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: 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

 

Press Release: February 27th – Agriculture Committee

February 27th, 2015

Earlier this week, the Agriculture Committee held an executive session on LB 176, a bill that would allow Nebraska farmers to enter into contracts with meat packing companies to raise pigs in Nebraska. We heard a lot of debate on this legislation in committee, and I had the opportunity to visit with many local producers, including several that are aspiring to enter the agriculture industry. I believe this legislation, if passed, would provide an opportunity for them to find the capital to get a start in agriculture. This bill is a prime example of value-added agriculture that will benefit not only those who are involved in the pork industry, but also those in the agricultural industry. Value-added agriculture builds a wider tax base in the community, which ultimately leads to more funding for schools, roads and other necessities.

March 1st marked the statehood day for our great state, Nebraska. To me and to many others, it is clear that Nebraska is more than just a state; it is a shining example of small town values, leadership in agriculture, and a home filled with beautiful landscapes, great people, and bountiful opportunity. From Chimney Rock to the Capitol Building, this is our home. I hope that each of you will take time to think of how blessed we truly are to live in this great state.

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. If I am on the floor feel free to work with the sergeant of arms to send me a note so I can come out and visit with you.

 

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

 

Press Release: February 20th – Visits from the District

February 20th, 2015

As many of you know, on Thursday the 19th, the Legislature had to make an emergency $7 million transfer to our state’s child welfare system. If this transfer had not occurred, our child welfare system would have run out of funds and the vulnerable children that this program is designed to help would have felt the consequences. While this transfer was necessary, it reaffirms what Nebraskans already know: the Department of Health and Human Services is broken. I have already witnessed the broken nature of the department in the few weeks that I have sat on the Health and Human Services Committee. It is clear to me that the answer is not to throw more money at the problem. There are several bills that our committee is currently hearing that would spend millions of your hard-earned money to create new programs or expand Medicaid in an attempt to fix the problems we have with HHS. I know as well as you do that this is not the appropriate solution. The department already receives around $3.5 billion of state and federal funds. There are clearly existing problems that need to be fixed with the funding that has already been allocated to the department. As your representatives in the unicameral, we need to be responsible stewards of your money. I think of the school teacher in York, the machinist in Seward, the farmer in Polk, and the countless other constituents whenever these costly bills appear in the committee hearings. The broken department affects you, the Nebraska taxpayer. I look forward to hearing what solutions Courtney Phillips, the governor’s appointee for CEO of HHS, has in mind for the department and I plan to work with her to bring cost-saving solutions to mend HHS.

This past week, I had a great time meeting with many constituents in the capital, including Leadership York and a 4th grade class from St. John’s Lutheran School from Seward. It is always great to hear from you about your ideas regarding moving our state forward, and l enjoy seeing our future generation learn more about the legislative process. As I have mentioned before, if you are interested in visiting the capitol or need anything at all, please contact my staff using the information below.

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: February 6th – Recognizing Excellence

February 6th, 2015

One of the more enjoyable aspects to being a senator is the ability to formally recognize excellence in our community. On Thursday morning I met with students from the York School District who were attending the NebraskARTS breakfast here at the Capitol and presented them with a Legislative Resolution congratulating them on receiving the 2014 NebraskARTS Award. I was contacted by the Executive Director of Nebraskans for the Arts to inform me that the York School District had received this award and so I introduced LR44 to acknowledge their contribution to the arts and arts education. Similarly, earlier this week I was proud to be able to attend the ARC dinner where my Administrative Aide, Katie Quintero, was awarded the 2014 Legislative Advocate of the Year award for Arc of Nebraska.  Katie did a lot of great work last year assisting them in moving forward their legislative priorities.  It’s great to have groups such as these honor the work of Nebraska citizens and advocates.

The state of Nebraska has several ways to show appreciation to members of our community. Senators can introduce LRs (Legislative Resolutions) to congratulate, recognize, or extend sympathy to individuals, families or organizations. We can also work with the Governor’s office to request an Admiralship for an individual or contact the Secretary of State to help facilitate having a Nebraska State Flag flown over the Capitol to commemorate a day or event. While the citizen must provide the flag itself, the Secretary of State’s office will create a certificate which certifies the flag was flown over the Capitol and can includes specific information you would like on the certificate, such as retirement after 20 years of military service, for example.

If you are interested in any of these services don’t hesitate to get in contact with my staff to assist you. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, will be able to help you with any concern above as well as any legislative question you have! Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, can also help you with anything above and she can help you with my official schedule.

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: January 30th – Update from the Agriculture Committee

February 2nd, 2015

This past week I had the distinct honor of running a portion of the Agriculture Committee meeting while Senator Johnson had another engagement. During this hearing we discussed the reappointment of Greg Ibach as the Director of the Department of Agriculture. Director Ibach has done great things for agriculture in this state and has been an advocate for Nebraskan agriculture around the world. Some of his accomplishments include leading trade and policy development trips to South America, Asia and Europe, and increasing the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute attendance by 50%. While there was plenty of support for Director Ibach’s reappointment, there were some citizens concerned about the department’s lack of action regarding puppy mills. A part of the reason why the department is having a difficulty in taking action against these puppy mills is because the Unicameral has not yet given the department the tools to take appropriate action. For this reason, I have introduced LB 377.

LB 377 gives the department the authority, once they have seized the animals from puppy mills, to file a complaint with the district court and determine if the inhumane owners are liable for the costs of the care of the animals. LB 377 helps alleviate the lack of funding for housing these animals once they are seized, and puts the onus onto the inhumane owners. This bill, along with others such as LB 389 introduced by Senator Kuehn, will give the department the appropriate tools to take further action to stop these inhumane breeders of dogs and cats.

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: January 23rd – Property Tax Relief is Needed

January 23rd, 2015

This week I had the distinct honor of escorting our Governor, Pete Ricketts, to his State of the State Address. Governor Ricketts highlighted many matters during his speech, but the key issue that he addressed was our high property taxes and how we can bring relief to the Nebraskans that bear this burden. Many of you expressed your concerns about this issue at the town halls that I held in Polk, Seward and York counties, and I continue to hear from Nebraskans across the state asking us to address the state’s high property taxes. I agree with many of you and I side with Governor Ricketts when he says that Nebraskans need immediate relief from these high taxes. This is why I support LB 364, a bill introduced by Senator Watermeier, and have cosigned LB 350, a bill introduced by Senator Brasch. LB 364 would add an additional $60 million to the budget each year to help relieve the burden of these high taxes, and LB 350 would lower the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land from 75 percent to 65 percent to help our state’s largest industry. I will continue to work with my colleagues and Governor Ricketts so we can accomplish our goal of property tax relief.

Just as I work with fellow Senators to move Nebraska forward, many of you work together in Polk, Seward and York counties to make these counties the great communities that they are. This is especially evident at the Blue Valley Community Action Partnership. As many of you know, a fire seriously damaged the Blue Valley pantry on January 17th. As a former board member of BVCA, I know the significance of this organization and the work it does for our communities. If you would like to help this important organization, please feel free to make a monetary or non-perishable food donation to the Blue Valley Community Action grounds on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 A.M. to 4 P.M. You can also mail monetary donations to Blue Valley Community Action, 3401 North Lincoln Ave., York, NE 68467. If you are interested in a monetary donation, the York Community Foundation will match contributions up to $5,000 until March 1st.

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 them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24