 12, 2019. This is wonderful news about a necessary transportation route for many who are beginning harvest and who have patiently traveled miles out of their way to get to school, work and to do errands in the area. Our transportation infrastructure is vitally important all year round, but absolutely essential to a safe and productive harvest season. Hats off to the department and road crews who worked relentlessly to get this project over the finish line.
In other roadway news, the box culvert on Highway 35 southwest of Hubbard has had delays due to weather and soil conditions. As soon as the geotechnical engineers can take a closer look at the site we will have a better report on progress. It is tough to regulate Mother Nature but every effort is being taken to keep the project moving forward.

VAPING DANGERS
We hear about the newly discovered dangers of vaping everywhere we go lately. According to NBC News, as of September 30, 2019, there were 15 reported deaths and over 800 reported cases of lung injury linked to the use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping across the nation. One death occurred in Nebraska. You should know that I and many other members of the legislature are exploring options for addressing the health hazard associated with the practice of vaping. Last session, the legislature passed a bill prohibiting sales and use of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 years old. In addition, self-service displays of vaping items is restricted to specialty stores and cigar bars. I appreciate the work of Senator Quick, who carried the bill and was proud of work we did across party lines to pass the bill for the good of the state. The news about lung disease and even death associated with vaping began hitting news wires in mass after the session was over, so our eyes are on the topic still. On September 27, the Health and Human Services Committee held an Interim study hearing to examine health concerns related to the public use of and secondhand exposure to electronic nicotine delivery systems and other products. Impressions from that hearing are being discussed, as is new information we are receiving about the vaping issue. As a group of us continue to work out the most effective course of action going forward, I welcome feedback from constituents and businesses in District 17. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor and be involved in this most important issue.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE October 4, 2019
October 7th, 2019

This past week was a busy one in and for District 17. Meetings with Department directors, senators, and staff to prepare for the upcoming session, watching committee hearings on Interim studies, preparing for harvest at home, and opportunities to visit with folks in the district for special celebrations and ceremonies filled my office and personal calendars pretty quickly. Monday in Lincoln, Thursday in Thurston, Sunday from one end of the district to the other. For me, it’s all about keeping in touch with what’s happening in our part of the state. I so enjoy welcoming new business and manufacturing investors and encouraging the programs and educational institutions in their quest to keep and attract young talent. Most of all, I love to meet and honor the people who make District 17 such a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. From the occasional 80th plus birthday celebration or 60th anniversary, to business openings and events honoring our veterans and first responders, I am so honored to represent the outstanding residents of District 17. Following are only a fraction of the happenings that make me so proud to serve as state senator for District 17.

HONORING NEBRASKA HEROES
Flags flew at half-staff. Somber smiles. All seats taken. This past Sunday, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Bells Across America held memorial services throughout the country to honor firefighters who have died in the line of duty. After eating a wonderful Sunday breakfast with the Wayne firefighters at their Annual event, I drove to Dakota City, where I was honored to be part of the amazing Bells Across America tribute right here in Northeast Nebraska.
The Bells Across America service honored three fallen heroes from Dakota City, with testimonies of their courage and with ringing of a firehouse bell. Community members in attendance and I were touched by the service and visibly moved when the bell was rung. The three fine men who were honored made the ultimate sacrifice while on duty. Captain Andy Zalme, Captain Eric Speck, and Firefighter Lowell Satterwhite Sr. exemplify bravery and the greatest courage of man—putting aside one’s own safety in unimaginable situations to provide safety for others.
In Nebraska, we help our friends and neighbors on many fronts and through many tragedies. And, no one serves more capably and honorably than our Firefighters, who literally walk through fire to serve and save. Nebraska is fortunate to have such brave and caring men and women serving as First Responders. We should all be grateful.

PROVIDING CAREER PATHWAYS FOR NEBRASKA YOUTH
As I continue to focus on Workforce Development, including keeping bright young minds in Nebraska, I am so proud of the way District 17 keeps stepping up to provide a path for Nebraska’s youth. We are stronger when our young people have opportunities to live, work, and thrive right here in Nebraska. On September 23, 2019, Wayne State College helped students and their advisors explore potential career fields with leading business and industry experts in the College’s new technology center. The Skills USA Nebraska Fall Leadership Conference hosted by Wayne State involved over 150 students and their advisors from eleven Eastern Nebraska high schools. The event provided participants with instruction and hands-on learning sessions featuring career opportunities in transportation, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and the energy industry. High schools participating included Bennington, Benson, Clearwater, Columbus, Gretna, Homer, Norris, Papillion La Vista, Papillion La Vista South, Raymond Central, Wahoo and Waverly. A big thank you to Wayne State College and others around our state who are keeping Nebraska attractive to young people here at home.

BUILDING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN AGRIBUSINESS
Speaking of opportunities to keep bright minds in Nebraska, the Nebraska Corn Growers and Soybean Associations provide a year-long Ambassador Program for college students who are interested in learning more about the Ag industry and/or in becoming better advocates for agriculture. According to the Associations, each year up to ten college students are selected to participate as an Ambassador. The chosen Ambassadors will take part in a trio of seminars spread throughout the year and a summer agribusiness tour. Participants get a glimpse of state and federal policies affecting the industries, advocacy and leadership opportunities after graduation and areas of manufacturing, production and processing, and insight into potential industry related jobs and internships. Students are recognized at the Associations’ Annual Meeting and presented with a $500 scholarship to help with school expenses. Applicants for the program are able to access applications to be selected as an Ambassador on the website necga.org. Deadline for applications to be a 2020 Ambassador is November 20, 2019.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
September 30th, 2019

DEADLINE OCTOBER 4!
As a reminder, this Friday is the final date for applications to be a page at the Nebraska Legislature! If you have a student in your family who has an interest in learning more about Nebraska’s State Capitol, now is your chance. The Clerk of the Legislature’s Office is currently accepting page applications for the 2020 Legislative Session. A Legislative Page is typically someone who serves as an aide on the Legislative floor to the Senators with copy work, delivery, answering phones and assisting in many other ways throughout the legislative session. It is a great opportunity to get involved in state government. The deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2020 Legislative Session is this Friday, October 4th at 5pm.

SAFETY FIRST!
As Harvest season kicks off, and with news of a recent fatality involving a vehicle and slower moving farm equipment please use caution and watch out for slow moving vehicles. Our sympathies to the family of the recent tragedy. Remember that farm vehicles and equipment are wider and cannot travel as fast as other vehicles. So, please Be aware that posted speed limits are not always the wisest speed to travel. This time of year it is not unusual to come over a hill and find yourself behind a slower moving vehicle without enough time to stop. I wish everyone a safe and productive harvest.

BRIGE WORK ON-TARGET
On Friday, September 27, I made an on-site visit to the Hwy 94 Bridge that was damaged in the March 2019 flood. The road crew was working especially hard and informed me that the bridge is on-target for completion by mid-October, barring interference by any weather events. Good news for community members and area visitors just in time for harvest. I gathered good pictures as I witnessed and visited with those construction workers who are doing a great job.

RURAL NEBRASKANS THRIVE!
Statistics released from the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute on September 20, 2019 found that rural Nebraska ranked high for economic growth, quality of life, and social capital. The benchmark index tool was developed by UNL’s Bureau of Business Research and the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s College of Business and Technology to identify trends in various regions throughout a state. Especially exciting is the finding that on the index, the Siouxland region ranked third in the State. According to its website, “the 2019 Nebraska Thriving Index provides economic developers, local elected officials and community leaders with economic and quality of life indicators to identify thriving and lagging regions so strategic, future focused investments can be made.” The regions identified by the index are matched and compared with peer regions in other states. The Siouxland region was not only compared to others in Nebraska, but also to regions in North, Northwest, and Southeast Iowa as well as Southwest Illinois. You can learn more about the index and the trends and view the 2019 report online at https://ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/nethrivingindex/.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE September 20, 2019
September 23rd, 2019

BROADBAND ON ITS WAY TO RURAL NEBRASKA. You may remember that back in July, CenturyLink announced the completion of a broadband deployment initiatives in the Thurston and Pender communities. Now, add Microsoft and Nextlink to the list of companies working to bring broadband service to thousands of unserved residents in rural Nebraska. Microsoft has announced it will be partnering with the wireless service provider to bring broadband service to rural residents throughout the state and the region. More than $40M in federal Connect America Funds will be infused into our state over the coming years, providing rural Nebraskans an opportunity to “bridge the digital divide, which is particularly important for precision agriculture, closing the homework gap and enabling rural business owners to succeed in a global economy.” Nextlink will be bringing an array of technologies to Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas. Microsoft’s long term goal is to bring internet to 3 million underserved rural Americans. Partnerships with providers like Nextlink is a way that Microsoft hopes to make low-cost technology more accessible to help eliminate the broadband gap, as well as providing residents resources like digital skills and technology. This is a major opportunity for our state and we are excited that Microsoft is continuing to invest in Nebraska. “Solving the broadband gap will take innovation and investment and we are thrilled rural Nebraskans will benefit from this partnership.”

TEACHING PRACTICAL, CAREER BUILDING SKILLS IS A COMMUNITY EFFORT in South Sioux City! On Friday, September 20, South Sioux City Schools broke ground on a “Student Powered” project involving a partnership with HUD, the city, local businesses, tradesmen and students. Excitingly, local High School students will be working together with these partners, educators, and mentors to build a house in South Sioux. The project shows a community coming together to teach skills that can be translated to future job and career opportunities. Many builders and others in the construction industry across the state are finding it increasingly difficult to fill positions in construction-related fields. With that shortage, students engaged in the project are already finding apprenticeship and internship opportunities. The home built by the students will be sold when completed. Matching students with those skills now will increase the chances they continue to live and thrive right here at home. I won’t be surprised to see one or more future contractor business owners rising from this group. This is a great example of ways we can work together to develop a local workforce and add to the economy. My congratulations on the groundbreaking go out to School Superintendent Todd Strom, the city of South Sioux, and the area businesses coming together to make this project happen. You can catch a video of the ceremony at: https://www.facebook.com/ssccardinals/videos/2433539850302094/ or go to the school district’s Facebook page, which can be found at facebook.com/ssccardinals .

SPEAKING OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, Riverview Surgical Center unveiled its new 50,000 sq. ft. facility on September 24. The team had a vision of a state of the art facility combining medical offices and outpatient surgery opportunities in one location. Goals of the facility include a commitment to leveraging that combination to result in savings to patients from 1/3 to 1/2 of the costs of current options. New equipment, highly qualified staff, a floor that appears to float, and a peaceful view along the Riverfront, all highlight the creativity and ingenuity of people and businesses in Nebraska. The Center has also partnered with a hotel, located right next door, offering a convenient place to stay for patients and their families if needed. Quality, Commitment, and Caring. Better outcomes for patients and physicians means better outcomes for families. That’s the way the Riverview Surgical Center team works, and that’s the way District 17 residents and businesses work together to Grow Nebraska!
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
September 16th, 2019

STANDING BEAR TAKES CENTER STAGE! On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 2:00 pm (CT), the Dedication of Chief Standing Bear in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., will take place. I proudly joined Senator Tom Brewer and other fellow Senators in voting to place the statute of the landmark civil rights leader Chief Standing Bear in the Hall. The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs and Sen. Hilkermann have teamed up to schedule a “Watch Party”, where the dedication will be live streamed over the internet into the Warner Chamber at the Nebraska State Capitol. The ceremony in Washington, DC will include a Native American color guard, a Native American honor song performed by Steve Laravie, Jr., a direct descendent of the Ponca Chief, members of the Nebraska congressional delegation, other congressional leaders, and Nebraska State Senator Tom Brewer. Live streaming may also be available from home. No final word on sources yet, but if interested in viewing from home, you might try searching on the web to find a link. My office should have information about remote viewing by the day of the event. Please feel free to call us at 402.471.2716. On Tuesday morning (9/17/19), my office received confirmation that the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will have a live stream feed from their Facebook page for anyone who wishes to watch: https://www.poncatribe-ne.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190918_StatueDedication_FBLive.pdf.

BRINGING UP NEBRASKA: I was fortunate to join a group of leaders from across the state in Kearney on Tuesday, September 10 to discuss, collaborate, and develop long-term plans and strategies to prevent and address the needs of vulnerable Nebraska families and children. I appreciate First Lady Suzanne Shore for spearheading the initiative and for making this a priority in our state! Approaching the issue as neighbors standing together, when the initiative was launched, the First Lady stated, “We need to look at any child in need as one of our own . . . These are Nebraska’s kids. And we [the community] need to be the solution.” It is so true. We are modeling Nebraska Strong when we bring together those who know our local communities and families best in order to serve their needs and provide needed services most effectively. The people and organizations participating at the Kearny meeting care deeply about our state’s children and families and are working hard to help prevent challenges from becoming crisis. In fact, at the meeting District 17’s own JoAnn Gieselman was honored for her work and leadership in helping Growing Community Connections have a positive impact on the children and families we serve in our communities.

Finally, WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT and housing affordability have long been on my priority list. For the last three years as a state senator, I have been privileged to serve on the Workforce Development Board alongside statewide representatives from K-12 schools, secondary educators, businesses, the Governor’s office, and many others. The goal of the board is to make sure our adult children and others considering career and life decisions have opportunity and know how to access the opportunities available right here in Nebraska. The board brings together a number of strategic local, regional, and statewide stakeholders to develop a one-stop information delivery system about career and training availability, as well as business services that can be accessed by job seekers, workers, and employers. The board meets quarterly and at our Friday, September 13 meeting, we welcomed new board members from Nebraska Community College Association, the City of Valentine, and Nucor Steel from Norfolk. We cleaned up language in the board by-laws and received initial reports about program performance throughout Nebraska. We are currently working to compile and review performance and statistical information about the state’s progress for the Program Year 2018-19, which will be published as a report online by October 1. From there, we can collaborate on recommendations for the Program Year ahead.

WEEKLY UPDATE September 6, 2019
September 9th, 2019

WATERMELON DAYS–THE SWEETEST END TO SUMMER. I, and so many neighbors, had such fun at Watermelon Days in my hometown of Thurston this past weekend. At the end of summer each year, Thurston throws a party to “ring out” summer. People come from near and far to enjoy events for every member of the family, including live music, a children’s parade, inflatables, tractor pull, and more. Watermelon Days takes place over an entire weekend, and ends in the sweetest way possible—an all you can eat watermelon feed! I was invited to ride along with the Thurston American Legion on their float and saw so many happy, friendly faces. I always appreciate their gracious invitation. Pender Public Schools had the cutest entry showing dance steps along the route. The Blue Jet band marched with excellence. Three sets of Shriners entertained the crowds with those crazy cars and other motorized vehicles. A special summer end treat indeed!

FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: HUSKER HARVEST DAYS September 10-12 Husker Harvest Days takes/took place in the Grand Island area. I’m looking forward to attending the event. Billed as “The Nation’s most modern outdoor show site”, Nebraskans continue to lead the way with “the world’s largest totally irrigated working farm show.” The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) will be there to offer programs spanning the agricultural spectrum, from information on animal health, farmer mediation, farming tax credits, pests and noxious weed control. In addition, this year, through a joint effort with the Governor, the NDA, and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the event adds an International Visitors’ Center, that provides opportunity to better promote Nebraska agriculture and International Commerce. All visitors, including international guests, are able to “experience the latest in farming equipment, supplies, and crop technologies” Available programs include Beef Production seminars, upgraded cattle handling demonstrations, products, equipment and breed exhibits. Organizers say “Husker Harvest Days isn’t just the world’s largest totally irrigated working farm show — it’s also the Midwest’s premier agricultural event.” Every year, Nebraskans show the world why that’s true.

HIGHWAY 35 PARTIAL CLOSURE/DETOUR UPDATE: Last week I shared about the upcoming closure of Highway 35 Southwest of Hubbard due to the need for a previously unplanned box culvert replacement. On Wednesday, the Nebraska Department of Transportation issued a press release informing residents that the road closure would begin on Monday, September 9, with anticipated completion of the project in October 2019. Traffic detours have been marked, directing traffic onto Highways 9 and 20.

BACK TO LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS! With summer ending and school back in session, the 2020 Legislative session is fast approaching. The Revenue Committee continues to work with senators, and the Governor’s office on the property tax relief issue and more and more hearings are being scheduled for Interim studies on other issues as well. As a reminder, I serve on the Natural Resources Committee, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the Special Committee for State-Tribal Relations.
The Natural Resources Committee is holding hearings next week. The Committee is responsible for processing legislation involving the state’s water, public power, Natural Resources Districts, the Natural Resources Commission, Environment, Energy, and Recreational lands. The Committee will be holding interim hearings in the western part of the state September 18-19 as follows:
Scottsbluff 9:00 am (MT) Wednesday, Sept. 18 LR142 (to examine any matter concerning the Game and Parks Commission)
McCook 9:00 am (CT) Thursday, Sept. 19
LR142 (to examine any matter concerning the Game and Parks Commission) & LR114 (to examine conditions under which the board of directors of the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project and the Rock Creek augmentation project may dispose of real property each owns related to the projects).

If you have interest in hearings on these, or other studies, you can find a schedule of hearings by clicking the Calendar link on the nebraskalegislature.gov home page.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE August 30, 2019
August 30th, 2019

Hats Off to the FIRST RESPONDERS OF SOUTH SIOUX CITY! I was honored to attend the City Council meeting and personally congratulate several South Sioux City First responders who were presented with Code Save awards from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Code Saves are given out when First Responders go on a cardiac call, and their lifesaving efforts, such as C-P-R, result in the patient returning to life as normal after treatment. South Sioux City has had four Code Save Awards in the past year, putting their success rate at over 4 times the national average. I am so proud of these fine people who serve so many residents of District 17. They rose up over and over again as exceptional examples of how we Nebraskans strive for excellence as we care for one another. Congratulations on well-deserved awards!

MUMPS OUTBREAK! On August 29, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release about a significant increase in Mumps cases. According to NDHHS, at least 30 cases have been identified in Nebraska this year, with a large number of them reported in the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department’s jurisdiction, which includes Thurston, Wayne , Cedar, and Dixon counties.
Mumps is contagious–spread by coughing, sneezing and sharing saliva. Symptoms may include swelling of the face and neck, ear ache, jaw pain, testicular pain, fever, fatigue, or muscle aches. If you have symptoms of mumps, health officials say you should see your doctor right away and stay home to avoid contact with others. For more information, you can visit the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Dept. website at https://nnphd.org/

In news affecting both ECONOMIC GROWTH AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING in Nebraska, recently HABITAT FOR HUMANITY was recognized for its new Registered Apprenticeship Program. The program reinforces Habitat’s dedication to providing affordable housing and to providing its teammates with opportunities to advance their skills and careers, while connecting generations in support of growing businesses.
In a recognition ceremony, Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, Metropolitan Community College, the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) and the US Department of Labor (USDOL), all involved and/or strong supporters of the RA program. Registered Apprenticeships are recognized by the USDOL. After completing 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and classroom learning, and working with mentors, the apprentices will receive a nationally recognized credential from USDOL.
“Our Registered Apprenticeship Program provides another opportunity for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha to support Nebraskans in their goals to build strength, stability and independence,” said Amanda Brewer, Habitat Omaha Chief Executive Officer. “We see every day in our work to create quality, affordable housing how these outcomes are transformational not just for individuals but for our entire community.”
Companies interested in starting a Registered Apprenticeship program should contact Elliott Cain at elliot.cain@nebraska.gov or Scott Asmus at scott.asmus@nebraska.gov. Job seekers interested in participating in a RA should contact their local Nebraska Department of Labor office. More information is also available on the Department’s YouTube channel and at http://dol.nebraska.gov.

Finally, The Nebraska State Fair wraps up its season on Labor Day Monday, September 2. District 17 was well represented by 4-H members from all three counties. I saw lots of Blue Ribbon performances! Hope you had a chance to get out and see it. Kudos to the Fair Board for providing shuttle transportation from the parking area, making the trek easier for everyone! Already looking forward to next year.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE AUGUST 23, 2019
August 26th, 2019

STATE FAIR WAS A BIT WET BUT TOTALLY DELIGHTFUL! I made the trip out to Grand Island this past weekend to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Nebraska State Fair’s 150th anniversary and 10th year anniversary of the Fair’s move to Grand Island. Though the weather wasn’t as cooperative as we had hoped, I want to congratulate the State Fair Board for putting together a fun and exciting event for Nebraskans! It was exciting to see exhibits from residents of District 17 and I took a lot of pictures that I hope to have on my social media site soon. I attended the Governor’s Breakfast, where he spoke of the strength of Nebraskans, who time after time show an ability to share one another’s burdens in the fact of natural disasters like this year’s flooding and addressed issues like property tax relief efforts since he’s been in office and reinforced property tax relief as his top priority in 2020. The Governor also spoke of his hope for China negotiations to go well and the important role good trade relations can play on Nebraska farmers and ranchers. I join him in that hope.

Speaking of PROPERTY TAX RELIEF, I, and many others attended a TOWN HALL in Norfolk on the subject in Norfolk on August 20, 2019. It’s no secret that property tax relief is a huge issue across the state. Nebraska reportedly has the country’s seventh-highest property taxes, with Nebraskans paying about $4 billion in property taxes annually. Though the Governor and the Legislature have been successful in growing the Property Tax Relief Fund contribution, finding a comprehensive solution has proven elusive. Town Hall participants from the Legislature discussed efforts past, present, and future. Participants included Senators Linehan and Briese from the Revenue Committee, Speaker Scheer and Senator Ben Hansen. Attendees learned that the Revenue Committee has been meeting almost weekly to discuss ways to put in place a plan for needed relief. Discussions to date and at the town hall include exploring raising the sales tax rate, legalization and taxation of all kinds of vices, making big cuts in government spending, and/or eliminating sales tax exemptions. There is no doubt the discussions will continue and I will be part of them. Be certain you will see further information in future weekly updates.

District 17 was honored to have Senator Jim Smith and the Nebraska Chamber present BLUEPRINT NEBRASKA at an event hosted by the South Sioux City Chamber on August 21, 2019. The event was well attended by Siouxlanders, were able to set eyes on the plan’s goals to achieve economic excellence in every part of the state. The Blue Print Nebraska Summary Report and its powerful recommendations for a strong Nebraska future is a collaborative effort over the last 14 months. The process involved over 2,000 participants and approximately 5,000 respondents across the states. I’d like to invite you to visit the Blue Print Nebraska website to familiarize yourself with the outcomes of the planning effort and the three to four themes the team hopes to introduce and initiate in the year ahead. The information can be found at https://blueprint-nebraska.org/. I personally appreciate the time and talents invested by the Governor, UNL President Hank Bounds, and the many Nebraskans who participated in building the vision and putting forward meaningful goals to benefit all of Nebraska. Stay tuned and stay involved!

Finally, challenging ROAD CLOSURE news for many residents of District 17 came out of the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) office in Norfolk last week. It is confirmed that, during the planned culvert rehabilitation involving the 11-mile segment of Highway 35, it was discovered that the original plan to modify a box culvert would not suffice. Instead, NDOT will replace the box culvert with a new, larger one. This means that this portion of Highway 35 will be closing in the near future and remain closed for a period of several months. I am continuing to visit with the Department about detour routes and am encouraging an effort to minimize the impact to local users. Highway 35 will remain open until work on the new box culvert can begin. I will keep you posted in my weekly update going forward about information provided by NDOT regarding length of the closure and detour information.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

WEEKLY UPDATE AUGUST 16, 2019
August 19th, 2019

THE NEBRASKA STATE FAIR begins celebrating its 150th anniversary in four days at Fonner Park in Grand Island. Held August 23-September 2 this year, the Fair attracts visitors and competitors from across Nebraska and from surrounding states. Those 4-H members and others who have worked hard all year long and have gained recognition at local county fairs compete at a new level at the State Fair. I am excited to see several emerge as “the Best of the Best”. There are some exciting changes in atmosphere and programming this year. There is no doubt that the sights, sounds, and feel of the Nebraska State Fair provide families with special moments and memories that last a lifetime. I’m looking forward to taking some time away from the farm to visit the exhibits and hopefully to hear U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, talk about Nebraska and Agriculture at his scheduled public town hall event on Friday, Aug. 23.

In case you missed it: FLOOD DAMAGE COVERAGE EXPANDED! At the Governor’s request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the incident period in which disaster-caused damage may be covered. The presidential disaster declaration, issued March 21, 2019, originally covered the period from March 9 to April 1. With the extension, additional uninsured damage sustained through July 14 may now be eligible for FEMA assistance and U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans.
If you have already registered with FEMA for disaster related damage that occurred between March 9, 2019, and April 1, 2019, AND your home received additional uninsured damage through July 14, 2019, you may be eligible for additional assistance. You do not need to reapply. You should submit an appeal in the form of a signed letter to FEMA requesting reassessment and explaining your reasons in writing. Appeal letters and supporting documents can be uploaded quickly to your account. A sample appeal letter, can be found at: https://nema.nebraska.gov/sites/nema.nebraska.gov/files/doc/appeal.pdf.
In District 17, homeowners, renters and businesses in Thurston County may also be eligible for low interest SBA loans under the expansion. Homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofits that have sustained new or additional uninsured or under-insured damages through July 14, can contact and apply for an SBA loan online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or by calling SBA’s customer service center at 800-659-2955. The deadline to register is Sept. 13, 2019.

HEARINGS ON INTERIM STUDIES requested by Senators in last session are beginning to fill committee calendars as we move into the fall. The Revenue, Judiciary, and Appropriations Committees have a number scheduled hearings to examine the plans for, effectiveness of, fiscal impact of, and/or funding streams on a number of issues being considered. You can find the hearing schedule calendar and topics at www.nebraskalegislature.gov/hearings. Most hearings can be seen live-streamed on NET TV, so if you have a particular area of interest, tune in to watch and listen.
As a reminder, your Legislature has the following standing committees to consider issues and legislation for Nebraskans:
Agriculture
Appropriations
Banking, Commerce, and Insurance,
Business and Labor
Education
General Affairs
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
Health and Human Services
Judiciary
Natural Resources*
Nebraska Retirement Systems
Revenue
Transportation and Telecomm cations*
Urban Affairs

* I currently serve on the Natural Resource and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees in addition to the Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations.
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

Weekly Update August 9, 2019
August 12th, 2019

BACK TO SCHOOL. Most area children head back to school this week -August 14-15. Hopefully, those of you with children returning to school have finished the annual pilgrimage for school supplies and are looking forward to that first day. It’s good-bye to summer, hello to books, backpacks, and bulletin boards. There is a certain excitement to transitioning from the chaos of summer to the structure of the classroom. The first day of school each year means pictures to mark advancing in grade and in life, and to help us remember the moments. Remember to watch out for kids walking and riding bikes to and from school. And while taking those treasured pictures, remind the little ones to always be aware of their surroundings.
I attended the Nebraska Association of School Board’s meeting for our area in Wayne this past week. It was a good opportunity to “plug” back in with your elected school board members and school superintendents to discuss concerns and thoughts as we begin the new school year. I look forward to working with them in the year ahead, through the lens of what happens in District 17. Please know that you, too, can relay your concerns and ideas to these folks you put in office by attending and participating in school board meetings.

Last week the BLUEPRINT NEBRASKA economic development plan was unveiled by the Governor, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, and other partners, including the University. Said to be a “turning point” for the state, almost 600 Nebraskans participated in developing the plan, with about 2,000 attending more than 60 events held across the state over the past year or so. The report lays out goals to attract and retain young people between ages 18 and 34 to all parts of Nebraska, and to expand opportunities and strengthen Nebraska’s competitive position in the country. The report contains 15 key initiative proposals, which, if successfully implemented, will reportedly create 25,000 jobs and add $15,000 a year to annual income of Nebraskans. Parts of District 17 may have identified some helpful ways to further the plan’s goals. Both Thurston and Wayne Counties joined the more populated counties as among 20 counties that saw increases in employment between 2014 and 2018.

Before implementing the plan, it will be more fully presented to Nebraska residents and businesses at public forums to be held throughout the state. The South Sioux City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Chamber are hosting a “Fall Forum” in South Sioux City on August 20, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 pm at the Copperhead Inn and Conference Center, 4401 Dakota Ave. The forum is open to the public. Interested in learning how that vision will affect District 17, I plan to attend.

UNSOLICITED ROBOCALLS can at best be annoying and inconvenient, and at worst cause great disruption and affect the bottom line of businesses that receive frequent calls. At the Legislative Summit this past week, Congressman Fortenberry advised attendees that there is an effort to address the issue underway in Congress. I’ve heard concerns from residents of District 17. I will continue to monitor the progress and pass information onto you as I receive it.

FUN FACT: Did you know that in 2018, there were an estimated 3.52 head of cattle per Nebraska resident while nationally the estimate was .29 head of cattle per capita? It will be so great to see the “Best of the Best” from around the state shining at the upcoming Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 23-Sept. 2. The 4-H participants work hard and it really shows as they compete for top honors!

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you.
You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room #1404
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2716
Email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov
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