NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at mkolterman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

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

On Monday, September 13, Senators Stinner, Williams and I introduced LB 12, a bill to change the number of members of the Legislature to fifty.  According to Article 3, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Nebraska, the Legislature shall not consist of more than fifty members.  As we begin the process of redistricting, I believe we should discuss every option available to us, including expanding the membership of the Legislature to 50 members.  If enacted, LB 12 would ensure current rural legislative boundaries would remain relatively static, with the major changes occurring in rapidly growing areas where the majority of the changes should be.

The Legislature has debated whether to expand membership to 50 Senators over the last few decades, such as when Senator Kate Sullivan introduced LB 195 in 2011.  LB 195 was referenced to the Redistricting Committee which took no action on the legislation.  I look forward to discussing this legislation with the Redistricting Committee and the rest of the members of the Legislature during this current special session.

On Wednesday, September 8, the Redistricting Committee of the Legislature released two different proposals for the new legislative maps.  One proposal, which I will refer to as “Map A” is a non-starter for me.  According to Map A, Legislative District 24, which comprises Seward, Polk, and York counties, will be dissolved as it is currently situated and the district would be relocated to Sarpy County.

While I am always willing to consider what is best for the State of Nebraska, I believe moving LD 24 goes against the guidelines established under Legislative Resolution 134, which was adopted as the guidelines on how redistricting is to proceed.  Under LR 134, district boundaries shall follow county lines whenever practicable.  The district in which Seward County would be located clearly fails this test as it would contain Butler County, relatively half of Saunders County and Schuyler, which is in Colfax County.  LR 134 also allows for the preservation of the cores of prior districts. By splitting up LD 24, as it is currently established, the proposed Map A clearly does not preserve the core of the district.

Map A also does not preserve communities of interest.  For example, a majority of the population who attends Centennial School District resides in Seward and York Counties, with the remaining population living in Polk and Butler County.  Under the proposed Map A, the population base would be split between LD 23 which would consist of Butler, Seward, part of Saunders and part of Colfax County and LD 34 which would consist of Hamilton, Merrick, Polk and York County.

Another community of interest is the Four Corners Health Department.  As we all have learned over the past year and a half, our local public health departments provide an important task.  Currently, LD 24 resides completely within the Four Corners Health Department.  Under the proposed Map A, LD 23 would be served by three different public health districts and LD 34 would be served by two different health districts.

While this list of concerns are not exhaustive, I look forward to working with the Redistricting Committee and the rest of my colleagues to address the issues I have raised.  With that said, I am adamantly opposed to moving LD 24 to Sarpy County and I will do everything within my power to prevent this from happening.

The application process for the Page Program is now available to any Nebraska college student who may be interested.

A letter of recommendation from your state senator is encouraged. College students from District 24 requesting a letter of recommendation from Senator Kolterman should contact his office at (402) 471-2756 or mkolterman@leg.ne.gov.

The deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2022 legislative session will be Friday, October 1 at 5:00 p.m. The page selection committee will meet in October to select individuals to fill those positions.

For more information and to apply online, please visit https://nebraskalegislature.gov/unicampages/

 

Over the past couple of months, many constituents have reached out to my office to express their dissatisfaction with the originally proposed Health Education Standards that were proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education earlier this year.  There are numerous items within the originally proposed health standards that I agreed with, and there were numerous items that I am adamantly opposed to.

I have discussed my personal objections and the objections of my constituents with multiple members of the Nebraska State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt.  It is my understanding that the Department of Education, after hearing from many individuals concerned with these standards, have decided to redraft the standards.

Recently, many of my colleagues have signed onto a letter that is being sent to school boards around the state encouraging local school boards to formally adopt the resolution rejecting the proposed Health Standards and reaffirming the rights of parents. I did not sign onto this letter for multiple reasons.

One, I rarely sign onto letters drafted by other senators as I do not have control over the wording of the letter.  In this case, I did not sign onto this letter as it calls on each school board to adopt a resolution opposing the adoption of the “proposed” Health Education Standards.  However, there is not a current “proposal” that is being considered.

In March, draft standards were released for public comment.  After hearing from Nebraskans, the original draft standards were scrapped and are in the process of being redrafted.  The Nebraska Board of Education heard your voices and are incorporating the feedback they received.  I believe it is irresponsible to comment on any new proposed draft since it has not been completed and released for public comment.

Second, the State Board of Education and our local school boards are elected officials, just like me, and serve on the behalf of those who elected them.  While I expressed my personal dissatisfaction with the originally proposed standards, I do not want to use the weight of my office to influence other duly elected individuals.

Lastly, there is not a legal requirement that any school district adopt the originally proposed health standards.  According to Nebraska Revised Statute 79-7601.01, school districts are required to adopt state-approved content standards or adopt content area standards deemed as equal to or more rigorous than state-approved content area standards for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies.  While schools are encouraged to adopt state-approved standards in other content areas such as fine arts, physical education, health education, and world languages, the adoption of these standards are not mandatory.

You may continue to submit feedback on Draft #1 of the Health Education Standards by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov, but Draft #2 of the Health Education Standards will be released later this summer and I encourage you to read that draft and submit your comments to the Nebraska Department of Education for their consideration once this new draft is released.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance with. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

On May 12, the Nebraska Legislature began debate on LB 474, a bill to adopt the Medicinal Cannabis Act.  As I explained in a previous column, had LB 474 been enacted into law, a patient must have a qualifying medical condition and a written certification issued by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant with whom they have a bona-fide relationship.  A qualifying medical condition is any illness for which cannabis provides relief as determined by the patient’s healthcare practitioner.  Any patient under 18 years of age would require written consent from a parent or guardian.

Following the Judiciary Committee hearing on LB 474, the Judiciary Committee proposed AM 824 which would make two changes to the introduced version of the bill.  The amendment would have replaced what defined a qualifying medical condition with a specific list of diseases or condition and rewrote the continuing medical education provisions to require eight hours of continuing medical education prior to issuing a certification to a patient for the patient to access medical marijuana.

As soon as the debate began on LB 474, a motion to bracket the bill until June 10, 2021 was filed.  Since a bracket motion is a priority motion, it takes priority over any other amendment that was filed on the bill which prohibits Senators from introducing amendments to improve the proposal.  After a few hours of debate, a vote on the motion to bracket the bill failed with 16 ayes and 27 nays.  As soon as this vote transpired, a motion to reconsider the vote was immediately filed, tying the hands of senators from improving the bill.

While Senators were unable to amend the bill, multiple senators on both sides of the issue worked diligently to find compromises that would have made the bill a better proposal.  Senator Ben Hansen introduced AM 1429 which would have removed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the list of qualifying conditions, would have limited vaping provisions to only allow for aerosol inhalers, would have required any health care practitioner to check the prescription drug monitoring system prior to recommending cannabis products and would have required the person dispensing the product to check the prescription drug monitoring system prior to the dispensing to prevent a patient from gaming the system and getting more cannabis than what was recommended to the person.

After hearing from my constituents, while I did not support passage of the bill itself, I did vote for cloture to end debate to advance the bill to the next round of debate.  Numerous senators were working on amendments to make the bill better, however, due to procedural games played by some senators, we were unable to debate those changes, therefore, I wanted LB 474 to advance to the next round to give the opportunity to Senator Wishart and others to improve upon the legislation, given that a medical marijuana proposal is very likely to appear on the ballot in November of 2022. As we saw in 2020, there was a strong effort to legalize medical marijuana through a ballot initiative.  Over 180,000 verified signatures were collected for an attempt to allow our citizens the opportunity to vote on whether or not to allow medical marijuana in Nebraska.  Last year, we saw how successful the gambling initiatives were at the ballot box, and I believe a second medical marijuana referendum will have the same amount of support, if not more.  Thus, I still believed that if we were to have medical marijuana in our state, we needed to regulate it through the Legislature rather than the Nebraska Constitution. LB 474 failed to meet the requisite 33 votes to end cloture by a vote of 31-18.

After the conclusion of debate on LB 474, the Legislature advanced LB 579, a bill that I cosponsored, from General File to Select File.  As amended, LB 579 would require the Department of Transportation to provide a report to the Legislature on all state highway projects under construction, the amount of money spent on a project, the estimated cost of the project, the number of miles yet to be completed, and the expected milestone dates for other expressway projects, to give the Legislature a better understanding on the progress of projects being completed by NDOT.  Finally, two bills I introduced, LB 18 and LB 147, also advanced to the final round of debate following a voice vote.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

This week the Legislature held the first round of debate on LB 147 which I designated as one of the Retirement Committee Priority Bills. It addresses two major Retirement Committee objectives – the expansion of the availability of retirees to provide substitute service after retirement and it transfers management of the Omaha Public School Retirement System (OSERS) to the Public Employees Retirement Board (PERB).

Under LB 147, retired teachers will be able to double the number of days they can sub during the six months following retirement.  Currently, teachers are only allowed to sub about 4 days a month, but the bill doubles it to 8 days every calendar month which means a teacher will be able to sub up to 48 days during the mandatory six-month break in service. This change addresses a critical need for additional substitute teachers in every school district across the state.

The second change reflects a culmination of many years of work on the Omaha School Employees Retirement System. In 2016, after the OSERS board of trustees made a series of investment decisions that resulted in enormous losses to the OSERS Plan, the legislature moved the investment authority from the OSERS board of trustees to the Nebraska Investment Council (NIC). That bill passed by a vote of 47-0 and the Governor signed the bill. The investment authority transfer has occurred seamlessly and has been very successful. Last year the OSERS Plan earned an investment return of 9.4% under NIC investment management.

I have continued to work closely with OPS to help find ways to relieve the district’s administrative duties for the OSERS plan so the district can focus on its core mission of educating students. So two years ago, at the request of OPS Superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Logan, I introduced LB 31 to study transferring the management of the Omaha retirement system to the PERB, which administers six other retirement systems on behalf of the State.  The bill passed with the support of 47 senators and was signed by the Governor.

The LB 31 Study was completed last summer and determined that transferring the management of the OSERS Plan to the PERB would result in an annual management cost savings of about $250,000. The LB 31 Study also projected it would cost approximately $4.2 million and take three years to transfer the administration of OSERS to the PERB.  LB 147 puts in place the necessary statutory changes to transfer OSERS management to the PERB.

There are three vitally important provisions that I have made sure are contained in LB 147:

1.      The State will not assume any financial responsibility or liability for the nearly $1 billion of OSERS’ unfunded liability. The language of the bill says specifically that “OPS at all times and in all circumstances remains solely liable for all funding obligations of the OSERS Plan and at no time or under any circumstances does the State assume any financial liability or obligation for the OSERS Plan.”
2.      The OPS school district, who paid the entire cost for the LB 31 transfer study, is also obligated to pay costs to transfer the management of OSERS to the PERB.  The State will not pay a single cent of these costs.
3.      Once the transfer occurs, the annual costs of administering the OSERS Plan will be paid by the OSERS Plan – just like the administrative costs are assessed against each of the six plans PERB currently administers. The $250,000 annual administration cost savings will result from the efficiencies of the PERB management of multiple retirement plans.

Additionally, the Omaha Board of Education passed a resolution which commits the Board to paying for all transfer of management costs under LB 147 and also maintains its commitment to the retention of all financial responsibility and funding liability for the OSERS Plan.

I have tremendous confidence in the PERB and the staff of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System who do a tremendous job serving the 142,000 retirement plan members. They will continue keeping the plans in compliance with all federal and state laws, and working in partnership with the Legislature’s Retirement Committee to ensure that the policymakers are kept aware of necessary IRS compliance changes, actuarial adjustments, and potential retirement policies that need to be addressed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the retirement systems.

I believe the changes proposed under LB 147 will better serve all school districts throughout the State by increasing availability of substitute teachers. It will also result in better service to the 14,000 OSERS Plan members while freeing the OPS school district from the responsibility of administering a retirement system so it can focus solely on educating its students.  I am confident these changes will not expose the State of Nebraska and the state’s taxpayers to any additional costs or liability and will ultimately result in administration cost savings for the OSERS Plan.

I am committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our public retirement plans. Nebraska is consistently ranked among the top ten states in the nation for the solid funding status of our state-administered plans which average over a 90% funding ratio.  In addition, our public employee retirees provide an economic boost to every county in Nebraska.  Last year, the plans administered by the PERB paid out retirement benefits each and every month totaling over $67 million. I see this as a win-win for Nebraska.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Weekly Column – April 23rd
April 23rd, 2021

This week, I’d like to discuss why I was not supportive of LB 408 – Adopt the Property Tax Request Act.  LB 408, as introduced, would limit the annual increase in property taxes, excluding approved bonds, for all political subdivisions to three percent.  This limitation would affect every single county, city, village, school district, learning community, sanitary improvement district, natural resource district, educational service unit, or community college across the state.

Since being elected, I have always fought to provide property tax relief to Nebraska.  For instance, I was heavily involved in creating the Property Tax Incentive Program, the largest property tax bill in state history, which provides refundable income tax credits for any taxpayer who pays school district taxes.  This program will provide $313,672,849 dollars towards property tax relief each year over the next two years and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I worked to provide additional dollars to the original Property Tax Credit Fund.  This year, the Legislature is appropriating $300 million dollars to the Property Tax Credit Fund and in 2022, $313 million dollars.  When I was first elected to the Legislature seven years ago, the Legislature was providing $115 million dollars in property relief.  When the two property tax relief programs are added together, over $1.45 billion over the next biennium towards direct property tax relief.

Had LB 408 been enacted, different political subdivisions would be affected in different ways.  For example, a city could raise other taxes such as occupational taxes or sales taxes to replace any lost property tax revenue, thus shifting the tax load to low and middle-income Nebraskans.  Most all other political subdivisions do not have the option to levy taxes other than property taxes, so while our towns and cities would be able to collect additional revenues to make up the difference, counties and our schools do not have this option, so they would likely have to cut services or jobs in order to adhere to the limit in budget growth.

All of our political subdivisions across Nebraska are different.  A “one size fits all” blanket creates different outcomes for all of our localities.  LB 408 would likely have caused local governments to levy the full 3% in allowed growth every year to build up a reserve in case a large expense is needed in the future, thus, property taxes would not necessarily decrease had LB 408 been enacted into law.

strongly believe in local control.  I was elected by the same individuals who elect our local leaders who are in charge of these budgets.  I don’t believe in second guessing the other elected officials who were elected by the same voters who elected me.  Voters have the option to address high property taxes when electing those individuals to positions that are responsible for levying property taxes.

I will continue to look for ways to achieve substantial property tax relief for our citizens that is fair and equitable for all, including our taxing entities to ensure critical infrastructure and services are not harmed.  Unfortunately, LB 408 did not achieve that goal and therefore, I was unable to support this proposal.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.
Weekly Column – April 16th
April 19th, 2021

On Wednesday, April 14, the Legislature debated LB 108, a bill introduced by Senator John McCollister to expand eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  LB 108 would increase the gross income limit from 130% of the federal poverty level to 165%, while keeping the current net income limits in place.

On March 29, I decided to cosponsor this legislation after seeing how it would benefit Legislative District 24 directly.  According to data provided by Voices for Children in Nebraska, in the 24th district, 33.5% of the children participate in Free and Reduced School Lunch programs and more than 1 in 10 children participate in SNAP specifically.  Almost 16% of the children in the district experienced food insecurity and of those, 66% of those children were likely eligible for public assistance.

During fiscal year 2019, 161,000 of our neighbors participated in SNAP, and more than 72% of those participants are families with children.  The average monthly SNAP benefit for each household member equaled $124 dollars and the average SNAP benefit per person per meal averaged $1.26.  SNAP was able to keep 31,000 people out of poverty in each year between 2013 and 2017.

As we have all seen, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on our food banks and charity organizations across the state.  Since the pandemic began, 162,737 individuals have been provided at least one unemployment insurance claim.  By modestly increasing the gross income limit, over 3,000 additional households would be eligible to receive SNAP benefits.

Traditionally, the federal government pays for the actual SNAP benefits and the only cost to the State of Nebraska is the administrative cost to provide benefits to newly eligible populations. However, due to the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the federal government will also pay the State expenses to administer the SNAP program through September 30, 2023.  After that date, the State would be required to provide 50% of the administrative costs associated with the program.

Multiple studies have consistently shown that SNAP benefits are one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus programs.  For each $5 of SNAP benefits, $9 in economic activity is created.  According to the USDA’s Economic Resource Service, each $1 billion of retail generated by SNAP creates an additional $340 million in farm production, $110 million in value-added agriculture, and 3,300 farm jobs, while creating an additional 8,900 to 17,9000 full-time jobs.

LB 108 advanced from General File with the support of 28 of my colleagues and is supported by a wide variety of advocacy organizations.  Supporters include the AARP of Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs, the Food Bank for the Heartland, the Food Bank of Lincoln, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, the Nebraska State Education Association and the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.   Because the benefits of LB 108 far outweigh the costs to our State, I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact into law.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Weekly Column – April 9th
April 9th, 2021

This week, the Legislature began discussions on the 2021-2022 $9.7 billion budget.  As a new member of the Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have worked on this budget that properly funds our pressing needs, while allowing for over $211 million available for other legislation that is pending in the Legislature.  I want to highlight some of the major items in the budget.

One of the major concerns the Legislature addressed in this budget is providing significant property tax relief.  Last year, the Legislature enacted the Property Tax Incentive Program that provides refundable income tax credits for any taxpayer who pays school district taxes.  This program will provide $313,672,849 dollars towards property tax relief each year over the next two years.  The Legislature also increased appropriations to the original Property Tax Credit Fund.  This year, the Legislature is appropriating $300 million dollars to the Property Tax Credit Fund and in 2022, $313 million dollars.  When these two programs are combined, over $600 million a year is going towards direct property tax relief.

The Legislature has also provided a rate increase to our service providers.  Over the next two years, we are providing a 4% increase which amounts to an increase of $83.5 million dollars.  These funds are provided to providers serving individuals who qualify under various Department of Health and Human Services programs, community correction services, and juvenile services.  By increasing these funds, these providers will be able to serve more people across the state.

The Legislature is also replenishing the cash reserve fund by providing an additional $351 million dollars bringing the total balance to $763 million dollars.  This “rainy day fund” helps cover the State’s cash flow needs to continue State operations if there is a disruption in regular revenues.

This week, I was also appointed to the LR 29 – Eastern Service Child Welfare Contract Special Investigative and Oversight Committee of the Legislature.  This Committee will investigate the circumstances relating to the procurement of the Saint Francis child welfare contract by the Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Health and Human Services.  The Committee will also investigate the implementation and oversight of the child welfare contract itself.

As you may remember, Saint Francis submitted an unreasonably low bid to win the award, and returned to the state less than two years later to ask for an additional $110 million dollars, which is a more expensive contract than what competing bidders were requesting to provide these same services.  At the same time, they still have not met the requirements established by the contract in the first place.

Over the last three years, I have introduced legislation to address procurement reform.  If that legislation had been enacted two years ago, this entire situation would have likely been prevented.  I look forward to working with this committee to further shine the light on this sloppy, mismanaged procurement for child welfare services that did not follow the Department of Administrative Services’ own procurement manual, the request for proposal, or even Nebraska law, which has placed the children of Nebraska at risk.

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. Tyler 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 any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

​C​ooperation and goodwill are essential elements to achieve progress in Nebraska. That positive spirit has enabled sensible steps in recent years to help the Omaha Public Schools to begin addressing the huge challenges it faces in meeting its unfunded liabilities for OPS employee pensions.​​

An unexpected effort last week by Gov. Pete Ricketts to kill a current proposal involving the OPS pension fund violates that constructive spirit and needlessly threatens continued progress. The administration is raising a false claim — that Nebraskans statewide will be at risk of taking on the OPS financial liabilities if management of the OPS fund is transferred to the state.

Such a misleading claim is contradicted by the entire history of this issue. For years, every time the State of Nebraska has taken any action in regard to the OPS pension system, lawmakers in committee and in floor debate have been unanimous in stating, clearly and emphatically, that Nebraskans statewide must not take on any of the OPS pension liabilities. That is a crucial, common-sense stance the Legislature has rightly adopted throughout the past five years.

State senators emphasized that point in 2016 when the Legislature voted overwhelmingly to transfer investment authority from the OPS pension board to the state investment council. The governor signed the measure into state law.

In 2019, State Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, chairman of the Legislature’s Retirement Systems Committee, worked with stakeholders to consider a follow-up. The state gave the go-ahead for a study (paid for by OPS, a $140,000 cost) to examine the feasibility of transferring management of the OPS pension fund to the state. The projected long-term cost savings would be about $250,000 a year.

Such a transfer would end all of OPS’s management duties in regard to the pension system. The district would then have one remaining, all-important obligation: bearing the full burden of meeting the system’s financial liabilities. State law, in fact, now requires OPS to meet its actuarily required annual payment for long-term pension stability, and the district has been exceeding that amount the past several years.

The Legislature voted 47-0 in 2019 for the study to be done, and the governor signed the legislation. Since then, a wide variety of stakeholders have cooperated for the management transfer to occur. OPS agreed from the get-go to cover the upfront costs of around $4 million for new computer technology to enable the management change.

It’s baffling, then, that after so much complicated work and cooperation, the Ricketts administration would indulge in an eleventh-hour effort to sabotage the initiative.

Undermining an effort involving OPS might be good politics in the view of some, but it would be terrible public policy. The Legislature should move forward with this initiative and, if necessary, override a gubernatorial veto. The public interest, and not scaremongering by the governor, must prevail on this issue.

https://omaha.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-legislature-should-stand-up-to-the-governor-move-forward-with-ops-initiative/article_516bfc5c-8d56-11eb-92fb-33bd22203d35.html#tncms-source=login

Sen. Mark Kolterman

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