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 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.

 

If You are Sick With COVID-19

En Espanol ( https://youtu.be/7-7_atz7uFs )

En Français ( https://youtu.be/GKwvaZrVzeI )

नेपालीमा ( https://youtu.be/Sch_8i75 )
بالعربية( https://youtu.be/3XIXxebTwZ0 )
Af-soomaali ( https://youtu.be/ihJy2_pA_wc )
Weekly Article 4-24-20
April 27th, 2020

On April 20th, Governor Ricketts announced that the first step in re-opening Nebraska will take place on May 4th when the Directive Health Measure restricting elective surgeries will expire. Therefore, hospitals, dental offices, and veterinarians will be allowed to open and perform elective surgeries. Allowing, elective veterinary services to take place is especially crucial to our district as agriculture producers begin to ramp up their spring time livestock maintenance.

President Trump along with the United States Department of Agriculture recently announced the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to assist our nation’s farmers and ranchers during the pandemic. This program will allocate $16 billion of direct assistance to farmers and ranchers who have seen actual losses in revenue due to market prices and supply chains being impacted by COVID-19. Furthermore, the USDA will be working with distributors around the country to purchase $3 billion worth of fresh meat, produce and dairy products. I encourage all agriculture producers to keep an eye out for additional information on the application process and to contact your local USDA office for additional help.

Governor Ricketts recently introduced his new Test Nebraska program. This new program will be used to help assess, track and test for cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska. All tests will be free for individuals and covered by the State. With an increase in testing, the Governor is hoping this will allow only those with the virus to stay home while gradually opening the state for those who test negative. I encourage everyone to complete the assessment which can be found at testnebraska.com. The governor also asks to use the hashtag #TestNebraskaChallenge once you complete the assessment and nominate five people to also take the assessment in an effort to pass the word on and get as many people tested as possible.

The state has also instituted a new housing plan for healthcare workers, EMS providers, law enforcement and corrections officers who may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. In an effort to reduce the spread from these essential workers to their families, hotel accommodations are available for those who need to quarantine. Proper care will be provided to those who are in quarantine if needed. Should you need to request a room, please call (833) 220-0018.

Finally, Governor Ricketts announced that the deadline for grant applications for the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) has been extended from May 15th to July 1st. The DYTI program works to educate middle school students about manufacturing and IT jobs in Nebraska by partnering schools with local businesses who provide activities and classes about the STEM field. To apply for the grant please go to opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/nebraska-developing-youth-talent-initiative.

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.

 

Legislative Update (4-3-20)
April 3rd, 2020

This past week has seen an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and unfortunately deaths. I am proud of our communities who are working together to help us get through this. I especially want to thank those on the front lines, our health care workers, first responders and all essential employees for their hard work. I also want to thank those Internet Service Providers who have relaxed their data rates and encourage other ISPs to follow their lead. 

Directed Health Measures are now in place in all of District 23, placing enforceable limit of 10 person gathering with social distancing and take out only from restaurants and bars. By following these mandates you will help stop the spread of the virus. 

Governor Ricketts recent Executive Order allows extensions for unemployment waivers through August. He stresses to not quit your job as you will not be able to file for unemployment should you do. To find more information about filing for unemployment in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic go to: https://dol.nebraska.gov/PressRelease/Details/141

The federal government recently approved Nebraska’s Section 1135 Waiver. This waiver allows the federal government to waive certain federal laws to ensure Nebraska Medicaid recipients are able to receive the healthcare services they need. 

Should you show symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing or feel you may have had contact with someone who does, I encourage you to stay home and contact your doctor by phone or email. 

I also want to thank the public health departments of LD23 for their extremely hard work over the past few weeks. These departments include the East Central District Health Department, Three rivers Public Health Department and Four Corners Public Health Department. They have been working around the clock to ensure the health and safety of Nebraskans. Should you want more information on our public health departments and COVID-19 please contact the help line at (402) 552-6645.

If you own a small business, private non-profit, or agricultural coop or business that is facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Small Business Administration is offering low Interest loans for working capital. These loans may be used for fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable. You may apply on the SBA website at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

Finally, COVID-19 is not only affecting the physical health of those who have contracted it, the virus has effectively brought change to the lives of many. These circumstances can effect mental health. Should you feel you need to talk to someone, I encourage you to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Hotline which can be reached at 1-800-985-5990 Messaging or by texting TalkWithUs to 66746. 

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 (3-30-20)
March 30th, 2020

On March 25th, Governor Ricketts issued a Directive Health Measure for Saunders County due to the first case of community spread of COVID-19. The measure has an enforceable limit of 10 people for a gathering. Please follow Governor Ricketts website for up to date information on COVID-19 which can be found here https://governor.nebraska.gov.

I encourage everyone to continue practicing social distancing and limit going out in public as much as possible. By limiting your exposure by sending one family member to the store we reduce the risk of spreading the virus especially to the elderly and those susceptible to the virus. Ask a neighbor if they need anything from the store, maybe groceries, medication or possibly a ride to a doctor’s appointment. Furthermore, if you feel sick, stay home and call your doctor if necessary. At the same time, we must do all we can to help support local businesses and restaurants who are facing financial hardships due to the pandemic.

The Legislature met last week and held an emergency three-day session to pass Governor Ricketts’ Coronavirus Emergency Funding Package. Originally, the Governor requested $58 million however, an additional $25 million was approved in event the situation deteriorates and more funding is needed. The $83 million is intended for the Nebraska healthcare industry. I am very proud of my fellow Senators who were able to come together and put political differences aside to approve this emergency funding which is in direct contrast to what is occurring in Washington D.C.

The emergency funds approved by the Legislature will be used across the state for a variety of needs. The majority of the funds or about $38 million will be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N-95 masks, for our healthcare workers. The University of Nebraska Medical Center is also purchasing a UV Light Box to test its effectiveness of disinfecting PPEs. Should it prove useful, more will be bought and distributed to hospitals to help reduce the need for new equipment. Additionally, funds will be used to increase testing in the state.

Finally, the Governor recently announced that the Nebraska State Income Tax Filing Deadline has been pushed back to July 15, to coincide with the Federal Income Tax deadline. Those who are not affected by Coronavirus are still encouraged to file their income tax returns by April 15.

The Legislature is currently adjourned until Speaker Scheer calls us back into session sometime later this year to address some of the more pressing issues. The budget and property tax relief are at the forefront of people’s minds. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure we deliver key priorities for the people this year when we reconvene at the appropriate time.

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.

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.

###

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.

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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