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The legislature returned to debate on several select file bills this week. LB757 introduced by Senator Morfeld which provides for additional consumer protections regarding personal and financial data was advanced to final reading. LB758 introduced by Senator Hughes which would require collaboration between natural resource districts and counties under the Nebraska Ground water Management and Protection Act also advanced to final reading. Senator Baker’s LB710 allowing for the recovery of court costs and attorney’s fees in certain civil claims advanced to final reading. My own bill, LB472 was heard on select file this week. LB472 is a bill I introduced on behalf of the Department of Transportation and would eliminate a fee for particular advertisement signs along the Highway Beautification Control System. The bill did advance.
Two Priority Bills were heard on general file this week. LB838 a bill by Senator Wishart that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from use of tanning equipment at a tanning facility was debated on the floor. No vote has been taken on the bill. An Urban Affairs Committee Priority Bill, LB874, was discussed on general file. LB874 would make a number of changes to the Community Development law related to tax-increment financing (TIF). LB874 advanced to select file with 33 votes.
There was a great deal of testimony on several bills in the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee this week. LB1063 introduced by Senator McDonnell was heard by the Committee on February 13. This bill would increase certain driver’s license fees to provide funding to assist victims of traumatic brain injuries. LB1031 introduced by Senator Friesen had its public hearing this week. The bill would change excavation notification and marking requirements and provide for large project planning meetings, rulemaking authority and allocation under the One-call Notification System Act. The Committee also heard two bills LB989 by Senator Wishart and LB1122 by Senator Larson regarding authorization of testing for automated and autonomous vehicles.
One of my own bills, LB1008 had a public hearing this week. LB1008 was heard in the Natural Resource Committee on Wednesday, February 14th. The bill would amend Nebraska Statute 37-613 to increase amounts of liquidated damages for certain violations of Game Law. LB1008 aims to help deter illegal killing of wildlife and protect a great natural resource in our state.
The Appropriations Committee heard testimony related to the status of the University of Nebraska system and the effect of current and potential future budget cuts on Wednesday, February 14th. There was significant testimony at the hearing. I will continue to keep everyone updated on the budget as this session progresses.
The Legislature will reconvene for session on Tuesday, February 20th following President’s Day on Monday. All Senator Priority Bills must be designated by adjournment on February 20th and the Legislature will then begin to focus debate on priority bills. I look forward to floor discussion of the new legislation.
The legislature continued debate this week of carry-over bills as well as a few 2018 Senator Priority Bills. Senator Priority bills which were heard this week include LB750, LB755 and LB710. LB750 is a bill introduced by Senator Williams. The bill would change provisions related to recording of real property documents and the rights and duties of secured creditors. LB750 advanced to select file. LB775 was introduced by Senator Stinner. The bill would adopt the State Park System Construction Alternatives Act and would allow the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to use alternative methods of contracting. A final vote has not been taken on the bill. LB710 introduced by Senator Baker would change provisions relating to civil claims. It would allow a successful plaintiff in cases involving four thousand dollars or less to recover costs, interest and attorney’s fees. The bill advanced to select file. The deadline for designating a Senator Priority Bill is February 20th and so we will be seeing even more discussion of new legislation in the coming weeks.
The legislature passed several bills on final reading this week including one of my own. LB177 a carry-over bill I introduced on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles was passed by the legislature this week on final reading.
Several hearings in my committees this week drew a great deal of testimony. Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard LB1009 introduced by Senator Murante. The bill would provide for an increase of the speed limit on certain super-two highways and interstate systems. LB994 introduced by Senator Friesen would create a Rural Broadband Study Task Force to help enhance broadband telecommunications service to areas in rural Nebraska. I understand the importance of enhancing broadband in rural Nebraska and I am dedicated to finding ways to make real improvements in rural broadband. I will watch closely this and other proposals aimed at increasing broadband access.
My Natural Resource Committee heard significant testimony this week on LB1123 introduced by Senator Groene. LB1123 would make changes to future water rights and stream augmentation projects in regards to Natural Resource Districts and specifically addressing the N-CORPE project in Lincoln County, Nebraska.
Another bill aimed at addressing property taxes was heard in the Revenue committee this week. LB1084, by Senator Briese was heard on Thursday, February 8th. This bill would adopt the Property Tax Request Limitation Act. LB1084 would address property tax relief by generating new revenue from changes in sales, excise and income tax and directing more revenue to state funding of K-12 education. The bill would also increase the amount in the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. I will continue to closely monitor legislation affecting property taxes and remain committed to property tax relief.
I will continue to update you on legislation as bills move through the committee process and onto the floor for debate. I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office with any thoughts on legislation.
The legislature debated two Senator Priority bills this week on general file. LB743 introduced by Senator Lindstrom and LB757 introduced by Senator Morfeld were discussed on the floor. LB743 would adopt the Public Adjusters Licensing act and change related continuing education and pre-licensing education provisions. The bill advanced to select file. LB757 is a consumer protections bill and would change provisions of the Credit Report Protection Act and the Financial Data Protection and Consumer Notification of Data Security Breach Act of 2006. This bill aims to strengthen consumer protection regulations and would require that individual or commercial entities in Nebraska that hold personal information must implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices. LB757 would also assure that if a security breach occurs, the consumer reporting agency would not charge for a security freeze. LB757 advanced to select file.
One of my own bills, LB909 had a hearing this week in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday, January 30th. LB909 is a bill that originated out of discussions between myself, the DMV, and interested individuals and car club members regarding titling of specialty assembled vehicles. LB909 amends Nebraska titling and licensing provisions and assembled and kit vehicle provisions to provide a process to and allow for the branding of certificates of title as reconstructed or replica. This bill would simplify and make more precise the titling and licensing process for specialty assembled vehicles. This titling change would help make our laws as convenient and precise as possible for individuals applying for an assembled vehicle title as well as the DMV.
Several notable bills had public hearings this week in my Committees. LB830 introduced by Senator Vargas was heard in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. This bill would allow an auto manufacturer that does not have, and has not previously had, any franchisees in Nebraska, such as Tesla, to sell its own product directly to consumers. LB1054 introduced by Senator Brewer was heard in the Natural Resource Committee. This bill would require wind energy projects in Nebraska to apply to the Power Review Board and require the Board to consider public comment when making its determination. There was a great deal of testimony heard on the bill.
Committees continue to hear bills addressing property taxes this session. LB947 introduced by Senator Smith at the Governor’s request was heard in the Revenue Committee on Wednesday, January 31st. This bill would adopt the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act. There was a significant amount of testimony on the bill. There are multiple pieces of legislation addressing property taxes this session and I will be watching these bills closely as they move through the legislative process.
The Nebraska Veterans Council held their legislative day on Friday, February 2nd. The Nebraska Veterans Council is comprised of representatives from nine veteran service organizations. I enjoyed getting to meet with these individuals who provide a great service to our state and our country and visit with them about veteran-related legislation.
The Legislature continued debate of carry-over general file bills this week. My own carry-over bill LB472 was heard on general file on Monday, January 22 and advanced. LB472 is a bill I introduced on behalf of the Department of Transportation that would eliminate a fee for particular classes of advertising signs placed along certain Highways and Interstate systems throughout the State. Other bills discussed at length this week were LB449, LB589 and LB758. LB449 a bill introduced by Senator Chambers which would repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act failed to advance. LB589 was introduced by Senator Crawford. LB589 adds certain requirements when deposing a child victim or witness in courts under certain circumstances. No vote has been taken on the bill. LB758 a Natural Resource Committee Priority bill introduced by Senator Hughes was heard on general file this week. LB758 would require natural resource districts that have acquired private land for the development of stream flow augmentation projects to collaborate with officials in the county where the project is located in an effort to lesson impacts to that county’s property tax base.
Several select file bills were heard and advanced on Friday, January 26 including my own LB177. I introduced LB177 on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles to update and harmonize DMV provisions. LB177 advanced to final reading.
Public Hearings continued this week on newly introduced legislation. Two of my own bills LB900 and LB901 were heard in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB900 is an annual update bill I introduced on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Nebraska State Patrol. LB901 is a bill I introduced which would amend Nebraska Statutes to require that the Director of Aeronautics of the Department of Transportation consult with the Military Department in certain structure permitting decisions when the proposed structure is located within an area classified as a Terrain Flight Training Area. This bill would give the Nebraska National Guard a voice in structure permitting decisions to help protect their ability to utilize these Terrain Flight Training Areas and remain mission ready.
One property tax proposal had a hearing this week in the Revenue Committee. LB829 introduced by Senator Erdman was heard on Thursday, January 25. LB 829 is a property tax relief bill. The bill would enable Nebraska property owners to get a credit or refund on their State income tax return equal to 50% of that portion of their property tax bill which goes to fund K-12 education. LB829 provides property tax relief in the form of a credit and would not take any funding directly away from K-12 education. There was significant testimony on the bill which drew people from all across the state to testify.
The legislature was visited this week by high school students from Cedar Bluffs government class. I enjoyed meeting these students and discussing the legislative process and several key topics that the legislature will likely focus on this year.
Senator Bostelman and Senator Walz with Cedar Bluffs High School Students
The legislature reconvened this Tuesday following Martin Luther King Jr. Day and picked up on debate of carry-over bills. A majority of the week’s floor discussion focused on two bills by Senator Larson, LB469 and LR18CA. LB469 would adopt the Fantasy Contests Act by codifying in statute how fantasy contest operators are to be licensed and regulated in Nebraska. No vote was taken on the bill. LR18CA would propose a constitutional amendment to change the age of eligibility for public office. This resolution would propose a change to tie the age of eligibility to all public offices to the federal voting age, currently age 18. In Nebraska there are currently differing age limits for different offices. No vote has been taken on the resolution.
Committee hearings started this week on newly introduced legislation. One of my own bills, LB902 had a public hearing on Thursday, January 18th in the Government, Veteran and Military Affairs Committee. LB902 would provide an additional exemption to the public records statute 84-712.05 for information obtained by a government entity regarding certain firearm permit documents. Such information would still be made available to any law enforcement agency.
Chief Justice Heavican delivered the State of the Judiciary on Thursday, January 18 to the legislature. He emphasized the judicial branch’s focus on its work to make the state’s court and probation systems more effective. He also highlighted the great work of creative problem-solving courts including two new veterans’ treatment problem solving courts. The implementation and increasing use of technology within the court system was detailed in the speech. The Chief Justice concluded by expressing the judicial branch’s commitment to an open and fair court system.
All bills for this legislative session have now been introduced and will have a chance to be heard in committee. 482 bills were introduced this session for the legislature’s consideration. There is around 28 bills that deal with agricultural issues including property tax and around 18 bills proposing other tax related changes. I will be watching each of these bills closely as they proceed through the hearing process. I wanted to notify any constituents who may be interested in providing a letter for the record on a piece of legislation in committee on the new committee procedure. Beginning January 23rd letters for the record must be submitted to the Committee Clerk of that Committee by 5:00 P.M. the business day prior to the hearing or they will not be read into the record. You may still send written opinion on legislation throughout the legislative process but if you want your letter read into the formal record at the hearing it must be in by 5:00 P.M. the day before. I look forward to discussing all issues and legislation as each moves through the legislative process and welcome all constituents to contact my office with thoughts on legislation as the session continues.
Things are picking up at the legislature in its second week as we began floor debate and continued introduction of new legislation for this session. Over 300 new bills have already been introduced this session and more are expected until the deadline for new bill introduction on Thursday, January 18th. The legislature began discussion this week of carry-over bills from last session including one of my own bills LB177. LB177 was a bill I introduced last year on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles which would make necessary updates to portions of DMV statutes. LB177 advanced to select file.
One 2018 senator priority bill has already been debated this session. LB368, a bill introduced by Senator Lowe last session was reprioritized this year by Senator Krist. LB368 would repeal the helmet law for motorcycle riders. After several hours of discussion on the bill LB368 failed to advance.
The Governor delivered the Stated of the State to the Legislature on Wednesday, January 10th. The Governor reported that the state of Nebraska is strong and growing and highlighted economic development projects, international trade deals, and legislation aimed at streamlining government. The Governor also unveiled his new budget and tax plans which include a focus on property tax relief. The Governor’s proposal will be one of several property tax relief bills that the legislature will look at this session.
Committee hearings start next week on legislation introduced this session as new bills will begin to move through the legislative process. I remain on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee as well as Vice Chair of the Natural Resource Committee.
The legislature will not meet Monday, January 15th in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will reconvene on Tuesday January 16th. I look forward to continuing to work on legislation and issues that affect Nebraskans and constituents of District 23 this year and will keep everyone updated throughout the session.
Greetings again from the legislature to all constituents of District 23! I hope everyone had a safe and blessed holiday season. The legislature convened January 3rd for the first day of the 105th Legislature, 2nd Session. As a short 60 day session, the legislature will be very busy working to tackle several key issues.
Over the interim I continued work with constituents, groups and agencies to address the concerns of Nebraskans and the constituents of District 23 as well as participated in several legislative interim study hearings across the state. Since last session I have spoken with numerous groups and individuals regarding the need for real property tax relief and what that may look like in this state. I anticipate several legislative proposals this session aimed to address property tax concerns.
I worked with individuals to address title and licensing concerns and other DMV related issues as well as infrastructure projects and matters within the District. As a member of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee as well as the Nebraska Information Technology Commission I attended a NCSL Wireless U Conference last September aimed at working on telecommunications updates and policy including information on rural broadband expansion.
I also spent time over the interim working with law enforcement, juvenile justice and human trafficking groups to keep updated on the issues within those areas and better understand what may be done to combat such issues. One of the greatest ways we can combat issues like Human Trafficking is by raising awareness so I wanted to share with you information on the Attorney General’s “Demand an End” public awareness campaign to address minor sex trafficking in our state. The “Demand an End” initiative will be launched on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th, 2018 with a press conference at the Capitol. More information can be found at http://www.streetgrace.org/demand-an-end/.
The first 10 days of session are spent introducing new legislation as well as continued debate from 2017 carry over bills. With a short session and budget concerns of approximately $200 million, I believe the legislature will have to focus a majority of its efforts on key issues such as the budget, prison reform, and tax reform. I have introduced several new legislative bills this session and I look forward to sharing more information on those bills with you as the session moves along.
Go to the legislature’s website https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ to keep track of new legislation and I encourage you to reach out to my office with any comments, thoughts or concerns. I look forward to continued work on legislation and issues this year on behalf of the constituents of District 23. Have a safe and Happy New Year!
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.
Sen. Bruce Bostelman