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
April 10th, 2015
While I do not usually use this column to defend a position that I have taken, I do feel the need to clear the air a little on a certain issue.
Most of you are aware that there was a “Flare up” about some things that Senator Chambers of Omaha said during a public hearing a while back. I have been criticized by a number of people for defending Senator Chambers’ right to say what he said. I have made it clear that I did not agree with what he said but that he did have the right to do so.
Shoot (pardon the pun), I even got a third of a page editorial in the Wayne paper proclaiming in letters five times the size of normal print that I “Blew It”. The editor has every right to that opinion and the right to print the same. What he may have overlooked or forgotten is that the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution was not intended for only the media, but for all of us.
Each of you also have the right to say what you will even though you may or may not suffer some “blow back”. There is also additional protection for we elected officials in the Nebraska Constitution. In Article III Section 26 it states: “No member of the Legislature shall be liable in any civil or criminal action whatever for words spoken in debate.” You do not have to like what Senator Chambers said, but you will not take away his right to say it without a fight while I am here. Four of the last five generations of my family have served in combat situations to protect our rights. As I said in reference to the motorcycle helmet repeal bill, I will never give up on freedom.
I do not intend to make a habit of attempting to “hit back” in this weekly update. I will however occasionally use it to clarify my thoughts.
April 3rd, 2015
This week the Legislature voted on and advanced LB610. LB610, introduced by Senator Jim Smith of Papillion, would increase the gas tax six cents over the next four years. The additional revenue generated by this tax would help pay for maintenance on the aging bridges and roads across our state.
There was a fair amount of debate on this bill but it did not face a filibuster. The vote to advance the bill was 26-10 with several not voting. While I understand that some of the government officials from the counties and some communities like South Sioux City and Wayne are in support of LB610 because they feel they need more revenue to work with, I voted against the advancement of it. I am still convinced that we need to be providing tax relief, not increasing taxes. There is new leadership coming to the Department of Roads and I am hopeful that money can be saved by reducing some of the heavy burdens of over regulation. When the counties are forced to over build because of such regulation, we all lose.
We also spent a fair amount of time discussing LB106. LB106, introduced by Senator Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, is a complicated bill that seeks to create statewide standard/matrix for livestock producers when building or expanding their operations. I have been fighting this bill since we heard it in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. In the form it was introduced, LB106 would have created another regulating board that would have the authority to override the decisions made by the county and would therefore eliminate “local control”. After hours of debate we were able to agree on an amendment that I think makes a bad bill better. The new board has been removed and the counties will be able to follow the guidelines IF THEY SO CHOOSE. I voted for the amendment but I still was not able to bring myself to vote for the bill even though I think it is now pretty much benign. LB 106 could still be considered “the camel’s nose under the tent”, and that concerns me.
March 27th, 2015
People talk all the time about how unique and special the Unicameral is, and I would agree. I have, however, discovered that we seem to be becoming more and more like Washington, D.C. all the time, which I find heartbreaking.
I learned this week just how similar we are becoming to Washington, D.C. when my priority bill (LB31 to repeal the motorcycle helmet law) was debated and voted on. I chose not to play the political games played by some and I paid the price. I will not vote for something I fundamentally disagree with (Medicaid expansion) to gain votes. Whether you agree with my positions or not, you know where I stand. If I give you my word, I will stand by it. Unfortunately, that cannot be said about all of my colleagues. My bill died due to a lack of votes to stop the filibuster – had all of the individuals who said they were going to give me a vote for cloture, done so, we would have a had an up or down vote on the actual bill. The advancement of the helmet repeal was the closest it had been in years . . . I will continue to fight for it! It is to me a matter of freedom. I will never give up on freedom.
I often use my newsletter to make the readers aware of opportunities available to our youth. If you are a junior or senior in high school and remotely interested in the agricultural industry I would encourage you to apply for the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). NAYI is a five day long conference on the UNL East Campus focusing on career opportunities within agriculture. This year the conference will be held July 6-10, 2015. Applications are due on April 15, 2015. Applications can be found at www.nda.nebraska.gov or by contacting my office.
March 13th, 2015
It was another busy week in Lincoln as committees are trying to wrap things up. All of the committee hearings will be completed by on or before March 20th. By then we will also know all of the bills that have a priority designation – senator, committee, or speaker.
I thought the people of Nebraska sent a clear message the last few years – they wanted tax reform and something had to be done about land valuations. Unfortunately, it looks like most of the members of the Revenue Committee missed that message. It is essential that this committee come to some agreement, which will allow for some additional property tax relief.
This week the Revenue Committee, with a vote of 5-2, advanced LB610 a bill that would increase the gas tax 6 cents over a four-year period. This would bring our gas tax to 31.6 cents per gallon. The increase is being proposed to pay for bridges and roads. It would generate $19 million a year for our roads and bridges and introducer, Senator Jim Smith of Papillion said it is a “user fee” for motorists.
The Revenue Committee also looked at LB350, introduced by Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, which would reduce the taxable value of farmland from 75 percent to 65 percent. LB350 only received two votes to advance it from the eight-member committee. Senator Brasch has selected this bill as her priority bill, which tells me that she still has hopes or it advancing from committee.
March 9th, 2015
This session continues to be full surprises and at times frustrations. We are nearing the end of committee hearings and senators are in the process of identifying their priority bills so committees are busy working on bills.
I have had a few frustrating moments in the last few weeks. The first came when LB176 was advanced from the Agriculture Committee. This bill narrows the Competitive Livestock Markets Act prohibiting livestock packers from directly or indirectly owning or feeding livestock and it removes the restriction on packers owning swine during production stages. The committee amendment moves to clarify language and remove ambiguous phrasing throughout the bill. I fought this bill in committee and I will continue to fight it on the floor. I am convinced that allowing the packers, most of whom are foreign owned, to control the production side of the market equation will do irreparable damage to the independent hog producers.
Another frustrating moment came when The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee that I serve on, advanced LB106 to the full Legislature. LB106 allows the Department of Agriculture, with input from an advisory committee, develop a scoring matrix to approve or disapprove a proposed or expanding livestock operation. The assessment matrix will be reviewed at least once every four years. Additionally, it creates a seven member Livestock Siting Review Board to be appointed by the Governor. I have had issues with this bill since it was brought to my attention and it is again, one I plan to fight against on the floor. This appointed board would have the ability to override county officials and county zoning regulations. In short it would remove local control from the counties and give it to the state. To my way of thinking local control is of vital importance.
On a better note my priority bill, LB31, which would repeal the motorcycle helmet law, was advanced from committee with an amendment this week. The amendment would allow individuals 21 and older to decide if they want to wear a helmet or not. If they decide not to wear a helmet, they would have to have eye protection.
LB479, a bill that I introduced to allow communities to honor veterans was advanced from committee this week as well – it is my hope that this will be on consent calendar.
LB303, another bill I introduced which would task the Department of Education with creating a model child sexual abuse policy that schools could then adopt if they wanted to, will have its fate decided by the Education Committee this week. I would like this bill to come out of committee unanimously so that it can be considered for consent calendar. I am also requesting that it be considered for a speaker priority bill.
March 9th, 2015
This was an interesting week in Lincoln. LB111, a bill that would require photo identification to vote was bracketed until June 5, 2015. This means that we will not be able to discuss this bill again until next year. This was disappointing and frustrating to say the least.
LB118, a bill introduced by Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill, which I co-sponsored, received final approval on Friday. LB118 once again creates authorization for cigar shops with liquor licenses. It advanced with a vote of 45-3-1 and will be sent to Governor Ricketts for approval this upcoming week.
It proved to be a busy week for me as well. I worked on an amendment for LB88 – a bill that would increase the fee for marriage licenses and copies. A compromise was worked out on General File regarding the fee for marriage licenses but nothing was done to address the increase proposed for the copies of marriage licenses. I filed several amendments to address this issue. My intent was to get the fee for copies down around $8.50 from the $16 proposed in the original bill. We ended up compromising on a $9.00 fee for copies. I introduced LB479 to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. This bill would allow communities to erect memorials commemorating service members of the United States armed forces. Current statutes specify the wars and conflicts members must have served in to be recognized and did not include our most recent wars/conflicts. Rather than add them into the statute I thought it made more sense to strike the specific language. I also introduced LB256 to the Revenue Committee. LB256 would increase the sales tax one-half of a percent and designate all of the revenue generated to the Property Tax Credit Fund.
February 12th, 2015
This week I introduced LB31 to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB31 would repeal the motorcycle helmet law in Nebraska if passed. This is an issue that many individuals feel passionate about, which was evident at the hearing.
While my ideal situation would be for LB31 to be advanced from committee as I introduced it, I am realistic, and understand that the chances of it being amended from its current form is great. As with any bill, finding that delicate balance of addressing your opponents concerns can be a challenge.
The day of the hearing, there was a motorcycle accident in Lincoln. Obviously, this garnered a great amount of coverage with the rider saying he would have been all for repealing the helmet law before his accident but now he thinks we should keep the helmet law. This issue often tugs at the heartstrings of individuals causing people to make decisions about the law based on emotions and not facts. As the FACTS started coming out about this particular accident we discovered that this motorcyclist was cited for negligent driving, improper registration of a motor vehicle and no motorcycle operator’s license. People like this individual do not respect our current laws and they are going to break them regardless of the laws. What I find disgusting is that the opponents of my bill are proud to parade this individual around as the new poster child for requiring helmets with no regard for the fact that that accident never would have happened had he obeyed the law and not been operating a motorcycle that he had neither license nor ability to operate, safely.
Last week I had introduced LB651, a bill that would have addressed the unfunded mandate that are often passed down to counties in the form of uncollectible court fees. This week the Judiciary Committee killed that bill. This week I also withdrew LB604, a bill I introduced that would allow the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to make disaster payments for projects as they are completed. I worked with NEMA to address the concerns of payments being made in a timely manner. I introduced the bill but NEMA was able to make the necessary changes through internal policies and they are now making payments upon the completion and inspection of projects. If appropriate change can be made without legislation that is a good thing.
February 8th, 2015
We were finally able to move on from LB88, a bill to increase the fee for a marriage license or for copies of a marriage license, this week. A compromise was reached that allowed the bill to advance from General File.
The compromise lowered the proposed increase from $50 for a marriage license down to $25. It is my intention to bring an amendment on Select File that would change the increase in for the marriage license copies from the $16 proposed by LB88 to $8.50. This would reflect the same increase that we are proposing with the compromise change in the marriage license fee.
This week I introduced LB651, a bill that would address uncollectible court fees, to the Judiciary Committee. I also introduced LB191 to the Revenue Committee. LB191 would exempt veteran service organizations from having to pay the sales and use tax on food or food products they sell.
On Tuesday, February 10th the Agricultural Committee will hear LB176, a bill that would change the Competitive Livestock Markets Act, introduced by Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala. Under current law, packers are prohibited from owning and feeding hogs in Nebraska. LB176 would change the law which would then allow packer involvement in the production of pork. It is my fear that such involvement would be harmful to the private producers in our state. This is a bill that we dealt with last year and it is back again with a few changes.
January 30th, 2015
The session is now in full swing – complete with spending eight hours on a bill that really does not warrant it. The morning debate this week was pretty much consumed by LB88.
LB88 was introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell of Lincoln and it would increase the fee for obtaining marriage license from $15.00 as it now is to $50.00. Additionally, LB88 also increases the fee for obtaining certified copies of a marriage license. Both of these called for increases are in excess of 300%. Senator Chambers and I were the only senators in vocal opposition of this bill when it was introduced. While it may be time to revisit the fee, I do not feel that a $35 increase is necessary. Senator Chambers has said that he will take debate on this bill eight hours and Senator Campbell shows no sign of pulling her bill, so it looks like we will start next week off once again with LB88.
I understand that in the last ten years the state has cut funding across the board and now counties and agencies are trying to find ways to compensate for that. I know that this bill will not be the last bill we will hear this session that attempts to increase a “user fee” of some kind. LB85 that was just heard by the Agriculture Committee would allow the Nebraska Brand Committee to increase the brand inspection to fee $1.25 up from $0.75.there may be some compromise that will be reached, but I ask that all of you please understand that when I see requested increases that are excessive, I will be in opposition.
In other legislative happenings, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee has indefinitely postponed LB112. LB112 was known as the National Popular Vote bill and it was introduced by Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill. LB112 would have effectively destroyed the Electoral College system we use to elect the president of the United States. My bill, LB190 was advanced from the Judiciary Committee and is currently on General File. I have also added my name to LB118 which has become known as the cigar shops bill which is now on General File.
January 23rd, 2015
Bill introduction has now concluded with a total of 663 bills and several resolutions being introduced. I ended up introducing 11 bills, the most I have ever introduced in a single year.
Last week I told you about five of the bills that I had introduced. The other six consist of the following. LB479 which would change provisions relating to memorials for veterans. LB 601 is a bill that would prohibit a school board member or an immediate family member from being employed with the school district. LB603 is a bill thatwould provide for the processing and certification of federal firearms forms as prescribed. The next bill, LB604, is a bill that would change provisions relating to reimbursement to political subdivisions under the Governor’s Emergency Program. I am working withNEMA with hopes that I will be able to withdraw this bill because NEMA will have made the necessary changes with internal policies. LB651, would change the liability for certain court costs with the intent of saving the counties some money.Finally, LR31CA is a constitutional amendment to change legislative term limits to two consecutive full terms. This would provide that even though a senator was originally appointed he or she would be allowed to run for and be elected to two full terms.
Yesterday, LB190, was heard by the Judiciary Committee and I am hopeful that it will be advanced from committee early next week. I think it only right that we afford military spouses the ability to be considered a resident of the state for the purposes of obtaining a concealed carry permit when they are here because their spouse has a permanent duty assignment to our state. We already afford that status to the service person.