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

Exciting news for Seward, Milford and York!

 

Allo announces expansion plans for 5 Nebraska cities

Matt Olberding
Nov 29, 2021

Allo Communications on Monday announced expansion plans for five more cities in Nebraska.

The Lincoln-based telecommunications provider that’s owned partly by Nelnet said it plans to start internet, phone and TV service in Ashland, Milford, Seward, Sidney and York next year.

Allo said it currently is working closely with officials in each city to complete necessary agreements and plans to start building out fiber networks in the spring.

Allo has been in expansion mode, especially in Nebraska, recently starting service in Norfolk, Wayne and Valentine, and currently working on completing fiber builds in Columbus, Fremont, Grand Island and Kearney.

“We have always had a big focus on our home state of Nebraska, said Allo President and CEO Brad Moline. “We are excited to connect hundreds of thousands of Nebraska residents and businesses to our award-winning fiber technology while also bringing economic growth to each community.”

The company also announced plans earlier this year to provide service to Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Allo now serves more than 20 cities in three states with a total population of more than 800,000 people.

 

​​https://journalstar.com/business/local/allo-announces-expansion-plans-for-5-nebraska-cities/article_72c4b659-d75c-58fb-9411-4710c2b670ce.html

Martha Stoddard and Kelsey Stewart World-Herald Bureau
Nov 29, 2021 | Updated Nov 30, 2021

 

LINCOLN — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday called the preliminary injunction blocking federal enforcement of a coronavirus vaccine mandate on health care workers “positive” news.

A federal judge blocked the mandate on health care workers in Nebraska and nine other states that had brought the first legal challenge against the mandate.

The court order said that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two government health care programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

The preliminary injunction by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp applies only to the coalition of 10 states. The others are Iowa, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Similar lawsuits are pending in other states.

“This is very timely,” Ricketts said on his call-in radio show, noting that the federal mandate was slated to take effect this week.

While Ricketts called the COVID-19 vaccine a miracle of medicine, he also said Americans should not be forced to decide between their jobs and getting a shot. He said the injunction will help health care providers, especially those in rural areas, who are struggling to find staff.

A caller who identified himself as Cory from Holt County welcomed the news. He said his wife works at a local hospital and was faced with a Dec. 5 vaccine deadline.

Ricketts noted that the injunction stops the federal government from imposing mandates on health care providers but that providers may have their own vaccine requirements.

Eight large Omaha- and Lincoln-based health systems announced in early August that they planned to require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Officials said at the time that the move was to ensure the safety of patients and employees and the communities in which they operate.

By early November, 90% of those health systems’ employees had received vaccines. All of the systems granted exemptions to a small percentage of their employees on medical or religious grounds. Those employees typically have agreed to wear masks and be tested regularly.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement that the ruling is significant for Nebraska health care workers, especially those who work in rural hospitals.

“Today’s ruling immediately prevents enforcement of the mandate. While we do anticipate the federal government will seek immediate review by the Eighth Circuit, we are confident that the analysis by the trial court will be confirmed,” he said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement saying she applauds the court’s decision.

“Medical providers that have been on the frontlines of this pandemic saving lives deserve the freedom and ability to make their own informed health care decisions,” she said. “I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make health care decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms. President Biden should do the same.”

The federal rule requires COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers nationwide in about 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers that get funding from government health programs. Workers are to receive their first dose by Dec. 6 and their second shot by Jan. 4.

The court order against the health care vaccine mandate comes after President Joe Biden’s administration suffered a similar setback for a broader policy. A federal court previously placed a hold on a separate rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure that their workers get vaccinated or else get tested weekly for the coronavirus.

The administration contends that federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic.

But the judge in the health care provider case wrote that federal officials likely overstepped their legal powers.

“CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans,” Schelp wrote. “Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism.”​​

Even under an exceedingly broad interpretation of federal powers, “Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact the this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate,” he wrote.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

https://omaha.com/news/state-and-regional/biden-vaccine-rule-for-health-workers-blocked-in-nebraska-and-nine-other-states/article_dc41ddc6-5144-11ec-af08-cfef8791aef2.html

I wanted to share an update Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson posted regarding his response to the federal vaccine mandates. I applaud him for his hard work in pursuing lawsuits regarding the Biden Administration’s CMS, OSHA, and federal contractor vaccine mandates. Fighting these mandates through the judicial system is the best and most efficient action we can take as a State.

 

Attorney General’s Response to Federal Vaccine Mandates

In the last months, the Attorney General’s Office has received numerous phone calls asking about the federal vaccine mandates announced by the Biden administration. Nebraskans want to know whether these federal mandates are enforceable. This is understandable since many are facing the loss of their livelihood and are exploring ways to maintain employment without being required to take one of the vaccines.
It is also understandable that many Nebraska employers and employees are confused as to the status of these mandates. Although the Biden administration first announced them on September 9, 2021, the rules were slow to be released, and the guidelines are lengthy and complex. The Attorney General is concerned that these federal mandates are unlawful. In response, Attorney General Peterson has filed lawsuits regarding the Biden Administration’s CMS, OSHA, and federal contractor vaccine mandates.
The Attorney General serves as legal adviser for the State of Nebraska, its agencies, and its officials. By law, the Attorney General or members of his staff are prohibited from providing legal advice, opinions, or representation to private citizens. If your inquiry concerns a private legal matter, you should contact a private attorney in order to protect your legal rights. You may wish to visit this link for guidance on locating legal assistance.
Weekly Column – October 22nd
October 25th, 2021

Over the past few weeks my office, along with many other offices, have been contacted by citizens from across the state expressing their opposition to mandated COVID-19 vaccinations. This began after President Biden’s announcement earlier this autumn that would mandate vaccinations or require mandatory testing for employers who employ more than 100 individuals.  This has led to calls for the Nebraska Legislature to convene in a special session to enact legislation that prohibits this mandate from being implemented in Nebraska.

This week, following the lead of Senators Ben Hansen and Rob Clements, twenty-six of my colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Bob Evnen to begin the process to reconvene the Legislature to address these concerns.  While a majority of Senators have signed onto this call, an additional seven senators will need to inform the Secretary of State of their support for a special session to occur. While I do not believe in mandating COVID-19 vaccinations, I did not sign onto the call for numerous reasons which I want to explain.

The first reason why I did not sign onto the call to conduct a special session is the federal COVID-19 mandates have yet to be enacted as language is still being crafted.  Without seeing the exact language that is being proposed, I believe it to be irresponsible to convene a rushed special session to enact statutes that may or may not address this issue since we have yet to see the language being considered at this time. There is also the possibility that the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rule will be unenforceable due to numerous issues.

The second reason I have not signed onto this call is I have concerns about the constitutionality of such a proposal.  Based upon legal precedent, OSHA has authority to institute standards to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. If the Nebraska Legislature were to enact a law that contradicts what essentially is a federal mandate, our state’s law would be nullified due to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. I have spoken to numerous companies who operate in multiple states and who would likely still have to comply with any federal order, which means any state action would confuse the employees. I fear that any attempt to preempt federal guidelines at this time would largely be symbolic and a waste of taxpayer money to simply make a political statement.

Additionally, while I do not personally support forced COVID-19 vaccinations, I do not believe the heavy hand of government should interfere in the free-market system to prohibit employers from doing what they believe is best for their individual company. Though the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already decided that private and public employers are legally able to require employees to get vaccinated under the threat of termination, the employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees sincerely held religious beliefs or disability.  I believe that any attempt by the State to nullify this decision by the EEOC could be challenged and likely would be nullified by a Court.

These constitutional questions could be answered sooner than later in a court of law.  For example, in September twenty-four Attorneys Generals from across the United States, including our Attorney General Doug Peterson, collectively signed a letter which was sent to President Biden. It asked the President to reevaluate his proposal and if he doesn’t, they “will seek every available legal option” that is available once the mandate is closer to being enacted.

I understand the frustration some feel with employers implementing COVID-19 vaccination mandates before a final order or rule has been enacted by the President or OSHA. Due to timing, the Legislature reconvening for a special session will not help those individuals who are facing vaccination deadlines in November or December due to the logistics required to bring the Legislature back into session.

While I have personal opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, I believe it is in the State’s best interest to wait for any current and future legal challenges to play out in the judicial system, so we have a better understanding on how to address the issue.  Allowing the Legislature to wait until January will allow Senators to continue to work on this kind of legislation that will address the issue more soundly should the federal government move forward.  As such, I will not be supporting any attempt to reconvene the Legislation prior to January 5, 2022, to enact rushed constitutionally suspect legislation that may or may not solve the concerns that have been raised.

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.

Office move!
October 18th, 2021

Senator Kolterman’s office has moved from Room 2004 to Room 1101, which is located on the first floor on the west side of the Capitol. If you have any trouble locating the office, please call 402-471-2756.

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.

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room 1101
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
Search Senator Page:
Topics
Committee Assignments
    Appropriations
    Committee On Committees
    Nebraska Retirement Systems
Search Current Bills
Search Laws
Live Video Streaming
View video streamView live streams of floor activity and public hearings

Streaming video provided by Nebraska Public Media

Find Your Senator