NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

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

Even though it was a short week in the legislature, it was certainly a busy week as well.  Wednesday was the tenth and last day for bill introduction, and it is usually the day where the most legislative bills are introduced, and this year did not disappoint.  177 bills were introduced on the tenth day.  In total, 667 legislative bills and 5 constitutional amendments were introduced by the 49 senators.  I personally introduced 25 bills, with 11 of those dealing with retirement issues.  Here is a list of all the bills I introduced this session.  If you would like more information about each bill, please visit the Nebraska Legislature website at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

LB18 – Change licensure and scope of practice for dental assistants and dental hygienists

LB19 – Change requirements for the practice of acupuncture

LB20 – Change provisions relating to homestead exemption certifications

LB29 – Eliminate the Class V School Employees Retirement Cash Fund

LB30 – Provide for a cash balance benefit plan by cities of the metropolitan and primary classes for certain police officers or firefighters as prescribed

LB31 – Change school retirement plan provisions relating to service credits

LB32 – Eliminate a duty of the Public Employees Retirement Board and change provisions relating to prior service retirement benefit payments for county employees

LB61 – Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

LB92 – Require health carriers to provide coverage for telehealth services

LB94 – Increase amount of funds offered by the state investment officer to financial institutions as deposits under the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act

LB110 – Change duties and requirements relating to certain retirement plan reporting and change duties of the Auditor of Public Accounts and the Public Employees Retirement Board

LB166 – Change provisions of Uniform Controlled Substances Act and Pharmacy Practice Act

LB231 – Authorize disciplinary action under the Insurance Producers Licensing Act for failing to maintain a license in good standing

LB232 – Provide a property tax exemption for property leased to the state or a governmental subdivision

LB278 – Redefine disability and change disability retirement application and medical examination provisions for various retirement acts

LB323 – Adopt the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Act

LB324 – Adopt the Pharmacy Benefit Fairness and Transparency Act

LB359 – Authorize damages for property taxes and special assessments paid on property lost through adverse possession

LB360 – Adopt the Surgical Technologist Registry Act

LB406 – Change provisions relating to notice of cancellation, nonrenewal, or nonpayment of a premium for automobile liability policies

LB413 – Change a retirement application timeframe for judges and Nebraska State Patrol officers as prescribed and change supplemental lump-sum cost-of-living adjustments under the Judges Retirement Act

LB414 – Change a retirement application timeframe for judges and Nebraska State Patrol officers as prescribed and change supplemental lump-sum cost-of-living adjustments under the Judges Retirement Act

LB415 – Provide and change notification requirements and duties and benefits for certain retirement system members, change certain annuity and disability benefit provisions, and provide duties for school districts and the Public Employees Retirement Board relating to retirement

LB486 – Change continuing education requirements for insurance licensees

LB532 – Change provisions relating to a military service credit for certain retirement plans as prescribed

Committee hearings began on Tuesday and public testimony was heard on six of my bills.  Much of this week on the floor was spent debating referencing a few bills’ committee designations and debating the rules.  Chief Justice Michael Heavican also delivered the State of the Judiciary on Thursday.  Chief Justice Heavican stressed the need for the legislature to adequately fund justice reinvestment programs.  He also discussed the state of the Office of Public Guardian, juvenile justice, and technological updates in the courts.

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. David 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.

 

Bill would remove acupuncture referral requirement

A bill heard Jan. 18 by the Health and Human Services Committee would remove a requirement that an individual receive a referral from a medical practitioner before seeking services from a licensed acupuncturist.

Under current law, a patient must obtain a letter of referral from a medical practitioner within a 90-day period prior to seeking services from an acupuncturist.

Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman, sponsor of LB19, said a recent state review determined that the requirement serves no public safety interest and should be removed.Under current law, a patient must obtain a letter of referral from a medical practitioner within a 90-day period prior to seeking services from an acupuncturist.

“LB19 simply codifies in statute the findings of the [review] report,” he said.

Under the bill a licensed acupuncturist instead would be required to refer a patient to an appropriate practitioner if his or her symptoms were beyond the training, experience or competence of the acupuncturist.

Donna Huber, a licensed acupuncturist and representative of the Nebraska Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Association, testified in support of the bill. The state currently has stringent licensure requirements for acupuncture practitioners, she said, adding that referral by a doctor does not make treatment safer, only more expensive.

“This [bill] is standard language adopted in other states and that we are trying to make uniform,” Huber said. “We are committed to making acupuncture accessible, affordable and above all safe.”

No one testified in opposition and the committee took no immediate action on LB19.

 

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To view the Unicameral Update website, click below.

Bill would remove acupuncture referral requirement

 

As the legislature winds down the first full week of the session, senators are furiously scrambling to introduce bills before the Day 10 deadline this coming Wednesday.  Senators can only introduce bills for the first ten days, and there are currently around 400 bills that have been introduced.  At this time, I have introduced over twenty bills, many dealing with retirement issues, but they also include better access to health care for rural Nebraskans, insurance oversight, and tax exemptions for disabled veterans.  For more information regarding each bill, committee hearing date, and bill status can be found on the Unicameral’s website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Before the legislature is able to bring legislation to the floor for General File Debate, we must vote on permanent rules to govern the body.  We are currently operating on temporary rules from last session.  The Rules Committee met last Wednesday for an extended hearing and discussed 27 proposed rule changes.  We will begin debate and vote on each rule that advances out of the Rules Committee this week.  The rules are an extremely important step of how the legislature conducts business each session, and I look forward to the debate.

On Thursday, Governor Pete Ricketts delivered a gritty State of the State Address.  Besides highlighting that Nebraska is embarking on our historic 150th year of statehood, Governor Ricketts stressed the need for controlling spending first, then the need for responsible budgeting and responsible tax relief.

As a State Senator from a rural area, I continue to be very concerned about the high property taxes in our state.  These property taxes impact all citizens who own property, from our retired senior citizens to our farmers and ranchers who rely on the land for their income. The economy in the State of Nebraska relies heavily on agriculture, and with the down turn in the farm economy, we need to work hard to find real and meaningful property tax relief.

While I do not serve on the Revenue or Appropriations Committees – the two committees that will work with taxes and spending – I will rely on the members of these committees as they develop the best way, in partnership, to address the budget challenges we face.  Most likely, the solution will involve financial restraint, reliance on money from the cash reserve or “rainy day” fund, and tax reductions to help spur more growth in our local economy.

Governor Ricketts also spoke about the resilience of Nebraskans – and I agree that our tenacity ability to work hard to overcome challenges are great traits we need to emulate. One line that really stood out to me during his speech was, “We have a chance to give a voice to the voiceless, to improve lives, and to craft policies that build a brighter future for generations to come.”  With  senators coming from diverse backgrounds, it is imperative that we find ways to work together for the good of the people.  Reaching across the aisle to make compromises and reach agreements with those you disagree is how we will solve the problems that face our state.

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. David 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.

 

January 6th – New Session

January 13th, 2017

Greetings and Happy New Year!  I hope everyone was able to spend time with loved ones during the Christmas season.

The 105th Legislative Session kicked off on Wednesday, January 4th.  This year we will conduct a 90-day session, also known as the long session, with the expected adjournment date in early June.  There are many changes to the makeup of the legislative body.  We welcome 17 new Senators in the freshman class, and 10 of the 13 Standing Committees will have new chairpersons leading the way.

In a close Speaker of the Legislature race, we had two excellent candidates, but Jim Scheer of Norfolk defeated Matt Williams of Gothenburg by a close vote of 27-22.  Notable chair races include Mike Groene of North Platte defeating Roy Baker of Lincoln for chair of the Education Committee; and Merv Riepe of Omaha defeating Sara Howard of Omaha for chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.  A few other important Chairmanships were John Stinner of Scottsbluff was elected Appropriations Committee Chairman, Jim Smith of Omaha was elected Revenue Committee Chairman, and Laura Ebke of Crete was elected Judiciary Committee Chairwoman.

Without opposition, I was unanimously re-elected as chairman of the Retirement Committee.   Moving forward in my role, I intend for the Retirement committee to continue its work in protecting the plans assets, responsibly managing taxpayer dollars via the State’s contribution to the plans, while fulfilling the promised return to our retirees.

This year, I will again serve on the Health and Human Services Committee.  However, instead of serving on the Agriculture and General Affairs Committees, I will be a member of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee.  I will also serve on the Committee on Committees which is a committee that assigns senators to committees.

The legislature faces many challenges this year, the greatest being a significant budget shortfall to the tune of roughly $900 million.  Governor Pete Ricketts and the legislature will have to work hand in hand in order to make difficult, yet appropriate funding cuts to balance the budget.  The legislature will also examine tax reform while taking a close look at ways to find property tax relief.  The Revenue Committee will also consider the elimination of some tax emptions for certain items and services.  I know taxes are an important issue to all Nebraskans, and we will work diligently to find solutions to our tax challenges.

The first ten days of session is the only time Senators are allowed to introduce legislation.  While we do not know all the bills that will be introduced during this time, some of the bills and issues expected to garner attention this year in addition to tax reform include the discussion for new correctional facilities, staffing concerns within the Department of Corrections, and tourism reform.

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. David 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.

 

Previously I wrote about my support of the York County Board of Commissioners working to designate York County as a “Livestock Friendly” county.  I am excited to report that York County was officially designated as “Livestock Friendly” earlier this week. I was excited to be in York County with members of the York County Board, Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, and members of the farming community as they officially proclaimed York County “Livestock Friendly”. 

Serving on the Agriculture Committee, I have heard from countless young men and women who want the opportunity to come back and be a part of their family farms.  With the price of land today, it’s often times hard to find a way to bring a child back to the farm – and many farmers are starting to utilize livestock operations as a way to start another generation of farmers as part of the family operation.  Counties that designate as “Livestock Friendly” not only send a clear message that they are open for business, creating an environment for growth, they also exhibit the potential to grow their local tax base.  A 2014 University of Nebraska study suggests that there is much room to grow livestock production in Nebraska, and that the potential economic impact on the state’s economy could be tremendous.  For these reasons I support the expansion of this program and encourage other counties to consider it.  

I also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new Legislative Aide, David Slattery.  David comes to my office after having served three years as the Legislative Aide for Senator Colby Coash. Other political experience for David includes working for Senator Lydia Brasch, the Mike Johanns for U.S. Senate campaign, and several years in Washington, D.C., as a Legislative Bill Clerk for the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with David on a number of pieces of legislation during the past year and a half and I have been extremely impressed by his work ethic, his attention to detail, and his engagement in the legislative process.  I’m excited to have him on board and know he is going to be a great member of our team.  

Finally, I want to thank you for the continued support you have provided our family during the past several months as we learned about my wife Suzanne’s pancreatic cancer and as she began treatments.  So many of you have reached out with your kind words, good wishes, and to share with us that you have us in your prayers.  We have felt those prayers and I am happy to report that Suzanne is responding well to the treatment she has been receiving.  She is getting stronger every day!  My daughters Jessica and Jennifer have set up a Caring Bridge website and you can follow Suzanne’s journey at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/suzannekolterman.  This website allows you to sign up for updates on Suzanne.  We are so humbled by the outpouring of support from the 24th legislative district.  Suzanne is feeling your prayers and we are all strengthened by them!  Thank you! 

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. David 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.

You’re Invited:

Gov. Ricketts & Sen. Kolterman to Hold Town Halls in Seward and York

 

Lincoln – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and State Senator Mark Kolterman announced that they would hold town halls in Seward and York on Thursday, August 12, 2016.  The Governor and Senator invite the public to attend the town halls.

“Nebraskans are invited to join Governor Ricketts and Senator Kolterman at their upcoming town halls in Seward and York,” said Taylor Gage, the Governor’s Public Relations Director.  “This is a great opportunity to hear an update on how our state is growing, and also to make your voice heard.  The Governor and Senator look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can move our state forward together.”

 

Full details for the town halls to be held on Friday, August 12, 2016:

8:30 a.m.      Seward Town Hall, Seward Civic Center, 616 Bradford Street, SEWARD

2:30 p.m.      York Town Hall, Holthus Convention Center, 3130 Holen Ave, YORK

 

 

Questions should be directed to the Governor’s Office at 402-471-2244.

 

The past few weeks we have been busy at the State Capitol as we have begun work on interim studies.  There are several issues I will be working on over the summer, including a study related to the costs associated with air ambulance service, a variety of studies related to retirement, bills from last year related to the dental industry and surgical assistants.  I also serve on the Inter-generational Poverty Task Force, a committee designed to look at how we can break the cycle of poverty in Nebraska.  Finally, I am following the issues surrounding our state’s correctional system and the state’s tourism commission.  Both of these areas have some challenges that we will need to address in the future and I continue to keep up to date on emerging information in an effort to be prepared for solutions as they come forward next year.

I will be hosting a free program for District 24 residents on Friday, July 15 to help them learn about Medicare basics. The presentation is scheduled from 10:00 –11:00 a.m. at Henderson Health Care, 1621 Front Street in Henderson. The workshop is for people who have Medicare now or will be getting it soon. Participants will learn Medicare fundamentals needed to avoid common pitfalls. Bobbie Kierstead from Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) will present the program. The program offers free, unbiased counseling and education about Medicare to older and disabled Nebraskans. SHIIP does not sell or promote any insurance products. For more information about Medicare, contact SHIIP at (800) 234-7119 or go to www.doi.nebraska.gov/shiip.

I wanted to share with you some news about our family.  About a month ago my wife Suzanne began experiencing some back pain.  It was followed a short time later by some stomach pains. Upon visiting our Seward doctor, they performed an ultrasound to look at her gallbladder, and found some notable spots on her pancreas and liver.  A more thorough dye contrast CAT scan revealed both gallstones and other notable spots, and she was referred onto the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota where she was ultimately diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is a tough one, because most people don’t develop signs of it until it has advanced significantly and has moved to other organs.  This is the case with Suzanne.  We have a really tough fight ahead of us, but if you have met Suzanne, you know that if anyone can fight this, Suzanne can.  There is no cure for pancreatic cancer, but the goal is to keep Suzanne around as long as possible with the best quality of life possible.  We are working with excellent doctors at both Mayo Clinic and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and she will be undergoing an aggressive form of chemo throughout the summer.

We have been so touched by the outpouring of support we have received from our friends and family.  Although I intend to continue to do my very best in meeting the needs of my constituents and will continue to attend meetings, interim study hearings, and other obligations of the office, I know you understand that right now my priority is Suzanne and being with her as she undergoes treatment to fight this disease.

Our family has a strong faith and we do believe that God is at work in this situation. Even though we don’t understand why, we continue to trust in His plan for our family and ask for your prayers for Suzanne and all of us as we navigate this new journey.   If you would like to drop Suzanne a note, our home address is 2577 Waverly Road, Seward, NE 68434.

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.

Last year, I wrote a letter to the York County Board of Commissioners in support of their decision to designate York County as a “Livestock Friendly” county. The Livestock Friendly County program, known as LFC, was created in 2003 and recognizes Nebraska counties which support expansion of the livestock industry, and allows those counties to partner with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to encourage industry development.

The LFC designation process provides a platform around which residents and elected leaders can build a conversation about the impact of existing livestock operations, the possibility of economic growth, and the local regulatory environment. Though zoning rules will still be upheld and enforced locally, achieving the designation provides a certain amount of predictability and confidence, and helps businesses make long-term investment decisions.

Nebraska is rich in resources, including an abundance of feed, affordable power, accessible water, and available processing, but we continue to lag behind neighboring states in livestock development. As a 2014 University of Nebraska study suggests, there is room to grow livestock production in Nebraska, and the potential economic impact, especially on local tax rolls, is tremendous.

While many communities and counties across Nebraska consider themselves “livestock friendly,” when businesses look to expand or relocate, it becomes clear that misconceptions about modern animal agriculture still exist. In the Legislature we are constantly working to reduce the regulatory burden of regulation on all small businesses, including our local livestock operations across the state. An LFC designation creates an easier avenue for livestock investment by creating an open process to follow for all parties involved.

As the Nebraska Department of Agriculture points out, at the very least, the LFC program provides a framework for discussion:

Pursuing the LFC designation initiates a conversation among county residents about the impact livestock has in the county, as well as how the industry is supported. The conversation becomes a self-examination of where the county is and where it wants to go with livestock and livestock business development. Designation means that the county has made a commitment to support the livestock industry in a socially, economically, and environmentally sound manner.

For these reasons and more, I support the LFC program not only in York County, but in all counties in Nebraska, including the other two counties in Legislative District 24, Polk and Seward.

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.

Although the second session of the 104th Legislature adjourned sine die on April 20, my staff and I will continue to work year round on legislation, interim studies, constituent matters, and other tasks. The recent developments in the Nebraska Tourism Commission debacle may very well give rise to investigation and proposed legislation by the Legislature into how to prevent such problems in the future. I am certain that I am not alone in my disappointment with the results of the Auditor of Public Accounts findings. Not only am I concerned with certain Commission activities and practices, but many of its responses to the issues in the Auditor’s report are cause for concern as well. The fact of the matter is that the public trust was broken, and we need to find a way to improve accountability with this commission.

Senator Mello and the Appropriations Committee should be recognized for their role in the discovery of the Commission’s activities, as Senator Mello sent a February 29 letter to the Commission reporting concerns with its budget and spending growth. Addressing the serious concerns about the Commission’s activities will no doubt require ongoing investigation and correction. While some of this may entail intervention from the Legislature in the near future, the immediate actions will be undertaken by the Executive branch of the government. The information has been forwarded by the APA to the Attorney General’s office – as it always is – for further investigation about whether laws were violated. Governor Ricketts has said he will reconsider whether the Commission should remain an independent state agency. Clearly, accountability was an element lacking in the first years of operation of the Tourism Commission. I am confident the Legislature will not look at this lightly in the next legislative session.

During last session, I introduced Legislative Resolution 554, which calls for an interim study to examine information regarding air ambulance costs and the information available to consumers about such costs. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average air ambulance trip is 52 miles and costs between $12,000 and $25,000 per flight. Many air and ground ambulance services refuse a preferred provider contract with payers, forcing patients to pay high, uncontrolled billed charges. There are reports of large balance bills to air ambulance patients that were unexpected and often uncovered by insurance. Air ambulance bills appear to be a nationwide issue.

To facilitate the study, I have begun compiling a list of stakeholders in order to organize a meeting later this interim in which I hope to understand not only why the costs of air ambulances are so high, but also to look into the possibility of establishing a system in which the costs are as transparent as possible. If you are a stakeholder who has an interest in attending the interim meeting, please contact my office to let us know so we can include you on our list. There are several other interim studies I will be working on this summer. Throughout the course of the interim, I will share information with you about these as well.

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.

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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