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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 20, 2020

 

Labor Commissioner Urges Nebraskans to File for Unemployment Benefits Online During COVID-19 Pandemic

Resources Available at NEworks.nebraska.gov

 

LINCOLN – Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin encourages workers and businesses to utilize resources available through the Nebraska Department of Labor as they respond to COVID-19.

“We understand this is a time of uncertainty for all Nebraskans, and we are here to support workers and employers as they navigate this challenging situation,” said Commissioner Albin.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Any workers in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov.  The NEworks mobile app is available to download for free.

On Tuesday, Governor Ricketts announced that from March 22 through May 2, NDOL would be waiving the requirement to search for work, as well as the requirement to serve an unpaid waiting week once eligibility is determined. Employers whose workers file claims tied to COVID-19 will also not be charged for those benefits. Nebraska’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will instead be used. The Governor’s press release and Executive Order can be viewed here.

If an employer is laying off a large number of workers, they may file a claim in NEworks on behalf of these workers.  Instructions are found on the NDOL website at: https://dol.nebraska.gov/UIBenefits

 Short-Time Compensation

In addition to regular unemployment insurance benefits, employers also have the option of utilizing Short-Time Compensation (STC). The Short-Time Compensation program helps prevent layoffs by allowing employers to uniformly reduce affected employees’ hours by 10 to 60 percent while permitting the employees to receive a prorated unemployment benefit. For more information, see the information on this page: https://dol.nebraska.gov/stc

Assistance

Due to high call volume, unemployment insurance questions should be emailed to ndol.nichelp@nebraska.gov and should include contact information.  Live chat assistance is available on NEworks.nebraska.gov.

Questions specific to short-time compensation should be sent to NDOL.STCLegal@nebraska.gov

There is no requirement to visit a job center to access these benefit programs. The job centers are adhering to social distancing guidance to protect the health of customers and the NDOL team. Job center locations and numbers are listed here.

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With the Coronavirus presence in Nebraska, the Speaker of the Legislature has recessed the body until further notice. He will reconvene the Legislative body as needed to address the needs of the state and at a future date reconvene to complete the remaining days of this short session.  Legislative offices are currently closed to the public.  My office is minimally staffed and will be working from home, we will be monitoring telephone messages and emails and responding accordingly.

The situation in our state changes daily and I encourage everyone to please be patient with this situation due to its uniqueness and challenges. All are called upon to adapt in many different ways and I am asking all of us to be resilient like we had to be a year ago. We will continue to care for neighbors in different ways than we did a year ago. The words Nebraska Strong resonate again, in a different way, to be strong in health, be strong for our medical staff, and practicing CDC recommendations.

Governor Ricketts has issued guidelines limiting public gatherings to ten people according to CDC guidance.  This is related to public gatherings such as bars, sporting events and worship. As you know, Governor Ricketts has been very proactive in keeping the public informed on precautionary guidelines to follow. To keep up with these updates, you can refer to the Governor’s website https://governor.nebraska.gov/.

Nebraska Medicine has an all-encompassing website that provides valuable information on coronavirus in our state such as healthcare facilities, school information, and self-assessment tools which can be found here https://icap.nebraskamed.com/.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is also providing current updates on the situation for individuals. It provides a “What you should know” section which explains who is most at risk for the virus, how to prevent contracting it, symptoms, what to do if you get sick, and frequently asked questions. This link also provides current situation reports detailing cases in the US and globally. It also has a page that provides guidance to business and employers on how they should plan, prepare and respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. Last, it provides information for schools, healthcare professionals, and for potential travelers.  This website can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing loans and other resources to small businesses who may have been impacted financially by COVID-19. If you own a small business follow this link to see what resources may be available. https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Finally, the World Health Organization also has a website which provides the most current information on a global level. This site also provides all footage from press briefings discussing the COVID-19 situation. This website can be found here https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

At this time I am praying for everyone affected by this challenge.  We are empathetically here to listen to your concerns and encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov if you have questions or need assistance.

Legislative Update (3-13-20)
March 16th, 2020

Last week, the Legislature debated the Appropriation Committee’s budget amendments on general file. These proposed changes included funding for a variety of programs such as flood relief and mental health courts. Furthermore, these budget amendments retain the budget increase of three percent for this biennium.

One of the key changes to the budget was the inclusion of flood relief funds for the March, 2019 floods. The Legislature approved $55 million in order to match the FEMA Public Assistance flood claims resulting from President Trump’s disaster declaration. These funds are important for the continued recovery of Nebraska’s infrastructure and for future disaster mitigation.

In addition, the budget amendments also included $250,000 in grant funding for volunteer EMS services. Currently, our volunteer EMS services are facing funding and staffing issues across the state. This grant funding will help volunteer EMS services provide tuition assistance for initial and ongoing training for their paramedics and hopefully attract new volunteers.

Also included in the budget amendments was $637,788 to provide for a pilot program for problem solving courts for mental health. These courts are designed to be a type of intervention for defendants who will be treated for mental health instead of incarcerating them. This will help to alleviate overcrowded prison system.

With Coronavirus now here in Nebraska I would like to provide some useful websites where you can find a wealth of information on the virus. Johns Hopkins University has an interactive global map with the most current information detailing current cases and fatalities. This map allows you to narrow the search down by country and states. You can find this map at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html. Another valuable website is https://icap.nebraskamed.com/. This website provides valuable information on nearly all things concerning coronavirus in our state such as healthcare facilities, school information, and self-assessment tools.

Finally, registration is now open for the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The Youth Legislature is open for any high school students who have an interest in government, debate, and public policy and is a four day simulation in which the students will play the role as a state lawmaker. The students will be presented with bills from the previous legislative session and will then have the opportunity to conduct committee hearings and debate the legislation presented to them. They will also work with State Senators and Staff to better understand the workings of the Unicameral. For students wishing to apply, please visit nebraskalegislature.gov/uyl before the May 15th deadline. Also, those who do apply it is encouraged to apply for the Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship Award which covers the full cost of admission.

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.

Recently, there has been a lot of debate about bills regarding the second amendment and what occurred during the committee hearing on one of those bills. As we know, people across the state are very passionate about their Second Amendment Rights, and as we expected they showed up in large numbers to defend that right. I applaud these passionate citizens on taking the fullest advantage of their civic duty to come and wait in line for hours just to get 90 seconds to express their beliefs. At no time, was anyone in the Capitol in danger. State Patrol was aware of the large presence of people coming to testify and acted accordingly with an increased presence of security. I stand in strong support of our Second Amendment rights and will continue to ensure these rights won’t be violated.

The Legislature also continued debate on priority bills last week. LB931, introduced by Senator Halloran and prioritized by Senator Hughes, would expand maximum weight and length exemptions for grain transporters seeking to transport grain from a storage location to the market. Furthermore, LB931 would also allow single-axle trucks to exceed the maximum weight limit by up to 15% for the purpose of transporting grain up to 70 miles from storage to the market or factory. LB931 was advanced to Select File.

Another bill that was advanced to Select File was LB1042, introduced by Senator La Grone. LB1042 would allow those with a Nebraska Educational Savings Plan Trust (NEST) account to deduct contributions from an employer to their account for income tax purposes. The bill also provides a deduction limit of $5,000 for married couples filing separate tax returns and a limit of $10,000 for any other return. Furthermore, employer contributions may not be used when determining the income of a person who is applying for a state program.

My bill, LB832 which was designated as a Speaker Priority Bill, was advanced to Select File. LB832 would provide criminal and civil immunity to those who break into a vehicle to rescue a child that is imminent danger. It is important that all parents understand that they too could accidentally leave a child in their vehicle.  A child can die when his or her temperature reaches 107 degrees F. Vehicular heatstroke can happen when outside temperatures surrounding a vehicle are as low as 57 degrees F.  Additional information may be found at ncs.org/heatstroke.

Finally, I want to thank Alana for inviting me to the Wahoo Elementary Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. The breakfast was delicious and I enjoyed chatting with students and celebrating Dr. Seuss’ 116th birthday.  Reading is very important in the development of our children and it improves their performance in school.

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.

 

On Monday January 6th, I joined Governor Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson, members of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force (NHTTF), and non-profit organizations to recognize January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

After signing a proclamation, Governor Ricketts highlighted the multi-agency response developed and carried out by NHTTF and its many partners across the state.

“Nebraska has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling the scourge of human trafficking,” said Governor Ricketts.  “From law enforcement agencies to community groups to members of the media, everyone has stepped up.  Thanks to our team effort, Nebraska continues to raise awareness and make progress towards ending the great evil of human trafficking, which is a modern form of slavery.”

From stronger laws passed by the Legislature to training across the state by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) along with proactive operations and investigations by NHTTF, a variety of strategic initiatives are effectively combatting human trafficking.  More information about the AGO’s work can be found by clicking here.

Recently the State of Nebraska was given an A grade by Shared Hope International for its effectiveness in combating human trafficking.  Nebraska has made great strides since 2011 when the state received a grade of F.

“Today our office is releasing videos to educate the public in recognizing the signs of trafficking and reporting it,” said Attorney General Peterson.  “We are also issuing a four-year review of the task force which illustrates what can be done when people with widely different roles are unified around a common mission.”

To prevent trafficking from happening in Nebraska, Governor Ricketts and Attorney General Peterson encourage Nebraskans to learn the signs of trafficking and to report concerns of trafficking to the Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888).

Nebraskans can also express their commitment to fight trafficking by sharing social media banners or displaying a poster both of which are available on the Nebraska Attorney General’s website.  More information regarding how Nebraskans can help stop human trafficking can be found by clicking here.

Multiple partners in the fight against human trafficking joined the proclamation ceremony including State Senators, federal and state offices, human trafficking survivors, and multiple private organizations including Disrupting Traffick, Heartland Family Services, HTI Labs, I’ve Got a Name, Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers, Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Nebraska Family Alliance, Rejuvenating Women, Rotary Club #14, Salvation Army, Set Me Free Project, The Force, Women’s Center for Advancement, and Women’s Fund of Omaha.

“Human trafficking is a direct affront to the dignity and sanctity of human life.  While Nebraska is not isolated from the scourge of human trafficking, we are grateful for the broad coalition of legislators, service providers, advocacy groups, churches, and diligent citizens who make our state a leader in combating human trafficking.  Nebraska Family Alliance commends Governor Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson for their dedication to fighting trafficking in our state,” said Nate Grasz, Policy Director, Nebraska Family Alliance

Today, I had the opportunity to present LR203 with Governor Ricketts and Speaker Scheer to Adjutant General Bohac, representatives of NEMA and a representative of FEMA. LR203 recognizes and commends emergency managers, first responders, and all those who volunteered their time and effort to assist with rescue and recovery during the flooding that plagued Nebraska last March. I would again like to extend my deepest gratitude to all those who assisted with the rescue and recovery efforts resulting from the floods.

 

STATE OF NEBRASKA

Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) March 25, 2019

 

CONTACTS:

Taylor Gage, (402) 471-1970 Taylor.gage@nebraska.gov Alyssa Sanders, (402) 405-6137 Alyssa.sanders@nebraska.gov Mike Wight, (402) 471-7428

 

State Response: How to Get Assistance

 

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

If you are located in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Most homeowners and renters, and all businesses (including landlords) and private nonprofit organizations are automatically referred to the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. FEMA may offer some grant assistance to households. SBA disaster assistance loan programs are committed to helping businesses and residents rebuild and recover as quickly as possible.

What Types of Disaster Loans are Available?

  • Business Physical Disaster Loans – Loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster- damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – Working capital loans to help small businesses including: agricultural cooperatives, businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.
  • Home Disaster Loans – Loans to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster- damaged real estate and personal property, including automobiles.
  • SBA offers disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits and homeowners and renters, as low as 2.063% for residents and 4% for businesses, to recover from damages not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. SBA Loans not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
  • Residents and Business owners with questions about SBA’s disaster assistance can call (800) 659-2955 or go to www.sba.gov/disaster to apply online.

 

 Schools

All Nebraska schools are back in session with the exception of North Bend Central Public Schools. North Bend Central has been functioning as a community center for response efforts for the affected area as it was least impacted by the flood waters. School officials hope to resume classes Wednesday.

Agriculture (NDA)

  • Losses include (as of 3/25/19):

o   $400 Million – Livestock loss

Includes: death, loss, veterinary care, loss of performance, additional transportation costs as well as additional labor costs

o   $440 Million – Crop loss

Includes: removal of sand/debris, inability to plant this year, loss of inventory

Numbers do not reflect loss of infrastructure.

o   Current primary needs are hay, fencing, volunteers, and equipment.

  • If a farmer or rancher feels overwhelmed with stress, depression, or other mental health related issues they are urged to contact the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline at

800-464-0258.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Homeowners and renters in the nine counties (Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders, & Washington) approved for FEMA assistance by the President are eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance.

Additional counties may be added as assessments are completed and submitted to FEMA.

The following steps be taken to begin recovery:

  • Report your damage to your local emergency manager. This helps provide information about locations and extent of damage that can be used to assess additional recovery needs for your jurisdiction. A current list of local emergency managers can be found at http://nema.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/0bc3537ed2a145bba2ffbd37b54209ed
  • Call your insurance agent. There may be coverage for your losses under a traditional homeowner’s or renter’s policy or under a flood insurance policy.
  • Document your damage. Take photos or video. Make lists of damage items.
  • Register with FEMA. The process is free, take about 20 minutes:

o   Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov (this will be the quickest option).

o   Register by phone using FEMA’s toll-free registration line by calling 800-621- 3362. If you use TTY, call 800-462-7585 or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 800-621-3362. Telephone registration is available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

 

 

  • Be ready to register. When calling the FEMA number, be prepared to provide your current address, the address of the damaged property, contact information where FEMA can reach you, your social security number, the makeup of your household (occupants), insurance, and income information.
  • Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance may not cover everything, and some damage may not show up until later. Do not wait until you have settled with your insurer to register with FEMA.

 

FEMA Teams Canvassing Disaster-Designated Counties to Help Survivors

  • Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) team members can be identified by their federal photo identifications and FEMA clothing. Nebraska residents are reminded to ask for official photo identification before providing personal information. FEMA employees do not solicit or accept money from disaster survivors. FEMA will call to schedule a meeting before arriving at a residence.
  • Survivors who have already registered with FEMA can expect housing inspectors to inspect damage sustained by weather related events. When FEMA-contracted inspectors arrive at a home, they will display official photo identification. If the photo identification is not visible, it’s OK to ask to see it. This helps prevent fraud.
  • Many legitimate disaster assistance representatives also may visit your property such as insurance agents, damage inspectors, FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff.  Please ask to see all identification.
  • Again, federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections, or help with registration.

 

Some tips to safeguard against fraud:

  • Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives wear a federal photo ID badge. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of identity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter, please contact local law enforcement.
  • Beware of people going door-to-door. People knocking on doors at damaged homes or phoning homeowners claiming to be building contractors could be con artists, especially if they ask for personal information or solicit money. Be sure to verify ID badges of disaster assistance staff who may visit your home.
  • FEMA does not have “approved” contractors. Beware of contractors who say they are

affiliated with FEMA. Do not sign anything you do not understand, or sign any contracts with blank spaces.

  • If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at

866-720-5721.

  • Always use licensed and bonded contractors and ask for credentials.  Never pay for anything in advance of work being done.

 

NEMA

  • The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) continues to address needs and direct resources across the State.
  • The NEMA website – www.nema.nebraska.gov – is a good resource for current conditions, photos and video, and information on what to do after returning home.

 

  • NEMA Call Center 402-817-1551

NEMA Joint Information Center has established a hotline currently staffed

24-hours-a-day to connect those impacted with needed resources. When possible, the call center is staffed with Spanish speaking operators and mental health professionals.

Nebraska 211

The Heartland United Way 211 is a resource for information including shelter needs, cleanup, food, clothing, etc. If you cannot reach them by dialing 211, please call 866-813-1731.

 

Nebraska Strong

  • Those who are looking for a one-stop option for donations can go to the #NebraskaStrong website: www.nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong . A variety of nonprofit relief agencies are available for donations.
  • Visitors to the NebraskaStrong website can also list specific resource needs, and those with resources to donate can connect with those in need.

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On February 27th I had the pleasure of meeting with 4th graders from Bellwood Elementary and David City. These students spent the day touring our State’s Capitol and learning about the history of Nebraska, the three branches of state government and the legislative process. Civics education is an integral component of our democracy. It equips our youth with the tools and knowledge to stay active in government affairs and allows them to make influential changes to our society.

A Word from the 23rd
February 14th, 2019

Today I was pleased to attend a luncheon hosted by Mentor Nebraska. Mentor Nebraska’s mission is to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships, strengthen collaboration, and advocate for mentoring.  The major topic of the lunch was LB511, which was introduced by Senator Tom Brewer and Co-sponsored by myself and Senators Gragert, Linehan Halloran, and Murman.  LB511 would allow state employees to request a work schedule adjustment of 1 hour per week to participate in youth mentoring programs.  It is crucial that our youth have the mentors and support needed in order to equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to be successful in their life.  Dr. Tom Osborne was the keynote speaker for the event and he explained the importance of mentors and guidance in the development of our youth. Young adults and kids who participate in mentor programs are more likely to graduate high school or college.  Dr. Osborne also explained the need for more youth mentors in our state.

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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