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

February 23rd – Weekly Column

February 23rd, 2018

Last week was a short week for the Nebraska Legislature as we observed Presidents’ Day on Monday. The Holiday is more than just a three-day weekend for retailers and advertisers to sell stuff. Presidents’ Day is a time to honor the achievements of our Commanders-in-Chief who built our great nation and brought freedom to many parts of the world.

I celebrated Presidents’ Day by attending the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership annual extravaganza where they honored many businesses and individuals for their contributions to the community. Congrats to Colt’s Corral; Poly Tech LLC; Hefty Seed Company; FullField Ag; Nebraska Cellular Store; A4K Plumbing, Heating & Air; Krieser Insulation; and EJ Sulc for the awards and recognitions.

I would also like to congratulate Joyce Schriner of Utica for being named Volunteer of the Year. Joyce has long been one of the pillars of Utica. She delivers Meals on Wheels, serves on the Cemetery Board and Seward County Historical Society Board, started the Utica Museum, runs the Utica Senior Center, and is constantly raising funds for or personally participating in Downtown Revitalization efforts in Utica. She should be commended for her extensive work and I’m pleased she has been recognized for those efforts!

Two close friends, Don and Barb Suhr, were also honored at the event with the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing their contributions to the community through their business over the past 55 years. Don and Barb brought me into the insurance industry and I will forever be grateful for the mentoring they provided me in teaching me the importance of trust, respect and honesty in business, as well as the importance of focusing on the needs of clients first and foremost. I was fortunate to learn from them and congratulate them on their many years of service to the Seward community.

There was a lot of activity around the Capitol on Wednesday. In addition to being the mid-point of the legislative session, Speaker Scheer announced his priority bills. I am grateful that he choose to prioritize one of the bills I introduced, LB702. This is the bill introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to update Nebraska’s Child Support Enforcement Program to comply with a new federal regulation.Failing to comply with the mandated changes by October 1, 2018, would subject the State of Nebraska to a loss of all federal Title IV-D and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, amounting to over $81 million.

Leadership York also visited the Capitol on Wednesday. I appreciated the opportunity to recognize their attendance during the legislative debate on the bill I prioritized, LB439. This is the bill that Senator Wishart introduced that would allow a nurse employed by an assisted-living facility to provide healthcare services to residents. The bill advanced to Select File with the support of 38 of my colleagues and without any opposition.

Wednesday also marked the last hearing for a bill that I introduced. LB1127 was heard before the Health and Human Services Committee. LB1127 provides for a $10.00 annual patient safety fee for persons licensed as a physician, osteopathic physician, physician assistant, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist, or physical therapist. The revenue would be used to support the educational and patient safety activities of 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.

February 16th – Weekly column

February 16th, 2018

Last Thursday marked day 28 of the 2018 Legislative Session. As we approach the halfway point of the session, we are wrapping up most Committee hearings. We are also approaching the deadline for designating priority bills. As many of you know, the Rules of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature allow each senator to designate one bill each year as their priority bill. Senators may prioritize a bill they introduced or legislation introduced by another Member or Committee. In addition to individual Senator priority bills, each standing Committee may prioritize two bills that it advances. The Speaker of the Legislature is permitted to prioritize 25 bills.

Prioritized bills that have been advanced out of a committee will be heard by the Legislature before bills that have not been prioritized. During this short 60-day session, it is unlikely that a bill advanced out of a committee will make it to floor debate without being prioritized. With 49 Senator priority bills, 33 Committee priority bills, and 25 Speaker Priority Bills, we are looking at the possibility of 107 total prioritized bills. Since we have already debated a handful of prioritized bills, the remaining bills will be debated over the course of the next 32 legislative days.

I selected LB439, introduced by Senator Anna Wishart, as my priority bill for this session. LB439 would allow a nurse employed by an assisted-living facility to provide healthcare services to residents. It would limit the services to 10-hours per week for no more than 21 consecutive days. Under current law, nurses are prohibited from performing simple nursing tasks to meet residents’ healthcare needs. Nurses may only assess residents and oversee the management of their medications. The restrictions placed on nurses was intended to establish a bright line between nursing and assisted living facilities. As an unintended consequence, residents requiring short-term nursing care in an assisted-living facility have to hire their own nurses or temporarily transfer to a nursing facility. This seems an ineffective and inefficient way to deliver long-term health care services in Nebraska.

During the hearing last March, representatives from AARP, Nebraska Health Care Association, Nebraska Assisted Living Association and Nebraska Nursing Association testified in support of LB439. By allowing assisted-living facilities to meet the additional medical needs of their resident, I believe we will improve the quality of life for thousands of Nebraskans living in assisted-facilities. For this reason, I prioritized LB439 and will work with my colleagues to get it passed and signed by the Governor.

As Chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee, I prioritized LB548 and LB1005. LB548 was introduced by Senator Brett Lindstrom last year to begin the discussion about consolidating the Class V (Omaha) School Employees Retirement Plan with the School Employees Retirement Plan which is administered by the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System (NPERS). LB548 was held in Committee so we could continue working with Omaha Public Schools (OPS) and other interested groups to identify how to increase the funding status of the plan which is currently at 65% funding.  The plan currently has $712 million in unfunded liabilities.

This year Senator Lindstrom introduced an amendment to LB548 that would authorize OPS to issue pension obligation bonds without a vote of the people, to pay the district’s contributions over the next 30-years which are currently projected to equal $882 million.  I also introduced an amendment to LB548 which would authorize the Nebraska Department of Education to annually withhold state aid from Omaha unless the district has paid the full amount of its annual contribution. Though I believe OPS fully intends to pay these obligations each year, I also believe a mechanism like this is needed to ensure that these pension obligations are met. I am supportive of pension obligation bonds if it can save the school district money and if the question is submitted to Omaha citizens for a vote. The hearing was last week and the Committee has not met since then to discuss what provisions may be advanced to the floor for debate.

LB1005 establishes a financial obligation to provide retirement benefits for affected plan members and assesses actuarial and administrative costs for County and School Plan governmental entities that elect to withdraw from the plan, in whole or in part, for business purposes. Under the bill, affected members are considered fully vested prior to termination from the plan. Within 90 days of the entity’s withdrawal, the affected members will be considered inactive. LB 1005 ensures that the withdrawing employer – not the retirement system – is financially liable for all the costs to the plan for the entity’s business transaction. It minimizes the risk that the State, other entities covered by the plan, or the members of the plan, will bear the cost of any one entity’s business transaction.

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 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

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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