NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at mkolterman@leg.ne.gov

February 9th – Weekly Column

February 12th, 2018

During each Legislative session, we schedule several recess days to allow Senators to return home to their communities and hear from their constituents. During Friday’s recess day, I met with nine of the school superintendents from Legislative District 24. I have also been hearing from quite a few constituents regarding several bills in the legislature that deal with education in Nebraska and I wanted to hear their perspectives. This includes bills that create independent public schools, school voucher programs, expanding educational savings plans for private school tuition and tax credits for private school scholarship donations.

Several of these bills were introduced last year and have been carried over to this session including LB608, LB630 and LB295.

LB608 would provide a scholarship to a student attending a public school with the lowest performance level established by the Nebraska Department of Education. The student would then be able to use the scholarship to enroll in a private school. LB630 would allow the creation of independent public schools that would operate under separate boards from public school districts and would be exempt from most state education rules and regulations. The state would provide funding for the scholarships and independent schools. Neither bill has advanced out of the Education Committee.

LB295 was also introduced last year and would create a nonrefundable tax credit for individuals and entities who donate money to nonprofit organizations that grant scholarships for students to attend private elementary or secondary schools in Nebraska. The bill limits the total amount of the credit to $10 million for 2018 and allows a 25% annual increase every year if most of the credits are claimed. Eligibility for the scholarships would be limited to students from a household with an income less than twice the required level of the federal reduced-price lunch program. While the Revenue Committee advanced this bill, it has not been placed on the General File calendar.

Introduced this year, LB804 would expand the list of qualified expenses for Nebraska’s Education Savings Trust Plan in 2020 to include tuition to public, private and parochial elementary or secondary schools. Currently, only withdrawals from 529 accounts for qualified higher education expenses are exempt from state and federal taxes. The Revenue Committee has not advanced this bill.

It is my belief that since the State of Nebraska requires all children to attend school, it is our obligation to ensure that public schools are adequately funded to provide a good, quality education. I believe that public schools across the state are above average in comparison to other states. Many parents have the option of sending their children to private school now, it is just not subsidized by the government.

My two daughters attended parochial school through their elementary years.  They attended public high schools following elementary school before attending private colleges, so I have experience with both institutes of learning.  My wife and I were pleased with all their years of education. I struggle with this issue a lot, because I truly believe in the value of a Christian based education and see how vouchers can be a part of making that possible for families. At the same time, I also know that my wife and I made a very conscientious decision to send our children to a parochial school fully knowing that it would be a sacrifice within our family to be able to afford it. Yes, it was going to cost us money to both pay taxes towards the public schools and the tuition for the parochial school, but that was a decision we made because we thought it was worth the investment.

At this time, I am not sure which bills will advance to the full legislature for debate. I would not support the creation of voucher programs for public education or the creation of charter schools in Nebraska. However, I am supportive of expanding educational savings plans for private school tuition and tax credits for private school scholarship donations. Neither bill would alter local or state aid to public school districts.

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

February 2nd – Weekly Column

February 2nd, 2018

It is truly an honor to receive an invitation to attend or speak at an event in the 24th Legislative District. I try to attend as many events as possible and interact with a wide array of constituents representing various interests across our state. On Tuesday, I was pleased to attend the 70th Annual York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Banquet at the Holthus Convention Center in York. It was great to see so many farmers and ranchers gathered to celebrate the important role that animal agriculture plays in preserving Nebraskan values of loving families, hard work, and strong communities. It was also a great opportunity to eat a delicious piece of prime-rib!

It is important to note that we learned this week that Nebraska grew in both the total number of cattle and the number of cattle on feed. Nebraska’s cattle industry maintained its status as the top state for cattle feeding according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Waco farmer Raymond Luebbe was recognized for his contributions with both animal agriculture and with the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Association, which dates back to the 1960s. Deryl Danielson from Aurora was also recognized at the banquet for his life’s work. Both Luebbe and Danielson have no doubt witnessed a lot of changes in the agricultural industry over the last several decades. They can attest to the struggles that farmers and ranchers have overcome in Nebraska.

The Peterson Farm Bros provided the entertainment at the banquet. They are three brothers – Greg (27), Nathan (24) and Kendal (21) – who farm alongside their parents in central Kansas. In addition to motivational speaking, the Peterson brothers also use social media to promote and educate the general public about modern day farming practices and help correct common misconceptions about the industry. They were very entertaining and I would invite you to visit their website to learn more about them at: www.petersonfarmbrothers.com.

We were also reminded that the 2018 Cattlemen’s Ball will be located at the Hergott Farm near Hebron on June 1st and 2nd.  As one of the Midwest’s premier fundraising events, ninety percent of the Cattlemen’s Ball proceeds will benefit the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, with the remaining 10% donated back to local communities’ health and wellness programs. This year’s entertainment will be Tracy Lawrence on Friday, June 1st, and Trace Adkins on Saturday, June 2nd. For additional information, please visit their website: www.cattlemensball.com.

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee held their second public hearing on a major tax reform proposals. LB947, introduced on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts, would eliminate the state’s current property tax credit program. It would replace the program with a refundable state income tax credit equal to 10 percent of property taxes paid beginning this year for Nebraska homeowners and agricultural land owners. The bill would also reduce the top individual income and corporate income tax rates. The Revenue Committee will consider several other proposals in the coming weeks. I look forward to reviewing these proposals and working with my colleagues to find solutions to our tax challenges.

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

January 26th – Weekly Column

January 26th, 2018

The first full week of the legislative session started with a winter storm that threatened to shut down the legislature. While a handful of my colleagues were unable to make it to the Capitol, Monday’s blizzard was no match for our determination to forge ahead with the peoples’ business of governing. I am grateful for all the road crews from the cities, counties and State who worked long hours to keep our road and highways open. We were fortunate that there were only a handful of serious accidents across Nebraska. And in these situations, Nebraska’s first responders, police, fire and emergency workers, stepped up to aid those in need.

We had several hearings this week on legislative bills I introduced, including two before the Health and Human Services Committee. First, LB 701 updates statutes to support existing telehealth practices in Nebraska. We all know that access to health care practitioners is critically important to the citizens of Nebraska, especially those in medically underserved areas of our state.

The other hearing was on LB 702. I introduced this bill on behalf of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. It updates Nebraska’s Child Support Enforcement Program to comply with new federal regulations. The State of Nebraska would lose over $81 million in federal funding if it fails to comply with the mandated changes by October 1, 2018.

The bill I introduced on behalf of Champion Homes had a hearing before the Urban Affairs Committee. LB707 would allow third-party agencies to inspect manufactured homes produced in York. The Nebraska Public Service Commission currently inspects these homes to insure compliance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards. It is important to make this change because the inspection fees assessed by the Public Service Commission are more than four times the inspection fees charged by HUD certified third parties. Only ten other state agencies in the country provide this service. Most other states – including those surrounding Nebraska – allow HUD certified third parties to inspect manufactured homes. LB707 would allow Nebraska companies that manufacture homes to compete on a level playing field with out-of-state manufacturers.

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee held the first public hearing on several major tax reform proposals. LB829, commonly referred to as the 50/50 Tax Plan, would provide Nebraska’s property tax payers with an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the school property taxes they pay. It would offset about 30 percent of the average taxpayers’ total property tax bill. The legislation does not answer questions about how to pay the $1.1 billion price for the proposal. The Revenue Committee will also consider several other proposals in the coming weeks. I know taxes are an important issue to all Nebraskans, and I will work diligently to find solutions to our tax challenges.

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

January 19th – Second Week

January 19th, 2018

The second week of the legislative session was a short week as we recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year, the third Monday of January would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday. With the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights leaders’ assassination this April, we realize the significant contributions Dr. King made in his short lifetime.

Thursday was the tenth and final day for bill introduction this session. There were 468 legislative bills and 9 constitutional amendments introduced this year. During this short 60-day session, it is unlikely that most of these bills will make it to floor debate without being prioritized by a Senator or Committee. A bill may also advance on the consent agenda, if it is not controversial and lacks opposition.

We also heard from Chief Justice Heavican on the State of the Judiciary on Thursday. He reported on efforts to make the state’s court and probation systems more effective. Chief Heavican also provided an update on new problem-solving and re-entry courts.

Last week, one of my colleagues introduced the Irrigation Tax Act, LB 1022. If enacted, farmers would pay a one cent tax for every 10 gallons of ground water used for irrigation. The proceeds would fund the School Aid Fund. Since it generates revenue, this legislation was referred to the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. While I do not serve on this Committee, please know that I strongly oppose this legislation and will work with my colleagues to defeat it should it make it out of the Committee.

This year I introduced thirteen bills including four dealing with retirement issues. Below is a summary of the bills I introduced. Please visit the Nebraska Legislature website if you would like more information about each bill at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

LB 698   Changes the Public Employee Retirement Board’s regulation-making authority to permissive for all the plans its administers

LB 699    Technical clean-up bill to insert language omitted from LB 415, which passed last year

LB 700    Removes the obligation of the Nebraska Investment Council to invest the University Trust Fund which is overseen and managed by the University of Nebraska

LB 701 Amends the Uniform Credentialing Act to establish a physician-patient relationship through telehealth

LB 702 Recognizes children covered under Medicaid and other needs-base health care programs

LB 703 Addresses a gap in our medical practice statutes to recognize physicians licensed in another state traveling to Nebraska accompanying a team for an athletic competition or other event

LB 704 Reduces the period of board approved post-graduate medical education requirements for individuals who attended foreign medical schools

LB 705 Changes licensure requirements for an esthetician and an esthetician instructor

LB 706 Clarifies licensing requirements for electrologists

LB 707 Changes provisions of the Uniform Standard Code for manufactured homes

LB 799 Clarifies language in the Surplus Lines Insurance Act

LB 1005  Establishes liability and costs for an entity that elects to withdraw from the County or School Employees Retirement Plan

LB 1127 Creates the Patient Safety Cash Fund

We are continuing to debate bills on General File from last year. Most of the debate this week involved LB 469, the Fantasy Contests Act, and LR 18CA, a constitutional amendment that would decrease the age of eligibility for public office. Both bills were filibustered and received extensive debate. They were both eventually defeated and are finished for the year.

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

As we continue our first full week of session, I want to share that my office is undergoing a personnel change. My legislative aide, David Slattery, accepted a position with the Nebraska
Hospital Association and I am excited for his new opportunity. He starts the position this week. While I am sad to see him leave my office, I am equally enthusiastic to announce his
replacement, Todd Wiltgen, a longtime family friend who has vast experience in the political arena. Todd also started the position this week and I am expecting a smooth transition within
the office. Fortunately, my committee clerk Katie Quintero, and retirement committee legal counsel, Kate Allen, will continue in their roles in my office.

On that note, the legislature continued with bill introductions and full day debate on Monday. Unlike last year where senators spent weeks debating the rules, we quickly decided to make no
rule changes for this session and got on with the business at hand. We continued to debate bills on General File from last session. On Monday afternoon, we began debate on a priority bill that we discussed last year, LB368, commonly known as the motorcycle helmet bill. After extensive debate and filibustering, that bill was defeated and is now finished for the year.

Last Wednesday was also Governor Pete Rickett’s State of the State Address to the Legislature. In his speech, he discussed a revised plan for tax relief and touted economic development in the state. He also commended senators from both sides of the aisle for growing our state and making Nebraska a better place for families.

This week we will listen to the State of the Judiciary from Chief Justice Heavican. On Tuesday, committee hearings began and five of my bills will be heard in the first week of hearings. On the floor of the legislature, we will continue with debate on bills from last year and are not expecting any bill to be overly contentious during this week.

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

The Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee is rescheduling the LR91 and LR92 hearing on December 1st to Fri., December 15th at 1:30pm in Room 1525.

If you have any questions, please call our office at 402-471-2756. You can also email Kate Allen at kallen@leg.ne.gov or Katie Quintero at kquintero@leg.ne.gov.

Our office received information from the Nebraska Department of Insurance regarding SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) enrollment events.  See below for more information.

 

“Medicare Part D Open Enrollment is fast approaching.  Open Enrollment is the annual opportunity for individuals with Medicare to review their insurance options and make changes for the upcoming year. The staff and volunteers at Nebraska SHIIP (a division of the Department of Insurance) provide free, unbiased, confidential, one on one counselling sessions to educate and assist people with their Medicare comparisons.  Between October 15 and December 7th, the Nebraska SHIIP routinely assists over 20,000 Nebraskans in comparing their Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and Medicare Advantage Plan options.   We highly encourage all individuals on Medicare to explore their options each year as personal medical and medicine regimes change. Plans also change each year. Beneficiaries that review their options yearly have few if any surprises when the New Year begins.

During this Open Enrollment season, SHIIP will host over 200 enrollment events across the state where Medicare beneficiaries will receive in-person Part D and/or Advantage Plan comparisons from one of our 370+ certified Medicare counselors. 

To learn more about the SHIIP Division, please feel free to visit the SHIIP website

 

There is one SHIIP event scheduled in District 24. Appointments ARE REQUIRED for the event. See below for event details and contact information.

Thurs., October 19th
9am-3pm
Seward Library
233 S. 5th Street, Seward
1-800-234-7120

Patient Centered Medical Home Stakeholders Agenda

 

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A CHANGE OF DATE

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

1:30-3:30

State Capitol Hearing Room 1510

 

Patient Centered Medical Home Stakeholders Agenda

  1. Welcome and anti-trust statement
  2. BCBS report on CPC+ application, award and clinic recruitment
  3. Division of Behavioral Health- Project ECHO
  4. Reports from Medicaid MCO’s and other insurers on PCMH progress
  5. NeHII update
  6. Senator Kolterman –Next meeting date and possible agenda items

 

For those joining via conference call,

The access # 888-820-1398 and the attendee code is #3727514

 

Click link below for printable version of the agenda.

PCMH Meeting Agenda Oct 12 2017.revised

York News Times: September 1st

September 1st, 2017

State Chamber pays a call on York

Sen. Mark Kolterman shares the dais

 

YORK – The Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce brings annual legislative forums to communities in the state and Thursday was York’s turn.

The presentations and discussions took place over lunch at York Country Club. Speakers were State Chamber officials Joseph Young and Jamie Karl, and Nebraska State Senator Mark Kolterman from Seward.

Young began with a nod to Kolterman.

“We appreciate Sen. Kolterman,” he said, adding there’s a “great relationship” between him and the State Chamber. “He happens to have a 100 percent ranking on our vote scorecard again this year” for ballots he’s cast on issues of interest to the organization.

“We’re trying to make Nebraska the best place to do business,” a task that requires State Chamber staff “to track 350-400 bills” per legislative session.

Why so many? The diversity of members and the issues of concern to them, he explained, account for that number.

Flagship issues to the Chamber, he said, include: Taxes, the cost of doing business, job creation and work force, including affordable housing for families so they can take all those jobs. The latter, he said, “Is probably the biggest issue” over the past four or five years.

Chamber attention does not, he stressed, fall upon the bills that passed exclusively.

“The bills we stop from passing are important, too,” he noted.

Karl went through slides divided into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of how business-friendly the state is as rated by outside entities.

The Good – No. 1 for regulatory climate, No. 5 for unemployment tax costs, No. 3 for legal climate and No. 6 in the fiscal solvency category.

He said the lofty solvency ranking is driven by the fact per-capita debt in Nebraska is only $8.

The Bad – No. 27 for current economic health, No. 26 for growth prospects, No. 33 for technology and innovation, No. 20 for available workforce.

Karl said the state’s workforce ranking has fallen nine spots in two years because not many workers are available in a state with 2.5 percent unemployment.

“Basically anyone who wants a job in Nebraska has a job,” he said. “You don’t want that (unemployed) 2 ½ percent working at your business.”

The Ugly?

“We pay a lot of taxes, $9.8 billion last year” at the state and local levels, he said with a sigh.

The point is made in the fact the average individual income tax rate in states that share borders with Nebraska is 2.03 percent. Here, he said, it’s 6.84 percent.

Obviously that discrepancy builds a fence between Nebraska and those other states when businesses go shopping for place in which to expand or relocate.

Nebraska taxpayers, he said, now face a combined, all-inclusive tax rate of 50 percent.

He also pointed out that 60 percent of property tax dollars statewide go to fund K-12 education.

The state, he stressed, does not collect a single dime of property tax money. That authority exists at the local level exclusively.

To the question of the state returning money to the county and local levels he noted, “One-third of the state budget is going to local governments already.

“Everyone in this room would probably come up with a different plan for tax reform,” he said, based upon “the taxes they pay” personally.

When his turn at microphone came Kolterman began by pointing out the session just ended as his third since being elected to the body.

“The next session is probably going to be one of the toughest” to get through, he predicted. The Unicameral, he said giving fair warning, “is looking at probably more cuts come January.”

Kolterman doesn’t speak much on the floor of the Legislature, but nonetheless influenced a majority of bills passed during the session, often by serving as a bridge between colleagues.

A big challenge on the horizon, he said, is how to stock outstate Nebraska with adequate numbers of doctors, allied health professionals and hospitals.

One answer he mentioned: Tele-medicine.

Told via a note from the audience of a mother who was forced to travel from Broken Bow to Kearney so she could give birth by C-section, Kolterman laughed and said, “Well, I guess we can’t do that by tele-medicine.”

All joking aside, Kolterman said that mother’s quandary perfectly illustrates the point.

One recurring obstacle in the body – term limits – is an enormous limiting factor.

“To turn it (legislative body) over like we’re turning it over is a big problem. With all that retirement (of senators)” the constant flood of newbies “has to rely on the institutional knowledge of the (legislative) staff” because they have none of their own. By the time they get it, they term limit out.

As to specific issues, he said, “Property taxes and how we fund education go hand-in-hand so we’ve really got to pay attention to that.”

Also, he said 53 percent of nursing home occupants today “are paid for by the state” on average.

Some in their elderly years are known to abuse the system by “giving their land away and then expecting the state to pay for them.”

Look for the legislature to tighten the screws on that and similar loopholes.

“I like to think we’re trying to listen to our constituents,” he said. “In our office we track every bill. Reality is we are nonpartisan” and thus should leave both colors – Red and Blue – at the door.

“I didn’t go down there to change the world. I went down there with the idea to help Nebraskans.”

http://www.yorknewstimes.com/news/state-chamber-pays-a-call-on-york/article_9d1c9922-8ec7-11e7-96bf-b70870cad68b.html

The Clerk’s Office of the Nebraska Legislature is Now Accepting

Applications for Legislative Page Positions

 

The application process for selecting pages for the 2018 Legislative Session is now underway in the Clerk’s Office at the Nebraska Legislature. Legislative pages are local college students employed by the Legislature to respond to senators’ requests for assistance on the Legislative Floor, answer incoming calls to the Legislative Chamber, and possibly assist in committee hearings.

The deadline for submitting an application is Fri., September 29th at 5:00 pm. A letter of recommendation from your state senator is encouraged. College students from District 24 requesting a letter of recommendation from Senator Kolterman should contact our office at (402) 471-2756 or mkolterman@leg.ne.gov.

Applications are available at the link below (PDF) or from the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street. For further information on the application process, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at (402) 471-2271.

 

Legislative Page Application 2017

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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