NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. 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

Weekly Column – October 12th

October 12th, 2018

I want to invite you to a town hall meeting I am hosting with my special guest Kyle Schneweis, Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) Director. It will be from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on Thursday, October 25th, at the Stromsburg Senior Center (118 East 3rd Street). I asked Director Schneweis to join me for a public discussion about NDOT’s Surface Transportation Program Book that was recently released for the Fiscal Years 2019 through 2024. Please join us if you are interested in transportation projects proposed over the next one to five years. There will also be an opportunity for questions from the public about other transportation issues.

Over the last couple weeks, I have written about Nebraska’s budget, including revenues collected by the State and local governments and a broad overview of State spending. I invite you to visit my website, http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist24/ if you have missed reading these columns. This week, I am highlighting some of the larger programs funded by State general revenue dollars including education, human services and public safety.

Most general fund dollars collected fund a handful of education, health and human services and public safety programs. In education and cultural development for example, we spend almost $2 billion annually with the bulk of the funding going to the TEEOSA State Aid to Schools (48%), University of Nebraska Agency Operations (28%) and Special Education (11%).

Last year we spent over $1.6 billion on health and human services. More than half of that, $836 million, was spent on Medicaid alone. Funding for the Nebraska Supreme Court and Department of Corrections Services account for more than 80% of law enforcement and public safety general fund programming. The 13.4% increase in public finance programs over the last three fiscal years were caused by increasing the Homestead Exemption by $7.35 million while implementing the $13.8 million Personal Property Tax Exemption over the same period of time.

A large budget item not included in the general fund budget is the Real Property Tax Credit which was enacted in 2007. Under this program, transfers are made out of the general fund to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund at the discretion of the Legislature. The total amount of credit available for statewide distribution this year is $224 million.

In reality, a handful of government programs dramatically influence the general fund budget in Nebraska. Any increase or decrease in these programs have a significant impact on the budget. In fact, only 15 programs accounted for 81% of the increased government spending over the last three fiscal years.

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. 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.

Weekly Column – October 5th

October 11th, 2018

In last week’s column, I wrote extensively about revenues collected by the State of Nebraska and local governments including property, income, sales and use taxes. If you missed reading the first installment, I invite you to visit my website: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist24/. As promised, this week I will be writing about government spending, focusing on programs either totally or partially funded by general funds.

For most people, governmental accounting seems backwards. That’s because it does not have the same fundamental goal that financial accounting has for the private sector. For individuals and businesses, a budget is a financial planning tool to achieve the main objective of maximizing wealth or profit. Therefore, a budget is simply a guide. In governmental accounting, a budget establishes specific fund balances created during a budget process for a specific purpose based upon the most effective use of public resources over a specified period of time.

In the State of Nebraska, the Governor is required by the State Constitution to present a budget bill to the Legislature every two years. Upon receiving the Governor’s budget proposals, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee holds public hearings and make recommendations to the full Legislature to provide funding to the various state agencies and programs for budgeted fund types. Since Nebraska utilizes a biennial budget for revenues, appropriations and expenditures, the budget is split into two Fiscal Years beginning on July 1st of every odd numbered year. This budget process will start again early next year during the 90-day first session of the 106th Legislature.

Nebraska Department of Administrative Services Budget Division has grouped expenditures into eight functional areas: Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources; Economic Development and Regulatory; Education and Cultural Development; General Government; Health and Human Services; Law Enforcement and Public Safety; Public Finance; and Transportation. Only 48 of Nebraska’s 78 state agencies fund part or all of their operations with general fund revenues. The other 30 agencies operate utilizing other revenue sources such as cash (user fees), federal or revolving funds. General funds represent about 41% of the total funds appropriated to fund state government. Below is a summary of general fund expenditures broken down by functional area.

Expenditures FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 Chg. FY15 – FY17 % Chg. FY15 – FY17
Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources (15)  $50,247,843  $40,839,279  $40,128,175  $(10,119,668) -20.1%
Economic Development and Regulatory (19)  $17,317,681  $18,112,075  $17,997,840  $680,159 3.9%
Education & Cultural Development (12)  $1,917,585,850  $1,979,016,145  $1,995,070,684  $77,484,834 4.0%
General Government (3)  $21,173,439  $22,674,557  $22,461,388  $1,287,949 6.1%
Health & Human Services (6)  $1,514,089,955  $1,576,373,139  $1,614,352,730  $100,262,775 6.6%
Law Enforcement & Public Safety (12)  $441,183,028  $467,497,289  $478,525,132  $37,342,104 8.5%
Public Finance (7)  $155,452,953  $160,665,103  $176,212,462  $20,759,509 13.4%
Transportation (4)  $    –  $     –  $    –  $     –
Total  $4,117,050,749  $4,265,177,587  $4,344,748,411  $227,697,662 5.5%

 

It is important to note that the four transportation agencies – Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board and Departments of Aeronautics, Motor Vehicles and Roads – are funded by cash or federal funds. Also, please be assured that the 20% reduction in Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources was not a massive budget cut. In reality, the Legislature made a one-time transfer of $10 million in FY2015 to establish the Water Sustainability Fund through LB906 passed in the 2014 session. It was financed by a similar transfer from the Cash Reserve Fund to the General Fund. Also, increasing the Homestead Exemption and implementation of the Personal Property Tax Exemption created the 13.4% increase in Public Finance.

In next week’s column, I plan to provide additional details about some of the other programs that are driving the increases in government spending including education, human services and public safety.

In the meantime, 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. 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.

It was a quiet week around the Capitol and district, so I thought it would be a good time to write about ongoing conversations involving property tax relief and government spending reforms. Given the complexities of these issues, I plan to write about them over the next few weeks. This week, I will focus on taxes.

As I’ve written in the past, there is no quick fix to reducing the property tax burden. To achieve meaningful property tax relief, we need to build a broad coalition of Senators representing both urban and rural interests. This is necessary because my colleagues representing urban areas will tell you that they are looking for income tax relief and opposed to eliminating any sales tax exemptions. There are also a few of my colleagues who do not support any tax relief – income or property.

Property taxes were instituted in 1857 by Nebraska’s territorial legislature. When Nebraska became a state in 1867, the state and local political subdivisions began levying property taxes. Nebraska did so until 1966, when voters adopted a constitutional amendment abolishing the use of property taxes to fund state government. Since 1967, property taxes have been exclusively collected by local political subdivisions and is the primary source of their revenue to fund local government – this includes counties, municipalities and school districts.

In 1967, the Legislature enacted the Nebraska Revenue Act implementing a statewide income tax and also created sales and use taxes. For the most part, this was done to replace the loss of state revenue from property taxes. This was when the “three-legged stool” was proposed to fund state and local government. In theory, most state and local government services would be funded by one-third income tax, one-third property tax, and one-third sales tax. In reality, this never came to fruition.

According to the State of Nebraska Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2017, Nebraska collected $4.956 billion in tax revenue. Income tax accounted for 50.6% of the total amount collected at $2.506 billion. Sales and use taxes comprised almost 37% at $1.834 billion. Other taxes – such as petroleum, excise, and business and franchise taxes – represented more than 12% at $614 million. In comparison, local governmental entities levied almost $4.1 billion dollars statewide during 2017. Please remember that property taxes are collected by county treasurers and distributed to local political subdivisions. The State of Nebraska does not receive any revenue from property taxes.

For a brief historical perspective, below is a summary for 2015 and 2016.

State Revenues FY2015 % FY2016 %
Income Taxes  $2,576,621,000 51.7%  $2,517,537,000 50.7%
Sales and Use Taxes  $1,833,701,000 36.8%  $ 1,828,465,000 36.9%
Other Taxes  $572,187,000 11.5%  $615,368,000 12.4%
Total State Revenues  $ 4,982,509,000
2015
 $4,961,370,000
2016
Property Taxes $3,781,433,467 $3,904,884,977

These numbers demonstrate that over the past three fiscal years, total state tax revenues have declined more than $26 million or .5%. At the same time property taxes have increased more than $273 million or 7% over the last three calendar years. It is not surprising that property taxpayers feel they are a shouldering a larger burden of funding local and state government services.

I will be discussing government spending in next week’s column. In the meantime, 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. 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.

Weekly Column – September 21st

September 21st, 2018

At the conclusion of the last legislative session, I introduced several legislative resolutions proposing interim studies on a wide array of topics. Two of the legislative resolutions I introduced were LR376 and LR422. The purpose of LR376 was to examine whether the Property and Casualty Insurance Rate and Form Act should be amended to modernize and reduce regulatory requirements for commercial lines of property and casualty insurance. I also introduced LR422 to examine the issuance and usage of electronic prescriptions in accordance with regulatory standards.

Unlike a legislative bill, not every proposed interim study will have a committee hearing. While every legislative resolution is referenced to the appropriate standing committee, it is left to the Committee Chairman’s discretion to prioritize the interim studies and schedule a hearing. Since neither LR376 nor LR422 were prioritized, my staff and I held stakeholder meetings with the interested parties.

On Monday, representatives from the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, Nebraska Hospital Association, Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NeHII) and National Association of Chain Drug Store joined me at the capitol to discuss LR422. I appreciated engaging with industry experts about the advantages and disadvantages of e-prescribing.

Then on Wednesday, I brought together representatives from various insurance associations and the Nebraska Department of Insurance Director, Bruce Ramge, to discuss commercial lines of property and casualty insurance. It was helpful to bring everyone representing the different perspectives of the insurance industry to discuss the proper level of regulation and oversight provided by the State Department of Insurance.

Later in the week, I attended the annual NeHII meeting on Thursday. Working with a collaborative group of partners, NeHII is designing a deliberative approach to patient and family engagement that will safely increase access to data across a health care consumer’s lifetime in Nebraska. Too often information is trapped in particular health systems, creating obstacles that providers and patients run into while trying to access health data. This is exactly what the partners that founded NeHII are committed to eliminating. I proudly support the good work of NeHII to connect all 220+ skilled nursing facilities in Nebraska over the next three years.

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. 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.

Weekly Column – September 7th

September 10th, 2018

Last Saturday, I joined 90,000 Nebraska football fans who were looking forward to ushering in the Scott Frost era for the Huskers. It has been too long since we had so much excitement surrounding Nebraska football. The energy in Memorial Stadium was off the charts leading up to the tunnel walk and kickoff. Every corner of the stadium was rocking especially the student section. Unfortunately, lightning in the area forced NCAA officials to halt the game after the kickoff. Only in Memorial Stadium could we be entertained by one of the largest group sing-a-longs during the two hour delay. It proves once again that there really is no place like Nebraska.

Many of us remember first hearing about Scott during the early 90s while he was playing high school football out in Wood River. His football career – as a player and coach – is truly inspiring for so many young people. Fortunately for Scott, he will get a second chance to make a good impression on Husker fans this Saturday.

I joined Governor Pete Ricketts during his town hall meeting at the Holthus Convention Center in York on Wednesday. Forums like this are important for elected officials to meet with their constituents to talk about issues and hear their concerns. There were a handful of topics discussed, including economic development, public education, infrastructure and taxes. It was a lively event and I very much appreciate Governor Ricketts holding one of his town hall meetings in York.

The Nebraska Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, of which I am a member, held a Heritage Heath Quarterly Briefing on Friday. These briefings allow us an opportunity to periodically review the implementation of new health care delivery system for Nebraska’s Medicaid and CHIP clients. It is important that we closely oversee Heritage Health since it administers almost $1.2 billion in physical health, behavioral health and pharmacy services.

This weekend I am excited to be a part of Yorkfest. The festival caps off a summer full of community events – most of which I have been able to attend throughout District #24. It’s been fun to crisscross the district with my family, celebrating the Swedish Festival in Stromsburg, Utica Heritage Days, Henderson Community Day, Milford Fun Days, The Polk County Fair in Osceola, the York County Fair in York, the Seward County Fair in Seward, and of course our own local Festival, the 4th of July in Seward. We are proud of the communities across the district that work so hard to highlight the many wonderful people and attributes of their communities, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in these types of events!

Weekly Column – August 31st

September 4th, 2018

You may have noticed a lot of activity in and around the State Capitol if you have visited it over the last few weeks. We have begun the initial construction phase of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Project. This will take an estimated eight years to complete and will require the temporary relocation of every office in the Capitol as quadrants are systematically vacated for the removal and installation of HVAC equipment. Several state agencies already vacated their offices on the first floor and in the tower, relocating to other locations in downtown Lincoln. This was done to accommodate the internal relocation of other offices that will stay in the building during construction.

All of the offices located in the southwest section of the building have recently been vacated and temporary walls are being constructed to block public access during the renovation. Unfortunately, many of the relocated offices will have to store file cabinets and bookcases in hallways. So please pardon the dust if you plan to visit the State Capitol during the next few years. Fortunately, my office did not have to relocate since it is located in the northwest section of the Capitol.

The telephone numbers for the relocated offices remain the same. The Clerk of Legislature maintains an updated roster for Legislative offices.

Last Friday, I joined many of my colleagues at one of the TEEOSA School Funding Legislative Study Group meetings being held during the interim. The study group is examining TEEOSA – the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act – which passed in 1990 with the stated goal to reduce the overreliance on property tax for the support of the public school system in Nebraska. It was also supposed to equalize school funding between land-rich districts and schools with a wealthy tax base. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way TEEOSA failed to meet its objective. I am hopeful we will be able to identify solutions and fix them during the next legislative session.

On Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to join Governor Pete Ricketts, Senator Deb Fischer and other state leaders in Kearney at the ribbon cutting for the new Central Nebraska Veterans Home. The 338,000-square-foot veterans’ home is located on 67 acres and is comprised of ten buildings providing many levels of care, housing up to 225 veterans. This new state-of-the-art facility will help Nebraska continue to provide quality care for our veterans who have given us so much.

Then on Sunday, I attended the Governor’s breakfast at the State Fair. This gave me the opportunity to celebrate the important role agriculture plays in our everyday. It was great to see so many outstanding farming and ranching advocates from across Nebraska.

It was truly an honor to see a good family friend Tina Marroquin sworn in as a District Court Judge on Thursday. I have watched Tina’s career evolve over the years and know she will make an excellent judge for the Fifth Judicial District!

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. 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.

Friday, August 24, 2018

August 24th, 2018

Welcome back to all the students attending one of our outstanding primary, secondary or post-secondary schools in Legislative District 24. I am very fortunate to represent so many exceptional educational institutions and hope to visit as many as I possibly can during this school year.

I also want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the teachers, administrators and support staff members for the role they have in educating our young people. I believe the most important gift we can give our young people and ensure a prosperous future is a quality education. We all benefit from their work. I wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and prosperous year.

As students return to school from their summer break, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide an update on what we have been working on during the interim as we approach the first session of the one hundred and sixth Legislature.

During the last month, I had the pleasure of joining Governor Pete Ricketts in designating Polk and Seward Counties as Livestock Friendly. They become the 47th and 48th counties in Nebraska, respectively, to receive the designation. With them joining York County, which was the 38th county designated as Livestock Friendly in September of 2016, I can proudly say that I represent one of only a handful of completely Livestock Friendly legislative districts in Nebraska.

In the past, I have expressed my support for the program and have encouraged the expansion of it. Nebraska has an abundance of resources including grain, affordable power, accessible water and available processing. Unfortunately, we continue to lag behind neighboring states in livestock development. A University of Nebraska study found there is room to grow livestock production in Nebraska, and the potential economic impact, especially on local tax rolls, is tremendous.

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. 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.

Weekly column – April 26th

April 30th, 2018

The first week of the interim was an opportunity for me to get out of the office and travel the district. It started on Sunday with a visit from the pope’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Peirre, who offered blessings for recent additions to the St. Gregory the Great Seminary. Then on Monday, I joined a community roundtable discussion in Seward hosted by the 1st District Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. On Tuesday, I met with several teachers representing the Nebraska State Education Association in York. The following day on Wednesday, I had breakfast with the local leadership of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation also in York and then spoke to the Seward Rotary Club over the lunch hour.

I traveled back to the Capitol on Thursday to participate in two bill signing ceremonies with Governor Pete Ricketts for LB1120 and LB439. Introduced by Omaha Senator Theresa Thibodeau, LB1120 changes provisions of the Nebraska Liquor Control Act to regulate bottle clubs through the State Liquor Control Commission. Lincoln Senator Anna Wishart introduced LB439 and I prioritized it. This new law will now allow nurses employed by an assisted-living facility to provide health care services to residents. It was an honor for me to work with my colleagues on these important pieces of legislation.

On Friday morning, I participated in a panel discussion at the Mid America Hospital Alliance meeting in Omaha where we discussed health care challenges facing rural Nebraska. Then in the afternoon I celebrated Arbor Day by tending to the trees and bushes around my property. It was a great start to the interim and I look forward to attending as many events around the district as possible.

In addition to traveling the district and attending community events, my staff and I continue to research legislative issues and provide constituent services. This week, I received an email from a constituent with a subject line that read “Help stop the insanity!!” I share her story because I believe it is common issue that we have all been experiencing. She had just answered a call that she thought was coming from the Seward Middle School and it turned out to be a vacation club telemarketer.

The term used to describe this deceptive practice is “spoofing.” While the Nebraska Public Service Commission does not regulate interstate telephone calls, it does provide several useful resources for preventing unwanted calls on its website at: www.psc.nebraska.gov/telecom/telecom_consumer_unwanted_calls.html.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits an entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information. FCC rules also specifically require that a telemarketer transmit or display its telephone number or the telephone number on whose behalf the call is being made. If anyone receives these types of telephone calls, you should file a complaint with the FCC online at www.consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 225-5322. For additional information about spoofing and caller ID, please visit the FCC website at www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id.

On Friday, the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on combating robocalls and caller ID spoofing. For more information about this hearing and the testimony presented, please visit:  www.energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/do-not-call-combating-robocalls-and-caller-id-spoofing/

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. 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.

Weekly Column – April 20th

April 23rd, 2018

The 60th and final day of the Second Session of the 105th Legislature adjourned sine die on Wednesday, April 18th. On the last day we concluded Final Debate on a handful of legislative bills including LB1005, which is the legislation I introduced and prioritized as Chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee. It addresses the withdrawal of an employer from the County or School retirement plans and ensures that the withdrawing entity would be financially responsible for all costs to the plan so those costs do not fall on state taxpayers or other plan members or employers.

LB1005 also incorporated three additional bills I introduced including: LB698 – makes the Public Employee Retirement Board’s regulation authority permissive for all the plans it administers; LB699 – a technical clean-up that inserts language omitted from LB415, which passed last year; and LB700 – removes the obligation of the Nebraska Investment Council to invest the University Trust Fund which is overseen and managed by the University of Nebraska.

Also on the final day, the Nebraska Legislature unanimously adopted my Legislative Resolution 481 designating April as Shingles Awareness and Improvement Month in Nebraska. Nearly one in three people in the United States will contract shingles in their lifetime, corresponding to an estimated one million people annually. The risk of shingles increases with age, with nearly half of those affected over 60 years of age and half of those living until 85 years of age developing shingles. The viral infection causes a painful rash that can be severe along with other symptoms, including long-term nerve pain, scarring, and a decrease or loss of vision or hearing.

Much attention has been paid to the importance of childhood vaccinations, but there is a general lack of awareness of vaccines recommended for adults and a misperception that immunizations are unnecessary for healthy adults. Despite the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials and other experts that healthy adults be vaccinated against shingles, only 30 percent of eligible adults had received the shingles vaccine as of 2015. For this reason, I introduced the resolution to increase public awareness of the importance of adults receiving vaccines against shingles, to promote outreach and education efforts concerning adult vaccination, and to encourage health care practitioners to discuss vaccines for shingle with adult patients.

During his farewell address for the end of the session, Governor Pete Ricketts praised the Legislature for their efforts this session working together to pass meaningful legislation to prevent opioid abuse, increase speed limits on state highways, make certain Nebraska students are able to read at grade level by the end of third grade and eliminate burdensome occupational licensing regulations.

We also heard farewell messages from the eight senators departing due to term limits (Bancroft Sen. Lydia Brasch, Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher and Papillion Sen. Jim Smith) or deciding not to seek reelection to a second term (Lincoln Sen. Roy Baker and Heartwell Sen. John Kuehn).

In his closing remarks before adjournment, Speaker Jim Scheer said that while we had accomplished a lot during the 60-day session, we left several issues for future legislatures to deal with. He instructed those of us returning next session to start thinking about what we want to accomplish during the interim.

During the interim period, I will be traveling through the district attending as many events and meetings as possible. My staff and I will also be busy working on several interim studies. They include:

LR368 – Examine the public employees’ retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board

LR369 – Carry out the provisions of 13-2402 which require the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee to monitor underfunded defined benefit plans administered by political subdivisions

LR376 – Examine whether the Property and Casualty Insurance Rate and Form Act should be amended to modernize and reduce regulatory requirements for commercial lines of property and casualty insurance

LR421 – Examine the operating expenses and fees charged for inspections, plans reviews, and other services by the Housing and Recreational Vehicle Dept. of the Public Service Commission

LR422 – Examine the issuance and usage of electronic prescriptions in accordance with regulatory standards

LR423 – Examine the application of adverse possession in the State of Nebraska and to consider recommendations for modernizing the doctrine to meet contemporary requirements

LR440 – Examine issues relating to the Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety

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. 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.

Weekly Column – April 13th

April 13th, 2018

At the end of last week, Speaker Jim Scheer expressed his disappointment in a lack of substantive debate on property tax relief during this session. In a last ditch effort to develop a compromise, Speaker Scheer met with Senators over the weekend. I very much appreciate Speaker Scheer’s leadership and his attempt to construct a workable solution. In the end, the group of seven Senators were unable to craft a responsible tax reform proposal that we could debate. I am frustrated their efforts were unsuccessful.

On Thursday, I received a letter from Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale asking if I would join other senators in requesting a special session for the purpose of adopting legislation to reduce property taxes. This was in response to a petition for a special session signed by 13 of my colleagues, which is permitted by the Legislature’s Rules and Nebraska Statutes. It requires 33 of the 49 senators to initiate a special session. The deadline to respond to Secretary Gale is Monday, April 23rd.

While I strongly support reducing property taxes, it must be done responsibly. The Legislature would not be able to accomplish this goal during a special session due to limitations in the law. During a special session, the Legislature may only address the objective provided in the petition, which was “reduction of property taxes.” We would not be able to discuss any other matters, including budget adjustments, effects on local government or alternative revenue sources to offset reductions in property tax revenues. It would be impossible to provide property tax relief without discussing and addressing the ramifications it would have on Nebraska. For this reason, I will not be joining the call for a special session.

Last Wednesday, we concluded day 59 of this 60-day short session. The 60th and final day will be Wednesday, April 18th. It will be a busy day with 25 bills on the Final Reading agenda. The Legislature will also have the opportunity to override any veto issued by Governor Ricketts.

Looking ahead at the interim – the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature’s Office four-day legislative simulation, the Unicameral Youth Legislature (UYL), is scheduled for June 10-13. It offers high school students a hands-on opportunity to experience the legislative process. The UYL meets in the Warner Chamber and provides an in-depth learning experience using our process, rules and bills, with the support of legislative staff.

The UYL is jointly sponsored by the Clerk’s Office, 4-H and the University of Nebraska Big Red Summer Camps program. The camp is generously supported by senator donations for student scholarships. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. The registration deadline is May 15th. If you or any young Nebraskan you know are interested in participating in the UYL, please visit www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/UYL or contact the Unicameral Information Office at (402) 471-2420 or uio@leg.ne.gov.

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. 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.

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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