NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

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 – February 22nd
February 22nd, 2019

This week, I’d like to highlight another important piece of legislation that I introduced this legislative session that will help fill a serious gap in the state’s procurement process.  I introduced LB 21 which will provide a formal protest procedure for state contracts exceeding five million dollars which was heard in the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee on February 20.

Currently, Nebraska law does not provide an express right of judicial review of an agency award decision.  The current appeal process is very limited, allowing a disappointed vendor to write a protest letter and a meeting with the Director of the Department of Administrative Services.  Following the meeting, the Director will make the final decision.  This puts Nebraska at a disadvantage.  LB 21 would allow for an unsuccessful vendor to protest an award decision, and within 60 days of receipt of the protest, the Department of Administrative Services will hold a hearing.  After the decision is made, any party to the decision could then appeal the decision to court.

Without judicial review of procurement decisions, this puts Nebraska at a disadvantage.  Over half of all states and the United States Government provides for a judicial review of procurement decision.  During the hearing, the Committee heard testimony that without an appeal process which includes judicial review, many companies are being dissuaded from investing in Nebraska.  LB 21 will show vendors that they will be treated fairly during an appeals process and would give them certainty that errors in the process can be corrected.

Time after time, we receive news that a state contract has been terminated after millions of dollars in state funds have been spent due to the vendor not being able to complete its work.  The most recent was in December when contracts with two technology companies were terminated.  The two contracts were terminated after $12 million dollars of state tax money was spent.

This is not the only example.  In 2007, the State awarded a $50 million dollar contract to a Medicaid Management Information System project to a company with 75 employees even though a larger company with 20,000 employees and a history of completing similar projects.  After the contract was awarded, the contract was terminated when the State found out that the smaller company wouldn’t be able to complete the contract, costing the state $7 million in tax dollars.

Kerry Winterer, the former CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services who terminated the contract, testified in support of the legislation.  He said the bill will create an efficient, effective and unbiased process that would provide confidence in the state as well as vendors.  Former United States Senator David Karnes testified in favor of the legislation on behalf of the IT Alliance for Public Sector, who represents companies who often bid on state contracts such as Oracle, Facebook, Dell, and Microsoft.

I look forward to working with the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee to advance this important piece of legislation to help make the state’s procurement process more fair and transparent in order to save the state, and most importantly, the taxpayer, their tax dollars.

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

 

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 20 on two bills that would change state contracting rules.

Brewer said the proposal would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from giving preference to union or non-union contractors when it accepts bids for contracts. He said he was unaware of any situation in which the state had done so.Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon introduced LB151, which would adopt the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act. Under the bill, a request for bids could not require or prohibit contractors or subcontractors from entering into or adhering to a collective bargaining agreement.

“We just want to make sure the state isn’t playing favorites,” Brewer said.

David Chapin, chairperson of Associated Builders and Contractors, testified in favor of the bill. He said LB151 could prevent the state from entering into a project labor agreement—a collective bargaining agreement that details the terms of the contract before bidding begins. Such agreements drive up costs, he said.

“It’s a free-market issue,” Chapin said.

Electrical contractor Jay Buchanan also testified in favor of LB151. He said project labor agreements discriminate against the majority of workers who are non-union.

“It spits in the face of fair and open competition,” Buchanan said, adding that 24 states have outlawed project labor agreements.

Felicia Hilton of the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters spoke against the bill. She said project labor agreements generally are used for large construction projects, like a football stadium, and are a valuable tool for states and municipalities.

“There’s nothing in state law that encourages or discourages use of these type of agreements, and it should stay that way,” Hilton said. “It makes no sense to ban the state from using this tool.”

Also testifying against the bill was Susan Martin of the Nebraska State AFL-CIO. Project labor agreements provide clear boundaries and expectations for a project, Martin said, leading to higher productivity and better pay for workers.

“The use of PLAs does not restrict competition by shutting out non-union contractors,” Martin said. “PLAs simply create a level playing field for all contractors by standardizing labor conditions on a project.”

The committee also considered LB21 introduced by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman. The bill would allow a company to formally protest if it failed to secure a state contact that exceeds $5 million. The state Department of Administrative Services would create a protest procedure that would include a hearing within 60 days of a formal protest being filed.

“By not allowing judicial review, it puts Nebraska at a disadvantage,” Kolterman said.Kolterman said the current appeal process is flawed, causing contractors to refuse to do business in the state.

Attorney Tom Kenny spoke in favor of LB21. It would fill in gaps in Nebraska’s bidding process, he said, and safeguard taxpayer money.

“We have large contractors come to us and say ‘what do you mean you don’t have a protest process?’ ” Kenny said. “That differs from other states, significantly.”

Also testifying in favor of LB21 was Kerry Winterer, former CEO of the state Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, he said, appeals are decided solely by the state Department of Administrative Services. As a result, in the past appeals often led to lawsuits, he said, causing the agency to delay a project while litigation worked its way through the courts.

“[Under LB21] litigation may well decline in the future as court precedents are set,” Winterer said.

Bo Botelho, interim CEO of DHHS, testified against the bill. He said the current appeal process takes three to six weeks, and allows a contractor to submit evidence and cross examine witnesses, “just like a court.”

Botelho added that LB21 would increase the likelihood of litigation and delay projects.

The committee took no immediate action on either bill.

Bills seek changes in state contracting

February 15th – Weekly Column
February 15th, 2019

It may seem odd that one would have to mandate the prioritization of patient safety in the state, but that’s exactly what I proposed in 2018 and is what I reintroduced this year through LB25.

As background on the issue, the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (Patient Safety Act) authorized the creation of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) to improve the quality and safety of U.S. health care delivery. The Patient Safety Act encouraged clinicians and health care organizations to voluntarily report and share quality and patient safety information without fear of legal discovery.

Following the implementation of the Patient Safety Act, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Patient Safety Improvement Act in 2005 which protected reported events from discovery and required the establishment of a private, nonprofit PSO to receive those events as patient safety work product. Since Nebraska’s Act allocated zero dollars for funding the PSO, the Nebraska Hospital Association, Nebraska Medical Association, Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants, Nebraska Pharmacists Association and the Nebraska Nurses Association took the initiative to create Nebraska’s PSO: The Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety (NCPS).  The mission of NCPS is to increase the likelihood that all people who seek health care in Nebraska are not harmed by the care that is intended to help them.

The NCPS collects data supplied voluntarily from participating hospitals who pay to be members of NCPS. The collected information is disseminated quarterly back to the hospitals. Health care professionals who directly benefit from this information such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and others never see this report as they are not members of the NCPS. Safety issues addressed in the report could include medications errors, falls, sepsis, failure or delayed response, unsafe injections, and retained foreign objects. These are errors we can, and must learn from.

Prior to the 2018 legislative session, The Nebraska Medical Association (NMA) went to the board of the NCPS and asked how the NCPS can be properly funded in order to better collect and disseminate this information. To generate these funds, the NMA brought a legislative proposal to me which called for a $10 per year increase in licensure for physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and nurses to fund the Coalition. I introduced LB 1127 last year because I agreed that a nominal fee of $10 per year in the name of improving patient safety was well worth the investment.

During the hearing last year, I laid out the case for the additional funding needed for the NCPS.  We heard testimony from patient advocacy organizations, the NCPS Board President, physicians, physician assistants, and Nebraska Hospital Association representatives. Despite the oppositions’ testimony that $10 a year is too high an increase of fees, the bill advanced out of committee. Unfortunately, due to the short session and time constraints, we were unable to pass the legislation.

I support patient safety wholeheartedly, as do the members of the NMA, and this session I introduced LB25 to fund the NCPS. This time, the physicians agreed to show their support by increasing their licensure fees by $25 per year ($50 biennially), and the physician assistants agreed to the originally proposed $10 per year ($20 biennially) amount.

The bill was voted unanimously out of the Health and Human Services Committee and advanced on General File 33-0. When we have groups who are willing to step up to the plate and volunteer to contribute more of their hard earned dollars, I don’t know how anyone can oppose the effort to further excellent health care and patient safety. Like I said, it may seem odd that we need to mandate the importance of patient safety, but I believe this is an important effort and one I was happy to be a part of.

Last weekend I was also honored to attend the Seward Volunteer Fire Department annual dinner.  Having served as a volunteer fireman for many years, as well as an EMT, I always enjoy gathering with volunteers from fire departments from across the district.

I am happy to support LB 222, which was introduced by State Senator Joni Albrecht.  This legislation provides clarifications to the Volunteer Emergency Responders Incentive Act that was created in 2016.  Under this act and this legislation, once adopted, members of volunteer fire departments can receive a $250 refundable tax credit if they meet certain criteria.  Having volunteer fire departments in Nebraska is such an incredibly important part of our communities and I very much appreciate everything they do for us.

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

Weekly Column – February 8th
February 8th, 2019

In the last two columns, I’ve highlighted two of my legislative proposals for this session, LB 205 – Adopt the Surgical Technologist Registration Act and LB 720 – Adopt the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.  This week, I’d like to introduce you to another important piece of legislation that I have introduced that seeks to increase greater access to medical care, LB 29, an expansion of Nebraska’s telehealth statutes.

Last year I introduced LB 701, a bill that would allow physicians and physician assistants to establish a patient-provider relationship via telehealth.  This year, after working with the Nebraska Hospital Association, I introduced legislation to allow for other health care professions to establish those same relationships through telehealth.  Through LB 29, I have sought to expand permissions for athletic trainers, clinical nurse practitioners, mental health practitioners, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physical therapists, psychologists, and others.

Telehealth services are growing rapidly in the United States and can provide access to care for individuals who live far away from health care services, and can also provide access for those who are unable to seek care outside of their home or a local healthcare center.  Providers may also be able to handle larger patient volumes more efficiently by using telehealth due to decreased time for traveling and other tasks involved in a face to face visit which also has a positive impact on the cost of care.

The hearing on LB 29 was held in the Health and Human Services Committee on February 6.  Following my introduction, the committee heard from ten testifiers from the affected industries who all spoke in support of the legislation.  We heard testimony from the Nebraska State Athletic Trainers Association, Children’s Hospital, the Nebraska Nurse Practitioners, the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Arc of Nebraska, the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, and the Nebraska State Board of Athletic Trainers, all of whom agreed that by enacting this legislation, health care providers would be able to provide greater access to health care for the citizens of Nebraska. To highlight how telehealth provides greater health care access, Children’s Hospital stated that in 2018 alone, their practitioners conducted approximately 1,800 telehealth visits.

I look forward to working further with the members of the Health and Human Services Committee to advance this important piece of legislation to the floor of the Legislature to allow the Legislature to adopt this proposal into law.

I’d also like to bring your attention to an exciting event being hosted by the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and other local partners.  On April 5 and 6, the program will be presenting the Heartland Shark Tank, which will have a number events included and is being highlighted as an Open Casting Call for ABC’s Shark Tank.  You may find additional information and a more details of the events during the program at www.heartlandsharktank.com.

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

Weekly Column – February 1st
February 1st, 2019

In last week’s column, I highlighted one of my priority bills for this upcoming session, LB 205 – Adopt the Surgical Technologist Registration Act.  Today, I want to bring your attention to another major priority of mine and of my colleagues.  As you may know, the Nebraska Advantage Act, the State’s largest economic incentive program, is set to expire in 2020.  If we allow the Nebraska Advantage Act to expire without a replacement, Nebraska will be the only state in the nation without a comprehensive economic development package to create higher paying jobs and to provide for more investment from companies within and outside of the state.

Before the legislative session began, representatives from the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce approached me to introduce what would become LB 720 – Adopt the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.  I happily accepted the opportunity to carry this critical piece of legislation.

LB 720 will increase the value of the incentive program to the Nebraska tax payer through better investments, better jobs, more robust reporting and more overall transparency.  LB 720 will accelerate the value of the tax credit by simplifying the process, will increase the competitiveness of the program by increasing the Net Present Value of tax credits, thus helping Nebraska to win more projects and other opportunities for our state.  LB 720 will allow the State to build stronger relationships with businesses in order to encourage greater levels of investment and will allow the Department of Economic Development to better understand the needs of businesses and the evolution of business thinking in real time.

LB 720 is a critical piece of legislation.  I am very passionate in finding ways to lower Nebraska’s already high tax burden.  If we cannot provide a competitive package to attract businesses to invest or to even relocate to Nebraska, there will be no money available for any type of tax relief and there will be less money for education.  If we, as a state, do not provide business incentives I believe we will hurt the opportunities of our children and our grandchildren.  Due to the national and global competition for talent and well-paying jobs, hard times will fall upon this state if we do not find ways to grow our population and diversify the State’s economy.

While I introduced the legislation, I am not alone in this effort.  I am honored that 22 of my colleagues from all corners of the state and of all political persuasions have cosponsored LB 720 to ensure our state’s economic future in this ever changing global environment.  Having incentives to help grow our tax base is critical for our children’s future, for tax relief, and for job opportunities down the road.

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

The Health and Human Services Committee considered a bill Jan. 30 that would enhance training for medical professionals.

LB25, introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, would pay for additional training through the Patient Safety Cash Fund. Money for the fund would be generated by biennial fees of $50 for physicians and osteopathic physicians and $20 for physician assistants.

The fee would be imposed through 2025.

Kolterman said the bill would reduce the number of patients who are harmed through the negligence of health care professionals. He said the Heartland Health Research Institute estimated in 2016 that between 590 and 2,620 Nebraskans die each year from medical malpractice.

Kolterman cited an incident in which 99 patients contracted hepatitis C at a Fremont clinic where nurses used contaminated needles.

“All 99 went to the doctor for help, but came away with another deadly disease,” Kolterman said.

Katherine Jones, of the Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety, testified in favor of the bill. The NCPS provides training to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, but Jones said that training is limited to the organization’s 59 member hospitals. That coalition would expand if LB25 became law, Jones said.

“We health care professionals inadvertently harm patients because we learn very little about the nature of human error, systems-making and learning organizations in our training,” Jones said. “We must have a way to rapidly learn when technological innovation collides with human fallibility.”

Also speaking in favor of the bill was Britt Thedinger, president of the Nebraska Medical Association. He said that imposing a fee on NMA members would demonstrate the organization’s commitment to reducing errors.

“We see this as an investment,” he said. “We want to pay for this ourselves.”

Thedinger added that even with the potential added fee, the cost of a doctor’s license is much lower in Nebraska than it is in neighboring states.

No one spoke in opposition to LB25 and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

 

Bill would fund improved doctor training

Weekly Column: January 25th
January 25th, 2019

As the first week of legislative committee hearings draw to an end, I’d like to highlight one of the bills I introduced in front of the Health and Human Services Committee.  On Wednesday, January 23, I had the pleasure of introducing LB 205 – Adopt the Surgical Technologist Registration Act.

For background, surgical technologists are a critical part of every surgical team and are trained in setting up sterile environments and the preparing of the equipment and surgical instruments.  During surgery, a surgical technologist takes direction from the surgeon on handling instruments, holding retractors and suctioning wounds.  While the surgical techs are an integral part of every single surgery, they are the only member of the surgical team not required to prove minimum competency standards, something I find unsettling.

I believe there is a significant need for surgical technologists to be regulated by the state for the safety of our citizens, which has been recommended twice by the state Department of Health and Human Services.  LB 205 establishes a first time registry under the Board of Medicine and Surgery for surgical technologists and provides for competency and education standards.

If a surgical technologist graduates from an accredited program, all they need to do to register is to show their documentation and pay a nominal fee.  LB 205 also allows for on the job training so individuals who do not have a college degree can become a surgical technologist as long as the individual is certified after successfully completing a competency assessment completed by a licensed health care professional.

LB 205 has been brought to the Health and Human Services after about six years of discussions, negotiations, and compromises between many stakeholders, including physicians, hospitals, and the Department of Health and Human Services.  LB 205 has the support of the Nebraska State Assembly of the Association of Surgical Technologists, the national Association of Surgical Technologists, the Nebraska Hospital Association, and the Nebraska Medical Association.

I look forward to continue working with the Health and Human Services Committee, the Nebraska Legislature as a whole, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Surgical Technologists in order to finally adopt this legislation in order to ensure greater patient care in this state.

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

Standards sought for surgical technicians

 

The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Jan. 23 on a bill that would establish a registry and a minimum standard of competence for surgical technicians.

Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward said he introduced LB205 because surgical technicians are the only members of a surgical team without a certification of their competency. Kolterman said he found that “unnerving.”

Surgical technicians perform a variety of duties, including sterilizing equipment, preparing operating rooms and passing instruments to doctors during surgery. There are about 800 surgical technicians in Nebraska, Kolterman said.

“I believe there is a specific and significant need for surgical technologists to be regulated by the state for the safety of our citizens,” he said.

Beginning in 2020, the bill would require that surgical technicians:
• be at least 19 years old;
• have a high school or equivalent diploma; and
• be of good moral character.

A surgical technician also would be required to document any felony or misdemeanor convictions when applying to the registry.

Casey Glassburner, president of the Nebraska State Assembly of the Association of Surgical Technologists, spoke in favor of the bill. Unqualified technologists can harm patients, she said, and those who have done so can move from job to job without being tracked.

“There have been instances in other states, specifically Colorado, where there have been surgical technologists that have performed actions potentially harmful to patients and they have moved between facilities,” Glassburner said.

Glassburner, who has been a surgical technician since 2005, said the estimated $50 annual fee would not be a barrier for technicians to enter the field. Fifteen states have such a registry administered by a board of medicine or a board of health, she said.

Crystal Livingston, an administrator at Doctors Outpatient Surgery Center in Lincoln, also spoke in favor of LB205. Livingston said that when hiring staff, she’s able to perform professional background checks on all medical professionals except for surgical technicians.

Most previous employers will not provide an evaluation of an employee’s performance, she said, leaving her unaware if an applicant previously had been fired for misconduct or incompetence.

Maggie Summerfelt, testifying in opposition, said she was unaware of any incidents in Nebraska in which a surgical technician had harmed a patient. Summerfelt, an administrator at Advanced Surgery Center in Omaha, said the bill would make it more difficult to become a surgical technician, a profession that already has low numbers.

“It’s not about safety,” she said. “I asked my [surgical] techs, and they’re all against it.”

Tiffany Weeks also opposed the bill. Weeks said she’s been looking to hire a surgical technician at Urology Surgical Center in Lincoln since December but has received less than five qualified applications. She added that when a surgical technician isn’t available, a nurse is called in, taking him or her away from other duties.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Standards sought for surgical technicians

LINCOLN – State Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward has introduced legislation to rewrite Nebraska’s business incentives.  The bill is seen as a priority in the Legislature’s 2019 session since Nebraska’s current business incentives program is set to expire next year.

The “ImagiNE Nebraska Act” (LB 720) would revise and enhance Nebraska’s incentives by encouraging the creation of higher paying jobs and more investment from businesses already in Nebraska, as well as out-of-state companies.

Highlights of the new program are as follows:

  • Increase the value of the program to the Nebraska tax payer through better investments, better jobs, more robust reporting and more overall transparency.
  • Accelerate the value of the tax credit by simplifying the process.
  • Increase competitiveness of the program by increasing Net Present Value of tax credits – thereby helping Nebraska to win more projects and opportunities for our state.
  • Build stronger relationships with businesses in order to encourage greater levels of current and future investment.
  • Better understand the needs of business and the evolution of business thinking in real time via the Department of Economic Development (DED) application process and stronger relationships.

Kolterman said Nebraska is at a critical point in history and that the challenges are mounting.

“We have a workforce crisis,” the senator said.  “Our taxes are too high – both local and state taxes.  ‘Brain drain’ has returned.  We are failing to retain enough of our best and brightest.

“The national and global competition for talent and well-paying jobs is fierce.  If we don’t find ways to grow our population, diversify our economy, and expand opportunities for the next generation, tough times are coming faster than any of us would like to admit.”

Kolterman said the ImangiNE Nebraska Act is about the state’s future and “making sure our children and grandchildren have ample opportunities to live and work here,” while also “ensuring a viable future for smaller communities.”

Currently, there are more than 2,000 business incentive programs offered by state governments and U.S. territories.

“Nebraska cannot afford to take a timeout on incentives or lose ground in the effort to attract more good jobs,” Kolterman said.  “Just as the University of Nebraska’s football team needs four- and five-star recruits while developing its current talent, our state must continue to attract top employers while encouraging the growth of existing businesses.”

Kolterman noted that allowing the state’s business incentives to end with no substitute in place would be disastrous for Nebraska – akin to hanging a “closed for business” sign on the state’s front door.

“Nebraska must remain in the business recruiting-and-expansion game,” he said.

Kolterman concluded: “Like my colleagues, I’m passionate about finding a way to lower Nebraska’s high tax burden.  But no matter what reforms we might make this year or next, Nebraska will still have property taxes that are too high and income taxes that are too high for businesses looking to expand or relocate from elsewhere.  To level the playing field, we need competitive business incentives.  That’s not my viewpoint; that’s 21st century reality.

“If Nebraska cannot or will not provide a competitive package of business incentives, there will be no money for tax relief.  There will be less money to fund education.  It is time to end the uncertainty.  It is time to get to provide Nebraska with a new package of modern and timely incentives that recognize the way business is conducted today.”

Weekly Column – January 18th
January 18th, 2019

As we wind down the first full week of the new legislative session, senators are working vigorously to introduce bills before the Day 10 deadline this coming Wednesday.  Senators can only introduce bills for the first ten days, and there are currently around 500 bills that have been introduced.  At this time, I have introduced twenty five bills, many dealing with retirement issues, but they also include better access to health care for rural Nebraskans, insurance oversight, and patient safety.  For more information regarding each bill, committee hearing date, and bill status can be found on the Unicameral’s website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

As your representative for Legislative District 24, I continue to be very concerned about the high property taxes in our state.  These property taxes impact all citizens who own property, from our retired senior citizens to our farmers and ranchers who rely on the land for their income. The economy in the State of Nebraska relies heavily on agriculture, and with the down turn in the farm economy, we need to work hard to find real and meaningful property tax relief.  Governor Ricketts has brought three property tax relief measures for the Legislature to discuss.  His budget provides for $51 million dollars in new, direct property tax relief through the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund each year, establishing a statutory floor of $275 million for the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, and establishing a three percent camp on property taxes levied by local governments.

As a new member on the Revenue Committee, I will work as diligently as I can to develop the best way, in partnership, to address the revenue challenges Nebraska faces.  Most likely, the solution will involve further financial restraint, reliance on money from the cash reserves and tax reductions to help spur more growth in our local economy.

On Tuesday, Governor Ricketts delivered his annual State of the State address.  Governor Ricketts highlighted economic achievements for the State such as being the number one state for fiscal condition, the number two state in the union for cost of doing business and regulatory environment, the third highest wage growth since 2014, the fourth best workforce participation rate and the sixth lowest employment rate.

I wish to highlight one more item from Governor Ricketts address.  In explaining what his administration is doing in terms of value-added agriculture, he brought up the Schulz family of Seward County, a family which recently gained approval to raise chickens for Costco.  I was honored to have three generations of the Schulz family join me for the State of the State address.

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

 

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room #2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
Search Senator Page:
Topics
Archives
Search Current Bills
Search Laws
Live Video Streaming
Find Your Senator
To Top