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Finding ways to grow Nebraska has been one of my main issues in the Legislature. As a member of the Revenue Committee, I have had the chance to hear issues affecting our population growth such as the need for more workforce housing, our current tax climate, and the out-migration of our best and brightest once they graduate college. This summer, I decided to take a tour of the eastern half of the state as the Chairman of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance (BCI) Committee to see first hand what economic issues our cities and towns are facing.
I visited over 44 banks in 20 counties including 27 Nebraska cities, towns and villages in the months of August and September. I was able to meet with the bankers who are on the front lines in their communities. From serving as the town mailman, to sponsoring the t-ball team, to consulting our farmers through falling commodity prices and rising production costs, to donating land for community improvement projects, our community bankers are the linchpin of our state’s economic success. I visited banks in our state’s largest cities such as Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island to some of our smallest in Talmage, Hordville, and Wausa. There were common themes as I moved across the state from consolidation of schools, community banks, and farms to property taxes and developing affordable housing for the area’s workforce.
Being able to tour a good portion of the state and see what our communities are facing was the best way for me to advocate for Nebraskans in the Legislature. There will be some big decisions coming up in the next session and I feel like I now have a broader point of view and a larger source of input to help tackle them. I truly believe that the best way to get to know Nebraska and understand all sides of our issues is to go out to where people are and see how Nebraskans live day to day. It is one thing to hear about successes such as young Nebraskans coming back to the family farm or business after living somewhere else, or the impact of NuCor Steel and Norfolk Iron and Metal in Norfolk, but it is quite another to see it in action.
As always, it is an honor to represent you in the Legislature.
-Sen. Brett Lindstrom
One of the best things about working as a Nebraska State Senator is that I never run out of opportunities to serve my state and the constituents of District 18. That’s as true during the interim as it is when the Legislature is in session.
By virtue of my position as Chairman of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee I have the opportunity to serve on the Nebraska Economic Development Task Force.
The purpose of this monthly task force meeting is to gather input on issues pertaining to economic development and discuss new ways to proactively support growth. It is composed of three members of the Legislature appointed by the Executive Board, one from each congressional district, and the seven Chairpersons of the Legislature’s standing committees.
It is my hope that I can use my time on the task force to create opportunities for Nebraskans by working not only with my fellow Senators, but with industry and academic experts and with experts from Nebraska’s state departments.
Experts and functionaries consulted with so far include: the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, the Director of Economic Development, the Commissioner of the Department of Education, the Executive Director of Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Post-secondary Education, the Director of the Rural Futures Institute, the Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools, the Dean of Information Technology & E-Learning at Metropolitan Community College, the Chief Strategist of the University of Nebraska, and the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Wayne State College.
The main questions we are looking to have answered include: what businesses are coming and going in Nebraska, where our state is gaining and where it is losing, how Nebraska attracts and retains people to our state, how Nebraska strengthen its workforce capacity, how Nebraska increases citizens’ earning potential and quality of life and how Nebraska fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.
The July meeting of the Economic Development Task Force focused on workforce development in our elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and included testimony from the State Director of Career Education with the Nebraska Department of Education, Rich Katt. Katt is quoted in this recent op-ed about workforce development in our schools from the Omaha World Herald. We also heard about exciting programs and partnerships with Wayne State College, Metropolitan Community College, and Grand Island Public Schools among others.
The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for August 11th and will feature a panel discussion on the role of the arts, cultural and creative industries in Nebraska’s economic development. By meeting with our state’s foremost experts and exploring tough questions, I am confident we can find ways to get our economy growing again. As always, I am honored to represent you in the Nebraska State Legislature.
Now that the session has started and bills are flying though our halls at breakneck speed it’s time to reach out and keep you informed of what’s happening here, and, to make sure you never forget that my purpose here in the Legislature is to serve your interests.
With that said, I’d like to inform you of a few developments that I hope you will find useful.
Committee Information: I have been elected Chairman of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee and will also serve as Vice Chairman of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee and as a member of the Revenue Committee.
Our office has moved: We have been relocated to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee office in room 1401 near the north entrance of the capitol. So if you ever need to talk to me, that’s where I’ll be. You can click on this map to view a link of the legislature’s floor plan if you need further assistance.
Helpful hints: When contacting the office, please state the bill number or issue you’re concerned with and remember to add your name, address and contact information to give us the information we need to engage with you and address your concerns.
Tracking votes in real time: For those of you paying close attention to the happenings in the Unicameral, there has been a development which I hope you will find useful. You will now be able to track senators’ votes on particular bills in close to real time.
The 105th Session of the Legislature has only just begun, and already it’s shaping up to be the eventful session many outside observers predicted that it would be. Next week will see the beginning of hearings, general file debate and the end of bill introduction, so things will only speed up from here.
No matter what’s going on in the legislature though, I will never forget the reason I am here, and that is to represent the people of District 18 and provide the inspired leadership Nebraska needs to defend our strongly held principles and ensure the future of our state.
I firmly believe that taxing Social Security Income places an added undue hardship on retirees living on a fixed income, and encourages people with the money to do so to flee the state, taking with them their spending dollars which are invaluable to driving our economic success.
The Legislature, however, is not a thing easily swayed. And so, the Social Security Income Tax has yet to be repealed. That does not mean my conviction to do so has lessened. If anything, it has only increased.
There are many reasons for this, and they are all rooted in my conservative conviction that our economy can only thrive when productivity and achievement are rewarded rather than punished.
Kiplinger’s Magazine, a publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice, produced a telling infographic to this point. The graphic displays Nebraska, along with a bundle of 10 states including New York and California, as one of the least tax friendly states to retirees in the union. You can view the tax map here.
Punishing people who have achieved throughout their lives by taxing their Social Security Income is ludicrous. These people didn’t work their whole lives just to give that productivity back to the state, and many retirees are voting it out every year with their feet. They are leaving our state for places where they know their Social Security Income won’t be taxed. With only a few states that have the gall to tax Social Security Income, they have a lot of options.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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