NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

Welcome

January 6th, 2016

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

 

Last week, I introduced to the Judiciary Committee a bill that I hope will begin a series of discussions about the need to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. Legislative Bill 953, which was proposed to me by the Nebraska Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), allows for an extra layer of protection against exploitation of adults 60 years of age and older. I was glad to introduce this bill because I have seen in my personal business the detrimental exploitation has on families with vulnerable adults.

In essence, it allows for Financial Advisors, referred to in the bill as “qualified individuals,” and their associated firms the ability to temporarily refuse to execute financial transactions if they suspect that a client is the victim of financial exploitation. The transaction may be delayed for a maximum of 15 business days unless there is a court order to extend the temporary delay. If a qualified individual suspects financial exploitation, he or she is given the opportunity to notify the appropriate agencies (the Department of Insurance and/or the Department of Business and Finance). That notification is permissive and not compulsory. The agency must then respond to the qualified individual or firm within 15 business days whether or not the transaction should be executed. The client, defined as a “qualified adult” in the bill, is anyone sixty (60) years of age or older.

Although I hope to see a bill similar to LB953 passed in the very near future, I asked the Judiciary Committee not to take any further action on the bill this year. After I introduced the bill, I realized that there needs to be a lot more work done on this issue. Therefore, rather than push the legislation this year, I am planning on organizing an interim study dedicated to providing financial protection to adults who may be vulnerable to exploitation. I was glad to see that numerous financial organizations support the idea of this bill, and I look forward to receiving further input in the upcoming months.

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Joe and Katie 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. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

The third week of the 104th Legislature, 2nd Session continued with committee hearings for the hundreds of bills introduced this year by the Unicameral.  Of the 11 bills I introduced this year, six of them have already been heard in committee, three in both of the last two weeks.  Here is a summary of those bills:

  • LB747 – Amend the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act to increase the amount of funds the state investment officer may offer as deposits; Retirement Committee hearing January 20; placed on General File;
  • LB790 – To alphabetize defined terms under various retirement statutes (a clean-up bill); Retirement Committee hearing January 20; placed on General File;
  • LB813 – Permit certain persons to consent to donate plasma; Health and Human Services Committee hearing January 27;
  • LB901 – Change dental assistant and licensed dental hygienist provisions; Health and Human Services Committee hearing January 27;
  • LB909 – Changes powers, duties, and fee and penalty provisions relating to the Department of Agriculture; Agriculture Committee hearing January 26; placed on General File; and
  • LB924 – Provide an additional withholding procedure for certain payments under the Income Withholding for Child Support Act; Judiciary Committee hearing January 22.

If you are interested in the process and status of any of the legislative bills, I encourage you to go to www.nebraskalegislature.gov to find more information.

This past week, I received some questions about the filibuster process and its purpose, so this is a good opportunity to explain what filibustering is and what it does.  The term “filibuster” is related to the term “freebooter,” which refers to pirates of the 16th and 17th centuries.  Filibuster, as it is used in the legislative sense, is likely an extension of freebooter because legislators would “pirate” debate by hijacking the regular order of procedure.

In today’s lawmaking process legislative bodies have specific rules for dealing with filibusters, perhaps because it has become such a common occurrence in the course of legislative debate.  In Nebraska, the process is regulated by Rule 7, Sec. 10 of the Rules of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, a section simply called “Cloture.”  The term “cloture” is interchangeable with “closure.”  This rule describes the process of closing, or ending, debate on a bill.

Every bill that has reached the floor of the Legislature (at least to General File) and has been scheduled for debate is guaranteed a “full and fair debate” according to Rule 7.  In the past, the Rules specified an objective standard for the meaning of “full and fair debate.”  Today, the Rules call for a more subjective standard:  “the presiding officer’s opinion,” but Speaker Galen Hadley communicated to the Legislature that his opinion of what constitutes a full and fair debate would be based on very objective criteria.  For a bill on General File, it must be debated for a full six hours.  This time was traditionally eight hours, but Speaker Hadley reduced the time in order to allow more time for a greater number of bills.  The time limits on Select File and Final Reading are four hours and two hours, respectively.

Without the Rule on cloture, the Legislature could potentially spend the entire session on one bill.  This is obviously not a good use of time and taxpayer funds.  The purpose for filibustering a bill, on the other hand, is to delay the amount of time a particular bill has to go through the bill-making process.  Essentially, if cloture is not invoked, the bill stalls.  In order to invoke cloture, a minimum of two-thirds of the elected senators (33 of 49) must vote to end debate.  Once debate is ended, a vote must be taken on the merits of the bill.  Essentially, this means that a vote for cloture is a vote for the bill because only one-half (25 of 49) senators are required to pass a bill on to the next stages of debate.  In the event of a veto from the Governor, only 30 votes are necessary to override that veto.  Assuming that the 33 senators who vote to end debate on the bill support its merits, the bill will easily pass through the remaining stages of bill enactment.

We have already seen filibustering on a few matters before the Unicameral.  Legislative Bills 176 and 289 both received lengthy debate but had different outcomes.  LB176, which allows meat packers to have a degree of ownership of the hogs they prepare for slaughter, was recently placed on final reading after a successful cloture motion.  LB289, which makes gun possession laws in Nebraska uniform, failed to proceed because its cloture vote failed by one vote.

There will likely be further filibustering in the near future.  Although I believe it is not a controversial bill, I expect LB975, the Child Welfare Services Preservation Act, will be subject to a filibuster.  My hope is that the reasonable and honorable senators of our great state will come to understand that my intent with this bill is not to discriminate in any way but to allow private child-placing agencies to operate according to their deeply held beliefs.

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. With the Retirement Chairmanship election, we have moved offices and are now in Room 2004B. Stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number, which has stayed the same, is 402-471-2756. Joe and Katie 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. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Last week, I introduced Legislative Bill 975, the Child Welfare Services Preservation Act. Unfortunately, some media outlets have misrepresented my intentions in introducing this legislation, and have unfairly characterized me as a person.

To address the bill first, if one takes the time to read the text of LB975, he or she will notice it mentions nothing of sexual orientation or gender identity, nor does it prohibit any group of people from being foster parents and/or adopting children.

This bill is about Nebraska’s neediest children. Nebraska’s foster care and adoption system is already overburdened, and my intention with this legislation is to make sure we do not lose a single provider in our state. There are currently thousands of foster children awaiting permanent placement in safe, loving homes. We need all the safe, loving homes we can get, and we need all the foster care/adoption agencies we can get.

LB975 simply allows faith-based child-placing agencies to carry out their faith in everyday operation. As it stands, any family or individual who would like to open up their home to a foster child has the opportunity to partner with an agency that is a good fit for them. That will not change under this legislation. Actually, it ensures that the State of Nebraska continues to contract with a diverse array of private agencies to recruit diverse placement options. This bill would not take away anyone’s right to foster or adopt Nebraska’s neediest children. The State of Nebraska cannot afford to lose one safe and loving foster family.

Importantly, there are 21 agencies in Nebraska. Some work with a very broad demographic of families and individuals, and others work in more niche demographics. Some – roughly 25 percent – are faith-based. If these agencies are forced to choose between serving the neediest children of Nebraska and the very faith that prompted them to serve, they would have to choose their faith. We can all agree that children should not be punished and that we need to have as many service providers as we can serving our already under-served population. No agency should be forced to choose between abandoning their faith or abandoning the children and parents they serve.

Unfortunately, in the states of Massachusetts and Illinois, and in the District of Columbia, faith-based agencies have been forced to make that exact choice. The State of Nebraska cannot afford to lose one safe and loving foster family, and it cannot afford to lose any child-placing agencies. Chasing away faith-based agencies from serving in our communities undermines the best interests of children. My intent with LB975 is to make sure that we continue to maximize the number of safe and loving foster families.

Although some may be looking at this legislation differently, I hope they understand the spirit in which I am working on this legislation. Foster care agencies match up children and foster parents based on numerous factors, such as needs of the child, transportation requirements, availability of health care, skill level of foster parents, etc. Such an argument that this legislation is discriminatory implies that the State of Nebraska and its faith-based partners are more interested in discrimination than helping to place children desperately in need of a loving home. This bill, which does not prohibit child placement to any classification of persons, would ensure diversity in child placement and codify into state law a practice that has been successful for decades. Foster parents are independent contractors and can freely choose the agencies with which they are most comfortable. In fact, many of the families that are recruited to work with faith-based agencies agree to do so because of the agency’s alignment with a certain faith commitment. Maintaining a variety of child-placing agencies will ensure that children are placed according to their unique needs, whether faith is a part of their needs or not.

Despite all this I have received a number of attacks on my character. This saddens me for a number of reasons. First, that anyone would refer to me as “homophobic” and that my legislation “is a violation of human rights and also an indication of [my] lack of understanding among [my] constituents” is highly offensive. I have close friends and family who identify as members of the LGBT community. In fact, I have discussed this bill with some of those friends and family from District 24. One particular close friend of mine who is openly gay, after understanding the true intent of the bill, supports the idea for people to be able to ensure their religious liberty.

Additionally, if one’s intent is to stop hateful and hurtful behavior, it is beyond reason to engage in hateful and hurtful dialogue. I realize the issue of discrimination against the LGBT community can be a heated one. Although I assure that my intent is not to single out any group of people, I understand the objections before me. It is unfortunate that reasonable people in the midst of a heated issue get caught in the crossfire of unreasonable dialogue. If those who take issue with LB975 took the time to get to know me, I think they would realize that there isn’t a hateful or homophobic bone in my body.

My faith is a vital component of who I am. My family formed the cornerstone of my faith, and that faith tells me that everyone was lovingly made in the image and likeness of God and deserve respect and compassion no matter what they believe. But that faith has also taught me that we must not tolerate certain actions, such as name calling and disrespectful dialogue.

While some of our values may be different, I think it is crucial to engage in respectful dialogue and work together to embrace our differences. I always try to listen respectfully and understand all points of view. While we may disagree about how to get there, I believe our goals are the same: to have safe and loving environments for kids. So how do we get there?

My question is, where is the balance? Opponents of LB975 have stated that the bill is discriminatory and wish to protect the right of LGBT families to adopt and foster children. LGBT families would still be able to foster or adopt children in Nebraska. This legislation preserves in law Nebraska’s longstanding public/private partnership with a diverse group of private secular and faith-based agencies that work side-by-side to respond to the critical need to find permanent loving homes for children. I don’t believe that the interests of upholding adoption rights for all families (LGBT families included) and upholding religious liberty are mutually exclusive. Unfortunately though, there are some who believe upholding religious liberty inherently interferes with LGBT rights. I believe that there can be a balance where all Nebraskans are allowed to act according to their deeply held beliefs. At times, this will require some to respectfully disagree with others. To force one’s hand either way is poor public policy. Child-placing agencies should be treated fairly and not targeted or punished by the government because of their beliefs. This applies equally to all agencies, and it applies to all individuals.

Balance can only be maintained if opposing sides can work together to find common ground. The common ground here is to find loving, safe homes for Nebraska’s foster children. Getting all foster children into loving homes is my goal, and it’s one I hope we can all get behind. With such a great need in our state, I hope there are many more families in Nebraska who will step up and foster and adopt our neediest children regardless of their particular beliefs.

The Legislature convened Wednesday, January 6 at 10:00 a.m, kicking off a short 60-day session. The session began with official business, including the election of a new chairperson of the Retirement Committee, of which I have been serving as a member. I announced my intention to seek this seat after Senator Jeremy Nordquist resigned at the end of the previous session and was elected by the members of the Legislature to serve as chairperson.

I felt I was uniquely qualified for this position, having worked in the financial services industry as an insurance agent the past 40 years and having specialized in employee benefits and retirement plans for 31 of those years. I take great pride in the fact that I have helped my clients, many who are friends and neighbors, plan for their future, and I wanted to use my expertise to help lead the committee that oversees this important area of state government.

As background, there are 121,920 participants in the state retirement system. Additionally, the total assets of all the retirement plans managed by the Nebraska Employment Retirement Systems amount to $12.6 billion dollars. These plans are utilized by retired employees from the schools, the state patrol, judges, state and county levels. This information is documented in the 2014 Annual Report of NPERS.

As State Senators, we have an obligation to the taxpayers of this state as well as the employees covered under these plans to ensure that they are kept up to date and managed properly. As chairman, I will do my best to work with my colleagues and the Nebraska Employment Retirement System to make sure these retirement funds are managed in the best way possible.

Along with becoming a chairman, there are additional changes in my office. Kenny Zoeller, who served as my Legislative Aide during my first year as a State Senator, has moved to work with Governor Ricketts in the Governor’s Policy Research Office. Kenny has been a good friend and trusted adviser since I started my campaign in 2013, and I appreciate the service he has
provided me and the constituents of District #24. I look forward to working with him in his new role, and I wish him the best.

Replacing Kenny is Joe Neuhaus. Joe is an attorney who received his law degree from the University of Nebraska. He has previously served as Legislative Aide to State Senator Lydia Brasch and was the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance.

Additionally, Kate Allen is joining my staff as the Legal Counsel for the Retirement Committee. Kate has many years of service with the state, serving in the legislature for 28 years. For two of those years, Kate worked in the Policy Research Office during Ben Nelson’s tenure, and she has been Retirement Committee Legal Counsel since 2009.

Katie Quintero will continue to serve as my Administrative Assistant and will take on additional duties as the Clerk of the Retirement Committee. Katie worked as Senator Colby Coash’s Administrative Aide for six years and before that briefly served as Senator Tony Fulton’s Aide.

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. With the Retirement Chairmanship election, we have moved offices and are now in Room 2004B. Stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number, which has stayed the same, is 402-471-2756. Joe and Katie 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. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

New Year, New Office

January 6th, 2016

Senator Kolterman was elected as chair of the Retirement Systems Committee.

His office is now located in Room 2004B.

Please feel to stop by when you are visiting the Capitol!

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 12:00 am

by Jill Martin jillmartin@sewardindependent.com |

 

It was an evening of remembering and reminiscing as members of the 24th and 1267th Medical Companies of the Nebraska National Guard gathered in Seward.

The Nebraska National Guard Museum hosted the event which commemorated the 25th anniversary of the call up for Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990. Support staff and volunteers who assisted in the mobilization in 1990 were also honored.

The event included Posting of the Colors, special speaker Brigadier Gen. Scott Gronewold, Remember the Fallen and Retiring of the Colors. Nebraska State Sen. Mark Kolterman and Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier both spoke at the event.

Gronewold spoke about the evening and what it meant to him.

“These are the people that taught me how to fly. I was just a young lieutenant and they’re the ones who mentored me, showed me what life looked like and I owe a lot to them, not only for what they did but also for what they did for me,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s just great. When you fly with these crews, they are closer than your own family because you rely on them as a team to stay alive. You become very close and over the years, you lose touch and when you see them again, it’s just like you flew with them yesterday. That bond is still there. They are a great group of people.”

Greg Whisler with Whisler Aviation in Seward helped arrange the transport of a Utility Helicopter (UH-1) for the event. The helicopter was moved from the Seward Airport to the museum with a police escort on Highway 15 earlier in the day.

Col. Gerald Meyer said it was the largest gathering of Desert Storm veterans in the state since the war ended in 1991.

“The museum is proud to have sponsored the reunion of 24th and 1267th Medical company veterans and family and friends for the event. We also had veterans that supported the mobilization in 1990 that attended. It was truly a great event and we are honored to have sponsored the event,” Meyer said.

Meyer thanked the people who helped make the event a success including Ron Burhoop, Greg and Terri Whisler and Ryan, Cody Cade, Deb Tankesley and Bonnie Besseler, Ken Meyer, Beautiful Feet Mission from Concordia University and Bottle Rocket Brewery.

The museum was able to handle over 125 veterans and their families for the event.

“We were able to give the veterans a first-class program and allow them to socialize. It was a great success,” Meyer said.

http://www.sewardindependent.com/news/local_news/article_ae039d62-8d75-11e5-b630-7773863dbb98.html

With only about two weeks left in September, I wanted to post a reminder that the deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2016 legislative session is Wed., September 30th at 5pm.

Description and duties:

Pages respond to senators’ lights on the legislative floor, answer incoming calls to the chamber, prepare for committee hearings, and perform other duties.

A young constituent interested in becoming a page must fill out and submit an application to the Clerk’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol. A page applicant also is encouraged to contact his or her home district state senator for a letter of recommendation.

Pages must be high school graduates who are enrolled in a college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and be able to work 20 hours a week. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day

For further information, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at 471-2271 or Kitty Kearns at 471-2304.

The deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2016 legislative session will be Wed., September 30th at 5pm.

Description and duties:

Pages respond to senators’ lights on the legislative floor, answer incoming calls to the chamber, prepare for committee hearings, and perform other duties.

A young constituent interested in becoming a page must fill out and submit an application to the Clerk’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol. A page applicant also is encouraged to contact his or her home district state senator for a letter of recommendation.

Pages must be high school graduates who are enrolled in a college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and be able to work 20 hours a week. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day

For further information, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at 471-2271 or Kitty Kearns at 471-2304.

There are hundreds of bills introduced during each legislative session. Each of these bills addresses unique issues that are complex in their own ways. In this article, I would like to give you some insight into how I review bills and formulate an opinion on them. First, I focus on both the bills that I will introduce and the ones that will be heard in committees on which I serve. Currently, those committees include Health and Human Services, General Affairs, Agriculture, and Retirement Systems. Second, I study bills that have advanced out of committees that I do not serve on and are scheduled to be heard on the floor by the full legislature. Finally, I look at bills that have not yet made it out of the committees that I do not serve on. I make it a point to cautiously maintain an open mind about these bills, due to the fact that they could take on a different meaning if the committee chooses to make significant amendments.

During this process, it is very important for you to provide your input concerning these bills by either writing to me, calling my office, or attending the town hall meetings that I have in the district. Your input has a real impact on my decision making process. For example, while researching and considering the gas tax bill, I waited to make a firm decision and give my commitment until I had received ample input from constituents. After I received input via mail, phone, email, and town halls, it became apparent that constituents were overwhelmingly in favor of raising the gas tax (by a 2 to 1 margin). I went through a similar process to arrive at a decision for the death penalty bill. Although I was morally opposed to the death penalty, my stance was reaffirmed by the support of the majority of constituents that contact my office. In our representative democracy, politically active citizenship is essential. Your input is one ofthe most important factors that I rely on when I am preforming my job as your representative.

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

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room #2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
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