NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Joe and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts and needs. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

With only about two weeks left in September, I wanted to post a reminder that the deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2016 legislative session is Wed., September 30th at 5pm.

Description and duties:

Pages respond to senators’ lights on the legislative floor, answer incoming calls to the chamber, prepare for committee hearings, and perform other duties.

A young constituent interested in becoming a page must fill out and submit an application to the Clerk’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol. A page applicant also is encouraged to contact his or her home district state senator for a letter of recommendation.

Pages must be high school graduates who are enrolled in a college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and be able to work 20 hours a week. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day

For further information, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at 471-2271 or Kitty Kearns at 471-2304.

The deadline for submitting page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2016 legislative session will be Wed., September 30th at 5pm.

Description and duties:

Pages respond to senators’ lights on the legislative floor, answer incoming calls to the chamber, prepare for committee hearings, and perform other duties.

A young constituent interested in becoming a page must fill out and submit an application to the Clerk’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol. A page applicant also is encouraged to contact his or her home district state senator for a letter of recommendation.

Pages must be high school graduates who are enrolled in a college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and be able to work 20 hours a week. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day

For further information, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at 471-2271 or Kitty Kearns at 471-2304.

There are hundreds of bills introduced during each legislative session. Each of these bills addresses unique issues that are complex in their own ways. In this article, I would like to give you some insight into how I review bills and formulate an opinion on them. First, I focus on both the bills that I will introduce and the ones that will be heard in committees on which I serve. Currently, those committees include Health and Human Services, General Affairs, Agriculture, and Retirement Systems. Second, I study bills that have advanced out of committees that I do not serve on and are scheduled to be heard on the floor by the full legislature. Finally, I look at bills that have not yet made it out of the committees that I do not serve on. I make it a point to cautiously maintain an open mind about these bills, due to the fact that they could take on a different meaning if the committee chooses to make significant amendments.

During this process, it is very important for you to provide your input concerning these bills by either writing to me, calling my office, or attending the town hall meetings that I have in the district. Your input has a real impact on my decision making process. For example, while researching and considering the gas tax bill, I waited to make a firm decision and give my commitment until I had received ample input from constituents. After I received input via mail, phone, email, and town halls, it became apparent that constituents were overwhelmingly in favor of raising the gas tax (by a 2 to 1 margin). I went through a similar process to arrive at a decision for the death penalty bill. Although I was morally opposed to the death penalty, my stance was reaffirmed by the support of the majority of constituents that contact my office. In our representative democracy, politically active citizenship is essential. Your input is one ofthe most important factors that I rely on when I am preforming my job as your representative.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

The 2015 legislative session has now come to a close.  During the session, the legislature  addressed and fixed number of key issues facing our state. Though progress was made, we still have a lot of work to do in order to continue moving Nebraska forward. I would like to use this article as an opportunity to give a synopsis of this year’s session.

The legislature increased the property tax relief credit fund by $60 million per year. It now totals over $400 million over the state’s biennium – our two year budget, but we have still not reached a long term solution to fix our state’s high property taxes. I believe the key to fixing this problem is that Nebraska needs to reform the way it funds K-12 education, shifting away from the increased reliance on Ag land, which is currently increasing 15% or more in their valuations every year. The legislature is going to study this issue during the interim, but I still need your help providing input about this problem. You, the taxpayer, are the most knowledgeable about the impact of high taxes and property valuations, let me know your thoughts on how we can help fix this problem.

Prison reform was another major accomplishment of this session. It was absolutely necessary to address the issue, considering the state’s problem with overcrowded prisons. LB605 was passed and signed by the Governor. This bill was a compromise and joint effort established by the Legislature, Governor, Attorney General, county attorneys, and law enforcement officials. It creates a path toward a more cost-effective way to handle nonviolent criminals with alternatives such as drug court and probation. By doing so, we avoid creating an environment where violent repeat offenders share living space with nonviolent criminals, this greatly limits their influence. By doing so, we avoid creating an environment where violent repeat offenders share living space with nonviolent criminals, greatly limiting their influence.

Balancing the budget was a major accomplishment this session. We are holding state spending down to a 3.1% growth rate over the next two years. This is one of the lowest non-recession budgets in Nebraska’s history and will set the state up for major tax relief in the near future. If revenues continue to come in as forecasted at roughly 5% to 6% and the state continues to keep growth at 3.1%, the difference between the two figures will serve as tax relief to Nebraska’s citizens.

While these accomplishments are moving the state in the right direction, we still need major reform in state government. Much of this is directed by you, the watchful citizen. Please continue to contact my office with your thoughts and concerns about how to improve our state government. During this interim period, I will be travelling to every corner of the district and trying to connect with as many of you as possible so I can bring your thoughts and concerns to Lincoln.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me.  My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

This past week, the Legislature held the final round of debate over one of the toughest issues lawmakers face: the death penalty. While dealing with an issue that involves so much sorrow for many families, lawmakers must take many viewpoints and facts into account when arriving at a decision. Many of you have contacted my office via email, phone, and mail to share heart-felt opinions both against and in support of the death penalty. Thank you for contacting our office. Your input truly has an impact on the decisions that we make in the Legislature.

During my conversations with those who are in support of keeping the death penalty, many people expressed frustration related to the lengthy appeals process that is the norm when dealing with death penalty cases. This is certainly one of the major problems within our broken capital punishment system. Many constituents shared the common opinion that the problem could be fixed by speeding up the appeals process through our judicial system. Though I wish there were a quick fix, this is not a viable solution to our problem. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to due process in civil and criminal proceedings. This protects the defendants’ rights to work within the system and appeal court decisions. We can lower Nebraska’s number of lengthy appeals by sentencing criminals to life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of death. Nationally, the average defendant sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole files for an appeal 1.5 times, compared to the 7 appeals for which the average death row inmate files.

I have also heard from many people that support repealing the death penalty. Some of the most important perspectives to consider are those of the victims’ families that have endured this lengthy appeals process. Every time a case is appealed, the families often attend the trial and are forced to face their loved one’s murderer once again. Reliving this past trauma makes it very difficult to finally move on. It is unfair to put them through this decades-long process. This is especially true because the state does not possess the ability to carry out executions, so the criminal will just remain on death row for years. By sentencing criminals to life in prison without the possibility of parole, we are allowing the victims’ families to achieve closure.

As a conservative, I am committed to protecting life and getting rid of government waste. I have always stood as a strong pro-life advocate. I truly believe that life begins at conception and should end at natural death. Also, as I wrote in one of my March editorials, the state has spent approximately $100 million on death penalty related cases since 1976, but has only executed three people. It is evident that the state of Nebraska cannot enforce the death penalty in a prompt manner and it is time to look at other avenues. For all of these reasons, I will continue to support the repeal of the death penalty in the state of Nebraska.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

 

Thank you,
Senator Mark Kolterman

This past week, the Legislature has debated extremely tough and complex issues including the gas tax, driver’s licenses for DREAMer’s, and the death penalty. I don’t take any of these issues lightly as I dedicate countless hours of time studying them, talking with constituents, working with my staff and others involved in these issues to try to find a solution that best serves the 24th district and the state of Nebraska as a whole. It is truly an honor that you have entrusted me to make these decisions and I will continue to put in the work to represent you to the best of my abilities.

Looking forward, there are nine working days left in the session and there is still a lot of work to accomplish. I am currently working to ban the use and distribution of powdered alcohol in our state. Otherwise known as palcohol, this product comes in a Kool-Aid like package and can be added to water to create an alcoholic beverage. I, along with many others, see the many potential problems that this product could create, especially in the hands of our youth. During the first round of debate over the omnibus alcohol bill LB330, I successfully amended a clause for the ban of powdered alcohol in this state. I am also working with my colleagues to figure out the most appropriate way to punish people that bring this banned substance into Nebraska.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

 

This past week the Legislature passed my first bill, LB458, and it was presented to Governor Ricketts on May 7th. LB458 brings our state statue in line with 35 other states and will establish procedures relating to the producer licensing framework for limited lines travel insurance, establishes consumer protections and requires certain disclosures. Two other bills of mine are currently on the last of the three rounds of debate, the first LB296 which brings Health and Human Services wording up to date and would allow our state to continue to receive $144 million in Federal Funds. My second bill on the final round of debate is LB408 which was brought to me by a constituent, and fixes an outdated property tax penalty.

Over these past few days my office has had an influx of 4th grade kids visiting capitol. It’s great to see how interested these kids are in our state, and I enjoy talk with them and explaining our legislative process. If you are in Lincoln or interested in visiting the capitol, setting up a tour, renting a room in the capitol, or any honors please feel free to get in contact with my office as we would be happy to assist you.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman

The Legislature has now finished the first round of budget debate. Overall, I see that the state is heading in the right direction with this budget. It will set Nebraska up for major future tax reform. Here are some takeaways from the first round of debate:

-The biennium budget will have one of the lowest rates of increase in more than three decades,

at 3.1%.

-The budget includes a $60 million annual increase to the property tax relief fund. This would

increase the fund to $200 million annually for direct tax relief to all Nebraskans.

-Funding for K-12 state aid will grow by $47.7 million over two years, and each school will

receive more money for special education students.

 

So what does all of this mean? With the annual spending increase held down to 3.1% and our tax revenue forecasted to increase 5% per year, we will be taking the first major step toward tax relief. The next issues we must address include our education funding and the Nebraska Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act formula. During the interim, the Legislature will take a hard look at this through the School Finance Modernization Committee. It is important that we fix the way the state provides aid to schools because we cannot have meaningful property tax relief without the necessary reform.

Though the budget has only passed the first of three rounds of debate, I feel confident that Legislature will continue to work together to move this budget forward and keep our spending levels low.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature. My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha. Stop by anytime. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

The legislature will debate two bills dealing with medical marijuana in the new few days. The first bill, LB643, was introduced by Senator Garrett. It seeks to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to create a registry of patients with qualifying medical conditions. After the registry is completed, these patients would be permitted to obtain medical cannabis. LB390, introduced by Senator Crawford, would allow for the University of Nebraska Medical Center to conduct a trial study regarding a cannabis cream.

While both of these bills were introduced with the intention of helping people, we must understand that the Federal Drug Administration has still not authorized the use of marijuana to treat illnesses. It is my belief that medical marijuana, like any other prescription drug, should go through the proper established channels for testing and approval. For this reason, I will be voting against LB643 as presented and I will listen closely to the debate on LB390.

I would like to take this time to invite any high school students in the district to this year’s Unicameral Youth Legislature on June 7th-10th at the State Capitol. High school students are invited to experience what it is like to take on the role of state senators as they sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. I encourage any student who has an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking to apply. For more information please visit www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call 402-471-0764. The deadline for registration is May 15. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

As always, I am honored by the faith that you, the voters of District 24, have placed in me. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman For Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.  My office in the State Capitol is Room 1115, which I share with my colleague Senator Bob Hilkemann from Omaha.  Stop by anytime.  My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is 402-471-2756.  Kenny Zoeller, my Legislative Aide, and Katie Quintero, my Administrative Aide, are always available to assist you with your needs.  If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs.

Thank you,

Senator Mark Kolterman
District 24

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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