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As most of you know, one of the unique characteristics of the Nebraska Legislature is that every bill introduced by a senator receives a public hearing. On Tuesday, February 27th, we concluded committee hearings for the 468 legislative bills and 9 constitutional amendments introduced this year. The legislature began full day debate on bills on Wednesday, February 28th. With 23 days remaining in this short legislative session, we still have a lot of important legislation to tackle, including rebalancing the two-year biannual budget.
One of the bills I have been hearing about from constituents is LB1009, a bill that provides a super-two rural highway classification and changes maximum highway speed limits. Upon being introduced by Senator Murante, LB1009 was referred to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, of which I am not a member. According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), the State Highway Commission requested a review of rural speed zones in response to concerns about the consistency of speed limits across Nebraska.
First, LB1009 adds a new classification for highways that already exist across Nebraska. These are two-lane highways with passing lanes spaced intermittently on alternating sides of the highway to provide opportunities to pass slower moving vehicles. LB1009 would also increase the speed limit on highways by 5 miles per hour and allow the NDOT to increase the speed limit on the interstate from 75 to 80 miles per hour should a traffic and engineering study support it. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee recently advanced LB1009. Since Senator Hughes prioritized it, we should be debating LB1009 on the floor soon. I am interested in learning more about the rationale for raising speed limits when LB1009 is debated on General File.
Also on Wednesday, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Board increased its revenue projections for the current fiscal year and next year by about $55 million over its October forecast. The revenue forecast for the next fiscal year FY2018-19 increased $365 million. This includes an estimated $335 million increase in individual income and corporate tax receipts as the result of the federal Tax Cuts and Tax Jobs Act of 2017. LB1090, introduced by Senator Smith, is intended to offset this increase. I will work with my colleagues to prevent this big tax increase.
Last Thursday, March 1st, marked the 151st anniversary of President Andrew Johnson signing the presidential proclamation declaring Nebraska’s statehood. Nebraska was the 37th state admitted to the union and the first after the Civil War. The United States Congress voted to admit Nebraska provided that suffrage was not denied to non-white voters. The bill was vetoed by President Johnson, but it was overridden by a supermajority in both Houses of Congress. To this date, Nebraska is the only state admitted to the Union by means of a veto override.
Every year, the NEBRASKAland Foundation hosts the Statehood Day dinner in the State Capitol Rotunda to recognize Nebraskans who have distinguished themselves and the state. The honorees this year included former University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken, former Governor and U.S. Senator E. Benjamin Nelson, and my twin brother Clark Kolterman.
Clark has dedicated his life to giving back to Seward through his work teaching at Seward High School and the leadership roles in various nonprofit, community and civic organizations. Clark was instrumental in revitalizing the Seward Fourth of July celebration. His leadership efforts helped Seward receive the official designations as Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City from Governor J.J. Exon and later as America’s Official Fourth of July City – Small Town USA by a resolution of Congress.
It’s hard to imagine the Seward Fourth of July without Mr. Fourth of July himself. It’s been a joy to watch him thrive in leading the celebration for so many years and get so many different people involved. No one more deserving of the Distinguished NEBRASKAlander Award than Clark.
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.