NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

My office receives a good amount of correspondence regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, so I wanted to address that issue with you.  I have always been supportive of the pipeline, and recently, I signed a bipartisan letter from 33 members of the Nebraska Legislature to the Public Service Commission in support of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Having closely monitored the proposed project and reviewed TransCanada’s safety and environmental record in our state for the past six years, I believe they have demonstrated a strong commitment to operating responsibly in our state.  In conversations with Nebraskans along the existing Keystone pipeline route (Cedar, Wayne, Stanton, Colfax, Butler, Seward, Saline, Jefferson and Platte Counties) I have found enthusiasm for both the manner in which the company has operated and the property tax dollars its project has contributed since 2010.  I have spoken with friends and neighbors in Seward County that have pipeline in their property, and they have mentioned how easy it is to work with TransCanada when putting land back to its original state, like they were never there.

A large majority of Nebraskans agree with this view considering recent media reports indicating more than ninety percent of landowners along the proposed Keystone XL route have already voluntarily agreed to easements, most for figures at or above market value.  I am particularly pleased that these agreements, as they appear to cover crop losses and inconveniences which my constituents may experience during the anticipated construction time.

The proposed Keystone pipeline will be extensively monitored with checkpoints for oil spills.  It will be better than the current pipeline, and much safer than filling trucks and rail cars with oil, and then sending them on our roads and tracks.  The construction of the pipeline will create good jobs along the route, and lower the electrical rates of local electric systems.  In 2016, Seward County alone billed TransCanada pipeline almost a half million dollars for property taxes.  It was also announced that the latest route proposal would shift slightly west around the Seward County wellhead protection area.

I share your desire to protect the quality of water in our state.   The NDEQ has taken the proper steps to ensure protection of the Sandhills region and Ogalalla Aquifer by endorsing a route which avoids the Sandhills region and the areas of northern Nebraska which are home to fragile soils.

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. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

 

Townhall meetings are an important way for elected officials to meet with their constituents to talk about issues in the district, pending legislation or to just enjoy a cup of coffee together. Last Friday I visited with about 20 constituents in Stromsburg at the 4th Street Coffee House. We discussed all aspects of this legislative session and issues that affect my district.  While I always appreciate hearing from constituents via letter, phone and email, it is nice to have an in-person conversation and meet face-to-face.

I have scheduled two more townhalls on Friday, March 24th. If you are available, I hope you are able to join me at one of them. At 9am I will be at PERKS (1045 N Main St) in Henderson and at 12pm I will be at the Stromsburg Public Library (320 Central Street). Food is being provided for lunch, so please RSVP by calling the library at 402-764-7681 so there will be enough for everyone.

Last week I shared an update about LB92, my priority bill. This week I wanted to tell you about another piece of legislation I introduced this year – LB323, a bill to create the Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program and the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council.

Palliative care is an approach that improves quality of life for patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illnesses through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of pain and other problems besides physical, such as psychosocial and spiritual. Integrating palliative care into mainstream medicine for all patients and families facing serious illness offers an essential opportunity to deliver person-centered and family-focused care, achieve better health, better care, and lower cost. Despite the rising amount of evidence showing its benefits, many professionals mistakenly equate palliative care with end of life and hospice. Because of this lack of understanding of what palliative care is and when it should be provided, there are often barriers preventing access to it.

The purpose of this bill is to improve quality, patient-centered and family-focused care in Nebraska. The bill create the Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program, which relates to information sharing about palliative care through the department’s website. It would include: continuing education opportunities for professionals around palliative care, delivery of palliative care in the home, information about best practices, ​educational materials and referral information. The purpose of the education program is to maximize the effectiveness of palliative care initiatives in the state by ensuring that comprehensive and accurate information is available to the public, healthcare providers, and healthcare facilities.

The second part of the legislation creates the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council. This council brings together health professionals that have palliative care experience and/or experience in palliative care delivery models in a variety of in-patient, outpatient, and community settings with various of populations. The Advisory Council will consult with and advise the Department of Health and Human Services on matters relating to palliative care initiatives, especially the educational components that would go on the we​bsite. Significant advances in medicine have meant many of us will live longer and also live better, even in the face of serious illness. Helping patients and their families achieve these dual outcomes, longer life and higher quality of life, is a key objective of palliative care.

As many of you know, my wife is battling pancreatic cancer.  I learned about palliative care as we moved forward with her illness and her treatments.  Suzanne was placed on palliative care in July of last year.  It was an eye-opening experience for us to discover all the ways this service can help us through her journey.  I want other families to have the same resources we found, and this bill will go a long way in making sure that happens.

This bill advanced unanimously out of committee and has been placed on General File. I appreciate my colleagues recognizing the benefits of this program.

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. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

 

March 10th – LB92

March 10th, 2017

Each year Senators are given the opportunity to select one bill to designate as their personal priority.  This year, the bill I chose to designate is LB92, a bill to require certain health carriers to provide coverage for certain services delivered through telehealth.  LB92 advanced out of committee unanimously and has no fiscal note, meaning it will not have a cost burden on the state of Nebraska.

Under this legislation, health insurance companies are required to cover any service offered through telehealth that is already covered for an in-person consultation.  Currently, even though many doctors have embraced telehealth technology, some have been reluctant to utilize it because they do not know whether insurers will reimburse them.  This reimbursement policy is already in place for state Medicaid, and it only makes sense that we would extend it to those covered by individual or group health insurance plans.

Initially, I was unfamiliar with exactly what telemedicine meant, but learned it is the use of advanced telecommunications and other technologies exchanged in real time via electronic communication between sites to monitor patient health status.  Tools that can be utilized to deliver telemedicine include networked programs, point-to-point connections, monitoring centers, or web e-based e-health patient service sites. I like to think of it as “Facetime” with a medical professional.

Under this legislation, services provided include primary care, specialist referral services, remote patient monitoring, consumer medical and health information, consultation, diagnosis, and health education to patients.

I believe telemedicine is particularly important in assuring timely and effective delivery of health services to vulnerable populations such as individuals in rural areas, low-income individuals, and individuals with mobility impairments. Telemedicine provides the opportunity for alternative delivery of care and cost saving opportunities for plans, providers, and beneficiaries.

I truly believe that this tool, designed to serve smaller communities that have health clinics but few if any full-time doctors, is incredibly valuable to Nebraskans. As we consider the shortage of doctors and practitioners throughout the state, especially in the rural areas, it is important for us to utilize all the options in reaching our entire population with vital services. Telehealth consultations can also be significantly less expensive than an in-person doctor visit.

I believe it is time for Nebraska to expand telehealth services across the state and eliminate any doubt for doctors and patients that these services are covered by insurance.  My colleagues agreed with me, and the bill was advanced to Select File earlier this week with strong support.

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. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

 

 

 

As a state Senator I am often faced with interesting and complex issues that I hadn’t spent much time thinking about prior to being asked to look at these policy issues while serving in office.  One of those issues we have heard a lot about in recent years is the issue of medical marijuana.  As the country grapples with the legalization of this substance that has been around for years, in Nebraska we are looking at two pieces of legislation that deal with the topic.  These two bills are Senator Wishart’s LB 622, which would allow the legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska, and Senator Ebke’s LB 167, which reschedules cannabidiol in a drug product approved by the FDA into Schedule V of the Nebraska Controlled Substances Act.

Under Senator Ebke’s legislation, upon FDA approval, rescheduling by the DEA will take place and take care of federal law, but Epidiolex (a drug currently in phase 3 of FDA testing) would be rescheduled in each state, including Nebraska. This bill allows the legislature to proactively reschedule cannbidiol in an FDA approved product, ensuring Epidiolex will be available to patients in Nebraska as soon as federal approval and rescheduling is complete.  I was glad to see Ebke introduce this legislation, as I believe it’s a way for people to access the drug, getting the help they need while going through proper and regulated channels. I believe it is an appropriate way for Nebraska to handle this issue through a common sense approach.

While LB 622 was brought with similar intentions of allowing Nebraska citizens who need this drug for appropriate treatment an avenue to access it, I feel the legislation is too broad.  Additionally, I have concerns about the creation of the new program to administer the drug, which I fear could cost additional money that the state does not have at this time.  I very much empathize with citizens who suffer from medical conditions that respond positively to cannabidiol, but believe we need to make sure we are putting the proper regulations in place when they access this substance. I believe LB 167 works within the current framework while allowing those suffering from certain medical conditions that ability to access the substance they need.  I am hopeful the process will move forward quickly so those who need this substance have the ability to access it legally in Nebraska in the near future.

Another piece of legislation I support is LB 645 introduced by Senator Pansing-Brooks, which would add a definition of dyslexia to Nebraska statute, designating it as a specific learning disability.  While this law may seem simple in nature, I believe it is important, as once dyslexia is identified as a specific learning disability, children with this disability will able to access the resources available through school based learning disability programs in Nebraska.

Finally, one of the more interesting pieces of legislation I learned about this year, and one I will be supporting, is LB 506, brought by Senator Albrecht.  Under this legislation, a physician who diagnoses an unborn child as having a lethal fetal anomaly would provide the family with information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services pertaining to perinatal hospice care, including access to a list of perinatal hospice programs available in Nebraska and nationally.  It is my hope that these resources would provide an avenue for families facing this challenging process to gain support from professionals as they go through their experience.  Over the years I have known many families who have faced sad news about their children prior to them being brought into the world.  Whether grieving a child’s death while the child is in the womb or in the world, these resources should be made available to families and I am very supportive of this occurring.

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. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

 

 

 

 

I thought I would take some time this week to share a bit about the importance of hearing from constituents in the district and how important it is for me to connect with you on a regular basis.  With Nebraska’s unique unicameral system, it’s always been widely accepted that the people are the second house in our state.  I truly believe that and have tried throughout my legislative career to keep the constituents as the focus of my service.  Each day I have many opportunities to connect with constituents who visit the legislature.

Today, as an example, I started my morning connecting with rural superintendents and administrators at the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association breakfast, and I finished my evening at a dinner with teachers from the district who are members of the NSEA. At both meetings we visited about education policy as well as the much discussed topic of education funding as it relates to property taxes.

Last week I was able to spend time with members of the Leadership York class, Educational Service Unit 7 representatives, and the Bottlerocket Boys from Bottlerocket Brewery.  Each of these visits were productive in that we were able to discuss legislation that will impact each of these groups in some way.  Constituents shared their views on the legislation with me and I was able to provide them feedback about where I stood on the issues.  These are only a sampling of the types of meetings that take place regularly each and every week the legislature is in session.  It’s not uncommon for me to be invited to two or three events for breakfast and lunch every day.  I always try to attend when I know constituents will be present, as it gives me a great opportunity to connect with them and learn about the bills that are important to them, the legislation that might impact them, or emerging issues in their industries or businesses.  It’s often difficult to be at all of the events, but I do try to attend as many as I can.

Another way I try to connect with constituents is by visiting with them when they stop by the State Capitol.  In addition to the many school classes that visit on a regular basis, we also have groups and organizations who hold special days visiting the session.  If you are part of those groups or are just passing through, you can always give a note to the “red coats” who are positioned right outside of the legislative Chamber.  They will bring the note to me, indicating you are present.  If I am not engaged in an issue on the floor, I may be able to step outside the Chamber for a few minutes. This is a good way for an impromptu conversation or just to say hello.  People visiting the state Capitol are also welcome to stop by my office in room 2004 and visit with my staff.  Katie and David can help you set up an appointment with me or answer questions about legislation.  If you have specific questions about the Retirement Committee, my legal counsel Kate Allen is a wealth of knowledge and great at working through retirement issues with citizens who have inquiries.

 

Previously I wrote about my support of the York County Board of Commissioners working to designate York County as a “Livestock Friendly” county.  I am excited to report that York County was officially designated as “Livestock Friendly” earlier this week. I was excited to be in York County with members of the York County Board, Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, and members of the farming community as they officially proclaimed York County “Livestock Friendly”. 

Serving on the Agriculture Committee, I have heard from countless young men and women who want the opportunity to come back and be a part of their family farms.  With the price of land today, it’s often times hard to find a way to bring a child back to the farm – and many farmers are starting to utilize livestock operations as a way to start another generation of farmers as part of the family operation.  Counties that designate as “Livestock Friendly” not only send a clear message that they are open for business, creating an environment for growth, they also exhibit the potential to grow their local tax base.  A 2014 University of Nebraska study suggests that there is much room to grow livestock production in Nebraska, and that the potential economic impact on the state’s economy could be tremendous.  For these reasons I support the expansion of this program and encourage other counties to consider it.  

I also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new Legislative Aide, David Slattery.  David comes to my office after having served three years as the Legislative Aide for Senator Colby Coash. Other political experience for David includes working for Senator Lydia Brasch, the Mike Johanns for U.S. Senate campaign, and several years in Washington, D.C., as a Legislative Bill Clerk for the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with David on a number of pieces of legislation during the past year and a half and I have been extremely impressed by his work ethic, his attention to detail, and his engagement in the legislative process.  I’m excited to have him on board and know he is going to be a great member of our team.  

Finally, I want to thank you for the continued support you have provided our family during the past several months as we learned about my wife Suzanne’s pancreatic cancer and as she began treatments.  So many of you have reached out with your kind words, good wishes, and to share with us that you have us in your prayers.  We have felt those prayers and I am happy to report that Suzanne is responding well to the treatment she has been receiving.  She is getting stronger every day!  My daughters Jessica and Jennifer have set up a Caring Bridge website and you can follow Suzanne’s journey at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/suzannekolterman.  This website allows you to sign up for updates on Suzanne.  We are so humbled by the outpouring of support from the 24th legislative district.  Suzanne is feeling your prayers and we are all strengthened by them!  Thank you! 

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. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Legislative Bill 643, the Medical Cannabis Act, has generated numerous communications with my office, both in favor and against. While I am sympathetic to those who have medical problems, and I understand the perceived need to provide much needed relief to them, I do not believe LB643 is the ideal way to accomplish this goal.

Last year, I was supportive of Senator Sue Crawford’s bill, LB390, which created a Medical Cannabidiol Pilot Study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to study low-THC cannabidiol oil and its effects on treatment-resistant epileptic seizures. This bill addressed the issue in the correct way, by facilitating scientific and medical research on a drug that is not well researched.

LB643, on the other hand, provides for no medical or scientific research regarding cannabis use. Additionally, without the infrastructure set in place to ensure uniformity and purity in medical cannabis, the potential for harmful byproducts and other impurities is cause for concern. There were comments on the floor during LB643 debate that there have been no deaths attributed to marijuana use. This simply isn’t true. An 18-year-old from Brighton, Colorado died in September of 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times, once in the heart. According to the autopsy report, his THC level was nearly eight times the legal limit in Colorado. This wasn’t the first death in Colorado due to marijuana intoxication.

Numerous medical organizations have policy statements that oppose the legalization of cannabis as is proposed by LB643. Among them are the American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Cancer Society, the American Glaucoma Society, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states regarding ingestion, “Marijuana edibles, particularly those that look like baked goods or candy, present a poisoning risk to children. All forms of marijuana should be sold in childproof packaging to prevent unintentional ingestions.” In Colorado, hospitals have seen a surge in kids accidentally eating marijuana after it became legalized. Similarly, the AAP opposes the practice of smoking marijuana: “No drug should ever be administered through smoking. Smoking marijuana has a well-documented negative effect on lung function.”

LB643 would also create a greater burden on the Department of Health and Human Services a relatively short time after they have made tremendous strides to improve their service to the State of Nebraska. Essentially, a whole new office would need to be created to oversee the legalization of medical cannabis.

I appreciate all the feedback I have received from District 24, and I hope to receive more. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue of medical cannabis. Please email your thoughts to mkolterman@leg.ne.gov. We do track our emails, and I do appreciate your input.

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.

At the request of Governor Ricketts, Senator Mike Gloor, Chairman of the Revenue Committee, introduced a bill to “slow down the increase in state-wide agricultural and horticultural land valuation and to slow the growth of property taxes levied by the political subdivisions.”¹  LB958 would limit the amount political subdivisions statewide may increase agricultural and horticultural land valuations to three percent per year.

The Governor was the first proponent of the bill during a Revenue Committee public hearing on February 4 that lasted more than six hours. The Governor’s plan is to reduce the budget and spending increases year-to-year by limiting local governments’ ag land valuations and levies. If the statewide aggregated increase of agricultural land values in any year exceeds three percent, the Property Tax Administrator will uniformly and proportionately reduce the value of every parcel of agricultural land to prevent the statewide aggregate increase from exceeding three percent. This adjustment would also effect the calculation of the school finance formula.

The bill received support from three of Nebraska’s largest agricultural groups, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Cattlemen, and the Nebraska Pork Producers, which all testified that LB958 will help to relieve the disproportionate burden placed on farmers for support of public schools.

There was also a long list of opponents to the bill. In addition to Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig, Nebraska Association of County Officials President Robert Post, and Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen, the Open Sky Policy Institute testified in opposition to LB958. The Institute’s recent policy brief argued that if a policy related to LB958 were in effect for this year, it would have yielded shortfalls for schools and other localities and that the largest tax benefits would go to farmers and ranchers near urban areas, not to greater rural Nebraska.

On February 10, the Health and Human Services Committee, on which I sit, heard testimony for LB1032 (McCollister), which is another biennial attempt to expand Medicaid in Nebraska. In an extended hearing, the proponents alone took four hours to testify.

Though I applaud the efforts of my fellow legislators to extend affordable health care coverage to those who are unable to obtain it on their own, Medicaid expansion is an unsustainable way to try to accomplish this feat. Among the states that have expanded Medicaid, there were 17 that made their expansion enrollment projections available to the public. Every one exceeded their annual projections in 2014 and in 2015 they all exceeded their total maximum projections. This means that more people enrolled for Medicaid by 2015 than were projected to enroll in the entire course of expansions.²  This is simply unsustainable.

LB1032 is essentially the same type of Medicaid Expansion that has already failed in Arkansas, where private insurance costs more per patient than regular Medicaid expansion.³  As we have seen, Medicaid has not made health insurance more available or more affordable. In fact, the opposite effects have occurred. I doubt anyone disagrees with the idea that all Nebraskans should have access to affordable, quality health care services. However, it has been demonstrated time and time again that expanding Medicaid in any form creates higher costs and increased burdens on taxpayers as a whole.

Instead, I hope the members of our Legislature will seriously consider LB817 (Riepe), which creates the opportunity for individuals, families, and corporations to defray the exorbitant costs of health insurance premiums by essentially becoming monthly members of their primary care doctors offices. Dr. Clint Flanagan, a native of Fremont and a supporter of LB817, has been providing Direct Primary Care (DPC) in Colorado with great results. For a low monthly rate, his patients have virtually unlimited access to his services and can see him as many times as they need. Dr. Flanagan noted that his DPC patients have access to his cell phone number and email address and can contact him any time with questions.

Another benefit of DPC is that Dr. Flanagan, as well as other DPC providers in Colorado, work directly with specialty health care providers to significantly reduce costs for specialty visits. While the DPC model would not provide a patient an exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a Direct Primary Care patient would essentially only need to supplement his or her health care with cheaper catastrophic insurance that would also provide coverage for expensive procedures and operations.

The main draw for DPC is that it allows the patient to be more proactive in his or her health, and through this model, it reduces the reliance upon increasingly unaffordable and ineffective health insurance.

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.

 

¹ See LB958 Statement of Intent, available at http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/SI/LB958.pdf
(last accessed February 9, 2016).

² See Vokal, Jim, Legislative Testimony: LB1032, Arkansas-Style Medicaid Expansion, (2/10/2016) (available at http://www.platteinstitute.org/blog/detail/legislative-testimony-lb-1032-arkansas-style-medicaid-expansion)
(last accessed 2/11/2016).

³ Id.

 

 

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 12:00 am

by Jill Martin jillmartin@sewardindependent.com |

 

It was an evening of remembering and reminiscing as members of the 24th and 1267th Medical Companies of the Nebraska National Guard gathered in Seward.

The Nebraska National Guard Museum hosted the event which commemorated the 25th anniversary of the call up for Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990. Support staff and volunteers who assisted in the mobilization in 1990 were also honored.

The event included Posting of the Colors, special speaker Brigadier Gen. Scott Gronewold, Remember the Fallen and Retiring of the Colors. Nebraska State Sen. Mark Kolterman and Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier both spoke at the event.

Gronewold spoke about the evening and what it meant to him.

“These are the people that taught me how to fly. I was just a young lieutenant and they’re the ones who mentored me, showed me what life looked like and I owe a lot to them, not only for what they did but also for what they did for me,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s just great. When you fly with these crews, they are closer than your own family because you rely on them as a team to stay alive. You become very close and over the years, you lose touch and when you see them again, it’s just like you flew with them yesterday. That bond is still there. They are a great group of people.”

Greg Whisler with Whisler Aviation in Seward helped arrange the transport of a Utility Helicopter (UH-1) for the event. The helicopter was moved from the Seward Airport to the museum with a police escort on Highway 15 earlier in the day.

Col. Gerald Meyer said it was the largest gathering of Desert Storm veterans in the state since the war ended in 1991.

“The museum is proud to have sponsored the reunion of 24th and 1267th Medical company veterans and family and friends for the event. We also had veterans that supported the mobilization in 1990 that attended. It was truly a great event and we are honored to have sponsored the event,” Meyer said.

Meyer thanked the people who helped make the event a success including Ron Burhoop, Greg and Terri Whisler and Ryan, Cody Cade, Deb Tankesley and Bonnie Besseler, Ken Meyer, Beautiful Feet Mission from Concordia University and Bottle Rocket Brewery.

The museum was able to handle over 125 veterans and their families for the event.

“We were able to give the veterans a first-class program and allow them to socialize. It was a great success,” Meyer said.

http://www.sewardindependent.com/news/local_news/article_ae039d62-8d75-11e5-b630-7773863dbb98.html

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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