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

 

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.

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

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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