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

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

WEEKLY UPDATE 8.2.2019

Fair Fun! I had a great time visiting with folks and enjoying the energetic atmosphere at the Dakota/Thurston County Fair this past weekend. From the Butterfly Encounter to the free rodeo and Equine Parade, from sack races, cake eating and Nail driving contests to the Battle of the Bands, the fair offered a whole lot of something for everybody. For me, it was a packed weekend, as I ran between two fairs, with grandkids participating in the Dakota/Thurston County and the Dodge County Fairs. There’s no substitute for the looks of excitement on the kids’ faces as they show their projects and receive those coveted ribbons. I was impressed by the hard work and amazing talent on display throughout the entries. As always, I enjoyed attending and appreciate that the communities go all out to provide a fun, welcoming atmosphere and a quality line-up of entry categories and activities. Most of all, I appreciate the community commitment to provide an opportunity for neighbors to connect over good food and great fun. I’m already looking forward to next year!

In other news, the Tax Rate Review Committee had its required meeting this month to determine whether the sales and income tax rates in Nebraska should be changed. The Legislative Fiscal Office presented a report to the committee. No action was taken.

To summarize the report, General Fund receipts for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19 were $131.4 million above the April forecast. By law, the additional revenues will be transferred to the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” (Cash Reserves). The adjusted revenue receipts for FY 2018-19 rose 8.7%, compared to the forecasted 5.7% increase. However, the actual increase from the prior year is 7.2% (rather than 8.7%). The difference is due to adjustments such as a shift of income tax revenue from FY 2019 to 2020 due to delayed filings related to flooding. How the FY 2018-19 revenue performance will affect the forecasts for the next two fiscal years (FY2019-20 and FY2020-21) will be addressed at the October meeting of the Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB). I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, I’ve been waiting for word from Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) about the Hwy. 94 Bridge in Pender that was damaged by the spring flooding. Although damaged and impassable bridges are an inconvenience for everybody and we wish things moved more quickly, we also recognize the widespread damage to infrastructure throughout the state. We finally received a status and funding update from NDOT that I’d like to share with you:

HWY 94 East of Pender Project Status: The contractor, Valley Corp, has notice to proceed and will begin the process of excavation following utility location. Tribal monitoring has not impacted the schedule of the project as of August 2, 2019.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) does have a six percent TERO tax agreement with the Omaha Tribe and is currently negotiating a Tribal Monitoring Agreement for the HWY 94 bridge and river bank repairs as the Omaha tribe has requested tribal monitoring on the project..

The project is a result of the March 2019 flooding which means it is covered by a Governor’s Emergency Declaration, as well as a Federal Major Disaster Declaration. The severity of the event allows the NDOT to expedite the procurement and construction process to restore essential traffic. This means that the typical construction process, to include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, is adjusted to allow mobility to be reestablished as quickly as possible.

For repair work on the estimated $156M in damages to the federal-aid eligible transportation system, initial financial responsibility falls upon the NDOT with the Federal Highway Administration reimbursing NDOT after the repairs are compete. Reimbursement rates are dependent on if work is temporary (100% federal) or permanent (80% federal and 20% state). For roads off the federal-aid system the financial responsibility falls to the local entity and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Please visit NDOT’s flood recovery website for updated information:https://dot.nebraska.gov/news-media/nebraska-flood-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

The 2018 US Farm Bill removed Industrial hemp from the controlled substance list and paved the way for growing and cultivation throughout the United States. In May, 2019 the Nebraska Legislature cleared the way for Nebraska farmers when it adopted the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act. To legally grow hemp in Nebraska, interested parties must apply for, and receive a signed license agreement from the State.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) took applications for limited agreements in this initial “pilot program” year. There were 176 applications received by the NDA by the June 28, 2019 deadline. Ten (10) applicants were notified of their eligibility and sent Agreements to participate in the NDA hemp growing program.
Ho-Chunk Farms, owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Economic Development Corporation received its approval on Thursday July 18. Aaron LaPointe, the company’s business manager, says the first season will start small, with 5.5 acres of hemp. Planting is expected to start in the coming weeks. LaPointe says the initial crop for a pilot program will help the company prepare for next year.
Although there has been some recent criticism of the limited number of applications granted for the pilot program, it is important that we recognize the wisdom in not moving forward too quickly. Before we start criticizing the Governor and Nebraska Department of Agriculture, we should look at why limited scope is warranted in the first growing year and what is in the best interest of Nebraska taxpayers and producers. For instance, more growers means more personnel paid for by taxpayers to oversee testing of appropriate THC levels. Also, this type of production can be an expensive initial investment for a producer. Generally hemp, which is a short day plant, should be planted after danger of hard freezes, and slightly before the planting date of corn in soil temperatures above 46’-50’. Good soil moisture is necessary for seed germination, and plenty of rainfall is needed for good growth, especially during the first six weeks. It is no secret that throughout Nebraska, corn, soybeans and other agricultural products are already in the ground.
I love fair season! I had a great time meeting and visiting with folks at the Wayne County Fair this past weekend. It is always so wonderful to see county residents coming together for fair events and competitions. I am especially proud of the 4-H groups, who all show great dedication and commitment to their communities and their projects. I look forward to the upcoming Thurston/Dakota County fair July 31-August 1.
The University of Nebraska Haskell Lab Science and Agricultural Family Field Day was held in Concord on July 24. I was unable to attend but am so grateful that the University did what it could to keep the Lab open in order to provide this amazing resource for residents of Northeast Nebraska. Attendees were introduced to the diverse research projects conducted at the Lab and were able to interact with exhibits like MakerSpace, robotics, and other STEM activities. If you were able to go, I would love to hear from you about your experience.
POW WOWs are coming up. The 153rd Annual Winnebago POW WOW and Celebration took place July 25-28, 2019 at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Winnebago, Nebraska. The 215th Annual UNOnHOn HE’THUSKA HEDEWACHI is being held August 15-18 at Little Warrior Park in Macy, Nebraska. These celebrations are rich in tradition, expression, community and culture.
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

Another busy week for District 17. It was great to attend the Governor’s Summit and see so many friendly faces from Northeast Nebraska.
The Governor’s 4th Annual Economic Summit was held on Wednesday, July 19, 2019. The program included important topics like workforce talent recruitment and retention, career path development, housing, and more. The statewide focus is a vibrant Nebraska where our children, their children, and others, have opportunities to live, work, and raise their families.
Though held in Lincoln, all three counties in District 17 were recognized for their impressive work towards keeping the Nebraska economy thriving.
A shout out to Dakota County’s own South Sioux City Community Schools, which was recognized at the Summit for its Approved Career Academy. The Approval designation signals quality programming that allows students to take part in academic and career & technical education courses which reflect local, regional, or state employment needs and demands. The South Sioux City Academy offers education for employment opportunities in fields of Business, Marketing, and Management, Communication and Information Systems, Health Sciences and Education and Skilled and Technical Services. Great for our youth—great for our future. Way to go South Sioux!
Wayne County was asked to share about its great progress in developing workforce housing. Megan Weaver, Executive Director of Wayne Community Housing Development, shared about projects and accomplishments in Wakefield leveraging funds generated through LB518, the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act. It is rewarding to see the results of the labor that went into introducing, prioritizing, and passing LB 518 when I chaired the Business & Labor Committee in 2017. Wakefield successfully leveraged the available funds to increase housing stock and increase the tax base through a community partnership with local business, contractors, utilities, and banks. Transforming empty lots and/or dilapidated housing into attractive and affordable housing is a goal that benefits all in the community.
Ray Welsh of Welsh Financial Group from Pender was a panelist on the topic of business growth opportunities that build communities where people want to stay. Highlighting the Welsh group’s successful growth in Pender, Ray had plenty to share about the importance of providing an attractive environment for businesses in small town Nebraska. He stressed that Pender is always considering what it would take for a family moving to Pender to call Pender “home.”
Finally, in a surprise ending to the Summit, the Governor and First Lady Susanne Shore unveiled a video being released to attract and encourage folks to live, work, and start businesses in Nebraska. Entrepreneurs Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz and their businesses Rustic Treasure & 1912 Emporium in Wayne are spotlighted in the video. No doubt about it- District 17 businesses and residents model Nebraska Strong!
WALTHHILL MEMORIAL RODEO –
On a sadder note, the 45th Annual Walthill Memorial Rodeo put on its last show July 12-14, 2019. Though incredibly fun and entertaining as always, the finality of this years’ performances was sad for many. “It ain’t our first rodeo, but it is our Last,” declared the rodeo banner and photo. Some who are saddened by the rodeo’s end say that the organizers of the Rodeo have, over the years, provided not only a great time for friends and family, but also an annual opportunity for a “reunion” that will be greatly missed. I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the Rodeo’s dedication to Thurston County and say Congratulations on 45 years of a successful event for all ages. Thank you Walthill Rodeo for nearly five decades of family and community fun and enjoyment!
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

It has been a busy week in District 17!

I love the opportunities to visit community celebrations like the Wayne Chicken Show and others during the summer months. It is always a pleasure to meet and speak with you. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend couple of community celebrations/parades recently due to my husband’s surgery. If yours was one, I am sorry I missed you and I look forward to seeing you next year!

With additional county fairs and other outdoor activities at a high this time of year, be sure to keep your families and children safe by keeping plenty of water and sunscreen on hand. Also, remember to periodically check on those neighbors who may have challenges related to heat and make sure their air conditioners are providing the relief they need.

Also, I would like to congratulate my Legislative Aide Mackenzie Martin-Fisk, on her pending move to Kansas City. We are very excited that she and her husband are embarking on a new adventure. We will miss her and are grateful for her dedication to our office. Please join me in wishing her the best! Last week was Mackenzie’s last week with our office.

Our office has been busy getting everything ready and prepared for this office change. We welcome my new Legislative Aide Cyndi Lamm to the office beginning July 15. Cyndi has education, experience, and skills that I believe will serve District 17 well and she looks forward to working with constituents on issues in the District.

Finally, I will be attending the Governor’s Summit on Workforce Development this week and will provide a summary for you in next week’s newsletter.

In addition to this office update, I also wanted to let you know about a few more opportunities being offered for Nebraskans.

Sen. Ben Sasse’s office is accepting nominations for the United States Service Academies. Applications opened on May 1st and they are due by October 1st. The Senator will then be conducting interviews in Lincoln in mid-November of this year. You can find out the required materials for this nomination at www.sasse.senate.gov->services->academynominations.

Attending a U.S. Service Academy allows individuals the opportunity to attend a prestigious institution and receive an education free of cost. It also offers a wide variety of academic vocations to choose from, will allow development of leadership skills and attributes that are unparalleled to other institutions and provides participants with the skills and education to serve the country with honor. Finally, as a graduated military officer, individuals have the potential to shape the future of the country’s armed forces.

Interested applicants should apply with your State Senator (my office if in District 17), with their Congressman, and with the US Senator’s office. Consider diversifying the recommendation letters that are submitted and reread your application for any corrections or additions before the October 1st deadline.

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

We have entered into our first week of the interim. Even though the legislative session has ended, our office has maintained a busy schedule. I was able to enjoy a few days back in the district before I had to head back to Lincoln for the Nebraska Workforce Development Board Meeting on Friday. The Nebraska Workforce Development Board is established by the Governor in accordance with Section 101 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA). The Nebraska Workforce Development Boards purpose is to convene state, regional, and local workforce system partners to help enhance the capacity and performance of the workforce development system while aligning and improving outcomes and effectiveness of federally-funded and other workforce programs and investments. Through these efforts, they promote economic growth, engage business, education, economic development, labor representatives, and other stakeholders to participate in a systematic way to address workforce needs to achieve the State’s strategic and operational vision and goals as outlined in the State Combined Plan.
It has been a true honor to be appointed to this board again for the third year in a row by Governor Ricketts. Nebraska is in desperate need of workers. Other than property taxes, one of the most important issues facing Nebraska is developing our workforce. Through my role on this board, I hope to help grow our economy through improving our workforce. In developing our workforce, we cannot neglect the role education plays and the role parents play in helping their children find the right path in Nebraska’s workforce after high school. For some, education will mean continuing their studies beyond high school in a college or university. For others, their strengths may be found in vocational training or a similar path. High-skill workers are in great demand and preparing our youth is one of the steps that can help grow our state economy. I am excited to see what our board is able to work on this year and to watch our progress. I will be sure to keep you updated on this exciting opportunity.
In addition to the Workforce Development Board taking place this week, Nebraska’s Cornhusker Girls and Boys State also occurred. The American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high-school male students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government. Boys State was founded in 1935. The American Legion Auxiliary also developed a citizenship training program based on the formation of the American Legion’s Boys State program called Girls State. This program offers training in the positive process of self-government and good citizenship as practiced in democratic societies. Girls State began as one- and two-day sessions in the late 1930’s. Then in 1939, Girls State was altered to make it a week-long government education program. Since 1948, it has been a regular part of the Auxiliary’s Americanism curriculum. Each summer approximately 50,000 young women and men participate in Boys and Girls State sessions across the nation. District 17 had several dedicated young women and men participate in this year’s Boys and Girls State. Emily Walsh of Wakefield, Lilly Fellin of Dakota City, Senior Counselor Dylan Kent of Pender, Faith Junck of Carroll, Kathryn Baker of Homer, Elizabeth Gerkin of South Sioux City, and Middle Counselor Corina Burkhart of Dakota City were the young women representing the district. Jacob Aitken of South Sioux City, Alex Carlson of Winside, Tyrus Eischeid of Wayne, Matthew Georgesen of Hubbard, Jagger Horken of South Sioux City, Jacob Huerta of Hubbard, Luke Kramer of Rosalie, Edward Olander of Winside, Zach Rapp of South Sioux City, and Joshua Shadbolt of Dakota City were the young men representing the district. I am very proud of these young men and women and am excited to see where life takes them.
I have also set my town hall meetings for the month of June and they will be as follows: Wayne County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 9am at Tacos & More at 509 Dearborn in Wayne, NE. Thurston County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 11am at the Pender Community Center at 614 Main in Pender, NE. Dakota County’s town hall meeting will be on Monday, June 17th at 2pm at South Sioux City’s Hy-Vee at 2501 Cornhusker in South Sioux City, NE.
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.

We are down to our final day for this 90-day session. Yesterday on Thursday, May 30th, my priority bill, LB 209, which would expand the information required to be provided during a medical abortion passed while on final reading. This legislation will simply strengthen Nebraska’s informed consent law. I believe that women deserve to know all of the medical information before receiving a chemical abortion. A medication abortion is a two pill process and my bill requires a woman be informed that it may be possible to continue their pregnancy after taking the first pill. The required information will direct the woman to the Department of Health and Human Services to be referred to a medical professional who can assist her in continuing the pregnancy. This was the longest that I have debated a bill before. The debate for this bill took all of the allotted time that it was given at every stage. We debated 10.5 hours on LB209. The vote was 36 to 12. I am very pleased that this pro-woman bill is headed to Governor Ricketts’ desk.

Even though I was a no vote on this year’s budget I am pleased that we took a step in the right direction by getting the great people of the state of Nebraska some needed property tax relief. This year’s budget had a 2.9% average two-year increase in spending. The increase rate in spending was irresponsible which is why I voted in opposition of the budget. I want to cut spending not increase it. However, I am pleased that the budget will deliver $550 million in direct property tax relief over the next two years.

LB720, known also as the ImagiNE Act, did not pass. The ImagiNE Act is a replacement package for the Advantage Act for business incentives designed to keep Nebraska competitive. I was originally in favor of the bill but that changed once I saw the amendments that were put on the bill. I believed that the amendments hurt the bill rather than helped it. The amendments did not help bring any additional property tax relief which is what led several rural Senators to pull their support from LB720. We still have another year before the Advantage Act sunsets in 2020 so I am confident that we will see some form of this bill again next year.

On May 24th we had a reading of LR150 recognizing National Poppy Day. The Poppies were given to each Senator for the recognition of Memorial Day. U.S. Army Veteran, Dennis Otte, of Wayne, NE handmade the Memorial Poppies. In attendance for the reading were the Department Officers of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Beverly Neel is the Nebraska Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary. She serves as my Administrative Assistant and has been the assistant in District 17 since 2010. Her work this year has been exemplary and I am happy to have her as a part of our team.

In addition to the excitement of the end of the Legislative Session, our office is delighted to welcome a new staffer to our team! Mackenzie Martin-Fisk has joined our office as our new Legislative Aide. She will be your main contact at the Capitol office. Mackenzie has worked in both the Missouri State Capitol and the Nebraska State Capitol. She worked in the Missouri State Capitol in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for a few years before moving to Nebraska to work for a local nonprofit. After two years in the nonprofit sector, she chose to get back into state government and worked for Senator John Kuehn in District 38 for more than a year. Mackenzie and her husband, Shayne Fisk, live in Lincoln, NE with their three year old corgi, Athena.

The Governor’s Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) is also now accepting applications. Applications are available on the NE Children and Families Foundation at www.projecteverlast.org/councils/gyac.html or by calling 402-817-2003.

The First Session of the 106th Legislature is ending a week sooner than scheduled. We were set to Sine Die on June 6th but Speaker Scheer choose to end on Friday, May 31st. I am excited to head back to District 17 and to be with you, my constituents, again. I will be planning town hall meetings for June so stay tuned for that. It has been a true honor and one of my greatest privileges to represent District 17 during this 90 day session.

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

It has been a busy week in the Nebraska Legislature as we move closer and closer to the end of session. On Wednesday the budget bill was advanced to final reading despite my no vote. The $9.3 billion budget has a 2.9% average two-year increase in spending. I voted in opposition to advancing the budget bill because the increased rate of spending is irresponsible. More cuts needed to be made to bring down spending growth and deliver property tax relief.

LB 720, also known as the ImagiNE Act, was debated for the first time this week. The ImagiNE Act is a replacement package for the Advantage Act for business incentives designed to keep Nebraska competitive. Keeping Nebraska competitive and showing we are a great place to do business is important but we cannot offer these incentives until we deliver property tax relief. We debated LB 720 for three hours without a vote and now Senator Kolterman needs to show he has 33 senators’ support to bring the bill back for debate.

Senator Linehan’s tax bill, LB 289, was discussed for three hours without a vote last week. The bill raises the tax on all sales, as well as imposes new taxes on many services like home repair, pet services, self-care services and even bottled water. These new tax dollars would be used in an effort to “offset” spending by local governments, hoping they will reduce spending and in return – our property taxes. The problem with this approach though is it has been tried twice and failed miserably both times. It led to increased local spending on educating while property taxes continued to increase. Any tax hike without spending cuts, limitations, or changes to our school funding formula is not property tax relief. It is now up to Senator Linehan to show that she has 33 senators’ support to bring the bill back for debate. I believe the bill will need significant changes to garner enough support for a return.

My priority bill, LB 209, which would expand the information required to be provided during a medication abortion will be up for select file, the second stage of debate, soon. A medication abortion is a two pill process and my bill requires a woman be informed that it may be possible to continue their pregnancy after taking the first pill. The required information will direct the woman to the Department of Health and Human Services to be referred to a medical professional who can assist her in continuing the pregnancy. We want women to have every chance to choose life. I hope to have the votes to advance this critical pro-life bill to final reading when it comes up for debate.

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. If you would like to follow along with live coverage of the session you can do so at www.netnebraska.org/capitol
402-471-2716 jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

Congratulations to all graduates this spring. The journey ahead is what you make of it. So do your best, follow your heart and keep to those special habits instilled in you through your parents, grandparents and teachers. Be willing to give to others, accept recognition and enjoy the future. We hope many of you will remain in Nebraska to find a career, attend higher education and raise a family. Parents and educators I thank you for giving of yourselves to these young people over the years to bring them to this stage of life.

After months of dedication and discussion on creating a balanced budget for the next two years the Appropriations Committee brought forth the proposed budget to the Legislative floor on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. After three hours of floor debate the budget passed to Select File. The budget was amended to include a transfer from the rainy day fund of $51-million to the Property Tax Cash Fund. Select File will have another round to address additional amendments.
LB289 was heard on Tuesday, May 8th for three hours of floor debate. This bill addresses sales tax increases, school funding and several other topics. LB289 is our only property tax relief bill at this time. We have other amendments being proposed which will be discussed in the following days. I am hopeful we can come to an agreement that is beneficial to the greater good of Nebraska.
LB209 has been advanced to Select File and will again have floor debate. To date the conversation has been very informative and educational. This bill offers any female the choice to reverse a chemical abortion within a short period of time after taking the first medication. It gives every female a second chance at choice. This is a pro-life, pro-woman bill with emphasis on informed consent.

I was honored to address the Wayne Area Economic Development (WAED) Government Affairs group on Monday, May 6, 2019. Gathering with our constituents is one of the highlights of serving as a public servant. The exchange of ideas is very important to all elected officials and well appreciated. Wayne will host the 2019 Economic Development Conference June 12-14th and I plan to be there to listen and learn.

As schools begin to close for the summer keep our children in full sight and safe as they cross streets, play in the parks, ride their bikes, and more. Their attention may not be on us but we must have our attention on them for safety and security.

Spring planting is in full swing and many implements are upon our highways and byways. Please give these farmers the room they need to travel safely. Nebraska’s number one industry is farming. With the recent flooding and blizzards across the state we need to be mindful of all farming and ranching operations that may not be able to continue this year their share of growing the good life. Keep all in thought and prayer and look forward to a bountiful harvest this fall.
With only 16 days remaining of the 90-day session, much work is on the table. Some will move forward and others will be held over. Over the interim these bills may become a Legislative Resolution Interim study seeking public input.

Check out nebraskalegislature.gov to follow the bills’ progress or tune into Nebraska TV when the Legislature is in Session.

As always our office welcomes your emails, calls and letters sharing your concerns, support, non-support on topics important to you. You may reach us at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or 402.471.2716

At the close of this week, we will be 24 days out from the close of the Legislative Session for 2019. Many bills have passed across our desks and many were mere adjustments to bring up-to-date or take off the books as obsolete. Discussing of Priority Bills from here on out will be our main focus.

This week there was a joint hearing with the Revenue, Nebraska Retirement Systems and Educations Committees. As you know our main objective here at the People’s House is to pass a balanced budget. This hearing addressed LB289 and AM1361 that will change provisions relating to county assessor inspections of real property for property tax purposes.

Creating a budget, educating on the budget and then taking discussions on how this or that may or may not result in our purpose of a balanced budget for the good of all of Nebraska. Much give and take will be on the table to ensure all avenues of revenue are earmarked correctly and that the spending habits of the state stabilize so this process will be a less stressing function of the state every year. Even though a balanced budget is presented every two years, it does affect the in-between years rightfully so.

Property tax relief for all Nebraska has been a main focus of Governor Ricketts and myself. Finding that right avenue to leveraging the burden of taxation is a complicated task. Many Senators have spent endless hours in conversation of the pros and cons of legislation that will bring about this relief for you.

The mid-March weather across Nebraska has placed an unforeseen task to the State to meet the needs of those who have been impacted greatly from the blizzards and floods. We have hundreds of people in our communities assisting with ensuring citizens’ damages and needs are being addressed in a timely manner. From last week’s briefing with the Nebraska Department of Transportation the agency has gone from 3,300 miles of closed roadways down to 11 miles closed. The Nebraska Director Kyle Schneweis had nothing but praise for the roads department employees, the contractors and citizens for the progress that has been made through this horrific season of storms and damages.

The JAG Advantage – taking JAG to the next level! Now this is a new concept based on a promise. That promise is that JAG will deliver student-centered programs to help young people achieve their fullest potential. JAG is about giving students an advantage that will set them apart for all other youth in today’s emerging workforce. JAG stands for “Jobs for America’s Graduates.” We are fortunate in District 17 to have students from Omo ho Nation Public School, Macy NE, currently participants in this program. Two other school systems in Columbus and Fremont also are in the pilot program. We were fortunate to have these students visit the Capitol this week and give their personal story of what this program has provided for them. There are 39 states that have this program in one stage or another and Nebraska is hopeful to have greater participation from schools in the near future. Commissioner John Albin, Nebraska Department of Labor, was instrumental in bringing this learning aspect to the state and looking forward to expansion. Currently we operate under I-JAG (Iowa) with hopes of having a Nebraska JAG. You may access www.jag.org to learn more of this concept in education and across the nation.

As always hearing from you is very important to the work we do in Lincoln. You may follow the legislative process from your local Nebraska TV station and can check the progress of bills at nebraskalegislature.net

Looking forward to hearing from you via email to jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or phone 402.471.2716.

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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