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Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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Weekly News–December 15, 2023
December 15th, 2023

Christmas is quickly approaching and I hope your home is decorated, your gift shopping done, Christmas cards written, and your goodie baking finished. I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends, and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. ( editors. “History of Christmas”. 21 December, 2022.

Upcoming 2024 Session preview
The 2024 session begins on Wednesday, January 3rd. Last year 820 bills were introduced and many of those were carried over to this session as they were still in committee or were ready for floor debate. I introduced 13 bills last session and all of them have had their public hearings. I would like to go over the bills that were carried over. Knowing that this session is my final session, I have carried several of these bills in previous sessions. My hope is that many would be apart of this next session’s agenda or committee priority bills. I would like to see them come to the floor for full and fair debate.

  • LB606–Adopt the Nebraska Pregnancy Help Act and provide tax credits–The purpose of this bill is to provide greater support to pregnant and parenting women in need. Pregnancy Help Organizations serve under-supported pregnant women by providing services to them at no cost that include pregnancy testing, pregnancy and prenatal care education, counseling, food, clothing, housing, transportation, parenting and life skills classes, child care, licensed medical care, referrals to additional community services and material help, personal relationships, and strong local support networks, all of which are crucial for their physical, emotional and familial well-being. This bill encourages increased private contributions to pregnancy help organizations in Nebraska through the creation of a tax credit.
  • LB442–State intent to transfer funds to the Livestock Growth Act Cash Fund–This proposed legislation would allocate $2 million dollars from the general fund to the Livestock Growth Act Cash Fund administered by the Department of Agriculture to provide funding to counties who participate in the Livestock Friendly County Program. The Director of Agriculture shall use such funding to administer the grant program as set forth in §54-2803.
  • LB605–Change provision of the Mental Health Practice Act to include protections and requirements for certified art therapists–This bill will amend sections of the Uniform Credentialing Act and Mental Health Practice Act to provide for licensing of qualified art therapists as Licensed Mental Health Practitioners and Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioners with a credential as a Certified Art Therapist. The bill provides for the certification to be administered by the Mental Health Practice Board.
  • LB637–Require members of the public to be allowed to speak at each meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act–This bill will require, under Nebraska Revised Statute, Sec. 84-1412, that members of the public be afforded opportunity to speak at any public meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act.
  • LB636–Prohibit political subdivisions from restricting certain energy services–The purpose of this bill is to allow Nebraskans to continue to choose the fuel of their choice. Cities and counties would be prohibited from enacting or implementing any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, or policy that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting, the connection or reconnection of any natural gas utility; a natural gas transmission company; or a retail marketer or dispenser of propane, electric, natural gas, propane, or other energy utility service.

News from Governor Pillen’s office
On December 10, 2023 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations put out a global roadmap on how agrifood systems transformation through accelerated climate actions will help achieve food security and nutrition, today and tomorrow. Following their report, Representative Mike Flood submitted a House Resolution disapproving of recommendations by the United Nations to reduce meat consumption in the United States. In part it says “Whereas meat is a nutrient-rich source of protein that is enjoyed by many people in the United States and efficiently delivers calories and vitamins, greatly contributing to the world’s food security; Whereas the United States is the largest producer of beef; Whereas according to the Foreign Agriculture Service, in 2022, the United States exported 1,000,000 metric tons of beef valued $11.71 billion”. There is more in his resolution and you can read more at
Governor Pillen then put out a statement on December 11th stating “I appreciate Congressman Flood’s leadership on this very important issue. The United Nations’ radical attack on agriculture undermines the livelihoods of Nebraska farmers and ranchers, as well as those in other states where agriculture is an economic driver. Anti-agriculture activism damages the world’s food system and hurts the hungry. In Nebraska, our farmers and ranchers raise their products using sustainable methods, designed to protect the land and resources on which they rely. I urge the House of Representatives to pass Congressman Flood’s resolution, recognizing Nebraska’s collective role in feeding the world and saving the planet.” (Strimple, Laura and Schafer, Jacy. “Governor Pillen Statement in Response to the United Nations Food Strategy”. Governor Pillen Press Release. 11 December, 2023.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–December 8, 2023
December 8th, 2023

Hanukkah or Chanukah begins December 7 and ends on December 15, 2023. This eight day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B. C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games, and gifts. ( authors. “Hanukkah”. 27 November, 2023. I would like to wish those who celebrate this holiday a Happy Hanukkah.

As part of a statewide study of nitrate pollution in Nebraska aquifers, the state is asking owners of private drinking water wells to conduct a free test of their water. Widespread public participation in the free sampling program is key to ensuring that the nitrate study accurately encompasses private drinking water wells in the state, according to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE). The free sample kits and lab analyses are offered to all Nebraskans with a private drinking water well. The free nitrate sample kits are available until January 31st by accessing the website or by calling NDEE at (402) 471-2186. The kits come with sampling instructions and prepaid return postage.
If a private well’s results are above 10 parts per million of nitrate, owners may be eligible for up to $4,000 in rebates to obtain a reverse osmosis treatment system. Applications for the rebates must be submitted by June 30, 2024. Learn more about the Reverse Osmosis (RO) Rebate Program on NDEE’s website The NDEE accepts and reviews RO rebate applications on a month-to-month basis. (Hammel, Paul. “State asks owners of private wells to test their water, to help with statewide study of nitrate in aquifers”. Nebraska Examiner. 4 December, 2023. Accessed 6 December, 2023)

I am excited to announce that the state-approved scholarship granting organization, Opportunity Scholarships of Nebraska (OSN), is now available to families at www.nebraska This 501(c)(3) nonprofit helps implement the Opportunity Scholarships Act (LB753). They do this by empowering parents to choose the best educational setting for their child(ren) through awarding nonpublic school tuition scholarships and providing access to school options. OSN serves students and families statewide.
In January, OSN will begin accepting contributions which will be used for scholarship funds to be awarded for the 2024-2025 school year. Taxpayers can apply for tax credit contributions in January 2024. If you would like to apply for a tax credit contribution, contact OSN at or visit to hold your place in line. OSN will get in touch when it’s time to apply.
As a parent, you will need to connect with your nonpublic school of choice about enrollment and ask if they are partnering with OSN. You, the school, and OSN will work together to finalize the application process. Go to and fill out the survey. This will ensure OSN can contact you when it’s time to begin the process.
A qualified school is any nonpublic, privately operated elementary or secondary school in Nebraska that fulfills the applicable accreditation or approval requirements established by the State Board of Education. Visit to fill out a partner form.
For more information on this program, go to

Hats off to Kevin Domogalla and the Nebraska Department of Transportation District 3 crew for their work on Highway 9. It is a road I take frequently as I travel to Lincoln and I am so pleased that the bridges are completed. While under construction, I thought safety was of utmost importance. The lights were always working and the signage was easy to read. Thank you so much for the work that has been done on the highways and bridges in District 17. It is much appreciated.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–December 1, 2023
December 1st, 2023

Winter made its presence known the weekend after Thanksgiving. There were many accidents along with fatalities that happened over that weekend throughout Nebraska. On November 22nd, Governor Pillen and Agency Leaders put a focus on holiday and winter travel resources. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of their thoughts with you as we prepare to go into the holiday and winter seasons of the year. Governor Pillen, representatives from the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT). Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) are offering reminders to drivers and encouraging precautions. “This is when many people hit the road to visit relatives and friends, both in and outside of the state,” said Governor Pillen. “What we want is for everyone to arrive at their destination safely, no matter what driving conditions they encounter.” Here are a few of the resources mentioned in the press release:

  • NDOT recommends checking 511, the state’s travel information system. Details include road conditions and traffic cameras, in addition to weather radar and more. It is accessible on the website (, through Nebraska’s 511 smartphone app and by dialing 511 directly. Travelers can also track the progress of state plows from, which is handy when snowy conditions move in.
  • Emergency preparedness kit for each vehicle. NEMA recommends the following items be included: first aid kit, jumper cables, tire chains or snow tires, flares, flashlight with extra batteries, phone charger, tow rope, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, sand or cat litter, water, snacks and food, blankets, and warm clothing. Drivers should ensure they have a full tank of gas before leaving town. All these things, plus keeping an eye on changing weather conditions, can make the difference between getting to the destination and becoming stranded on the side of the road.
  • Brent Curtis, NEMA’s manager for preparedness, said it’s also important to “know how to receive emergency alerts, develop a communications plan in case family members are not together when winter weather strikes and know what to do before, during, and after a winter storm.”
  • NSP has additional reminders that motorists should keep in mind this time of year. That includes maintaining speed in accordance with road conditions, allowing for extra stopping distance between vehicles and adding extra driving time. Snowplows should be given plenty of room, especially when actively clearing snow or spreading salt and sand. Motorists in need of assistance can call the NSP Highway Helpline at *55 or 800-525-5555. That number is answered 24 hours a day.

NDOT joins NSP and NEMA in encouraging drivers to make a travel plan that accounts for weather, traffic congestion, and personal safety. If motorists do become stranded, the best advice is to remain inside the vehicle until help arrives. “Before hitting the road, the most relevant question drivers should be asking is whether the trip is worth the risk,” said NSP Colonel Bolduc. “That’s a good gut check, before you find yourself in a situation you can’t control.” (Strimple, Laura. “Gov. Pillen & Agency Leaders Focus on Holiday and Winter Travel Resources”. Governor Pillen Press Release. 22 November, 2023.

During the month of October, 37 of my colleagues and I signed a resolution to affirm support for Israel and to condemn Hamas. On November 22nd, Govern Pillen issued a proclamation announcing actions to fight antisemitism and support Nebraska’s Jewish communities. “From the day Hamas started this war, Nebraskans have stood in strong support of Israel,” Governor Pillen said. “Now more than ever, we must recommit our support for America’s greatest ally. Tragically, despite the clear justifications for Israel’s defensive action in Gaza, activists and politicians have used propaganda and misinformation to try to deceive people into believing a false equivalence between Israeli military efforts and Hamas terror. This has fueled antisemitism across the country and must be stopped immediately.” This proclamation specifically condemns public statements and demonstrations that seek to normalize or justify terrorist violence and support for Hamas, and it denounces statements by any politician or activist which seek to draw a false equivalence between Hamas’ barbaric terror attacks and Israel’s legitimate defensive actions to protect its people. It also reaffirms the State of Nebraska’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. Governor Pillen has designated Lieutenant Governor Joe Kelly to serve as liaison between Nebraska’s Jewish and other faith communities and state law enforcement authorities to ensure that as security threats against those communities emerge, they are channeled to and addressed promptly by the appropriate officials. (Strimple, Laura. “Gov. Pillen Issues Proclamation, Announces Actions to Fight Antisemitism and Support Nebraska’s Jewish Communities”. Governor Pillen Press Release. 22 November, 2023.

Congratulations go out to Jacob Gill, South Sioux City, for achieving his Eagle Scout rank! He earned this rank on August 30, 2023 with the help of Boy Scout Troop 149 from South Sioux City. His Eagle Scout Project was to build NEW Flag Retirement Boxes for four local organizations of South Sioux City: First Lutheran Church of South Sioux City, American Legion Post 307, Omadi Masonic Lodge, and the recently opened Siouxland Freedom Park Interpretive Center. To close out his project, he held a Flag Retirement Ceremony at Siouxland Freedom Park on July 15, 2023. From all the collection boxes that were placed around, he collected and retired nearly 400 American flags with the help of Boy Scout Troop 149 and American Legion Post 307. He will be awarded his Eagle Scout on Sunday, December 3, 2023. What an amazing accomplishment! (Gill, Jacob. “Eagle Scout”. Received by Glenda Ward, 15 November, 2023)

Governor Jim Pillen and First Lady Suzanne Pillen invite ALL Nebraskans to the Governor’s Residence for the first annual HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS on Sunday, December 10, 2023 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. This is a FREE event for the entire family. Events include Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus, horse drawn carriage rides, hayrack rides, live nativity scene, face painting, balloon artist, hot cocoa and cookies, and more. I hope you are able to make the trip to Lincoln and attend this event at the Governor’s residence backyard at 1425 H Street, Lincoln, NE 68508.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–November 24, 2023
November 22nd, 2023

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoyed time with family and friends, and counted your blessings. It is such a blessing living in the State of Nebraska. Preparations are underway for the upcoming session as we review legislation that we will bring in 2024.

This week I will share with you about the Nebraska Retirement Systems priority bill, LB103, which changes provisions of the County Employees Retirement Act, the Judges Retirement Act, the Nebraska State Patrol Retirement Act, the School Employees Retirement Actm and the State Employees Retirement Act.

  • LB103 makes technical changes to a bill passed in 2022 (LB700) that codified retirement practices and rules for certified teachers covered by the State Code Agency Teachers Association (SCATA) contract who previously or subsequently are employed by a school district, educational service unit (ESU), or any other state agency.
  • LB104 changes the state, county, judges, school, and state patrol retirement plans by raising the age from 72 to 73 for required minimum distributions (RMD) in order to align with recently passed federal legislation. The RMD age will increase to 75 beginning in 2033.
  • LB105 changes various retirement plans to align with federal legislation that changes the definition of military service to include preparations for military service, rest and recovery after military service and state active service.
  • LB160 changes the supplemental retirement benefit rate for counties that participate in the County Employees Retirement Plan by increasing from 1% to 2% of compensation in counties with a population of 85,000 or less. The rate in counties with a population greater than 85,000 increases from 2% to 3%. This change applies to all Nebraska counties except Douglas and Lancaster, which do not participate in the county plan. (Taken from “Session Review: Nebraska Retirement Systems”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

I was so happy to be in Pender on Tuesday, November 21st to attend Pender’s 2023 National Blue Ribbon School award. I enjoyed listening to all the speakers talk about their pride in attending Pender Public Schools and being a Pendragon. The student essays were great. You could hear the pride in their voices as they talked about what it means to be a Pender Pendragon. Coach Bill Busch talked about being a student at Pender and how much his teacher, Rae Brown (a teacher at Pender for over 40 years), meant to him. I am very proud of the work that the administration, teachers, staff, parents, and students do to make Pender the school that it is. Because of the work done, they are nationally recognized for their accomplishments in educating students. On behalf of the State of Nebraska, Governor Pillen gave a great congratulatory speech. He encouraged the students to become teachers and reminded them of the importance of showing up and giving your best. Congratulations to the Pender Pendragons on their National Blue Ribbon award.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–November 17, 2023
November 16th, 2023

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists from England and the Native American Wampanoag people shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. ( authors. “Thanksgiving 2023”. 14 November, 2023. I would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and tell you how thankful I am to be serving as your Senator in the Nebraska Legislature.

This week I will share with you about the Natural Resources Committee priority bill, LB565, which adopts the Public Water and Natural Resources Project Contracting Act and the Nuclear and Hydrogen Development Act and changes provisions relating to municipal cooperative financing, scrap tires, power conservation and development, and the Game Law.

  • LB565 allocates $250,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-2024 and FY 2024-2025 from the General Fund to the Department of Economic Development for the purpose of providing grants to any public power district that serves a majority of counties in the state. The grants are to be used for engineering and modeling work to prepare and support the state in competing for one of the United States Department of Energy’s regional clean hydrogen hub designations and associate federal funding. In addition, the bill requires the Department of Economic Development to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the program.
  • LB217 extends the sunset date for a scrap tire project grant program under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Act from 2024 to 2029.
  • LB289 amends the Municipal Cooperative Financing Act to allow municipal cooperatives to own and operate, contract to operate, or lease advanced metering infrastructure technology and provide advanced metering infrastructure services regarding a public owned utility system. This bill also authorizes the agencies to provide services related to information technology, physical security, physical infrastructure management, regulatory reporting, and administration regarding the public owned utility.
  • LB395 repeals the $4,000 annual cap on compensation for members of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and increases the members maximum daily compensation from $400 to $500. This bill also adjusts the amount for inflation every other year, beginning in 2025.
  • LB400 allows a private landowner or tenant to kill any predator preying on livestock or poultry or suspected of causing other damage on their land without a permit from the state Game and Parks Commission. This measure also allows private landowners or tenants to kill a mountain lion that is in the process of stalking, killing, or consuming livestock on their property without prior notice to the commission or permission from it.
  • LB425 increases the number of Game and Parks Commission members needed for a quorum at the commission’s public meetings from four to five. This measure also increases caps on certain nonresident hunting and fishing permits and allows the commission to issue permits for the taking of elk from state game refuges when their number is deemed detrimental to habitat conditions on the refuges or to adjacent private property.
  • LB567 repeals current law prohibiting individuals in certain high-level managerial positions at a public power district from serving as a member of any public power district’s board of directors.
  • LB568 requires the state Department of Economic Development to create a work group to determine the workforce training needs of the nuclear and hydrogen industries. The department will establish procedures and criteria for awarding grants to community and state colleges that implement courses designed to alleviate the workforce training needs of those industries. Grants may be used for equipment, curriculum, programming, or marketing. The measure also requires the state treasurer to transfer $200,000 in state general funds to a new fund used to provide per diems and travel and lodging reimbursement to certain work group members.
  • LB723 at the request of Governor Jim Pillen, allows the state Department of Natural Resources to use public-private partnerships and design-build, progressive design-build and construction manager-general contractor project methods when contracting for public surface water or groundwater-related infrastructure projects. The department also must pay a stipend in an amount determined at its discretion to qualified design builders that submit proposals but are not selected–giving the department ownership of the intellectual property contained in those proposals. (Portions of this taken from “Session Review: Natural Resources”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

Voter Information
Six months from November 14, 2023, Nebraskans will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the statewide primary, however, with a new voter ID law, Nebraskans should start preparing for the primary now. To see if your Nebraska voter registration information is current, click here: Here are some important dates to keep in mind ahead of the statewide primary:

  • January 5–Candidate filing begins
  • January 15–First day county election offices can accept early voting ballot requests
  • April 8–County election offices begin mailing out early voting ballots
  • April 15–First day to vote in-person at the county election office
  • April 29–Last day to register to vote online, at the DMV, at the Dept. of Education, at DHHS, by deputy registrar or by mail (postmark)
  • May 3–Last day to register to vote in-person at the county election office
  • May 13–Last day to vote early in-person at the county election office
  • May 14–Primary election day (Polls are open 8 a.m.–8 p.m. CT and 7 am–7 pm MT)
  • May 14–Last day to return an early voting ballot to the county election office (8 pm CT/7 pm MT)
  • NEW THIS YEAR: May 21–Last day for a voter to present their valid ID to their county election office if they didn’t have their ID at the polls

Under Nebraska’s new voter ID law, registered voters must present a valid photo ID for their vote to count. Nebraskans can use any of the IDs listed below for voting:

  • Nebraska driver’s license or state ID
  • Nebraska college or university ID (public/private)
  • Nebraska political subdivision ID (state/county/city/public school ID)
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • Tribal ID
  • Hospital, assisted living facility, nursing home or any other skilled care facility record
    (State of Nebraska Robert B. Evnen Secretary of State (15 November, 2023). “Prepared for the Primary: 6 months until Nebraska’s May 2024 Statewide primary election” [Press Release]. Retrieved from

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–November 10, 2023
November 9th, 2023

On Tuesday, November 7th, the Winnebago Tribe lost Winnebago Councilman, Louis LaRose to a heart attack. He was a great warrior and a dear friend to many. He was known as Mr. Winnebago. His grandson, Lucas LaRose, shared the following on his Facebook page–”He was an influential leader of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska who served on its council. He was a tireless advocate for all Native peoples but most importantly he was my Choka (grandfather). His passing is a devastating loss not only for my LaRose and Mallory families but for the entire Winnebago Tribe and all of Indian Country. Rest in Power Choka Louis.” My deepest sympathies go out to his family and the Winnebago Tribe.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister, Francis Bellamy. It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. In its original text it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. (Taken from “The Pledge of Allegiance”., 8 November, 2023.

It has come to my attention that not every school is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance daily. I would like to take this time to remind the school districts in District 17 that this is a requirement for accreditation by the Nebraska Department of Education. In 2012, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to require schools to make time everyday to say the pledge. According to Rule 10 (Regulations and Procedures for the Accreditation of Schools), 003.12 “Each public school district shall require each such district’s schools to establish a period of time during the school day, when a majority of pupils is scheduled to be present, during which pupils will be led in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the presence of the flag of the United States of America, in grades kindergarten through twelve. Pupil participation in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance shall be voluntary. Pupils not participating in the recitation of the Pledge shall be permitted to silently stand or remain seated, but shall be required to respect the rights of those pupils electing to participate.” (Nebraska Department of Education. “Chapter 10–Regulations and Procedures for the Accreditation of Schools” page 7. Nebraska Department of Education. Accessed 8 November, 2023. I would encourage parents to ask their children if they are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If not, approach the administration at the school and remind them that they are to take time during the school day to recite the pledge. I would like to remind administrators, especially those who are new to their schools, to make sure you are incorporating the Pledge of Allegiance during the school day.

This week I would like to finish sharing with you one of the Urban Affairs Committee’s priority bills, LB531, which cleans up language in the Economic Recovery Act (LB1024 (2022)) by removing certain requirements relating to coordinated plans and directing direct investment to the fund after July 1, 2023.

  • LB629 updates the Middle Income and Workforce Housing Investment Act and Economic Recovery Act.
  • LB462 updates the Middle-Income Workforce Housing Investment Act by increasing the qualifying cost of total construction expenses for owner-occupied housing units from no more than $275,000 to $330,000.
  • LB223 requires all cities that adopt an affordable housing action plan to submit their plan to the Urban Affairs Committee electronically and provides an option in the report to show effort toward an affordable housing action plan or intent to implement such a plan after it is adopted.
  • LB45 creates the Revitalize Rural Nebraska Grant Fund for first and second class cities and villages and provides $1 million in general funds for grants to demolish dilapidated commercial properties.
  • LB346 updates the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act by expanding the definition of a qualifying business to include cities with up to 5,000 residents.
  • LB474 provides duties for the Game and Parks Commission to purchase or receive by donation, and subsequently rehabilitate and manage, the Mayhew Cabin historical site located in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

(Portions of this taken from “Session Review: Urban Affairs”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

Update to the Motorcycle Helmet Law

On January 1, 2024, motorcycle riders will no longer be required to wear a helmet while riding in the state–so long as they submit proof of a basic motorcycle safety course to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Any motorcyclist or passenger 21 years of age or older will be allowed to ride without a helmet as long as they have completed a safety course and, for state residents, submitted proof of completion to the DMV. Those riders choosing not to wear a helmet have to wear eye protection, be it glasses, goggles or a face shield, unless their motorcycle’s windshield protects the rider’s line of vision “in all operating positions”. You may find how to submit your documentation at You will need to scroll to the bottom of the page to Motorcycle Helmet Law Waiver – Submit Proof of Motorcycle Rider Course Completion, click the link, and fill out the form. Riders from other states can also ride without a helmet in Nebraska if they have taken an equivalent safety course and carry proof of completion with them in the case they are pulled over. (Wegley, Andrew. “Motorcycle helmet rules released: People can legally ride without one starting next year”. Lincoln Journal Star, 7 November, 2023, p. A1)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–November 3, 2023
November 9th, 2023

On Saturday, November 11th, we will celebrate those veterans who have served our country. Veterans Day is a United States legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostility, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War”. Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day. I would like to thank all veterans who have served our country. I appreciate all you have done to keep this country free. ( editors. “Veterans Day 2023”. (2023, October 31).

This week I would like to begin sharing with you one of the Urban Affairs Committee’s priority bill, LB531, which cleans up language in the Economic Recovery Act (LB1024 (2022)) by removing certain requirements relating to coordinated plans and directing direct investment to the fund after July 1, 2023.

  • LB531 makes a number of clean-up changes to the Economic Recovery Act passed by the Legislature in 2022, which provide funding for pandemic recovery projects in North and South Omaha and other communities that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill authorizes a grant of up to $20 million for federally qualified health centers in a metropolitan class city (400,000 or more population) and an additional $30 million to develop a business park within two miles of a major airport in a metropolitan class city. This bill creates the North and South Omaha Grant Recovery Program and provides funds for the Economic Recovery and Incentive Division to provide relief to entities negatively affected by the pandemic. Priority will be given to small business development, job creation, and economic growth opportunities. LB531 also requires the state Game and Parks Commission to construct, develop, and manage a museum and visitor center honoring Chief Standing Bear.
  • LB33 clarifies when a mayor in a city of the first class (5,000-100,000 population) or in a city of the second class (800-5,000 population) can vote on any matter that requires either a majority of the city council or a majority vote of all the elected members of the city council if 1) the mayor’s vote is required to break a tie due to the city council being equally divided or 2) a majority of the city council or a majority of all elected members cannot be reached due to absence, vacancy, or abstention of one or more city council members.
  • LB98 allows the governing body of a city that opts to allow the expedited review of redevelopment plans to establish a limit on the number of redevelopment plans they can approve annually.
  • LB532 makes a number of changes to the state’s Community Development Law, including: requiring an “extremely blighted” designation to last for at least 25 years; extending the deadline from 24 months to 60 months for housing studies in all but metropolitan class cities; and placing limits on the creation of new redevelopment plans in areas already designated as blighted.
  • LB170 harmonizes the definition of a blighted area under the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority Act and the state’s Community Development Law.
  • LB342 updates the state’s home inspector registration renewal requirement from every even-numbered year to every two years and provides a 45-day window prior to the expiration to complete the renewal process.
  • LB329 aligns state law with the federal American Innovation and Manufacturing (AMI) Act by permitting the use of refrigerants and equipment designated as acceptable in the federal legislation.
    (Portions of this taken from “Session Review: Urban Affairs”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–October 27, 2023
October 26th, 2023

On Friday, October 20th, I was honored to welcome volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders to their 140th Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters Association Annual Conference. Their mission is to provide a unified voice for the fire and rescue services across the state, provide advice and guidance pertaining to legislative issues, encourage education and training within the fire/rescue service, and promote a communications network across the state. This year’s conference was held in South Sioux City and was hosted by Dakota City’s Fire and Rescue Department. The purpose of the conference was to feature EMS and Fire educational sessions requested by firemen and women. I was able to share that we were able to amend LB511 into appropriations bill LB814 which appropriated $5 million in Revolving Funds to the Department of Administrative Services to provide portable and mobile radios to establish interoperable communications between and among volunteer departments, and, when necessary, state agencies so all may communicate together in response to an emergency. This funding is available through a grant process through the Office of the Chief Information Officer. I was excited to tell them that over 200 applications were submitted and over 165 volunteer departments are in line to receive radios because of the passage of this legislation. I would like to thank Fire Chief Clint Rasmussen and Pat Moore, past president of the NSVFA, for their invitation to speak. It is always an honor, privilege, and delight to recognize our first responders. I would also like to thank Eve Sides, 2022-2023 President of the Auxiliary, and Jennifer Rasmussen, 2nd Vice President, for the invitation to lunch. I had a wonderful time.

This week I will be going over the General Affairs Committee priority bill, LB775, which updates the definition of a licensed racetrack enclosure to include all real property licensed and used to conduct a race meeting, including the racetrack and any grandstand, concession stand, office, bar area, employee housing facility, parking lot or additional area designated by the State Racing and Gaming Commission. This bill also grants the commission authority to create an adjudication subcommittee to investigate and respond to violations of the Nebraska Racetrack Gaming Act.

  • LB72 amends the County and City Lottery Act to clarify that gross proceeds do not include any admission costs collected at any location where the lottery is also available to the public free of an admission charge.
  • LB73 authorizes the use of funds from the county Visitors Promotion Fund to improve a facility in which a parimutuel wager is conducted if the facility also serves as the site of a state fair or district or county agricultural society fair.
  • LB232 provides for a digital premises keno ticket under the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act. Players are verified to be on the premises of a licensed Nebraska lottery location and are able to purchase digital keno tickets. A lottery operator must file with the Nebraska Department of Revenue and provide clear procedural regulations in order to sell digital on-premises tickets. This bill also authorizes the use of additional ticket payment methods, including a debit card, bank account, prepaid cash account or the cash balance of a payment application.
  • LB544 makes minor changes to the Nebraska Bingo Act and redefines terms on how bingo is played using technological aids.
    (Portions of this taken from “Session Review: General Affairs”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

On Friday, October 20th, Governor Pillen proclaimed the month of October as Developmental Disabilities Employment Awareness Month and highlighted the contributions of capable and eager individuals who are ready to join the workforce and help the state’s economy grow. “Creating a welcoming and supportive workplace is not only beneficial for individuals with disabilities, it’s also a benefit to Nebraska businesses,” said Governor Pillen. “Although our state continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, individuals with disabilities are an underutilized resource who can help fill workplace gaps in our communities.” By hiring individuals with disabilities, a business can expand its talent pool and strengthen its workforce. According to a national survey by National Core Indicators, 54% of individuals with IDD in Nebraska do not have a community job, but would like one. One of the resources available for employers who are interested in hiring individuals with IDD is Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). The organization works with businesses to find and retain talent and also works with individuals to make sure their new at-work match is a positive one. That includes identifying on and off-site job supports and tools that can help make the worker more successful in their new role. Employers who are interested in learning about the resources available to them are encouraged to contact Nebraska VR. Individuals with disabilities who are interested in seeking employment should reach out to their local Nebraska VR Service Office or their service coordinator. (Strimple, Laura. “Gov. Pillen Encourages Businesses to Hire Individuals with Disabilities.” Governor Pillen Press Release. 20 October, 2023. Accessed 24 October, 2023.)

On October 25th, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) issued a press release with an update on the loops closure on the Kingsbury Interchange in South Sioux City. “Weather permitting, the week of October 30th, loops will close on the Kingsbury Interchange in South Sioux City to facilitate construction of joint nosing. The closure will be in effect approximately two weeks. Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously in and near work zones, to buckle up, and to put phones down.” (Nebraska Department of Transportation (2023, October 25) REVISED: Loops Closure on Kingsbury Interchange in South Sioux City [Press Release]

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–October 20, 2023
October 20th, 2023

This week I will be going over the General Affairs Committee priority bill, LB376, which creates a brand registration for the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. This bill allows the Commission to more accurately and correctly identify alcoholic products being imported or produced in Nebraska. Beginning January 1, 2024, every licensed manufacturer, wholesaler, and shipper will be required to pay a registration fee–not to exceed $30–and submit a report to the commission prior to the sale or shipment of any alcoholic liquor into the state.

  • LB259 allows farm wineries to apply for a license to sell beer, mixed drinks, and other alcoholic beverages not produced by the farm winery for consumption on their premises.
  • LB377 increases from six to twelve the maximum number of Special Designated Licenses (SDL) that a nonprofit organization may apply for in a calendar year.
  • LB452 allows the holder of a microdistillery license to sell up to 500 gallons of their products directly to licensed retail facilities annually.
  • LB596 permits liquor manufacturers and wholesalers to enter into an advertising or sponsorship agreement with a nonprofit organization, municipal or religious corporation or political subdivision that holds an SDL if a similar measure is passed at the federal level.
  • LB667 authorizes alcohol wholesalers to employ channel pricing–a strategy used to determine a product’s price based on the retailer’s license and business type. (Portions of this taken from “Session Review: General Affairs”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

NDOT State Highway Construction update for Northeast Nebraska
This update is from the October 11, 2023 Nebraska Department of Transportation in Interstate and State Highway Construction and Detours currently happening. Call 511 or visit for the most current information.

  • I-129 in both directions between the start of I-129 and the Iowa State Line (South Sioux City). Road construction work is in progress. The left lane is closed. There is a 12-foot width limit in effect. Work includes installation of guardrail paving on the bridges.
  • US-75 both directions between 5th Street (Decatur) and B I A 201 (1 mile south of Macy). The roadway is reduced to one lane. Road construction work is in progress, asphalting and bridge work. A pilot car is in operation. Look out for flaggers. There is a 12-foot width limit in effect. Asphalt and Bridge work in operation.
  • ROAD CLOSED US-77 IN BOTH DIRECTIONS between N-94 and US-75 (6 miles south of Winnebago). The road is closed due to road construction work. From Walthill to Winnebago US-77 will be closed through November while two box culverts are replaced. The detour route is N-94 to US-75. Traffic will be maintained for the remainder of the work with temporary traffic signals, a pilot vehicle and flaggers.
  • US-77 southbound between Futures Drive and US-75 (1 mile south of South Sioux City). Road construction work is in progress. The left lane is closed. There is a 12-foot width limit in effect. US-77, the inside lanes are closed Northbound and Southbound over the bridges to facilitate installation of the waterproof membrane and paving.
  • US-81 in both directions between NE-98 and 866th Road (13-22 miles north of Norfolk). Road construction work is in progress. There are alternating lane closures. Look out for flaggers. A pilot car is in operation. Look out for temporary traffic lights. There is a 12-foot width limit in effect. Anticipated completion date is December 2023.
  • US-81 between 864th Road and 866th Road (21-22 miles north of Norfolk). Bridge construction work is in progress. The roadway is reduced to one lane. Look out for temporary traffic lights. The roadway is reduced to one lane.
  • NE-9 in both directions between V Road and X Road (3 miles south of Pender). The roadway is reduced to one lane due to bridge construction work. Look out for temporary traffic lights. An 11-foot width is in effect. Anticipated competition is winter 2023.
  • NE-9 in both directions between X Road and NE-16 (2 miles south of Pender). Bridge construction work is in progress. The roadway is reduced to one lane. Look out for temporary traffic lights. There is a 10-foot width limit in effect.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–October 13, 2023
October 13th, 2023

It has been a busy few weeks in the district with many activities going on. I always enjoy traveling around my district to see what is happening. On October 11th, I was invited to come to Dakota County Government Day and visit with students about what happens at the state level. Following my time at the Dakota County courthouse, I traveled to Sioux City, Iowa to attend the Tri-State Governors’ Conference where Governor Pillen did a great job of talking about what he has been focusing on in his first year as governor.

This week I would like to share with you the second omnibus bill from the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, LB138, which adopts updates to federal law relating to motor vehicles and motor carriers and changes provisions relating to transportation. This bill is an annual update bill which updates and adopts references to federal law and regulations to comply with referenced provisions from the United States Code and code of Federal Regulations. This bill changes certain civil penalties for motor carrier violations to match federal law. This bill also harmonizes and removes various obsolete statutory language.

  • LB199 provides changes in the law that authorize a “driving privilege card” for Ukrainian refugees who have settled in Nebraska and are ineligible for an “operator’s permit” (ordinary driver’s license).
  • LB91 repeals Nebraska’s motorcycle and moped helmet requirement, beginning January 1, 2024. Under the bill’s provisions, an individual aged 21 and older who has completed a certified motorcycle safety course may ride without a helmet, provided they use an approved form of eye protection.
  • LB738 adopts the national, three-tiered classification for electric bicycles and updates the definition of traditional bicycles.
  • LB796 requires the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to develop and administer a safety oversight program for rail transit systems operated by the state, an interstate agency, or a political subdivision.
  • LB465 reallocates certain fees collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) into the DMV Cash Fund. Previously, fees for the issuance of state ID cards, operators’ licenses, replacement ignition interlock permits, and 24/7 sobriety program permits were allocated between the county general fund, the DMV Cash Fund and the State General Fund. Under LB465, the portion of the fee previously allocated to the state General Fund is redirected to the DMV Cash Fund.
  • LB453 allows the NDOT to pay the division of Aeronautics’ administrative expenses, such as salaries and benefits from the Highway Cash Fund. It also lowers the required contribution from counties to be eligible for matching funds from the State Aid Bridge fund from 50% to 20% and increases the estimated cost threshold at which a contract for road purposes must go through a sealed-bid process from $150,000 to $250,000 and allows NDOT to adjust the amount annually. ((Portions of this taken from “Session Review: Transportation and Telecommunications”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

Governor Pillen signed a proclamation recognizing October 2023 as Cooperative Month. This coincides with the annual recognition of October as National Cooperative Month by the United States Department of Agriculture. This proclamation recognizes Nebraska’s farmer-owned cooperatives and rural electric and telephone cooperatives for the important role they play in Nebraska’s economy. Rural agricultural cooperatives serve the needs of nearly 60,000 farmers and ranch owners. The economic impact of cooperatives benefits all Nebraskans. Nebraska communities were supported by over $23 million of property tax paid by agricultural cooperatives. Nebraska’s farmer-owned cooperatives contributed over $2 million to local fire departments, local school and youth organizations, local and statewide FFA and 4-H chapters, and provided numerous scholarships to help Nebraska students continue their education. (“Governor Proclaims Cooperative Month”. Alliance Times-Herald. 4 October, 2023.

Please keep Israel in your thoughts and prayers. Governor Pillen has shown Nebraska’s support of Israel by announcing that all U. S. and Nebraska flags were to be flown at half-staff beginning October 10-12 to honor the victims of the deadly terrorist attacks in Israel and illuminating the Nebraska State Capitol in blue light, representing the Israeli flag colors of blue and white, for the past week.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 1404
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
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