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: May 15 – Powdered Alcohol

May 18th, 2015

This past week, the Legislature has debated extremely tough and complex issues including the gas tax, driver’s licenses for DREAMer’s, and the death penalty. I don’t take any of these issues lightly as I dedicate countless hours of time studying them, talking with constituents, working with my staff and others involved in these issues to try to find a solution that best serves the 24th district and the state of Nebraska as a whole. It is truly an honor that you have entrusted me to make these decisions and I will continue to put in the work to represent you to the best of my abilities.

Looking forward, there are nine working days left in the session and there is still a lot of work to accomplish. I am currently working to ban the use and distribution of powdered alcohol in our state. Otherwise known as palcohol, this product comes in a Kool-Aid like package and can be added to water to create an alcoholic beverage. I, along with many others, see the many potential problems that this product could create, especially in the hands of our youth. During the first round of debate over the omnibus alcohol bill LB330, I successfully amended a clause for the ban of powdered alcohol in this state. I am also working with my colleagues to figure out the most appropriate way to punish people that bring this banned substance into Nebraska.

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

 

May 8th: Press Release – LB458

May 11th, 2015

This past week the Legislature passed my first bill, LB458, and it was presented to Governor Ricketts on May 7th. LB458 brings our state statue in line with 35 other states and will establish procedures relating to the producer licensing framework for limited lines travel insurance, establishes consumer protections and requires certain disclosures. Two other bills of mine are currently on the last of the three rounds of debate, the first LB296 which brings Health and Human Services wording up to date and would allow our state to continue to receive $144 million in Federal Funds. My second bill on the final round of debate is LB408 which was brought to me by a constituent, and fixes an outdated property tax penalty.

Over these past few days my office has had an influx of 4th grade kids visiting capitol. It’s great to see how interested these kids are in our state, and I enjoy talk with them and explaining our legislative process. If you are in Lincoln or interested in visiting the capitol, setting up a tour, renting a room in the capitol, or any honors please feel free to get in contact with my office as we would be happy to assist you.

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: May 1st – Budget

May 1st, 2015

The Legislature has now finished the first round of budget debate. Overall, I see that the state is heading in the right direction with this budget. It will set Nebraska up for major future tax reform. Here are some takeaways from the first round of debate:

-The biennium budget will have one of the lowest rates of increase in more than three decades,

at 3.1%.

-The budget includes a $60 million annual increase to the property tax relief fund. This would

increase the fund to $200 million annually for direct tax relief to all Nebraskans.

-Funding for K-12 state aid will grow by $47.7 million over two years, and each school will

receive more money for special education students.

 

So what does all of this mean? With the annual spending increase held down to 3.1% and our tax revenue forecasted to increase 5% per year, we will be taking the first major step toward tax relief. The next issues we must address include our education funding and the Nebraska Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act formula. During the interim, the Legislature will take a hard look at this through the School Finance Modernization Committee. It is important that we fix the way the state provides aid to schools because we cannot have meaningful property tax relief without the necessary reform.

Though the budget has only passed the first of three rounds of debate, I feel confident that Legislature will continue to work together to move this budget forward and keep our spending levels low.

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

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Press Release: April 24th – Unicameral Youth Legislature

April 28th, 2015

The legislature will debate two bills dealing with medical marijuana in the new few days. The first bill, LB643, was introduced by Senator Garrett. It seeks to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to create a registry of patients with qualifying medical conditions. After the registry is completed, these patients would be permitted to obtain medical cannabis. LB390, introduced by Senator Crawford, would allow for the University of Nebraska Medical Center to conduct a trial study regarding a cannabis cream.

While both of these bills were introduced with the intention of helping people, we must understand that the Federal Drug Administration has still not authorized the use of marijuana to treat illnesses. It is my belief that medical marijuana, like any other prescription drug, should go through the proper established channels for testing and approval. For this reason, I will be voting against LB643 as presented and I will listen closely to the debate on LB390.

I would like to take this time to invite any high school students in the district to this year’s Unicameral Youth Legislature on June 7th-10th at the State Capitol. High school students are invited to experience what it is like to take on the role of state senators as they sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. I encourage any student who has an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking to apply. For more information please visit www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call 402-471-0764. The deadline for registration is May 15. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

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

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Press Release: April 17th – Prison Reform

April 20th, 2015

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

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

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

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

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

Press Release: April 10th – Legislation and town halls

April 13th, 2015

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

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

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

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

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

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

April 8th, 2015

 April 7, 2015

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

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

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

Press Release: April 2nd – Gas Tax

April 7th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Kolterman discusses issues at Seward town hall meeting

April 1st, 2015

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

emily@sewardindependent.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Press Release: March 27th

March 30th, 2015

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

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

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

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

 

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24