NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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 6th, 2021

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 1-21
January 15th, 2021

It has been a busy and productive week at the Capitol. On January 20th, the Legislature completed its 10-day process of new bill introduction. As of the time I am writing this, 486 bills have been introduced for the 2021 session. I have introduced several bills that impact broadband deployment outside of cities, towns, and villages, prescription drug monitoring, motor vehicle insurance verification, and veteran vehicle registration.

Next week we will move into committee hearings, these hearings are open to public testimony and enable Senators to become more informed on proposed legislation. With new COVID safeguards in place there will be changes to how we conduct hearings. The new hearing procedures and schedules along with other legislative information may be found on the homepage of the Nebraska Legislature website at  https://nebraskalegislature.gov/calendar/hearings_range.php.

Governor Ricketts presented his State of the State address to the Legislature last Thursday. In his speech he detailed his top priorities for 2021, and addressed his proposed budget for this biennium. One of the Governor’s proposals was to allocate $20 million in each of the next two years to expand broadband access in rural areas of Nebraska where it is needed.

He also highlighted an initiative I have co-sponsored to continue efforts to make Nebraska the most welcoming state for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This initiative (LB 387 introduced by Senator Brewer) would exempt 100% of military retirement income from federal adjusted gross income.

Governor Ricketts also proposed limiting growth of property taxes imposed by local governments to 3% in an effort to control property taxes which have been spiraling out of control over the last decade.

I support all three of these measures. Expanding access to rural broadband, making Nebraska a better place for veterans and their families, and property tax relief will continue to be priorities that I have in the Legislature.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the legislature was in recess to honor his legacy of fighting against racial discrimination. It is imperative that we all strive to continue his work of creating a more just and equal society.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Nebraska. Since 2015, with the creation of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force involving law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, and community partners, the state has made leaps forward in how it combats human trafficking. I meet with the northeast regional task force members.  The Attorney General’s website contains important information and posts annual reports on this issue, which can be found at ago.nebraska.gov/combating-human-trafficking.

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 1-14
January 15th, 2021

The 107th Legislature, first session is under way. The first day of the session involved mostly administrative matters and the election of leadership positions for the biennium.  Our first business item was to elect a new Speaker and Senator Mike Hilgers from District 21 in Lincoln was unanimously elected as Speaker.  The remainder of the morning consisted of elections to fill a number of positions and the administering of oaths for new and re-elected Senators and Legislative Officers by Nebraska’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican.

The election of committee chairs also took place during this time.  I was elected Chair of the Natural Resources Committee where I have served as vice-chair for the past four years. The Natural Resources Committee is responsible for processing legislation concerning areas such as irrigation, flood control, public power and natural resources districts, the environment, energy, and recreation.

I will remain on the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee.  The committee is responsible for processing legislation concerning highways, motor vehicles, railroads, common carriers, and aeronautics.  I am pleased to serve on both of these committees as they deal with subject matters that are very important to me and to the constituents of District 23.  I look forward to hearing and working on legislation in these areas that benefits the people of Nebraska.

The second day of session involved starting the introduction of new bills, and there are a couple bills I wish to highlight. I introduced LB 86 which requires active drug prescribers and dispensers to register for a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). This is an electronic database that tracks the prescription of controlled substances, such as opioids in Nebraska. When a controlled substance is dispensed, that prescription is entered into the state PDMP. This data can be utilized to monitor prescription trends, and prevent individuals from receiving the same prescription from different pharmacies.

I also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Briese’s LB 4, a bill that would increase the tuition credit for members of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves at public colleges and universities in Nebraska from 50% to 75%.  All of our service members are very important to our state and I am glad to see Senator Briese bring this bill to support our Reservists.

If you are interested in following the legislative process, or want an in-depth look on what is happening in the Legislature, the Unicameral Update Newsletter provides sections and information for every bill heard on the floor of the legislature each day as well as information on each bill heard in committee. This newsletter is a useful tool to gain additional knowledge about the introducer, sponsors, intent and language of the bills proposed and debated. Should you wish to receive a print edition of the newsletter call 402-471-2788 or email uio@leg.ne.gov. The Unicameral Update is also published online at update.legislature.ne.gov.

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 1-7
December 31st, 2020

Greetings from the Legislature and Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a safe and blessed holiday season, and is having a great start to the New Year. At the time of this publication, the 107th Nebraska Legislature has convened for the 2021 session. This session is a long, 90 day session and includes eight new senators, three of which have previously served in the Legislature.

The first day of session involved the election of a new speaker and elections for committee chairmanships. As always, the beginning of the session also involves the introduction of bills, as all new bills must be introduced in the first 10 days of session. I have several pieces of legislation I have been working on, and look forward to sharing more information about them in the coming weeks.

This year, the COVID-19 situation will continue to be an important factor in how the legislature handles its proceedings. There are a number of safety precautions put in place last session that will continue into this session. Plexiglass dividers between Senator’s desks will remain in place, and lobbyists and members of the public will not be permitted in the balconies above the legislative chamber. All Senators and staff entering the chamber will also be required to have their temperature checked prior to entry.

As we have seen, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is fast-moving, so these procedures may change as the session progresses, depending on the circumstances. A safe environment for the Legislature to conduct its business remains a top priority.

The State of Nebraska moved from the “yellow” to the “blue” phase of its COVID-19 response plan. There are some new directed health measures (DHM’s) that took effect December 24th: Maximum capacity for indoor gatherings has been increased from 50% to 75%. Groups of eight or more people at bars, restaurants, and other venues can now be seated together, and seating for eight or less is now guidance instead of being mandatory. The requirement for people to remain seated unless ordering food, using the restroom, or playing games at bars or restaurants has also been changed to guidance. Elective surgeries can also continue unrestricted.

More information on the new DHM’s can be found by going to dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and clicking on the link for “Directed Health Measures.”

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 12-24
December 30th, 2020

Christmas cheer to you this Holiday season as we enter this special time of year.  A season of joy as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, and the many blessings God has given us. In Luke 2:11 we read, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” While it may be easy to get caught up in the busyness of this season, it’s important to spend time reflecting on the meaning of Christmas. The gift of a child in the manger, a gift of love, unconditional love.

This Christmas we may be celebrating a little differently than in the years past, our focus remains on God’s gift to us.  This is also a time of opportunity to share His love with our neighbors who may be struggling due to job or family losses. Remembering them graciously with help and support directly or by giving to your local food pantry as the need in our communities grows during holiday vacations.  A gift of food or of clothing, coats, gloves and even sleeping bags or blankets.  A stuffed animal or toy for a child and a letter or phone call to someone homebound.  A touch of His love to someone you may never meet.

Our families may not be able to meet with relatives and loved ones as we have in years past.  For those loved ones that may be alone or staying home for the holiday season, it is important to remember them in your special way with Christmas cheer. If you are travelling during the holidays, be safe on the roadways.  In family and group gatherings it’s important to keep taking the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus.

Our thoughts and prayers for our military families.  Those members of the Armed Forces who are spending Christmas in foreign lands, far away from their home and their families.  I remember many Christmas’s that I spent away from home and in those times special gifts from friends and family brought a piece of home to me.  The best gift of all during those times away was the opportunity I had to celebrate Christmas and His joy, peace and love with those I was with.

From my staff, Riley and Edward and from Jan and I we wish you and your family a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Weekly Update 11-19
November 13th, 2020

As of last Friday, the District and State are seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and because of this rise in cases and hospitalizations, Governor Ricketts announced increased Directive Health Measures (DHMs) to combat the spread of the virus. Under the new DHMs, indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% maximum capacity, down from 50%. Additionally, six foot distance between parties in restaurants, bars, gyms, and similar places is now mandated versus being recommended.

Governor Ricketts reiterated that a statewide mask mandate is not something he would consider. However, under the new DHM’s, masks are required in establishments where close contact within six feet occurs for more than 15 minutes, such as barber shops, nail salons, and bowling alleys.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in meetings with health officials from east central Nebraska. This increase in hospitalizations of COVID patients has them very concerned that they will not be able to care for patients of both COVID and other medical emergencies and needs.  This is based on actual bed counts and patient care they are currently seeing.

Not everyone will need hospitalization, however, everyone does need access to medical treatment in emergencies and other medical needs.  By working together in reducing the spread we keep our hospitals and businesses open and our children in school.  Thank you to our medical personnel, long term health facilities, and first responders for all that you are doing in our communities.

The Nebraska Forecasting Advisory Board recently met to review their fiscal year 2020-2021 forecast and make their first forecasts for fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. The results of the meeting are extremely encouraging for the Nebraska economy. The board raised their forecast for fiscal year 2020-2021 by $285 million after current receipts show the state being $84 million above the certified forecast as of mid-October, with the projected final tally to be $125 million. These numbers reinforce the fact that Nebraska’s economy is quickly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first official forecasts for fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 were also encouraging. They are estimating an increase of $118 million in total receipts for fiscal year 2021-2022. Fiscal year 2022-2023 forecasts are even more optimistic, showing an increase of $307 million.

Overall, these forecasts show that Nebraska will be able to meet the new required amount of Property Tax credit established in LB1107, which was passed in July. The forecasts predict that Nebraska will hit the 3.5% growth mark, which should trigger additional funds going into the property tax credit fund.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing emergency supplemental allotments to SNAP recipients who received benefits for the month of November. For households not already receiving the maximum benefit amount, this will raise SNAP benefits to the maximum amount based on household size. More information on SNAP benefits can be found here: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/SNAP.aspx

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 11-12
November 6th, 2020

This year, Veterans Day will look different without the large school commemorations, parades and social gatherings at local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other veteran organizations.  However, what does remain the same is that this day is a time we as a country acknowledge the bravery and service of all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

This is the 102nd anniversary of the end of WWI with the signing of the armistice agreement between Allied Powers and Germany.  Established in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, this day was originally called “Armistice Day” to honor the heroes of WWI. In 1954, the name was changed nationally to “Veterans Day” to honor veterans of all wars and conflicts.

We recognize that seventy years have passed since brave Americans defended a country and people that was under attack for three years in “the forgotten war.”  We remember and honor not just the brave Korean War veterans, but ALL who have served in the U.S. military. The continued service and sacrifice by our nation’s military members and their families.

Their stories and their love of brother/sisterhood, family, community and country will be told in small gatherings, in personal visits, and across the airwaves.  Veterans Day is a day to remember, reflect, and say thank you to a veteran.  A day to remember the families of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, to share a hug, a phone call, or a visit to let them know you care and are there for them. A day for a veteran to tell children about their service, why they served, and the importance of Americanism and our patriotic values.

In 2018 there were 132,581 veterans living in Nebraska.  These men and women have sacrificed a great deal to protect our state, nation and freedoms.  They have spent time away from their families, missed children’s birthdays, graduations, and many other milestones.  I encourage you to tell veterans directly that you love them, that you appreciate them, and that you are grateful for their service.

We are their friends, their family, their co-workers, and their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated by their fellow Americans. There are many tangible ways that we can acknowledge their sacrifice, but the easiest is to simply say, “Thank you for what you have done for our country.”

We do not forget the veterans who have given their lives for freedom, or the families who have lost a veteran. We can never forget or diminish the sacrifices these great men and women made. To their families, may God comfort and give you peace. For those gone before us, may you rest in peace..

THANK YOU fellow veterans for your service and all that you continue to do for our state and nation.  May God Bless America and our veterans.

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 10-5
October 30th, 2020

Last week, Governor Ricketts announced news about the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has been working with local health departments, hospitals, clinics, and other entities to develop a distribution network for the vaccine once it is made available. Initially, the state expects a limited supply of the vaccine, so it will first be distributed to healthcare workers, assisted living residents, and other high-risk individuals. The vaccine will be free-of-charge for anyone who wishes to receive it.

The Nebraska Department of Education announced that it has set aside about $12.5 million in an effort to provide better access to digital learning for students in Nebraska. The $12.5 million is being allocated from federal assistance provided through the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief fund and will be used to purchase desktop computers and laptops. This funding is available for all K-12 schools, public and non-public, in subsidies of up to $400 per device. Access to quality education is crucial for our children’s development, and I am encouraged by this program.

The USDA is investing $1.1 million in Nebraska to assist food entrepreneurs and agricultural producers develop products and expand their businesses. Among the recipients of the grant is Jisa Farmstead Cheese, LLC from Brainard.  A family owned business, Jisa Farmstead Cheese produces, packages, and markets Omega 3 cheeses that may be found in local grocery stores.  Shopping local and supporting small businesses in our communities is very important, as they are the backbone of our communities.

There is also important news for America’s military members and families. The United States Department of the Interior, on behalf of the Trump Administration, recently granted U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Families free access to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other federal lands.

Beginning on Veterans Day of this year, entrance fees for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and standard amenity fees for the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for veterans and Gold Star Families. We are grateful and respectful of those that have served and those who have sacrificed so much for our country.   This gives veterans and family members a greater opportunity to spend relaxing time in the outdoors, and explore the beautiful country they served to protect.

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 10-22
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.

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

District 23
Room 1117
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2719
Email: bbostelman@leg.ne.gov
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