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 July 16th
July 10th, 2020

The Legislature adjourned March 25th due to COVID-19 and we are reconvening on July 20th, to finish the remaining 17 business days of the 2020 Legislative Session.  You will find the remaining days of session will look and function quite a bit different.

Due to health concerns stemming from COVID-19, there will be several procedural changes and modifications to the chamber. All Senators and staff will be required to have their temperatures checked prior to entering the Legislative Chamber. Plexiglas barriers have also been erected at each desk to further prevent the spread of the virus. Senators will have the option to remain at their assigned desks or move to a table along the side of the chamber to allow for social distancing. Senators are also permitted to sit in the South balcony, where they will be allowed to vote should they be concerned about their health.

Access to the balconies will be reserved for Senators and press only while access to the floor is limited to Senators and specific staff.  The rotunda will remain open, however, access to Senators on the floor during debate is being discouraged.   If you wish to contact me during debate please call or email my staff as they will be able to relay your comments to me.

During this break in the session I’ve continued my work on property tax reform.  Working with Senators and other stakeholders to reduce burdensome property taxes while increasing state funding to schools. Earlier in the session, Sen. Linehan’s bill LB974 was filibustered for three hours and did not receive a vote effectively stopping the bill.

Since then the Revenue Committee introduced an amendment to the LB1106 which will be debated when we return.  The amendment is estimated to initially increase state funding for schools by $300 million in order to reduce reliance on property taxes. It would implement funding for each student in the state (foundation aid) and incrementally lower agricultural land valuations over three years to 55 percent.  Property tax relief is a priority of mine and I continue to work on, support and fight for property tax relief and will continue to do so until we see meaningful property tax relief provided.

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced last week that they will be refocusing their unemployment program efforts to reemployment efforts. Beginning on July 12th, individuals who continue to file for unemployment must fulfill job search requirements to qualify for benefits. Job search requirements include, filing a job application with an employer, conducting work searches using the internet, attending job skills classes, or meeting with a job or career counselor. Applicants must report their reemployment activities on each weekly filing.  NEworks.nebraska.gov also has a system for customized job searches, reemployment services, and one-on-one appointments to assist people in finding employment opportunities.

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 July 9th
July 10th, 2020

As a member of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee it has provided me an up close perspective on the much needed expansion of broadband to rural Nebraska. To help foster the expansion of broadband availability in the state I joined the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC).

The NITC, with its Network Nebraska initiative, has made major improvements in expanding access to broadband in schools, public libraries and government buildings. By leveraging volume, the contracts entered into with broadband providers provide higher speeds and better access to the Internet. In 2019, Network Nebraska successfully reached 100% participation from Nebraska schools while also significantly lowering the monthly costs those schools pay for Internet access.

In 2018, LB944 created the Rural Broadband Task Force, in addition to other provisions to increase Broadband access in rural areas of Nebraska. I was selected by the legislature’s Executive Board to serve on the Task Force. Its goal is to identify issues regarding broadband expansion in the state and provide recommendations on how to overcome obstacles in achieving its goals. Last fall, the task force issued its first report and recommendations.

This year, I cosponsored LB992, which was drafted to implement many of the Task Force recommendations. Provisions of the bill would allow public power providers and their partners to access existing electrical easements in order to expand broadband infrastructure. Another provision would create a State Broadband Coordinator to utilize our existing resources in making broadband more readily available in areas that need it.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission is also continuing to fine-tune provisions passed in 2018 to provide for reverse auctions in exchanges where the existing provider refuses to improve service. In those areas, a reverse auction could be held and the lowest bidder will become the new provider to expand broadband infrastructure.

The Federal Communication Commission has also made $20 billion in grant funding available to expand broadband access in rural America. The grant will be implemented in two phases. First, $16 billion to areas that have no high-speed internet service. The second phase focuses on underserved households.

LB996 allows the Nebraska Public Service Commission to create a broadband data crowdsourcing program in order to collect more accurate data on broadband availability. This will help communities identify underserved areas and will qualify them for phase 2 of the grant. I am supporting this bill for passage when we resume the session.  It could open Nebraska to much needed funding opportunities.

Governor Ricketts has allocated $40 million the state received through the CARES Act for a new grant program called the Rural Broadband Remote Access Grant. This grant is available to broadband service providers to expand access in communities where the majority of resident do not have high-speed internet access.

We encourage everyone in your support of each other as we continue to address COVID-19.   Please contact my office with your comments, concerns or questions by phoning 402-471-2719 or email at bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

 

 

Weekly Update July 2nd
July 10th, 2020

I am committed to expanding access to rural health care in Nebraska. For the past two years I’ve been working with the state Emergency Medical Services board and Department of Health and Human Services to modernize EMS regulations.  These changes affecting individual training and operations will have a significant impact to our state’s EMS. Under the new regulations, our EMS providers will be allowed to stay up to date with best medical practices and treatments. Another change that will be implemented under the new regulations is the ability for people to take EMS courses online. In rural areas of the state the 160 hours of course work is burdensome for many to complete when having to attend in-person classes. This change will allow individuals to complete their courses on their own time and encourage more to become paramedics or EMTs.

While working with the EMS board I was made aware of several statewide issues and needs. One main issue was with the computer program used to report patient care during transport called eNARSIS. Several volunteer EMS providers explained the system was tedious, time-consuming, too difficult to use and didn’t provide any data back to the providers. Often, the report took longer to complete than the transport of the patient.  Working with DHHS they are making a number of those changes to the system that will greatly enhance patient care.

I’ve introduced LB893 and LB1002 this session to further expand access to rural health. LB1002 is my priority bill and it includes LB893. The provisions of LB893 allows the EMS board to create two new licensure classifications for EMS providers; critical care paramedicine and community paramedicine. Critical care paramedics would be trained in advanced life saving techniques that could be administered during the transport of a patient. Community paramedics would perform home visits, help administer medications, and perform post-surgery check-ups. The provisions of LB1002 would allow EMS to restock critical medical supplies used during transport of patients, at hospital pharmacies instead of through wholesale drug distributors saving time and money.

This Fourth of July I hope you will take time to be with family and friends to celebrate all that we have as a nation and state.  In a time of increased division within our country, we should all reflect on and celebrate how the founding fathers created a living and breathing document that enshrines the human and civil rights of all men and women.  When celebrating please take extra care when igniting fireworks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2018 there were 9,100 firework related injuries with 33% of the cases involving children under the age of 15.  I want to wish everyone a safe and wonderful Fourth of July.

We continue praying for everyone as we continue to face the COVID-19 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.

Weekly Update June 25th
July 10th, 2020

Governor Ricketts announced new Directive Health Measures for Phase 3 of the COVID-19 re-opening plan will take effect on June 22nd. Under the new DHMs, indoor gatherings will be limited to 50% of the maximum rated occupancy or a maximum of 10,000 people. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 75% of the maximum rated occupancy or a maximum of 10,000 people.

Although outdoor gatherings will be allowed, this does not apply to fairs, carnivals or parades as they are still prohibited. Furthermore, bars, restaurants and bottle clubs may now open with 100% maximum rated occupancy as long as everyone inside the establishment has their own seat.  A maximum of eight people will be allowed to sit at one table and patrons may now be seated and eat at the bar.  Youth sports games and practices now fall under the regular gathering limits and are not restricted to immediate family only. Finally, gyms spas and health clubs will be limited to 75% rated occupancy.

My work continues with modernizing emergency medical services in the State.  Executive Order 20-27 issued by Governor Ricketts, in part, will allow those who are currently in training to become Emergency Medical Technicians to temporarily defer in-person clinical field time and in-person examinations to December 31st. However, all trainees must have completed all other requirements and have an instructor or training agency sign off that you were unable to complete the in-person portions of training.

Last summer, my office was contacted by a Wahoo family who wanted to title their 1930 Ford Model A which had been in their family for 90 years. However, they were not allowed to title the car due to a Junk Title being erroneously placed on their car after a minor fender bender in 1963. Although the vehicle was not junked, state law prevents junked vehicles from being titled and registered. When session reconvenes in July my bill LB831 will resolve this issue for similar junked title vehicles. As amended into LB944 my bill allows vehicles with a junk title, manufactured prior to 1940 with no major components replaced, to receive a salvage title as long as they can pass an inspection. LB944 is the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee’s priority bill and is currently on Select File.

Agriculture is the heart and soul of Nebraska and June is Dairy Month in Nebraska. Dairy farms play a significant role in our state’s economy and provides our state and nation with high quality and healthy dairy products. Every day Nebraska exports around 2 million pounds of milk produced by our 127 dairies across the state. I encourage everyone to help celebrate Nebraska’s dairy farmers and support your local dairies directly.

We continue praying for everyone as we continue to face the COVID-19 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.

 

Weekly Update June,16th
June 16th, 2020

As summer is underway it is important to keep in mind safety concerns for children especially with swimming pools closed, COVID-19 concerns and youth activities curtailed   Children can easily become trapped in vehicles left unattended and parents of young child need to always double check your back seat after parking to ensure children are not left in the vehicle.  If young children are in your neighborhood consider locking your vehicles when unattended so children do not climb inside and become trapped.

According to Kids in Cars, there were 53 children who were left in a vehicle and later died due to heatstroke in the United States in 2019. On average, 39 children pass away after being left in a vehicle every year. Nearly all of these cases are not the result of irresponsible parents purposely leaving their child in the car. In 92% of cases negligence was not a factor. Ultimately, a tragedy such as this can happen to anyone. Please take extra care this summer and create a practice to always double check that everyone is out of the car.

I introduced LB832 to raise awareness and prevent kids from being left in vehicles. The bill provides civil and criminal immunity to someone who breaks into a vehicle to rescue a child from imminent danger. Providing immunity to rescuers is imperative as it will prevent someone from hesitating to act.  A Speaker Priority bill, LB832 was advanced to Select File and I will continue to push for the passage of this important bill when we reconvene in July.

As public swimming pools are staying closed this summer, swimming in backyard pools, local ponds and rivers needs our attention.  Water safety is always a concern, however, with an increase in use of areas without lifeguards or controlled access to pools extra care for our children needs our attention.   Life jackets for swimmers and extra awareness to backyard pools are simple precautions to ensure safety.

Governor Ricketts recently declared June as renewable fuels month in Nebraska. Renewable fuels such as ethanol play a vital role in our state’s economy. Our environment, farmers, ranchers, and rural communities all benefit greatly from the production and use of renewable fuel. Furthermore, high blend ethanol is cheaper to use than regular gasoline which can save you money at the gas pump. For renewable fuels month I encourage you to use renewable fuels and help support our farmers and rural communities around the state.

I want to wish all Fathers a happy and blessed Father’s Day. I hope everyone will take the time to spend with family and celebrate fathers around Nebraska. The care, patience, and knowledge fathers provide to their children help create the cornerstone for the future of our nation and should be celebrated.

We continue praying for everyone affected by COVID-19.  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.

Weekly Update 6-11
June 16th, 2020

Last week, two new grant funding opportunities for child care providers were announced. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in decreased attendance at child care centers which, in turn led to lost revenue and threat of closure to some of these centers. The first is called the Childcare Provider Stabilization Grant. The grant will provide $3,500 for family childcare homes and $5,500 for larger child care centers and can be used to cover costs incurred due to COVID-19. To qualify for this grant, providers must be open and in operation for 30 days prior to submitting the application.

The Incentive to Reopen Child Care Programs Grant is intended to be an incentive to reopen child care providers who stopped operation and provide a one-time payment of $2,000 for family child care homes and $3,000 for child care centers. Priority for this grant opportunity will be given to providers who are committed to opening in 30 days, participate in quality improvement initiatives and service low-income children or children of essential workers. For more information on grant opportunities and the application process, go to dhhs.ne.gov.

As a reminder, the United States Department of Agriculture created a new program to help farmers and ranchers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is intended for producers who suffered a five percent or greater price decline in the commodities, suffered losses due to disruption in the supply chain and those who face additional market disruptions. To be eligible for funding, a person or entity must not have an average adjusted gross income of over $900,000 for the years of 2016 trough 2018. If 75% of a person’s or entity’s income is from farming, ranching or forestry the $900,000 limit does not apply. To apply for the CFAP funding, please contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency Branch. For more information please go to farmers.gov.

On Thursday July 2 at 10:00 am the first of two signs designating Nebraska Highway 20 as Nebraska’s Medal of Honor Highway will be unveiled at the Siouxland Freedom Park in South Sioux City.  This 432-mile stretch of Highway 20 makes Nebraska the fifth state along US 20 to honor its greatest warriors.  The intent if for the entire length of US 20 stretching from coast to coast to be named The Medal of Honor Highway.  It’s been my honor to support this designation throughout the naming process and I would encourage those that are able to attend the unveiling.

Hospitals across the country are beginning to resume surgical procedures after suspending operations due to COVID-19, the demand for blood has risen about 30%. The Red Cross is in urgent need of blood and platelet donations. To schedule an appointment or for more information please go to redcrossblood.org.

We continue 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.

 

Weekly Update 6-4
June 16th, 2020

Governor Ricketts recently announced how Nebraska will be utilizing the Federal COVID-19 Supplemental Appropriations granted to states. Under the Community CARES program, Nebraska received $85 million which will be granted to qualifying organizations to support their services which have been strained due to COVID-19. These qualifying organizations include shelters and housing, behavioral health providers, community food programs, and telehealth resources. Preference for these grants will be given to organizations who work in underserved or low income communities, provide critical services, and have shortfalls in accessing other funding options. More information on how the state will be utilizing the federal funding can be found on Governor Ricketts website.

Another program stemming from the federal assistance is the Small Business and Livestock Producers Stabilization fund. This $330 million program will award $12,000 grants to small businesses and livestock producers who were the most negatively impacted by the virus. To qualify, small businesses must employ between 5 and 49 people and livestock producers must employ between 1 and 10 people. For more information on how to apply for a grant go to getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov.

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and other state farm organizations recently announced a Food Pantry Grant Program. This program will assist food pantries with a $4,000 grant to obtain refrigerators and freezers in order to store perishable foods. AFAN is administering the program and the demand has already surpassed the available funding. Therefore, if you are able to provide a monetary donation to AFAN in support of this program it would be greatly appreciated. To find more about this program please go to becomeafan.org.

As we move into the month of June please continue to be aware of your county’s new Directive Health Measures set to take effect on June 1st. Gatherings will now be limited to 25 people excluding staff or 25% of the venue’s rated occupancy. If you are planning an event and expect to have at least 100 guests, you are required to fill out the COVID-19 Event and Gathering Safety Plan and submitted to you Public Health Department for approval. This application can be found on your Public Health Department’s website.

Nebraska Game and Parks has announced that on June 4th , additional parks and recreation facilities will open with primitive camping, first come first serve camping and some lodging opportunities available. Beaches and other designated swimming areas are also set to open on June 4th.  Furthermore, the reservation system for these activities has also been modified, updates for this and more may be found at outdoornebraska.gov.

We continue 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.

Weekly Article 5-22
May 22nd, 2020

Speaker Scheer announced last week that the Legislature will re-convene on July 20th after temporarily suspending the 60 day session due to COVID-19. There are currently 17 days left of the legislative session which will be spent debating any remaining priority bills, budget adjustments and most importantly property tax reform. With the new schedule the Legislature is set to adjourn sine die on August 13th.

Last week, President Trump officially announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) which is intended to provide direct assistance to farmers or ranchers whose operations were directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program has $19 billion in funds that will be distributed to eligible producers whose commodities suffered a 5% or more decline in prices or those who incurred losses due to disruptions in the supply chain. Additional information and the application can be found on farmers.gov and your local USDA Farm Service Agency office will begin accepting applications on May 26th.

The Nebraska Game and Parks recently announced that they will begin opening our state’s parks. Roughly 35 parks will be open to all forms of camping, on a first come first serve basis, and other recreational activities. Larger parks such as Branched Oak and Lake McConaughy will be reserved to RV Camping. Should you decide to visit one of these parks, health guidelines, to include the number of people at each campsite and social distancing will continue to be followed. For more information on which parks are open go to outdoornebraska.gov.

On June 1, Phase Two DHHS restrictions will be relaxed in 89 counties across the state, including all of District 23. Under the new Directive Health Measures gatherings will be limited to either 25 people or 25% occupancy depending on which is greater. Furthermore, these measures will affect travel quarantine, sports, rodeos, school gyms, bars and restaurants, childcare facilities, gatherings, salons, barber shops, massage therapy services, tattoo parlors/body art facilities, weddings and funeral receptions.  For the announcement of the new Phase Two directives go to Governor Ricketts website.

These new DHM’s come as we begin to move into the summer months and outdoor activities increase.   It is important to continue to take necessary health precautions and follow your counties DHM’s.  As these statewide directives are being relaxed it is also important to watch for updates on your counties Public Health Departments webpage and familiarize yourself with your local city ordinances.  Your counties public health department is available to answer questions regarding specific activities.

DHHS has a website with a wealth of information regarding COVID-19, specific DHMs for your counties and how to protect yourself from the virus. This information is provided in multiple languages such as Spanish and Somali to help keep our non-English speaking members of our communities informed. The website can be found at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.

We continue 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.

 

The Test Nebraska program has locations for COVID-19 testing in Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha. In addition, targeted testing stations will be announced and set up in communities statewide.  The testing stations are currently equipped to complete about 3,000 tests a day.  Those who have completed the assessment at TestNebraska.com and who show symptoms will be prioritized and directed to one of the mobile testing stations. If you completed your online assessment in the past few weeks please update your assessment with current information.

As Armed Forces Day approaches on May 16th, I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to fellow servicemen and women who currently serve or have served and sacrificed to defend our freedom in our nation’s armed forces.  I especially want to thank the Nebraska National Guard service members who are doing amazing work in helping with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s flooding. Over the past few weeks the National Guard has delivered 6 million masks and about 2 million gloves to healthcare facilities across the state while assisting our Local Health Departments to ramp up testing across the state. Their help reduces the burden on the health departments and allows for more testing locations. Furthermore, they have also been assisting local food banks by delivering much needed food and provisions to those in need.

While businesses across the state begin to re-open, many parents are looking for childcare options while schools remain closed. In an effort to help parents locate available childcare options, the state and other organizations created nechildreferral.org. The website allows you to search for childcare options based on distance, type of provider, and whether there is financial assistance.

As a reminder, due to a large influx of unemployment claims, the Department of Labor has been having some difficulties in processing these claims. Currently it is taking about two to three weeks to process claims and approve the payments. However, if you have an outstanding unemployment claim older than 3 weeks and live in District 23, please reach out to my office with your claim number and my staff will help to get your claim processed.

It’s important to remember as businesses are opening, and activities are beginning to resume this does not mean the risk of the virus is over. Please continue to use caution while out in public by practicing the Six Rules to Keep Nebraskans Healthy. These rules include social distancing, refraining from unnecessary trips, shop alone, help kids practice social distancing, exercise daily and help seniors with their groceries and other needs.

Thank you to all the healthcare providers and local volunteers for all that you are doing during this time.  We continue 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.

 

Weekly Article 5-1-2020
May 1st, 2020

As regions of the state begin to open up and the spread of the virus begins to slow, please continue to practice the health and safety guidelines. Just because businesses begin to open does not mean the virus is gone. If you need to go out in public wear a mask and practice social distancing. Continue to thoroughly wash your hands and disinfect often touched surfaces. Together we can all play a role in slowing the spread.

Governor Ricketts has announced a business task force to help businesses re-open and get the economy rolling again. The task force will be led by the Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Tony Goins. The task force has been in communication with some industry leaders hardest hit by the pandemic such as restaurants, salons and retail stores. While everyone is eager to get back to their normal routine, the task force is putting a priority on the safety of Nebraskans by creating guidelines and safety measures. Furthermore, the Department of Economic Development is asking for input and ideas on how to move forward safely.

Governor Ricketts announced last week that the Directive Health Measures affecting places of worship will be relaxed beginning on May 4th. With the relax in some restrictions, places of worship will still need to follow some guidelines. They must ensure a distance of six feet between people that live in different houses and restrict the passing of materials between the worshipers. Should you return to your religious gatherings please continue to follow health guidelines such as wearing a mask and washing your hands often. Furthermore, please keep an eye out for more information regarding the Directive Health Measures in your county as Saunders County may have different restrictions than Butler or Colfax Counties.

My office has recently received some concerns regarding unemployment claims taking longer than usual to process. This is due to a large influx of claims received by the Department of Labor and they have acknowledged these difficulties. Currently, it may take around 21 days to fully process and resolve these claims. Should you have a claim older than 21 days that has not been processed, please reach out to your State Senator or if you live in District 23, contact my office by email or phone for assistance. If you need to file for unemployment, you may do so by going to NEworks.nebraska.gov.

As a reminder, Governor Ricketts is asking everyone to participate in the Test Nebraska assessment. This assessment will be used to identify and prioritize the most vulnerable people and those who show two or more symptoms for free COVID-19 testing. By getting as many people as possible to complete the assessment and tested, the better equipped the state will be to slow and stop the spread of the virus. You can complete the quick assessment by going to TestNebraska.com.

We continue 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.

 

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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