NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

District 23

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 bbostelman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 8th, 2020

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 23rd 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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Bruce Bostelman

Weekly Update 10-22
October 16th, 2020

The Department of Revenue recently released a report showing that over the last year, the State of Nebraska has provided a record-setting $2.2 billion in property tax relief and state aid to local governments.

When I was first elected to the Legislature in 2016, the state was providing $204 million in property tax relief to residents of Nebraska. Since then, we have been able to increase the aid to $275 million in 2019. Through LB1107, which was passed in August, the amount of property tax relief from the state will rise to $650 million by 2025. This means in the four years that I have been in the legislature, we have nearly tripled the amount of property tax relief for all Nebraskans. We have also increased the amount of state aid to schools by $80 million to offset increases in property tax levies.

Recent economic reports continue to reinforce the fact that Nebraskans are steadily recovering from the effects of COVID-19. The September 2020 general fund receipts show that our economy continues to outpace the certified forecast estimated by the Economic Forecasting Advisory Board. The receipts from September indicate that net receipts totaled $527 million, which was 3.2% higher than the forecast. For fiscal year 2020-2021, the net general funds receipts were $1.646 billion which is 5.4% above the forecast. This information, paired with a low 4% unemployment rate continues to indicate a bright future for Nebraska economically.

District 23 received a total of $6,598,703 of federal CARES Act funds disbursed to 497 entities. Those receiving funds include 237 livestock producers, receiving the $12,000 Livestock Producers Small Business Stabilization Grant and 240 small businesses. In total these small businesses received $2,880,000 in aid through the Small Business Stabilization Grant.

Windstream Nebraska, Inc. recently received a $1,275,000 grant through the Remote Access Rural Broadband Program to expand access to broadband in rural Ashland. The grant improves broadband service in underserved areas of the state by targeting areas that lack high-speed internet based on the Federal Communications Commission’s standards of 25 Mbp/s download, and 3 Mbp/s upload speeds. This is very good news, and I will continue to work on expanding broadband access across Nebraska.

The Nebraska’s COVID-19 website, coronavirus.nebraska.gov has been updated. The website now contains the Coronavirus Relief Fund Dashboard with information regarding how Nebraska has utilized federal funds received under the CARES Act. The dashboard shows who received the funding, and can be sorted by program, grant name, city, county, and Congressional or Legislative District.

Areas of the state are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and I want to remind everyone to continue to take necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you. It is important for those that are sick to stay home, wear a mask when appropriate, wash your hands regularly and maintain proper social distancing.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly Update 10-15
October 9th, 2020

This week I want to highlight important news for District 23 regarding drought relief. The United States Department of Agriculture has designated six Nebraska counties, including Colfax County, as primary natural disaster zones, and 14 counties, including Saunders and Butler Counties, as contiguous disaster zones.

Under these designations, producers who suffered losses caused by droughts may be eligible for expedited emergency loans. The emergency loans may be used for a variety of needs including replacement of equipment or livestock, loss of crops, or to refinance certain debts. Producers may apply for this emergency loan through their local Farm Service Agency office until May 11th, 2021. More information on this program can be found at farmers.gov/recover.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has also extended the deadline for emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in Colfax and Saunders counties until December 31st, 2020, with some restrictions.

Haying, for example, is restricted to one cutting at no more than 50% of each field, and the hay must be removed from the CRP acres within 15 days after being baled. Producers who graze their livestock on CRP acres should also leave 25% of each field ungrazed. Importantly, there will also be no annual CRP rental payment deduction for emergency haying and grazing authorizations. To participate in this extension or find more information on starting CRP haying or grazing, you will need to apply through your county FSA office.

Colfax County livestock producers, who suffered grazing losses due to drought, are also eligible for further drought relief through the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). The LFP will provide compensation to eligible producers on small, grain, native pasture, improved pasture, ryegrass, or forage sorghum. In order to apply for this program, please contact the Colfax County FSA office at (402) 352-5200 before the January, 30th deadline. For further information such as covered livestock or further eligibility requirements visit farmers.gov/recover.

Governor Ricketts recently declared October as Bioscience month in Nebraska. Bioscience encompasses industries such as renewable fuels, agricultural processing, and human and animal health sectors. For District 23, renewable fuels such as ethanol play a vital role in our community economies. Farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and our environment all benefit greatly from the production and use of renewable fuel. Our district’s farmers further benefit from the bioscience industry with its research and development of more resilient seeds with greater outputs, and more efficient farming practices.

Lastly, Governor Ricketts also declared October manufacturing month in Nebraska. Manufacturing is Nebraska’s second largest industry, employing roughly 100,000 people in the state, and is one of the fastest growing industries for high-paying jobs. Manufacturing contributes nearly $13 billion to Nebraska’s gross state product annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 10-8
October 2nd, 2020

As Nebraska moves into the fall harvest season, one of the most dangerous times of year for those in agriculture, it’s good for all of us to take special caution when working on the farm.  According to the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, on average, 167 agricultural workers suffer work related injuries each day.  Being careful not to wear loose clothing around power take-offs and wearing safety harnesses when working in grain bins can save a life.

Our farmers are working long days with harvest, moving heavy equipment on our roadways and we all need to be aware and use caution when approaching them on the roads.  If you encounter a slow-moving tractor, combine, or semi always give them adequate room. Often these vehicles make wide turns and sometimes need both lanes to do so.

These vehicles may appear to be pulling off onto the right shoulder of the road, but in fact they are turning left by going wide to line up with a gate or driveway. Be careful not to pull out in front of farm vehicles as they may be hauling heavy loads which could make a quick stop impossible.  Be patient when attempting to pass a slow moving vehicle and double check to ensure that it is not obscuring oncoming traffic before you pass.  It takes all of us to ensure a safe harvest season.

Last Sunday, the National Firefighters Association hosted their annual “America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters”. The tribute included the weeklong vigil, “Light the Night to Fallen Firefighters” which saw national monuments and landmarks, fire stations, and homes lit up red to honor the fallen. The tribute honored 103 firefighters, 82 of which perished in the line of duty in 2019. Firefighters around the country put their lives at risk to save others and it is important that we honor and remember these heroes.

Recent fiscal and unemployment reports show that Nebraska is recovering quickly from the effects of COVID-19. The Nebraska Department of Revenue recently released the August 2020 General Fund receipts. This new report was encouraging as it showed that in August, Nebraska’s net receipts were 15.2% above the certified forecast of $446 million. The department also reported that the net general fund receipts for fiscal year 2020-2021 were 6.4% above the forecast of $1.051 billion.

Not only are our tax receipts showing a rapid improvement in Nebraska’s economy, Nebraska currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at just 4% in August with about 4,600 Nebraskans collecting unemployment according to the Nebraska Department of Labor. This highlights the Nebraska work ethic, and shows that we are overcoming the impact caused by economic shutdowns.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 10-1
September 25th, 2020

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced a new assistance program for our nation’s farmers and ranchers who continue to be negatively affected by COVID-19. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP2) will provide agriculture producers with direct financial assistance in order to help offset increasing costs associated with COVID-19.

Commodities eligible for assistance include row crops, livestock, dairy, alfalfa, broilers and eggs, and more. The USDA will be accepting applications for CFAP2 from September 21st to December 11, 2020. To apply, call your local Farm Service Agency office to schedule an appointment. A call center has also been established for one on one assistance which can be reached at 877-508-8364.  More information on CFAP2 can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.

The USDA also announced that they are extending flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants, and children (WIC). This program helps low income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of 5 have access to nutritional food and information on healthy eating.

One of the key waivers that was extended allows for participants applying for WIC to be approved without the need to be physically present at a local office to take height, weight, and bloodwork requirements previously required for enrollment and re-enrollment. In addition, this waiver allows for the remote distribution of benefits so that participants are not required to come to the clinic to pick up benefit cards or paper coupons, decreasing the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19. Another critical waiver being extended includes flexibility in food package contents for dairy, grain, vegetable, and infant food when availability is limited.

Governor Ricketts recently announced a new program to provide short term housing accommodations for Nebraskans so they can safely quarantine and prevent transmission of the virus between their place of work and their home, protecting family members who may have adverse health conditions. Presently, the program is open to teachers and other school staff, meat processing workers, and first responders. The program provides free accommodations at hotels for 14 days or until the condition improves. More information and the application process can be found at dhhs.ne.gov.

Finally, the Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with Nebraska’s 19 local health departments has issued new quarantine guidelines for students who have been exposed to COVID-19. The new guideline changes allow for students who have been exposed to the virus to continue attending classes In lieu of quarantining, if: they self-monitor and wear a mask, the exposure occurred during extracurricular activities, outdoors, or in a non-confined space, or if the exposure occurred in a confined space such as a classroom but both persons were wearing masks.

Over the interim, my office remains open and we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues affecting this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from you and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 9-24
September 18th, 2020

The Legislature successfully passed LB1107 providing substantial property tax relief for Nebraskans.  The bill delivers $650 million in annual property tax relief in two forms.

The first places into law a minimum level of funding of $275 million annually for the existing Property Tax Credit Relief Fund. From 2015-2019, the Legislature worked to nearly double the amount of direct property tax relief from $140 million annually to $275 million annually.  This relief is applied directly to your property tax bill, and appears as a credit on your statement.

Second, the tax relief bill creates a new refundable income tax credit based on your property taxes paid to schools. Once the tax credit is phased in, the state will provide an additional $375 million in property tax relief. The relief from this credit will be delivered to you when you file your state income tax return. After the credit is phased in, the amount of credit from the state will grow as property valuations grow.

For instance, in Saunders County the refundable tax credit is expected to equal 5.6% of taxes paid to schools in 2020 and 15% in tax year 2025 when the total credit will amount to $375 million.  Based on the above, the total tax credit received by property owners in Saunders County would equal $2 million for tax year 2020 and $5.5 million in tax year 2025. The credit for agricultural landowners will amount to $1 million in tax year 2020 and grow to $2.7 million in tax year 2025.

Using data from the USDA and Dept. of Revenue, the average farm in Saunders County has 421 acres of taxable agricultural land.  So, the tax credit for tax year 2020 would be approximately $1,104 per farm and would equal approximately $2,947 per farm for taxes paid in 2025.

There is also news related to COVID-19 directed health measures. Most counties in Nebraska, including Saunders, Colfax, and Butler counties are now in phase 4 of the directed health measures put out by DHHS.

What this means in District 23 is that indoor gatherings are now limited to 75% capacity, and outdoor gatherings can now be at 100% capacity. Additionally, gyms, childcare facilities, bars, restaurants, salons, and wedding/funeral receptions are now removed from the directed health measures, but health precautions at these places are still advised.

However, facilities, indoor and outdoor, with 500+ capacity must submit plans outlining how the facility will meet applicable social distancing, sanitation, and other DHM guidelines to their local public health department before being able to reopen. The plan must also include the number of guests planning on attending the event. You may find the application for reopening plans on your local health department website.

Over the interim, my office remains open and we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues affecting this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from you and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 9-17
September 11th, 2020

Last week, 28 senators, including myself signed onto a letter introduced by Senator Julie Slama from district 1 that is urging the Big Ten to reconsider their decision to cancel the fall football season. This cancellation will cause UNL and other communities all around Nebraska that benefit from the weekly traditions of Husker Football and Volleyball GameDays to lose millions of dollars in revenue. During times like these, it is important for Nebraskans to maintain a high morale, and watching/playing college sports are one way of doing that.

When Nebraska High Schools and NCAA conferences such as the SEC, Big 12, ACC, and Sun Belt are currently playing their seasons with health and safety modifications due to COVID-19, it only makes sense the Big Ten play as well. UNL President Ted Carter, Chancellor Ronnie Green, Athletic Director Bill Moos, Head Football Coach Scott Frost, and many players have openly stated their support of playing Fall sports. It is a disservice to Nebraska student athletes, many of whom have worked their entire lives, and been awarded countless scholarships to play college sports not to have a fall season.

I also ask my constituents of District 23 and all of Nebraska to keep the family of Lincoln Police officer Mario Herrera in their prayers. He passed away last week from injuries sustained while working to detain violent individuals. Police officers and all those working in law enforcement have an incredibly difficult and dangerous job, especially during this time and climate of increased police scrutiny, anti-police rhetoric, and calls to defund the police. Remember that these are members of our communities doing their best to keep us all safe.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have worked tirelessly to protect those most vulnerable to the virus. Residents of these facilities have been isolated from the general public and family visitors over the last few months for their health and safety. Being cooped up inside for so long can be physically and mentally taxing. If you have a family member or know someone living in an assisted living facility, I recommend that you reach out to them and show them encouragement and support.

As a reminder, please follow state and local health department’s guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. The better we can follow these guidelines, the quicker we will be able to defeat this virus and return to normal.

Over the interim, my office remains open and we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues affecting this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from you and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 9-10
September 4th, 2020

Over the interim, I continue to work on issues that affect District 23 youth. My work with the Juvenile Justice Coalition and Juvenile Services is tasked with helping at-risk and disadvantaged youths. Specifically, the coalition works with individuals with probation or truancy issues in order to help them get back on track and to stay out of future trouble. Early intervention helps prevent kids from going down the wrong path and helps them to succeed later in life.

I would like to highlight a new task force aimed at helping the State of Nebraska prepare for future flooding events.  The task force was recently signed into law by Governor Ricketts in LB632. LB632 contains LB1201, a bill which I introduced, which will help identify existing resources that communities can use in response to flood events and evaluating floodwater management issues.

Nebraskans in District 23 and across the state suffered from the worst flooding in memory in 2019. This task force will help the state plan, so we can be prepared to meet the challenge of future flooding events. Six additional Senators joined LB1201 as cosponsors.  The bill received unanimous approval during the final round of debate as a part of LB632, the Natural Resources committee package. I want to thank my colleagues and Governor Ricketts for helping take this important step.

I have been working extensively over the past year in evaluating the state’s future planning and needs for flood response. As co-chair LR241, we held meetings to evaluate the impact of flood on the state. During the interim study, the committee visited the Lincoln well field, Ashland National Guard camp, Loup Canal at Genoa, Schuyler, Winslow, and the Spencer Dam. We were also able to meet with numerous emergency managers, county highway superintendents, commissioners, public power, private landowners, and city officials.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced there is still grant funding available for relief from the 2019 floods through the Community Facilities Program. Public bodies, nonprofits, and municipalities located in disaster declared counties which include Butler, Colfax, and Saunders County. These grants may be used for disaster and non-disaster related projects which would benefit the community such as a new ambulance. For more information about the grant visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services and click the “Community Facilities Program” tab on the left. You may also find assistance by contacting your local USDA Rural Development office.

As fall activities increase, we have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases around District 23. I would like to remind everyone to follow state and local health department’s guidelines, which include properly social distancing using the six foot rule, wearing masks as recommended and not running nonessential errands. As a reminder for everyone we need you to stay home if you are sick and stay home while you are awaiting your test results.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 9-3
August 28th, 2020

There are a couple of areas that I want to highlight that are important for District 23.  They affect not only our communities but communities across the state. I want to make you more aware of the extent of Human Trafficking in the state.  In my work with the Human Trafficking Task Force and the Attorney General’s office we are making significant strides to address this human tragedy.  However, there is more work that needs to be done and you can help.

According to the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force, as recently as 2015, 47 school age girls are trafficked in Nebraska every year.  Arrests and successful prosecution of sex traffickers have been made in District 23 as a result of the work of the task force.  Sex trafficking victims involve both male and female individuals.  Traffickers often use a slew of tactics when luring people into being trafficked. For instance, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, in 2018 a Lincoln man was arrested, charged and found guilty in federal court for trafficking two minors.  He used the social media app Snapchat to lure young girls into sex trafficking.

Trafficking of humans for labor also occurs when individuals are forced to work oftentimes to repay a debt.  Those caught up in labor trafficking include teenage youth and adults.   In order to prevent and end human trafficking in Nebraska, we need everyone’s help. There are signs that can help you identify trafficking such as someone having multiple phones, a boyfriend or girlfriend that is considerably older, unexplained absences, abnormal amounts of cash, and long or strange working hours.

How can you help? Information on human trafficking and videos on how to identify human trafficking may be found at the Attorney Generals website, ago.nebraska.gov/nebraska-human-trafficking-task-force. If you are victim of trafficking or suspect someone is being trafficked please call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You will make a difference.

I am co-sponsoring LR380 an interim study that was brought to light this year as a result of COVID-19. LR380 is Sen. Brewer’s study that will examine the feasibility of creating a state meat inspection program. A state meat inspection program would allow cattle producers and small beef processors in this state to better feed Nebraska residents, greatly strengthen and secure the beef supply chain from cattle producers to consumers, and spur economic development in rural Nebraska.

This study will consult and involve a number of interests and stakeholders including livestock producers, small plant producers, and the Department of Agriculture, as well as industry and trade groups.

Over the interim my office remains open and we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues affecting this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from you and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 8-27
August 21st, 2020

As we approach Labor Day, we are especially thankful for essential employees and other members of the workforce who have continued to go work amid the COVID-19 situation. Among these, we are especially grateful for healthcare professionals, law enforcement, EMS/first responders who put themselves at risk every day to serve their communities. I hope this is a time when families can safely relax and celebrate together.

Over the past week, I’ve attended several bill signing ceremonies for some important legislation. The Saturday after the Legislature adjourned, I attended Governor Ricketts’ public signing of LB814 on the North steps outside of the Capitol. This bill bans the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion on a living, unborn child in the second trimester of pregnancy. I was pleased to see such a large pro-life crowd turn out in support of the bill, and I commend Senator Geist, the bill’s introducer, on her diligent work with individuals and organizations such as Dr. Aultman, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Family Alliance, and Nebraska Right to Life on getting this critical legislation passed. I was a proud co-sponsor of this bill, and will continue to defend the pre-born on future pro-life legislation.

Governor Ricketts signed LB1107, which was the property tax relief and business incentive compromise bill on August 20th. I applaud Governor Ricketts for signing this bill into law and the members of the Revenue Committee for working tirelessly to bring meaningful property tax relief to Nebraskans. By putting $650 million towards property tax relief, we are ensuring Nebraskans can keep more hard earned money in their pockets while also fully funding our schools.

I was also happy to see veterans and members of their organizations along with Governor Ricketts and fellow Senators at the American Legion Post 52 in Kearney for the LB153 signing ceremony. This bill exempts 50% of military retirement pay from the Nebraska state income tax. As a co-sponsor of this bill I feel it is an excellent step in making Nebraska a more desirable place for veterans to live.

As summer comes to a close and school and fall sports are set to begin, please continue to be cognizant of the spread of COVID-19.  My continued support for our teachers and staff as they begin this school year and their ongoing commitment to their students.

Please remember that the businesses in our communities need our support.  Do you remember a commercial that said, “we’ll keep the light on”.  That’s what our local businesses have been doing, staying open during a difficult time and being there for us when we needed them.  Let’s let them know how much we appreciate them by buying local and by doing so “keeping their light on”.

My office remains open, we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues affecting this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from you and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Article 8-20
August 18th, 2020

The 106th Legislature, Second Session adjourned Sine Die on August 13th. This historic short session saw 285 bills passed by the Legislature.   There are a number of bills I want to highlight.

Property taxes were addressed by the Legislature with B1107. LB1107 a bill that will provide Nebraskans with $650 million in property tax relief, a new business incentive program, and funding for UNMC’s transformational projects act.

LB814, a bill I co-sponsored, passed on our final day of session. LB814 bans dismemberment, or “dilation and evacuation” abortion. In this method of abortion, the doctor terminates a baby by dismembering it alive, while still in the womb.

The passage of LB153, a bill I cosponsored, provides after January 1, 2022 a person may exclude fifty percent of the military retirement benefit income received to the extent included in federal adjusted gross income.   I stand committed to making Nebraska a welcoming State for veterans, military personnel and their families.

LB450 increases the percentage of state tuition assistance for members of the Nebraska National Guard from 75% to 100% for their undergraduate degrees. The bill also allows for 50% tuition assistance for guardsmen and women seeking a professional or graduate degree.

LB963 improves worker’s compensation laws for first responders, allowing them to collect worker’s compensation benefits while treating a mental illness, such as PTSD, that was received on the job.

As a member of the Rural Broadband Task Force, we worked to find ways to expand broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of the state. These recommendations resulted in LB992 which in part allows companies access to existing infrastructure in order to expand internet access. LB996 created the broadband improvement program.

LB931 allows for operation of vehicles that exceed the maximum weight and length capacities by 15% and 10%, respectively when transporting grain and other seasonally harvested products from farm storage to market. All the bills I introduced were passed. LB 1002/LB893 allows for EMS services to restock medication, used during transport of a person, at a hospital pharmacy. It also creates two new EMS classifications; Critical Care paramedic and Community Paramedicine.

LB831 allows vehicles that were manufactured prior to 1940 receive a salvage title if they were previously titled as junk. This bill will help the Nelson family from Wahoo title their vehicle which has been in their family for decades.

LB832 provides civil and criminal immunity to a person who breaks into a vehicle to rescue a child in imminent danger of heat stroke.

LB1201, which was included in LB632, creates a flood mitigation plan development group within the Department of Natural Resources. The group will be tasked with compiling a centralized list of critical infrastructure, and identifying available funding resources and cost-effective flood mitigation strategies.

As we enter the interim my office remains open and we look forward to a busy schedule working on issues that affect this District and Nebraska.  I appreciate hearing from constituents and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

 

 

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

District 23
Room #1118
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2719
Email: bbostelman@leg.ne.gov
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