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 Article 4/13
April 13th, 2021

Last week, the legislature debated the biennial budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal years, a process outlined by the Nebraska State Constitution and state statutes and enacted in odd-numbered years. Budget bills are introduced by the speaker of the legislature at the request of the Governor. The Appropriations Committee then holds hearings for these bills, and works with the fiscal office to review information and complete a budget recommendation to the full legislature, which is condensed into a budget book.

At least three budget bills must be introduced; one for Senators’ salaries, one for judges’ and other elected officials’ salaries, and at least one, but generally a few that appropriate funds for everything else. A number of budget bills have passed the first round of debate on General File and were advanced to Select File. This week, legislature continued to discuss the budget and after its adoption, we will move on to taxation and spending measures.

The legislature also continues to debate speaker priority bills, senator priority bills, and consent calendar legislation. I want to highlight a few bills that advanced past the first round of debate to Select File.

LB644, introduced by Senator Ben Hansen would adopt the Property Tax Request Act, which aims to increase transparency with regard to property taxes. LB644 would require joint public hearings be held between major taxing entities whenever a political subdivision sets its property tax request at an amount that exceeds the prior year’s request. LB644 also requires that postcards, stating “Notice of Proposed Tax Increase” be mailed out to notify all property taxpayers affected by the proposed increased property tax levy. These postcards would also be required to state the date, time, and location for the public hearing, as well as contact information for each of the participating political subdivisions, and the amount of their property tax request. This bill is still a work in progress, as they are amendments that are likely to be introduced on Select File.

The needs of rural fire departments, and the need for fire protection services in rural areas of Nebraska are increasing. LB664, introduced by Senator Groene, adds $10,000 payments for each qualifying rural and suburban fire protection district, as well as qualifying villages and cities of the second class that are members of the mutual finance organization. This bill would greatly benefit rural fire departments in District 23, and across Nebraska, and is an important bill to show appreciation for the brave firefighters of this state and the invaluable work they do to keep us all safe.

I would like to thank the 4th graders from David City Elementary School that I had the pleasure of meeting last week. These young students had the opportunity to tour the Capitol and learn about the three branches of government and the history of the Nebraska Legislature.

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 3/12
March 12th, 2021

Nebraska ranks as one of the lowest states at providing high speed broadband to its residents, and Rural Nebraska continues to fall behind cities with high speed connectivity as telecommunication providers continue failing to meet the needs of rural communities. This year, I have selected LB338 as my priority bill. LB338 would allow the Public Service Commission to redirect Nebraska Universal Service Funds from one eligible telecommunications company (ETC) who is not fulfilling their service duties to another ETC using a rural based plan. This plan would be developed by local businesses, schools, hospitals, Ag producers, and residents who are outside of city or village limits, and will designate who the community thinks will best serve their broadband needs.

There are two bills I would like to highlight that aim to make Nebraska the friendliest state for veterans and their families that passed the first round of floor debate, and were advanced to Select File.

I’ve cosponsored LB387 introduced by Senator Brewer, which would exempt 100% of military retirement pay from the Nebraska state income tax. This is an expansion of a similar bill passed and signed into law last year, which exempted 50% of military retirement pay from the state income tax.

LB389 introduced by Senator Sanders would cut red tape and establish an alternative path for military spouses to receive teaching certificates or permits in Nebraska if the applicant holds a valid teaching certificate permit in another state. The bill also creates preliminary permits for those waiting for certification. The goal is to expedite the process and reduce burdens faced by military families moving to Nebraska.

One of the Natural Resources Committee’s priority bills is LB507. LB507 is a bill I introduced that would prohibit the use of treated seed corn in the production of ethanol if the resulting byproduct is unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. I introduced this bill to address concerns with at least one ethanol plant in the state that is using this treated seed corn to produce ethanol, which has led to environmental concerns.

LB507 also contains a number of other bills, including LB395 which would authorize special depredation seasons for antelope, elk, and deer when there is evidence that crops or other property is being damaged by wildlife. The bill also allows non-residents of Nebraska to hunt during special depredation seasons.

Governor Ricketts announced that March 20th is “Meat on the Menu Day” In Nebraska. This is to call attention to the importance of a healthy diet, as meat is one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is. On this day, Nebraskans are encouraged to eat beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or any other type of meat to support our state’s farmers and ranchers.

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.

The 107th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 6 in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. As elected representatives, we believe that it is important that the state’s elected legislators are on the field during this time to represent our constituents.

Families, businesses, and other governmental entities have had to change and adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The Legislature is no different. On January 25, the Legislature will convene public committee hearings. Public committee hearings are one of the most important parts of our legislative process–a critical time in which the “second house” can be heard. To ensure that the committee hearings are safe and we are appropriately responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Legislature has modified its traditional hearing process.

Here are four ways that the process is changing this year:

  1. Morning and afternoon hearings. In order to minimize the chances of having to suspend our session, the Legislature will have both morning and afternoon committee hearings rather than floor debate during January and February.

 

  1. Expanded options to voice your opinion without testifying in person. The Legislature has developed a process for “written submitted testimony.” During the 2021 Session an individual may hand deliver their testimony between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. the morning of the hearing which will be provided to the committee members during the public hearing. This will allow someone who has health concerns to limit their exposure to others by not having to sit in the hearing room for an extended period of time. The option of submitting a position letter for the hearing record via email is still available. In addition, the Legislature has implemented a new feature allowing the online submission of comments on a bill at any stage of debate. The comments will be accessible by all Senators and staff to read. You can learn more about how to take advantage of these public input options at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/public-input.php

 

  1. Limited physical space. To accommodate social distancing, seating in the hearing room is limited. And because of the restricted physical space caused by the ongoing HVAC renovation of the State Capitol, there will be no overflow rooms available.

 

  1. Modified hearing protocols. Hearings will look and feel different. These include a number of procedures, including extra sanitization efforts, masks, and social distancing.

This is a unique year with unique challenges. We look forward to doing you work in the Legislature and appreciate your understanding of these modified procedures.

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 1-21
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.

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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