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 – September 7th

September 10th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Column – August 31st

September 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 24, 2018

August 24th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications for Legislative Page Positions

 

The application process for selecting pages for the 2019 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 28th 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.

The page selection committee will meet in October to select individuals to fill those positions.

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 2019

 

Weekly column – April 26th

April 30th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Column – April 20th

April 23rd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Column – April 13th

April 13th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Column – April 6th

April 9th, 2018

Since being elected, I have worked with my colleagues on many important issues. One of my priorities has been to lower property taxes. They are too high and impact every individual who owns property, from our retired senior citizens to our farmers and ranchers who depend on their land to make a living. Unfortunately, agriculture land owners have been more adversely affected by property taxes due to a combination of increasing land values and declining revenues from sagging commodity prices.

In reality, there is no quick fix to reducing the property tax burden. The only way we will be able to achieve meaningful property tax relief is through building a broad coalition of Senators representing both urban and rural interests. This is necessary because my colleagues representing urban communities will tell you that they are looking for income tax relief. I also have a few colleagues who do not want any tax relief – property or income.

Having reached the 56th and final day for General File debate, I thought I would summarize the attempt to provide property tax relief. There were several major tax reform proposals introduced during this Legislative session:

  • LB829, commonly referred to as the 50/50 Tax Plan, was introduced by Senator Steve Erdman. It 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. It would generate a $1.1 billion budget shortfall next year.
  • LB947 is a comprehensive property and income tax reduction bill Senator Jim Smith introduced on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts. It would eliminate the state’s current property tax credit program replacing it with a refundable state income tax credit equal to 10 percent of property taxes paid for Nebraska homeowners and agricultural land owners. The bill would also reduce the top individual income and corporate tax rates.
  • LB1084 introduced by Senator Tom Briese would direct an additional $234 million to the property tax credit cash fund and increase state aid to schools by $144 million in fiscal year 2018-19. It would pay for the property tax credits and school funding by increasing the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 6 percent and the cigarette tax $1.50. It would also impose new sales and use taxes on more than a dozen services while eliminating several state sales tax exemptions.

All three bills were referred to the Revenue Committee, which I am not a member. The committee advanced an amended version of LB947 to the floor of the Legislature on a 5-3 vote. In addition to retaining the state’s current property tax relief credit program, the revised bill adds a refundable state income tax credit starting at 2 percent of property taxes paid on agriculture land and would gradually rise to 20 percent. The total relief for agriculture land would eventually reach 30 percent. For homeowners, the credit would begin at 1 percent of property taxes paid and gradually increase to 20 percent. The maximum credit for homeowners will be $500. It also creates a dedicated source of work force development funding of $5 million annually. We briefly debated LB947 for three hours last Tuesday. Unfortunately, the tax reform bill was filibustered and we were unable to have a meaningful debate on the proposal.

There were two bills, LB640 and LB1103 that would have provided property tax relief by modifying the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) formula. Both bills were referred to the Education Committee and were advanced to General File. LB640 was introduced by the Education Committee Chair Senator Mike Groene. It would reduce the maximum levy for school districts from $1.05 per $100 of taxable valuation to $.987 per $100. It would use the state’s property tax credit cash fund – which is funded by state income and sales taxes – to direct more state aid to school districts that lose money as a result. LB640 was filibustered and failed to advance a few weeks ago.

Introduced by Senator Curt Friesen, LB1103 would provide a minimum amount of state aid to each local school district. The amount would be 25 percent of local school district basic funding. This legislation also failed to advance when an amendment was filed on it to include LB1084, triggering a filibuster.

Following the LB1103 debate, Speaker Jim Scheer expressed his disappointment in a lack of substantive debate on property tax relief during this session. He announced he was placing LB640, LB947 and LB1103 on the agenda for debate on Monday, April 9th. In a last ditch effort to develop a compromise, Speaker Scheer will meet with Senators on Saturday. While I am not participating in the meeting, I am hopeful there is something we can debate on Monday.

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.

Last Thursday marked the 52nd day of the 105th Nebraska Legislature. With eight days left in this short session, we only have four days left to debate bills on General File. Bills that do not advance from General File by Friday, April 6th, would be dead unless they were amended onto another piece of legislation. The next four legislative days – and nights – will be very busy.

My staff and I have been very busy this session working to pass meaningful legislation. I thought I would provide an update on the bills I introduced and prioritized.

Two of my bills have advanced to Final Reading as well as my priority bill LB439. My priority bill that Senator Anna Wishart introduced would allow a nurse employed by an assisted-living facility to provide healthcare services to residents. I believe this will improve the delivery of long-term health care services in Nebraska. On a side note, LB439 would be my first personal priority bill to become law.

My second bill on Final Reading is LB702. This is the bill that I introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services updating Nebraska’s Child Support Enforcement Program to comply with new federal regulations. Failing to enact this legislation would cost Nebraska $81 million in federal funding.

And finally, LB1005 is the legislation that I introduced and then prioritized as Chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee that addresses the withdrawal of an employer from the County or School retirement plans. This legislation ensures that the withdrawing entity would be financially responsible for all costs to the plan so those costs do not fall on state taxpayers or other plan members or employers.

In case you are not familiar with the legislative process, Final Reading is the last round of debate in the Legislature. Once the Legislature passes a bill on Final Reading, it heads to Governor Pete Ricketts’ desk for his signature and then it becomes a law.

Last Monday and Tuesday, we debated bills on the General File consent calendar agenda. Bills on the consent calendar are noncontroversial bills that are considered and quickly advanced to Select File. Debate on each bill is limited to 15 minutes and three Senators can remove it from the agenda. For these reasons, Speaker Jim Scheer only included bills on the agenda that had no opposing testimony presented during its hearing and advanced unanimously out of the committee. I was grateful that Speaker Scheer included two of my bills on the consent calendar agenda. First, LB701 updates statutes to support existing telehealth practices in Nebraska. The other bill, LB799 cleans up a couple of items in the Surplus Lines Insurance Act. Surplus lines insurance is insurance for specialized risk that cannot be found on the admitted market in Nebraska.

I introduced two other bills, LB703 and LB704 that would have qualified for the consent calendar agenda, but were not included. LB703 amends the Medicine and Surgery Act (MSA) to clarify that physicians licensed in another state who accompany a team to Nebraska for an athletic competition or event are lawfully practicing medicine. LB704 also amends the MSA to reduce the period of board approved post-graduate medical education requirements for graduates of foreign medical schools. I drafted an amendment to LB1034 that includes both bills. This will be considered a friendly amendment since I received approval from Senator Merv Riepe who introduced LB1034. I am hopeful that these two bills will be considered during the debate next week.

Last Thursday, the Legislature amended and advanced the mainline budget, LB944, thanks to a compromise on Title X provisions that ended a filibuster. This would not have been possible without Senators Sara Howard, Mike Hilgers, Kate Bolz, Dan Watermeier, and Burke Harr and the leadership of the Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner. Thanks to their hard work, we were able to advance the budget with a 44-4 vote.

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

Weekly Column – March 23rd

March 23rd, 2018

Last week we celebrated National Ag Week, which gave us the opportunity to recognize the unsung heroes of our State – the farmers and ranchers. It also allowed Nebraskans to recognize the important role that agriculture plays in our everyday lives. On Monday, I joined Governor Pete Ricketts and two of my colleagues, Senator Lydia Brasch and Senator Lou Ann Linehan, at the Pioneer Hi-Bred seed-corn plant north of York. We were also joined by several students from the Agronomy Academy.

Later Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the Seward County Agriculture Recognition Banquet, helping them celebrate the 50th year of their event. It was a great evening, hosted by the Kiwanis Club, the Seward County Agriculture Society, and the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership. One thing that was especially impressive was the number of FFA students who attended to assist with the meal. These kids are the future of agriculture in our state and District #24, and I was so pleased to see such a vibrant group. I appreciated the opportunity to host Governor Ricketts, Director of Nebraska Department of Agriculture Steve Wellman, and Chair of the Legislature Agriculture Committee Senator Brasch. They all work tirelessly to support and promote agriculture in Nebraska. Congrats to the award recipients – Roy, Dave, and Doug Cast and Families, Bill White, and the many scholarship winners: Bailee Tucker, Colton Hackbart, Andrew Cast, Molly Suhr, Kane Aegerter and Riley Kamphaus. Agriculture has been such an important part of my family’s heritage. It was great to see so many residents of Seward County celebrating agriculture.

It is hard to believe that last Friday was the forty-eighth day of the 105th Legislature session. With only twelve days left in the Legislative session, we still have a lot of priority bills to debate. On Tuesday, we debated a Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee priority bill, LB1005. It addresses the withdrawal of an employer from the County or School retirement plans, which are administered by the State. LB1005 ensures that the withdrawing entity would be financially responsible for all costs to the plan so those costs do not fall on state taxpayers or other plan members or employers. During the floor debate the bill was amended to include several other minor retirement bills. LB1005 eventually advanced to Select File on a 38-1 vote.

During Wednesday’s debate, the Legislature advanced an amended version of the bill creating a super-two rural highway classification and changing the maximum highway speed limits, LB1009. The bill no longer includes a provision to increase the speed limit on the Interstate System to 80 miles per hour. LB1009 would authorize the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to do the following:

Increase speed limits from 60 mph to 65 mph on any four-lane divided highway that is not a part of the state highway system and any part of the state highway system other than an expressway or freeway;

Increase speed limits from 65 mph to 70 mph on expressways that are part of the state highway system and freeways that are part of the state highway system but not part of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways; and

Increase speed limits from 60 mph to 65 mph on any portion of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways located in Douglas, Lancaster and Dakota counties.

It is important to note that NDOT will not raise speed limits unless it is supported by a traffic and engineering study. LB1009 advanced to Select File on a 35-2 vote.

Also on Wednesday, the Legislature failed to advance the mainline budget bill, LB944, during an extensive second-round of debate, due to a filibuster led by opponents to a provision of the bill restricting the distribution of Title X funds to health clinics that also provide abortion services. Failing to adopt this provision could jeopardize approximately $1.9 million Nebraska receives in Title X funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An attempt to pass the budget on Friday also failed to overcome the filibuster. It is frustrating that we were unable to approve a budget bill that advanced out of the Appropriations Committee unanimously. I am confident that the Legislature will reject the Washington-style politics that has stalled the budget and adopt it before we adjourn.

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

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room #2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
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