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A memorial at Pearl Harbor references a poem that first lady Eleanor Roosevelt kept in her wallet during WWII.
Lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember somehow out there a man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must ask and answer Am I worth dying for?”
This Memorial weekend take time to pause, stand still, and remember the men and women that have given the ultimate sacrifice for country, family, friends and for those that stood beside them. Remember the Gold Star Families, the loved ones left behind that hear their voices and see their faces in their memories. A father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, that gave of themselves in time of war and peace. A time to reflect and time to honor those that gave their all. Join me this Memorial Day by attending a memorial service in your town, or wherever you may be to remember, reflect and honor those that gave their all.
Have a safe summer and Memorial Day Weekend.
On Wednesday, May 16th I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of G and G Storage in Mead, owned by Josh and Cortney Girmus. G and G Storage can store RV and trailers and will hold up to 280 units. It’s great to see these business’s operating in and serving the communities of District 23.
I wanted to share these opportunities to serve on Boards and Commissions Appointed by the Governor and encourage anyone interested to apply. The application form can be completed at: https://governor.nebraska.gov/ under “Constituent Services.” Serving on a board or commission is a great way to stay involved in our communities!
I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards in La Vista this week on the evening of Tuesday, May 8th. The Governor’s Arts Award ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate Nebraska arts organizations, arts professionals, and the people and businesses that support the arts in Nebraska. Two of the honorees this year are from District 23. Anna Nolan and Allen Covault of David City. They received the Thomas C. Woods III Partner in the Arts Award for their support and work in the arts and the Bone Creek Museum. The awards highlighted the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art which opened in 2008 and brought national attention to the art of David City native Dale Nichols and others. Anna and Allen formed the Nolan Covault Foundation to assure future growth and success of the museum’s mission to connect people to the land through art. I appreciated the opportunity to witness the well-deserved recognition of these District 23 constituents and others for their contribution to the arts.
I traveled to Chadron State College last week to attend a meeting as a member of the Building and Maintenance Committee. The purpose of the Building and Maintenance Committee is to exercise oversight of the deferred and preventive maintenance activities for state operated buildings across the state. The Committee met on Tuesday, May 1st to obtain updates on the 309 Task Force for Building Renewal Projects and Chadron State College funded projects and requests. The Committee members also recieved a tour of Chadron State College.
Over the last two weeks my office has met with several groups involved in juvenile justice and human trafficking. I attended a human trafficking task force meeting and took part in discussions on juvenile justice across the district. Juvenile justice and human trafficking are important issues in our society and our district and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with these groups and to update them on the statutory changes from this session affecting juvenile justice and human trafficking. I appreciate the work all members of these groups do in an effort to tackle these important issues.
The legislature was visited this week by students from St John’s Elementary and Yutan Elementary. St. John’s 3rd and 4th grade students from Weston visited the Capitol on Monday, April 23rd and Yutan Elementary 4th grade students toured the Capitol on Thursday, April 26th. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with both groups of students about the legislative process and our unique Unicameral.
The 105th Legislature Second Session finished hearing bills on final reading and adjourned sine die last Wednesday August 18th.
All 5 bills I introduced this session as well as 2 carry-over bills from last session were signed into law. My legislation included provisions to further protect our wildlife in this state through LB1008, updates to car titling and licensing statutes and other Department of Motor Vehicle provisions in LB909 which also included my LB900, protection of our military terrain flight training areas in LB901, and protection of personal information on firearm purchase permits and registrations in LB902. My carryover bills LB177 and LB472 introduced last session dealing with additional Department of Transportation updates were also signed into law. All legislation for the session goes into effect 3 calendar months following session (July), unless the bill contains a specified enactment date or an emergency clause.
I was disappointed the legislature did not accomplish more on property tax relief this session. I understand that property taxes is an important issue for individuals in District 23 and across our state. Real property tax relief is a priority for me. I worked this session with a variety of Senators, individuals and organizations in an attempt to obtain property tax relief and was frustrated that the legislature was not able to move any meaningful property tax relief legislation forward. I was one of the 13 cosigners requesting a special session to address property taxes. 33 senators are required to sign for the special session to be called. As of the writing of this article the status of that request is unknown as Senators have until Monday April 23rd to turn in the request forms. Regardless if a special session is called I will continue to work over the interim on property tax relief solutions.
The legislature was able to move legislation forward on other important issues this session such as rural broadband expansion, combatting opioid abuse, reform within juvenile justice and corrections, tax reform in LB1090, and exemptions provided for diesel fuel and natural gas in LB900.
Expanding rural broadband is an important issue for the people of District 23 and one I continue to work on. I would encourage you to take time and complete a survey that looks at “How Nebraskans are using Broadband” and its cost benefits which is available until April 30th at http://go.unl.edu/bbsurvey.
There will be some new faces at the Legislature starting next session as 6 Senators were term limited this year and two Senators are not seeking a second term. The legislature heard farewell speeches from the departing Senators on the last day of session.
I will spend the interim working on property taxes, juvenile justice, human trafficking, rural broadband and other issues affecting District 23. I will also work on my LR395, an interim study to examine issues and identify the needs of the volunteer EMS services in Nebraska, as well as, interim studies of the Natural Resource and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees.
I look forward to my continued work with groups and agencies throughout the District. My office remains open over the interim and I appreciate constituents contacting me through my office. Please note: the Capitol HVAC project will begin this summer and my physical office will be moving up to the 8th floor. My office email (email@example.com) and phone (402-471-2719) will remain the same, however, if you come to the Capitol starting in June you will find my office on the 8th floor. You can stay up to date on what I am working on over the interim on my legislative webpage at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist23/.
As I write this article the legislature has only one day remaining of 105th Legislature, Second Session. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die on April 18th. The last day will be spent passing the remaining bills sitting on final reading.
The legislature spent this last week moving bills through select and final reading. LB1081, an Education Committee Priority Bill, was passed by the legislature. LB1081 updates several education statute provisions as well as adopts the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act.
LB1120 by Senator Larson was discussed on select file. LB1120 would adopt the Music Licensing Agency Act to provide protections to those entities that host live music performances and require music licensing agencies to register with the Department of Revenue and follow particular requirements when contacting proprietors. LB1120 was amended to include portions of Senator Thibodeau’s LB747 which regulates Bottle Clubs. The bill as amended advanced to final reading.
LB989 by Senator Wishart was discussed on general and select file. The bill would provide authorizations and regulations for autonomous vehicles in Nebraska under certain conditions. The bill as amended advanced to final reading.
LB496 by Senator Stinner was debated on select file. LB496 would redefine terms under the Community Development Law to include construction of workforce housing as part of a redevelopment project for tax-increment financing if certain requirements are met. The bill advanced to final reading.
LB1090 by Senator Smith was passed on final reading. LB1090 would create a new personal exemption in Nebraska and increase Nebraska’s standard tax deduction canceling out any state tax increase that would have resulted from federal tax changes.
LB1132 by Senator Pansing Brooks was passed on final reading. LB1132 would provide a procedure to set aside convictions of victims of sex trafficking and to expunge related records.
LB994 by Senator Friesen would create the Rural Broadband Study Task Force. LB994 is intended to assist in bringing enhanced broadband telecommunications services to unserved and underserved areas in rural Nebraska. Increasing access to broadband in rural areas is an issue I am passionate about working on. LB994 was passed by the legislature.
Two of my own bills were heard on final reading this last week.LB901 is a bill which supports our National Guard by protecting historic terrain flight training areas utilized by the Guard in rotary wing aircraft training allowing them to remain mission ready. LB902 is a public records bill which protects personal information contained on forms required for purchase or registration of certain firearms. Both bills passed and were presented to the Governor.
As the end of session approaches I want to remind everyone that my office will remain open over the interim and encourage anyone with legislative concerns to contact my office. I understand the need for substantial property tax relief and was one of the thirteen Senators to formally request a special session to address property taxes. I look forward to updating you next week with an overview of this session, property taxes, and what I will be working on over the interim.