Welcome

January 7th, 2015

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 24th 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. Mark Kolterman

Press Release: April 17th – Prison Reform

April 20th, 2015

This past week, the Legislature held an extensive debate about how to best fix our broken corrections system. As many of you know, Nebraska has recently seen inmates being released in error, including Nikko Jenkins. Among this chaos, our prison population has risen to a record high. It is fairly obvious that we must deal with the issue of corrections reform this session. Our challenge is finding an appropriate middle ground that allows us to reduce Nebraska’s prison population while not allowing breaks for criminals that pose a threat to our community.

LB 605 is one of the bills that was discussed this week in an effort to address these issues within the department. The bill, introduced by Senator Mello, would change the classification of penalties, punishments, probations, parole provisions, and provisions relating to criminal records. I voted to advance this bill to the second round of debate with the understanding that the Attorney General and county attorneys will work with Senator Mello and others to alleviate several concerns regarding the bill. In order to accomplish effective reform, we must first identify which criminals we are holding in corrections facilities due to appropriate fear for public safety and which criminals are being held out anger. Those that we fear should remain locked up in prison to serve their time. For those that we are simply angry with, we need to look at options like parole and drug court. This would alleviate our problems with both costs and overpopulation. If our new direction with corrections does not reflect this approach and the Attorney General and County Attorneys do not have further input into the bill’s content, I will not support any further efforts to advance this bill.

I would like to thank everyone who attended my town hall meetings in Henderson and Shelby last week. I look forward to future town hall meetings and further conversations with all of you as we work to move Nebraska forward.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Press Release: April 10th – Legislation and town halls

April 13th, 2015

This past week Medicaid expansion was heard by the full Legislature. The bill, LB472, was bracketed until June 5th, 2015, meaning it will not be brought up again this session and will have to wait till next session for consideration. I have always opposed expanding Medicaid in Nebraska because we simply cannot afford it. Over the first five years, the state would spend over $105,512,337 to implement the expansion, which would inhibit our ability to give tax relief and properly fund education.

During each session there will be hundreds of bills that are introduced, all of which address a unique issue that is complex in its own way. I wanted to give you an insight of how I review bills and formulate an opinion on them. The first bills that I study extensively are ones that I introduce and also ones that will be heard in committees I serve on which are currently Health and Human Services, General Affairs, Agriculture, and Retirement Systems. Second, I study bills that have made it out of committees that I do not serve on, and will be heard on the floor by the full legislature. Finally I look at bills that have not yet made it out of committees that I do not serve on. I try to keep an open mind on these bills since they could have a different meaning if the committee choses to amend them in a certain way.

I want to invite you to two town halls I will be having in the district on April 17th. I will be having a Legislative Breakfast at 7:30am, sponsored by the Henderson Chamber of Commerce at the Dutch Kitchen, located at 1045 N Main St in Henderson. Later that day I will be having a lunch, sponsored by the Shelby Chamber of Commerce, at A & B Lounge on 250 North Walnut Street at noon in Shelby. I hope to see you there.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Breakfast with Senator Kolterman in Henderson on Friday, April 17th

April 8th, 2015

 April 7, 2015

Whether you have political questions you would like addressed, want to listen to a political view point, or just simply want to have breakfast with a Nebraska politician, your chance has come.

Senator Mark Kolterman, our new legislator from Seward, will be at Dutch Kitchen on Friday, April 17, at 7:30 a.m. to have breakfast with you. This is a great opportunity to meet Senator Kolterman and give your feedback on legislative bills you have an interest in. This breakfast will be sponsored by the City of Henderson.

.

http://heartlandbeat.com/2015/04/breakfast-with-senator-kolterman-friday-april-17/

Press Release: April 2nd – Gas Tax

April 7th, 2015

The legislative session continues to be busy with many issues discussed each week. Last week we debated and voted on LB 610, which was a bill to increase the gas tax by 6 cents over 4 years.  I voted in support of the bill.  While I am not accustomed to being supportive of tax increases, I felt a compelling case was made for the need of this increase.  Additionally, I heard from an overwhelming amount of constituents about their support of the bill.  Even individuals who traditionally, like me, tend to be conservative in their spending, believed this was the right thing to do for Nebraska.  The bill had the support of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, The Nebraska Farm Bureau, The Associated General Contractors – Nebraska Chapter, The League of Municipalities, the Nebraska Truckers Association, the Nebraska Ethanol Producers, and many other groups and organizations.

According to the 2014 State Highway Needs Assessment, current needs for the next 20 years, in today’s dollars, is $10.2 billion.  With an inflation rate of approximately 5%, the total need for the next twenty years is closer to $14.6 billion.  Estimations show that 1 cent of gas tax generates an average of $12 million a year, so even with the proposed increase and our current funding, we will be behind in roads funding.  Additionally, one of the main concerns I have is that if we do not assist cities and counties in maintaining our infrastructure, they will have to raise property taxes to do it, and that’s simply something we cannot afford.

I understand the concerns brought by some that Nebraska cannot afford a tax increase, but I believe we should view this as a user fee.  The people who use the roads are the ones paying this tax, and by increasing the gas tax, we capture money from those traveling through our state. With better infrastructure, in the long run we are helping save people money by preventing costly repairs and accidents.

With lower gas prices as well as neighboring states of Iowa and South Dakota also raising gas taxes this year, I believe the environment is one in which a gas tax at this time is feasible.

As always, please feel free to contact me at my office at 402-471-2756 or e-mail me at mkolterman@leg.ne.gov.  If you visit the state capitol, please feel free to visit my office, room 1115, or send a note into me on the floor. It’s a continued honor to serve you and I appreciate the faith you have placed in me.

Kolterman discusses issues at Seward town hall meeting

April 1st, 2015

Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:15 am
by Emily Hemphill

emily@sewardindependent.com

Seatbelts, school funding and the death penalty rounded out the discussion during a town hall meeting with Sen. Mark Kolterman on March 27.

Kolterman spoke in Seward and York, giving his views and hearing from constituents about topics currently under debate in the Nebraska Legislature.

Kolterman said after 53 days in the unicameral, his time thus far has been split between work on the senate floor and committee hearings. Senators now are spending all day in debate on some of the 655 bills that were introduced in the first 10 days of the session.

“I didn’t go down there with the idea of adding a lot of laws to the books,” Kolterman said, adding that many of the bills introduced this session aim to “clean up” problems that previous legislation caused. Kolterman introduced five bills to the senators, 18 of whom are new this year.

As he spoke with citizens in Seward, Kolterman emphasized his priority bill, LB232, which would give students attending private, not-for-profit colleges and universities financial aid similar in amount to what they would otherwise receive from a public school.

“If there’s a better fit for you than the University of Nebraska – Kearney or the Med Center, you should be able to go where you want to go without having to go outside the state,” Kolterman said. “I’d like to keep students in Nebraska.”

Kolterman estimated that the 14 independent colleges in Nebraska receive about $300 in state aid per four-year degree, but that aid given to students at public schools generally falls between $5,700 and $6,700 per year.

“Private colleges do a far better job graduating students than state schools…and they graduate more minority students,” he said. “Private colleges are economic drivers in their communities.”

The bill, introduced by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, is modeled after Iowa’s funding pattern and focuses largely on Pell Grant funding.

Another topic that arose at the meeting dealt with Nebraska’s death penalty, a law Kolterman said should be repealed.

“I don’t think we ought to take people’s lives. If I’m going to be pro-life, it needs to be all the way around,” he said, also speaking out against abortion and using state funds to support Planned Parenthood procedures.

He said the death penalty costs the state an unnecessary amount of money to administer because it allows a person to appeal his or her case up to six times. The last state execution was carried out in 1997.

“It’s not a deterrent for crime if you look at what’s going on in society,” he said.

Additionally, Kolterman addressed LB610, which calls for a 1.5 percent increase per year in gasoline tax over the next four years. Funds generated by the tax would be evenly distributed to cities, counties and the state department of roads and designated for use toward roads, city streets and bridges.

“I don’t like taxes, but I overwhelmingly hear people tell me to add the gas tax,” he said. “We need to have good roads and good infrastructure.”

The majority of the 20 attendees at the meeting were in favor of increasing the tax.

Kolterman made it clear that he is against adding more government regulations, something he shared in regard to mandating the use of motorcycle helmets. Kolterman said people should, without a doubt, wear a helmet but that it should be a matter of common sense, not a mandate.

“I don’t like government in our lives. Every time you turn around we’re passing another bill that regulates our lives,” he said.

The bill, LB31, would repeal Nebraska’s mandate on wearing helmets on motorcycles and mopeds. It failed following a filibuster on March 23.

Kolterman’s anti-regulation opinion stuck on LB18, requiring seventh and 11th grade students to receive a bacterial meningitis vaccination.

“There’s only been one case in Nebraska in 10 years. It’s not an epidemic,” he said.

The bill was bracketed in February and will not be debated again until June.

Kolterman said he does support requiring seatbelts on school buses, but that the statistics aren’t strong enough to support LB373, that sought to mandate them but failed in the legislature at the beginning of March.

For more information on bills currently under debate, visit www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

 

http://www.sewardindependent.com/article_f55386ea-d881-11e4-8604-cf64a2a534b6.html

Press Release: March 27th

March 30th, 2015

I’m sure that many of you have seen or heard the comments that Senator Chambers from Omaha said during a recent Judiciary Hearing regarding police officers. I have had the opportunity to read all of his remarks in the context in which they were given and while I do not agree or condone Senator Chambers’ words, I also think it’s important in cases such as these to fully understand the context of the rhetoric. Reviewing the transcript, I did feel Senator Chambers remarks were out of line and inappropriate and I shared my thoughts with him personally in a conversation last week. I want to let you know that I have personally asked Senator Chambers to public apologize for his comments.

Senator Chambers has a history of brining a very different prospective to the legislature, one that most citizens of the state do not experience. For example, Senator Chambers’ district has a high crime rate, his citizens in his district experience violence that most of us cannot conceive of. It’s very common for a murder to occur on a regular basis in his district, and this the real problem that we should be talking about. I agree with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert that Senator Chambers should be looking for ways to improve public safety, not comparing police officers to ISIS. To echo Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, I stand with the Omaha Police Officers (and all law enforcement officers across the state) as they are hard working dedicated professionals.

On another subject I wanted to thank everyone who attended my town hall meetings in Seward and York last week. I appreciated the discussion we had on various issues, and I will take your thoughts into consideration as I make future decisions on issues. I look forward to future town halls in the coming weeks in Henderson and Polk County.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me.  My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Academy and Military Information Day & an Art Competition

March 23rd, 2015

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry’s last “Fort Report” e-newsletter contained information about a couple of opportunities that I wanted to share with my constituents. On Saturday, March 28th, his office will be hosting the “2015 Academy and Military Information Day” at East High School in Lincoln and April 15th is the deadline for the First Congressional District Art Competition. For more information and specifics, please see below. 

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

***

In collaboration with the offices of U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, my office is hosting the “2015 Academy and Military Information Day” on Saturday, March 28, at Lincoln East High School. The program will feature military and service academy representatives, beginning at 10:00 am. I invite you to join us and to forward this invitation to someone who may be interested.

There’s another exciting opportunity for high school students who are interested in the arts. In the hallways of the Capitol, artwork from young people around America is displayed on the walls. One particular image stands out: an older couple with weathered faces who have worked hard, loved one another, and exude the beautiful gift of life. A high school student from Bancroft created this moving image.

My office is again hosting Nebraska’s First Congressional District Art Competition. The nationwide Congressional Art Competition began in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and serves as an opportunity for Members of Congress to showcase the artistic talents of high school students from their districts. Winning entries from across the country are displayed in the Capitol complex for one year, allowing visitors to see the work of talented young persons.

More information on these opportunities can be found below.

Academy and Military Information Day:

The “2015 Academy and Military Information Day” will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 9:15 am to 12:00 pm at Lincoln East High School, located at 1000 South 70th Street in Lincoln. The program begins at 10:00 am, and military representatives will be available before and after the program. More information on the academy nomination process can be found at http://fortenberry.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations. If you have additional questions, please contact Jeanne Walker on my staff at (402) 438-1598.

Art Competition:

Art Competition entries can be submitted to my Lincoln office and are due by April 15, 2015. I encourage you to contact the office prior to bringing the artwork to assure that staff is available to take your submission. If you wish to mail your submission, please send your artwork to my office in Lincoln. More information on the competition can be found at http://fortenberry.house.gov/services/art-competition. If you have additional questions, please contact Marie Woodhead on my staff at (402) 438-1598.

Sincerely,
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

https://iqconnect.lmhostediq.com/iqextranet/view_newsletter.aspx?id=138851&c=NE01JF

Press Release: March 20th – Motorcycle Helmets

March 23rd, 2015

This past week the legislature has been debating LB31 which would eliminate motorcycle and moped helmet requirements. This bill, along with others that have already been debated, is a part of a larger problem that we have in government, overregulating the lives of everyday Nebraskans. That is why I support LB31 and other bills that reduce unneeded mandates put on Nebraskans. Something that I always express to my colleagues is that Nebraskans don’t want us spending extended amount of time adding more regulations on how they live, instead Nebraskans want us to work on meaningful tax reform, fixing our department of corrections, and reforming Health and Human Services. As your state senator I am working tirelessly to push for those changes and reforms that you expressed to me while I campaigned in the 24th district.

As many of you know, each senator is allowed to designate one bill each year as their priority bill. This means the bill will be heard before any other that does not have a priority designation. This session I have chosen LB232, introduced by Senator Nordquist, as my priority bill for this session. LB232 gives a students who graduate high school in Nebraska and attends private not-for-profit school, like Concordia Univeristy and York College, financial aid which they would have otherwise received going to a public college or university. It’s key that we give these financially eligible students in LB232 the option to attend a place of higher learning best fits them.

I wanted to remind everyone that I will be having two town halls in the District on March 27th. I will be having a coffee in Seward at the Civic Center, located at 616 Bradford St in the West Fire Place Room that starts at 7:30 A.M. Later that day I will be having a lunch in York at Chance R located at 124 W 5th St starting at 12:00 PM. I look forward to talking with you about issues that are being discussed in the Unicameral.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. If I am not in my office, please don’t hesitate to ask my staff to help you to get in contact with me as I may be on the Legislative Floor or in a committee hearing. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.

Thank you,

 

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

 

 

Press Release – March 13th: Death Penalty

March 16th, 2015

It is very difficult and emotional to discuss the policies that are involved in matters that are involved relating to taking a persons life, whether they are addressing abortion or the death penalty. It is a lawmaker’s duty to act with a great deal of thought and deliberation when coming to a decision on this topic. This is why I want to share with you where I stand on the death penalty and how I arrived at my position on this issue.

Over the past few years, I have spoken with family, friends, clergy of various Christian denominations, constituents, and people who have been affected by the death penalty. As a result of this process, I have come to the decision that I am against the death penalty. I have always been pro-life when it comes to the unborn and I believe that the State of Nebraska and its laws should be reflective of a pro-life culture. Though the people on death row are criminals, it should not be in the state’s interest to end their lives, just as it should not be in the state’s interest to end the life of an unborn child.

Something that I found startling while researching this topic is the cost associated with the death penalty. Since 1976 when capital punishment was reinstated in the United States, Nebraska has spent an estimated $100 million on death penalty cases and has executed three people. This cost is so high because prosecution in death sentence cases costs $3 million, nearly three times as much as the cost of $1.1 million in prosecution for life without parole cases. As a fiscal conservative, I see this as your tax dollars being wasted. Not only is the death penalty expensive to the tax payers, it also yields no tangible result because our state has been unable to acquire the drugs necessary to perform an execution. This is why we have not carried out an execution in almost two decades.

The death penalty is also unfair to the ones who are most traumatized by the murder, the victim’s family. On average, a death row inmate appeals their case 7.76 times. This forces the families to relive the case over and over, a process that takes decades and often ends without resolution. On the other hand, a life without parole sentence is only appealed an average of 1.64 times, giving the family a final sentencing outcome.

For these reasons, I have signed onto LB268, a bill that seeks to change the death penalty to life without parole.

I want to invite you to two town halls I will be having in the District on March 27th. I will be having a coffee in Seward at the Civic Center located at 616 Bradford St in the West Fire Place room that starts at 7:30 A.M. Later that day I will be having a lunch in York at Chance R located at 124 W 5th St starting at 12:00 PM. I look forward to talking with you about issues that are being discussed in the Unicameral.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman

 

Press Release – March 6th: The Budget

March 6th, 2015

I have been told that around this time of the session every year, things start to get a little interesting in terms of the state budget. This year is no exception. On February 25th, the Appropriations Committee released their preliminary budget.  This budget reflected their recommendations on where they feel the State Legislature should prioritize their funding of programs, and it offers an alternative to the Governor’s budget that was released in early February.  The Appropriations Committee is working to keep the increase in state spending to around 3%, which is something I support.  The Governor has echoed that goal.  The Appropriation Committee’s budget and the Governor’s budget matched up in some ways, but there are a few key differences.  Our job as Senators is to work with this budget on the floor to help craft the best budget to meet the needs of Nebraskans, providing necessary and important services with the limited available funds. As lawmakers, we need to also remember that this $4 billion is your hard-earned taxpayer money and it needs to be spent wisely.

As released, the budget had room for about 50 million dollars in discretionary spending, meaning there is that amount of money to fund new or expanded programs.  Following last week’s economic forecast release, that amount was reduced to around 40 million dollars, leaving little room for additional programs and expansion.

In my time serving on the Health and Human Services Committee, I have regularly seen bills presented that would use up all of this funding in one fell swoop.  I have tried to keep this predicament in mind and I have weighed in on legislation and determined which bills to support and which bills to oppose.  I know it is a priority of the body as well as the Governor to make sure that some of this discretionary spending is used for property tax relief, which is why I intend to continue keeping an eye on the growth of state spending and promoting efficiency and savings wherever possible.

Another factor to consider is the state’s cash reserve fund, which has grown to around $719 million. There are many who believe this amount is above what we need in the “rainy day fund” and support pulling some of that money out for special one-time expenditures.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

 

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24