Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 18th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
It’s been a nice summer, but now fall is upon us and the temperatures are dropping. Taxes however, rarely seem to follow suit.
The citizens of central and West Omaha were given a stark reminder of this fact of life back in April, when their property valuations went up by 7%.
To be fair, property values were lowered by 8% in most of Northeast Omaha. But people in Omaha still understandably want an explanation as to why this happened.
On the surface the reason for the increase seems relatively simple. The county received funding requests from its subdivisions and set its levy to cover expenses. With the levy set, they divided the cost equally between all property owners.
That’s a simple enough explanation of how the tax rate was set, but that still leaves the increase in property value which then translated into higher property taxes for residents.
The raises in property value were a result of variations between the area’s assessment sales ratio as compiled by the state, and the assessment sales ratio the state mandates an area must fall into by statute. Nebraska law requires residential, industrial and commercial valuations to be within 92% to 100% of the market value. The Tax Equalization & Review Commission (TERC), found that the West Omaha properties in question were at 89% of market value and so mandated a 7% raise in property valuations by the county.
In Nebraska, the county is responsible for any increase or decrease in the levy which then dictates what the tax rate is. County board members are elected officials, so citizens who feel that the levy is unreasonable or unfair have the right to vote them out.
The county is legally obligated to inform property owners via a card in the mail whenever property taxes change. If citizens effected by a tax increase feel the increase is onerous or unfair, they have the right to appeal (follow the link for instructions on the appeals process.)
I introduced an interim study, LR555, to clarify the process and procedures used in such appeals before TERC. I will post an update once the study is complete.
As chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee I am aware that the issues effecting Whiteclay, Nebraska have been an ongoing concern in our state for some time.
With that in mind, I recently traveled with fellow State Senators Cook, Baker, and Pansing Brooks to Whiteclay and observed the challenges facing that community to gain a better understanding of how to confront them. This trip coincided with the goals of interim study LR 567 proposed by Senator Pansing Brooks in March of 2016. KETV was kind enough to document the trip. You can view the video here.
We are calling for a package of measures that we think will make an impact on the area. They are listed below:
Following these steps, we believe Whiteclay can move forward to a better future. Senator Pansing Brooks has already made progress towards economic relief in Whiteclay by negotiating with Viaero Wireless and convincing them to erect a tower which will allow cellphone service and internet access to the area.
By creating an environment with access to addiction treatment, law enforcement and economic opportunity, we will be taking positive steps to uplift and empower the community and its neighbors.
As many of you may already know, I will be one of three Nebraska delegates to a simulated Article V convention in Williamsburg, Virginia Sept. 21-23. Senators Ebke and Friesen will also be in attendance.
An Article V convention is so named because in Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America the process for amendment of the Constitution from the state level is laid out. Below is the specific language from Article V:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
As stated in the language of the Constitution, two-thirds (34) of the states must participate in a convention of states before proposed amendments can be considered for ratification by the states.
As such, this convention will only be a simulation. I will be serving on the Fiscal Restraints Committee. We will discuss theoretical amendments on how to curtail out of control spending in Washington. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators from across the country and coming back with great ideas to better serve the constituents of District 18 and the state of Nebraska.
Sen. Brett Lindstrom
Happy Spring District 18!
Wow, these last five months have flown by really fast! With a shortened session and large number of important issues to address in the Legislature, it has already come and gone. There were a number of bills that I successfully passed this year, so I’d like to share some of the things I was able to accomplish.
In total, 10 of my bills were either passed or amended into other bills and passed, all of which were met with the Governor’s support. There were two bills this year that stood out to me as some of the most important: LB750 and LB906. LB750 has been called the “Whistleblower Bill,” which ensures that the identity of medical professionals such as nurses and dental hygienists are kept confidential when they report unethical or illegal behavior. LB906 supports our brave men and women in blue, giving them tuition waivers of up to 30% so that they may advance their careers and stay on the top of their field.
I’m proud to have sponsored LB1017 as well, which addresses the “brain drain” that our great state has faced. This bill encourages businesses to hire interns at any stage in college, and even gives the opportunity for students returning home for the summer to pick up an internship, or for students attending neighboring colleges like Iowa Western in Council Bluffs to do so.
Last year I brought LB385, which protects renters if they face threats of bodily harm or hazards to their health from their neighbors. The bill was passed this year, allowing landowners and property managers to ensure the safety of all their residents.
I also brought some technical bills under the Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee: LB751, 771, and 819. The bills focus on oversight and corporate governance for the banking & finance sectors in Nebraska’s economy. These bills are essential to ensure that the institutions handling Nebraskans’ hard earned money act in the most responsible way possible and are able to interact in an environment that lets them remain competitive in today’s market.
In addition to the banking & finance bills, I was also able to pass LB783 and LB897. LB783 simplifies the fleet registration process for public power utilities, who have a large amount of administrative work to do for each of their vehicles. LB897 will help stabilize input prices for public power utilities to ensure that they consistently provide the lowest cost electricity rates possible.
For all our wine connoisseurs, beer lovers, and liquor maestros out there, LB748 allows you to order direct from online retailers more of the spirits and drinks you love. As always, please drink responsibly!
A lot has occurred the past few months and I am proud to say that I have been part of an effort to improve the lives of the citizens of District 18. Nebraskans understand the value of hard work and small steps towards large goals. The bills I have passed over the course of the 2016 session are all part of my effort to represent you well. I look forward to serving you for the next 6 years, and would love to hear from you.
Senator Brett Lindstrom
Greetings District 18!
It’s quite amazing how fast the last couple months have gone by! Nebraska weather has gone from winter to spring, and back to winter again. I hope you are all keeping warm and sticking to your new years’ resolutions!
A lot has been happening here in the Legislature. Two of my bills were signed into law by the Governor this week- LB751 & 771, which were both cleanup bills relating to the banking industry. I’ve also brought back my bill to exempt citizens from state tax on Social Security benefits- LB749. This bill has some significant changes from my LB165 bill last year. In an attempt to address some of the concerns from this year’s budget shortfall, LB749 would put citizens’ tax exemptions into a “tiered system,” with those receiving under $75,000 a year in benefits a full exemption from the state tax.
I’ve also brought LB906 to the Legislature this year, which would provide tuition assistance to police officers, who are in constant need of new training and educational advancement to stay up to date with modern law enforcement practice. Another one of my bills which has garnered some attention, LB750, also called the “Whistleblower” bill, would provide protections to nurses who report unethical or illegal conduct by medical professionals. Already, nurses are required by their Hippocratic Oath as well as Nebraska state law to report any conduct which could put their patients’ lives in jeopardy.
There have been some big issues debated in the Legislature, such as Sen. Tyson Larson’s LR26CA, which was a Constitutional amendment that would be put to a ballot for the citizens to decide. This Constitutional amendment would have lowered the minimum age to run for public office in Nebraska to 18. Although the bill failed to get enough votes to advance, there was rigorous debate on both sides with lots of good discussion. A bill which gained wide approval and was signed into law was LB471, introduced last year by my colleague Sen. Sara Howard. This bill would help combat the opioid epidemic in Nebraska by requiring providers and prescribers to participate in a database used to prevent this epidemic.
There will be some big issues expected to come up in the following month, such as LB891 by Sen. Lydia Brasch called the “Down Syndrome Diagnosis and Info Act.” This bill will provide parents with crucial information on what to do if their baby is born at risk of Down Syndrome. Another big bill which is expected to garner a lot of debate is Sen. Dan Hughes’ “Anti-Hazing” bill, LB710, which would discourage fraternity organizations from engaging in inappropriate conduct as a part of their hazing practices.
There are lots of issues to debate and little time to do so, so the Legislature will be quite busy over the next month. Public hearings are expected to be finished by next week, and we will get into some late-night discussion on these issues. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact my office at 402-471-2618 or e-mail me at email@example.com. My door is always open. I look forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
Sen. Brett Lindstrom
Greetings District 18!
I’d like to take this opportunity to update you all on my current bills, and extend an invitation to attend a presentation by Senator Ebke on her LR35 Convention of the States Tour on October 13th at Big Fred’s Pizza in Omaha. Constituents are also invited to chat with me on the 13th to discuss policy issues.
My primary focus next year will be on my bill to repeal the state tax on Social Security income- LB165. I have continued to receive letters and e-mails throughout the interim from many constituents who are moving out of state or know friends and family who are moving due in part to the state tax on Social Security income. I am concerned that our collective tax burden hampers Nebraska’s economic growth from a speedy recovery.
In an e-mail earlier this year, a couple in my district stated that they are planning to retire in 2-3 years, and have already been shopping around for homes in neighboring states. They noted a $300 difference per month compared to some of the lower-taxed states! This is huge!
My staff is currently in the process of exploring other options for what Nebraska can do to boost its economic competitiveness with neighboring states. I am open to any suggestions that you may have and would encourage your involvement in exploring those options.
As mentioned earlier, constituents are invited to Big Fred’s Pizza on Tuesday, October 13th to hear a presentation by Senator Ebke on her Convention of the States Tour, with a Q&A session to follow. She will be discussing Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which gives states the authority to call a convention to propose amendments. This would be the most monumental event to occur in over 200 years, as a statewide convention has not been called since 1787 with the signing of the Constitution! Details and directions may be found below.
As always, I am open to hearing from you and welcome any feedback provided. I wish you a great start to the fall season and hope to hear from you soon!
LR35 Presentation, Tuesday, October 13th, @ 6:30p.m.
Big Fred’s Pizza, 1101 S. 119th St., Omaha, NE, 68144 (East of 120th & Pacific St.)
Greetings District 18!
I hope everyone has some fun trips planned for the summer. Now that the Legislature has adjourned for 2015, I’m already preparing for next year. The “Freshman Class” of Senators has experienced the first year at the Legislature, and we are ready to look towards the next. There are some great things that we can do to make Nebraska better, and I am excited to be a part of it.
Throughout the course of this year, the Legislative Body has introduced 664 bills, with 209 having been passed into law (excluding appropriations bills.) The content of introduced legislation has ranged anywhere from tax exemptions, to licensing poker games, and even invasive zebra mussels! Over the course of this year, I have grown a great respect for this institution and the state of Nebraska. The Legislative Body has some of the best and brightest our state have to offer.
Unfortunately, my bill to repeal the state tax on Social Security, or LB165, did not get out of committee. This would be a major boon for our state’s retirees and disabled individuals, who depend on this income for many of their day-to-day essentials. I firmly believe that this is one of the best economic decisions that Nebraska could make. Our retirees don’t always go where the physical climate is ideal, but sometimes, where the financial climate is warmest.
As I “gear up” for the following year, there are some areas I will be considering. During the end of this year’s session, I introduced LR316, which will study Nebraska’s Master Settlement Agreement, or MSA. The MSA was a monetary settlement agreed upon by the major tobacco companies in the U.S during the late 90’s. This settlement determined a fixed amount, based on anticipated market share in each of the states. There have been questions raised on whether Nebraska has been receiving its share of the MSA as agreed. I will be exploring this agreement to figure out our options.
As Chair of the State-Tribal Relations Committee, I have been working closely with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, or NCIA. During my time in the Capitol, I have discovered many areas in state-tribal relations that could improve. Many tribes across Nebraska are experiencing difficulties with state and tribal courts overlapping, administrative errors, as well as other social issues which need to be addressed. It is my intention to ensure our legal systems coincide, and that tribal sovereignty is secured.
Since I have had many requests to meet with constituents, I will be looking forward to your feedback during the interim. Please keep an eye out for “town hall” events during the Fall. If you have any other suggestions for legislation, please contact my office. We are always open to your concerns.
I wish you all the best, and hope you have a fun and safe summer.
Citizens of District 18,
I would like to take this opportunity to make some clarifications on how I decide my vote for the various issues in the legislature.
To get to the bottom of a policy issue you must get to the bottom line. A bad policy tends to be wasteful and inefficient, while a good one tends to be careful with the taxpayer’s dollar. I often take the stance that government can always find a more economical solution to any policy which it carries out. Take for instance LB268, or the death penalty repeal bill.
Some of you are already aware that I was a co-sponsor to this bill. Many Nebraskan residents have expressed their deep conviction that they support death penalty repeal based on moral and civil rights grounds. I certainly understand their concerns over wrongful execution. But my concerns, as with most bills, are on fiscal grounds.
Over the past few months, I have found the death penalty to be one of the most inefficient and ineffective examples of government waste. It has been reported, in recent Judiciary Committee testimonies, that the average cost of executing inmates is $3 million per death sentence, most of whom are successful in avoiding the penalty altogether. A life without parole sentence has an average of $1.1 million, and is much more effective. It is for this reason that I would like to see penitentiary reform.
Another issue that was debated at length this year was the voter ID bill, or LB111. As stated during debate, I was opposed to this bill because of its projected fiscal impact. While I cannot say that we as legislators must never pass a bill that would increase expenditures, we must ensure that we are getting what we pay for. Businesses must often weigh a cost-benefit analysis for each decision they make. So our government must weigh similar cost-benefit analyses. LB111 only addressed instances of in-person voter ID. Since Nebraska has never had an instance of in person voter fraud ever reported, I could not justify spending what the fiscal note estimated, so I voted no.
My primary concern when deciding on how I should cast my vote in the legislature will always concern its fiscal impact. Nebraskans have been paying some of the highest property and retirement taxes in the nation, just to name a couple. As a financial adviser, I have heard countless clients express their concern that if property and retirement taxes don’t go down, they will leave when they retire. Our state is losing many of these retirees because of that.
For these reasons, I will always be concerned with the fiscal note, no matter which Senator it comes from.
Spring is just around the corner!
A lot has been happening since I wrote the last update. The Legislature has engaged in a number of big debates, including the immunization mandate debate, gambling in Nebraska, and the fate of our cigar bars, just to name a few. We have also seen a number of really big issues being discussed in committees that can often go clear into the night!
But not all the important happenings have been in the hubbub of debate. The Legislature has passed a number of bills into law. Nebraska cigar bars are once again allowed to enjoy the freedom of allowing patrons to enjoy a cigar. The Legislature passed this bill into law (LB118) on February 20th, and the Governor signed shortly after. LB100 has also passed into law, which would give aid to Tribal Community Colleges, and nurses now have more opportunities to practice thanks to LB107.
I have yet to hear back from any of my bills sitting in committee, but I am hopeful that some of them will come through as committee hearings come to a close for the year. I truly believe that Nebraskans will receive the tax relief they have desired for so long in the near future. My bill, proposing to eliminate the state tax on social security benefits would do just that, and I know this can be achieved for Nebraska’s citizens.
There will be a number of priority bills coming up, which gives Senators the chance to move their bills up to the front of the line. I have used my priority designation in conjunction with Senator Jim Smith, whom I greatly respect and trust. Senator Smith’s bill, LB469, would give more state-level input to Nebraska’s Departments of Energy and Environmental Quality. The State- Tribal Relations Committee, of which I am the Chair, has also prioritized LB566, which would change portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act to make Nebraska’s custody laws more compliant with tribal laws regarding the custody of children. The many tribes of Nebraska have proven to be more than capable of self-governance over the years, and would greatly benefit by maintaining their culture and sovereignty.
Over the past couple months, I have gotten many letters, e-mails, and phone calls from constituents, of which I am greatly thankful. I encourage everyone to contact me with their concerns, opinions, and beliefs. My contact information can be found on this page. When contacting, please clearly state your name, address, contact information, reference to the particular bill or issue, and clearly state your stance on that bill or issue by declaring “support, oppose, or neutral.” This will help my staff determine who my constituents are and ensure that their concerns and opinions reach me in time.
This has certainly been a great year so far, as I have been learning so much about the wide range of issues that face the citizens of Nebraska. I am greatly humbled to serve the citizens of District 18. Without you, none of this would be possible. I encourage you to stay in touch, and would like to wish you all the best.