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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.
Sen. Mark Kolterman
The second week of the legislative session was a short week as we recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year, the third Monday of January would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday. With the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights leaders’ assassination this April, we realize the significant contributions Dr. King made in his short lifetime.
Thursday was the tenth and final day for bill introduction this session. There were 468 legislative bills and 9 constitutional amendments introduced this year. During this short 60-day session, it is unlikely that most of these bills will make it to floor debate without being prioritized by a Senator or Committee. A bill may also advance on the consent agenda, if it is not controversial and lacks opposition.
We also heard from Chief Justice Heavican on the State of the Judiciary on Thursday. He reported on efforts to make the state’s court and probation systems more effective. Chief Heavican also provided an update on new problem-solving and re-entry courts.
Last week, one of my colleagues introduced the Irrigation Tax Act, LB 1022. If enacted, farmers would pay a one cent tax for every 10 gallons of ground water used for irrigation. The proceeds would fund the School Aid Fund. Since it generates revenue, this legislation was referred to the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. While I do not serve on this Committee, please know that I strongly oppose this legislation and will work with my colleagues to defeat it should it make it out of the Committee.
This year I introduced thirteen bills including four dealing with retirement issues. Below is a summary of the bills I introduced. Please visit the Nebraska Legislature website if you would like more information about each bill at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
LB 698 Changes the Public Employee Retirement Board’s regulation-making authority to permissive for all the plans its administers
LB 699 Technical clean-up bill to insert language omitted from LB 415, which passed last year
LB 700 Removes the obligation of the Nebraska Investment Council to invest the University Trust Fund which is overseen and managed by the University of Nebraska
LB 701 Amends the Uniform Credentialing Act to establish a physician-patient relationship through telehealth
LB 702 Recognizes children covered under Medicaid and other needs-base health care programs
LB 703 Addresses a gap in our medical practice statutes to recognize physicians licensed in another state traveling to Nebraska accompanying a team for an athletic competition or other event
LB 704 Reduces the period of board approved post-graduate medical education requirements for individuals who attended foreign medical schools
LB 705 Changes licensure requirements for an esthetician and an esthetician instructor
LB 706 Clarifies licensing requirements for electrologists
LB 707 Changes provisions of the Uniform Standard Code for manufactured homes
LB 799 Clarifies language in the Surplus Lines Insurance Act
LB 1005 Establishes liability and costs for an entity that elects to withdraw from the County or School Employees Retirement Plan
LB 1127 Creates the Patient Safety Cash Fund
We are continuing to debate bills on General File from last year. Most of the debate this week involved LB 469, the Fantasy Contests Act, and LR 18CA, a constitutional amendment that would decrease the age of eligibility for public office. Both bills were filibustered and received extensive debate. They were both eventually defeated and are finished for the year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Todd 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.
As we continue our first full week of session, I want to share that my office is undergoing a personnel change. My legislative aide, David Slattery, accepted a position with the Nebraska
Hospital Association and I am excited for his new opportunity. He starts the position this week. While I am sad to see him leave my office, I am equally enthusiastic to announce his
replacement, Todd Wiltgen, a longtime family friend who has vast experience in the political arena. Todd also started the position this week and I am expecting a smooth transition within
the office. Fortunately, my committee clerk Katie Quintero, and retirement committee legal counsel, Kate Allen, will continue in their roles in my office.
On that note, the legislature continued with bill introductions and full day debate on Monday. Unlike last year where senators spent weeks debating the rules, we quickly decided to make no
rule changes for this session and got on with the business at hand. We continued to debate bills on General File from last session. On Monday afternoon, we began debate on a priority bill that we discussed last year, LB368, commonly known as the motorcycle helmet bill. After extensive debate and filibustering, that bill was defeated and is now finished for the year.
Last Wednesday was also Governor Pete Rickett’s State of the State Address to the Legislature. In his speech, he discussed a revised plan for tax relief and touted economic development in the state. He also commended senators from both sides of the aisle for growing our state and making Nebraska a better place for families.
This week we will listen to the State of the Judiciary from Chief Justice Heavican. On Tuesday, committee hearings began and five of my bills will be heard in the first week of hearings. On the floor of the legislature, we will continue with debate on bills from last year and are not expecting any bill to be overly contentious during this week.
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 email@example.com, and the office phone number is 402-471- 2756. Todd 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.
If you have any questions, please call our office at 402-471-2756. You can also email Kate Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Quintero at email@example.com.
Our office received information from the Nebraska Department of Insurance regarding SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) enrollment events. See below for more information.
“Medicare Part D Open Enrollment is fast approaching. Open Enrollment is the annual opportunity for individuals with Medicare to review their insurance options and make changes for the upcoming year. The staff and volunteers at Nebraska SHIIP (a division of the Department of Insurance) provide free, unbiased, confidential, one on one counselling sessions to educate and assist people with their Medicare comparisons. Between October 15 and December 7th, the Nebraska SHIIP routinely assists over 20,000 Nebraskans in comparing their Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and Medicare Advantage Plan options. We highly encourage all individuals on Medicare to explore their options each year as personal medical and medicine regimes change. Plans also change each year. Beneficiaries that review their options yearly have few if any surprises when the New Year begins.
During this Open Enrollment season, SHIIP will host over 200 enrollment events across the state where Medicare beneficiaries will receive in-person Part D and/or Advantage Plan comparisons from one of our 370+ certified Medicare counselors.
To learn more about the SHIIP Division, please feel free to visit the SHIIP website“
There is one SHIIP event scheduled in District 24. Appointments ARE REQUIRED for the event. See below for event details and contact information.
Thurs., October 19th
233 S. 5th Street, Seward
PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A CHANGE OF DATE
Thursday, October 12th, 2017
State Capitol Hearing Room 1510
Patient Centered Medical Home Stakeholders Agenda
For those joining via conference call,
The access # 888-820-1398 and the attendee code is #3727514
Click link below for printable version of the agenda.
YORK – The Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce brings annual legislative forums to communities in the state and Thursday was York’s turn.
The presentations and discussions took place over lunch at York Country Club. Speakers were State Chamber officials Joseph Young and Jamie Karl, and Nebraska State Senator Mark Kolterman from Seward.
Young began with a nod to Kolterman.
“We’re trying to make Nebraska the best place to do business,” a task that requires State Chamber staff “to track 350-400 bills” per legislative session.
Why so many? The diversity of members and the issues of concern to them, he explained, account for that number.
Flagship issues to the Chamber, he said, include: Taxes, the cost of doing business, job creation and work force, including affordable housing for families so they can take all those jobs. The latter, he said, “Is probably the biggest issue” over the past four or five years.
Chamber attention does not, he stressed, fall upon the bills that passed exclusively.
“The bills we stop from passing are important, too,” he noted.
Karl went through slides divided into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of how business-friendly the state is as rated by outside entities.
The Good – No. 1 for regulatory climate, No. 5 for unemployment tax costs, No. 3 for legal climate and No. 6 in the fiscal solvency category.
He said the lofty solvency ranking is driven by the fact per-capita debt in Nebraska is only $8.
The Bad – No. 27 for current economic health, No. 26 for growth prospects, No. 33 for technology and innovation, No. 20 for available workforce.
Karl said the state’s workforce ranking has fallen nine spots in two years because not many workers are available in a state with 2.5 percent unemployment.
“Basically anyone who wants a job in Nebraska has a job,” he said. “You don’t want that (unemployed) 2 ½ percent working at your business.”
“We pay a lot of taxes, $9.8 billion last year” at the state and local levels, he said with a sigh.
The point is made in the fact the average individual income tax rate in states that share borders with Nebraska is 2.03 percent. Here, he said, it’s 6.84 percent.
Obviously that discrepancy builds a fence between Nebraska and those other states when businesses go shopping for place in which to expand or relocate.
Nebraska taxpayers, he said, now face a combined, all-inclusive tax rate of 50 percent.
He also pointed out that 60 percent of property tax dollars statewide go to fund K-12 education.
The state, he stressed, does not collect a single dime of property tax money. That authority exists at the local level exclusively.
To the question of the state returning money to the county and local levels he noted, “One-third of the state budget is going to local governments already.
“Everyone in this room would probably come up with a different plan for tax reform,” he said, based upon “the taxes they pay” personally.
When his turn at microphone came Kolterman began by pointing out the session just ended as his third since being elected to the body.
“The next session is probably going to be one of the toughest” to get through, he predicted. The Unicameral, he said giving fair warning, “is looking at probably more cuts come January.”
A big challenge on the horizon, he said, is how to stock outstate Nebraska with adequate numbers of doctors, allied health professionals and hospitals.
One answer he mentioned: Tele-medicine.
Told via a note from the audience of a mother who was forced to travel from Broken Bow to Kearney so she could give birth by C-section, Kolterman laughed and said, “Well, I guess we can’t do that by tele-medicine.”
All joking aside, Kolterman said that mother’s quandary perfectly illustrates the point.
One recurring obstacle in the body – term limits – is an enormous limiting factor.
“To turn it (legislative body) over like we’re turning it over is a big problem. With all that retirement (of senators)” the constant flood of newbies “has to rely on the institutional knowledge of the (legislative) staff” because they have none of their own. By the time they get it, they term limit out.
As to specific issues, he said, “Property taxes and how we fund education go hand-in-hand so we’ve really got to pay attention to that.”
Also, he said 53 percent of nursing home occupants today “are paid for by the state” on average.
Some in their elderly years are known to abuse the system by “giving their land away and then expecting the state to pay for them.”
Look for the legislature to tighten the screws on that and similar loopholes.
“I like to think we’re trying to listen to our constituents,” he said. “In our office we track every bill. Reality is we are nonpartisan” and thus should leave both colors – Red and Blue – at the door.
“I didn’t go down there to change the world. I went down there with the idea to help Nebraskans.”
The Clerk’s Office of the Nebraska Legislature is Now Accepting
Applications for Legislative Page Positions
The application process for selecting pages for the 2018 Legislative Session is now underway in the Clerk’s Office at the Nebraska Legislature. Legislative pages are local college students employed by the Legislature to respond to senators’ requests for assistance on the Legislative Floor, answer incoming calls to the Legislative Chamber, and possibly assist in committee hearings.
The deadline for submitting an application is Fri., September 29th at 5:00 pm. 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 our office at (402) 471-2756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are available at the link below (PDF) or from the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street. For further information on the application process, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at (402) 471-2271.
Monday, July 10th, 2017
State Capitol Hearing Room 1510
Welcome and anti-trust statement
Deb Bass – Update on NeHII
Update on PCMH Participation Agreement for January 2017 signatures
BCBS report on CPC+ application, award and clinic recruitment
Prairie Health Ventures- Rural ACO
Jason Schmit- myConnections- pilot in Buffalo, Hall and Adams Counties
Dave Palm – College of Public Health – PCMH survey and results
Senator Kolterman – Next meeting date and possible agenda items
For those joining via conference call,
the access # 888-820-1398 and the attendee code is #4727514
Click link below for printable version of the agenda.
This will be my last weekly update for the session, as Speaker Scheer announced that the legislature finished its business earlier than expected and we adjourned sine die on Tuesday, May 23rd, the 86th day of the session. It is not uncommon to adjourn a few days early. Officially, the only job of the legislature is to pass a budget. Now we will wait a few months and watch the tax receipts to see if the budget projections are correct. If they are not, there could be a possibility of returning this fall for a special session to deal with any budget shortfalls that could occur.
I want to thank everyone that called, emailed, wrote, or visited my office this year. I can never stress enough how valuable it is to me to listen to the views and opinions of those I represent. We may not agree on every issue, but hearing from you is valuable insight on what issues effect you the most. Having open and constructive conversations with those you disagree is something that I think helps make me best represent those I serve.
I had a productive session and am pleased with what the legislature accomplished, but I always feel like we could have done more. We faced many challenges this year, especially with the budget shortfall due to the ailing agricultural industry.
I would like to have seen a comprehensive tax reform package passed, or at the very least, property tax reduction. It is my hope that the governor can work with the revenue committee to find a solution to relieve some of the tax burden for hard working Nebraska families.
For my personal bills, the legislature passed nine bills that I introduced, including LB323, a bill that is very personal to me since it helps advocate for the use of palliative care, which is a service that is important to people such as my wife who is battling a terminal illness. I am also pleased that we passed LB18, a dental hygienist bill that has been in the works for close to ten years, and LB92, my personal priority bill, a bill that extends insurance coverage for the use of telehealth in the state. During the interim, the Health and Human Service Committee will be taking a closer look and examining the use of telehealth in the state through a legislative resolution that I introduced, LR178.
The legislature passed ten of my retirement bills this year. Eight of those ten bills were included in LB415, a bill which I have commented in this column extensively about for the past couple weeks. I introduced a few interim resolutions that will deal with retirement issues, including retired substitute teachers.
Besides interim studies, there is plenty to do this summer and fall before we reconvene next January. Now that session is over, I look forward to having more time to spend in the community and seeing you all at county fairs, church, town halls, BBQs, and the Seward Fourth of July!
Even though we are not in session, my staff is available to 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 email@example.com, 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.
Many educators question why I introduced LB 415. I want to share my reasons with you and explain some of the complexities. I support defined benefit plans as long as they maintain a healthy funded status. I believe they are a valuable benefit for our public employees and I am committed to protecting these plans. The State of Nebraska contributes $38 million to the School Plan and an additional $7 million to the Class V (Omaha) School Plan every year. Because of the tremendous state budget deficit, there has been some interest in reducing this annual contribution. I objected to, and prevented an attempt on the floor to reduce this annual appropriation because I knew it would endanger the healthy funding status of this plan. I also understand that if we don’t make these annual contributions, the State of Nebraska is liable for the funding.
In addition to keeping the plan well-funded, retirement plans must also be kept in compliance with IRS requirements for qualified plans – which includes ensuring there is a “bona fide separation of service” when a member retires.
Currently in the School Plan, intermittent substitute and voluntary service are allowed during the 180-day separation of service period following retirement. The Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System (NPERS) advised me they are seeing a trend in retirees providing more and more substitute service during this 180-day period – service that is beyond what can be deemed “intermittent”. As a result NPERS staff are spending significantly increasing staff time to monitor and investigate “intermittent service” in order to keep the plan in compliance with the IRS. When NPERS has deemed service has not been intermittent, they had to suspend the retiree’s benefit for a period of time—a result that we all want to avoid.
LB 415 was introduced to eliminate retirees from providing substitute or voluntary service during the 180-day separation of service period in order to create a “bright line” to ensure that the IRS-required bona fide separation of service occurs.
The other proposed changes in LB 415 were in response to information provided by the actuary. During last summer’s examination of all the retirement plans, the actuary determined that members are living much longer — which is great news! But it also means retirement benefits are paid over longer periods than originally assumed. The actuary also informed the Committee that when incentives are offered that encourage plan members to retire early, then benefits are paid over a longer period of time than assumed. Both of these findings result in increased costs to the plan which is why LB 415 includes the provisions that require future hires to work until at least age 60 and a longer separation of service period for retirees who take a voluntary separation agreement or other form of early retirement inducement.
These issues were studies throughout the interim. I met numerous times with representatives of NPERS, NSEA and NCSA throughout the interim last year to discuss these proposed changes and I also made presentations to NSEA and NCSA groups.
After the hearing on LB 415, I agreed to reduce the originally proposed Rule of 90 to a modified Rule of 85 with a minimum retirement age of 60 and during debate on the bill, I further agreed to reduce the separation of service period from 3 years to 2 years for retirees who take early retirement inducements and allow voluntary service after 180 days. During debate other alternatives were offered to reduce the 180-day period, but because of the complexity of determining whether or not they would meet IRS requirements, I agreed to eliminate my proposed changes to the 180-day separation of service and to study this issue further over the interim.
I know many educators are concerned about what I proposed in LB 415. I want to reassure educators, the 180-day separation of service period that allows intermittent substitute and voluntary service remains in effect – there are no changes.
I also want to assure educators that the new Rule of 85 requiring a minimum retirement age of 60 does not apply to any current member or to anyone who is hired prior to July 1, 2018. Only employees hired on or after July 1, 2018 will need to comply with the minimum retirement age of 60 requirement. The actuary determined that this change alone is projected to save the School and Class V (Omaha) Plans a little over $100 million over the next 30 years which will help keep the School plan well- funded.
During the interim the Retirement Committee, joined by several other senators, will study these issues under LR 202, and several Education Committee members have introduced LR 130 to study a number of issues raised about substitute teaching.
I appreciate the dedication and commitment of educators and respect the service provided to our communities and our children. I will continue to work to protect all retirement plans by keeping them in compliance with IRS requirements and making benefit adjustments in order to keep all plans fiscally healthy. In addition, I will continue to object to any efforts to reduce funding for the School Plan or efforts to convert any of the defined benefit plans to cash balance plans as long as they remain well-funded. I look forward to working with all educators in these efforts and welcome any questions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.