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

Nebraska’s current program to incent employers to locate or expand in Nebraska will expire in 2020.  With a record of bringing over 850 business expansions to our state, 100,000 new jobs and $30 billion in capital investment since 1987, Nebraska cannot afford to be without a program. We must keep our “open for business” sign illuminated.

That’s why I and 20 colleagues are sponsoring LB720, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.  The bill certainly builds on the success of past incentive programs and modernizes the system to meet the state’s evolving needs for the next 10 years.

LB 720 was based on an in-depth study for the Legislature’s Economic Development Taskforce, with collaboration among frontline economic developers, the Departments of Revenue and Economic Development and chambers of commerce across the state.  The study identified four principles that must be addressed in the next update to Nebraska’s economic incentives program:  simplicity, transparency, integrity and competitiveness.

The ImagiNE Nebraska Act brings these additional tools to help grow our economy and our communities.

  • The program better accommodates the diversity of businesses seeking to locate or expand in Nebraska, with five qualification levels tailored to the needs of both large and small communities.
  • The revised program helps address Nebraska’s workforce shortage by allowing businesses to access tax credits in the form of loans for training and recruitment and further incentivizes higher-wage jobs.
  • It gives the applicants, state officials and residents greater transparency and accountability by requiring more detailed certifications upfront rather than when tax credits are used and requiring annual legislative reports.
  • It increases the value of Nebraska’s primary economic development program to would-be investors or employers, by simplifying the process and speeding up access to the benefits.

One of the most important elements of previous programs will continue – ImagiNE Nebraska will remain “pay-for-performance” program, meaning no tax credits until jobs are created or investments are made.

Having sat across from CEO’s working to woo them to Seward County, I know ImagiNE Nebraska will give our economic development professionals across the state better tools to close a deal.

At a time in Nebraska when 63 of Nebraska’s 93 counties saw population loss between 2010 and 2016, when the increasing cost of state services is overburdening our residents with taxes, we must not cut back on our work to grow our economy, grow jobs and grow our population. I look forward to discussing this priority with my colleagues on the floor of the Unicameral next week.

This week, I’d like to discuss LB 289, the comprehensive property tax reform package advanced from the Revenue Committee.  I voted in favor of the advancement of the package to allow for the Nebraska Legislature to debate this critical issue further, however, I am opposed to the provisions of the bill that deal with the tax exemptions included in the package.

The following is a list of taxes discussed in LB 289 which would go towards property tax relief:  Increases the Documentary Stamp Tax from $2.25 to $3.25 per $1,000; raises the cigarette tax from $.64 per package to $1.00 per package.  Increases the sales tax by a half-cent.  Removes sales tax exemptions for the following: labor for repair or maintenance of motor vehicles; pet-related services; moving services; storage services; clothes cleaning services; transportation network company services; beauty and personal care services such as hair care, nail services, skin care and hair removal; tattoo or other body modification services; maintenance, painting and repair for single family homes; interior design services; limousine, taxi and other transportation services; lawn care, gardening and landscaping services; parking services; swimming pool cleaning and maintenance services; dating and social escort services; telefloral delivery services; wedding planning; weight loss programs and services; personal training services; and candy, pop, bottled water, and ice.

In total, the changes in the tax code should raise approximately $372 million dollars, which is in addition to the $224 million dollars which is already in the Property Tax Credit Fund.  This relief will be delivered to Nebraska through increased state aid to schools, which would help offset the loss schools would face as LB 289 would reduce property valuations for agricultural and horticultural land to 65% and all other real property to 90% of its assessed value for taxation for school district taxation.  If LB 289 were enacted, it is projected the increased biennium state aid to schools to provide for property tax relief would equal approximately $1,046,000,000 dollars.

LB 289 also provides an additional resource for Omaha Public Schools to help the district address its underfunded Omaha School Employees Retirement (OSERS) Plan. LB 289 grants OPS the authority to levy a maximum of an additional six cents which would generate approximately $13,000,000 a year.  The revenue from this additional levy must be used to meet OPS’s annual required contribution to the OSERS plan.  As Chairman of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee, I have made it clear that the State will not assume the liability of the OSERS plan. The grant of this 6 cents levy authority applies only to OPS and gives them a mechanism to meet their financial obligations.

As I stated earlier, I understand the need for property tax relief, however, I do not know if eliminating sales tax exemptions for certain industries while retaining sales tax exemptions on other industries is the way to achieve property tax relief.  By doing this, the Legislature is creating winners and losers.  I believe a more fair way would be to conduct an interim study to examine each and every sales tax exemption more completely and for a new bill to be introduced next 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. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Weekly Column – April 18th
April 18th, 2019

This week, I’d like to highlight an amazing opportunity for high school students.  Our students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 9-12. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15.

Additionally, I would like to bring your attention to numerous Gubernatorial Boards and Commissions openings.  The following is not a complete list.  You may find the complete list of openings for Gubernatorial Boards and Commission at https://governor.nebraska.gov/board-comm-req

Human Trafficking Task Force – Term: 6 years – Meets: As needed
At Large Rep – Juvenile Pretrial Diversion Program
Mayor
County Sheriff
At Large Member (2)
Person Involved with the Control or Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

Judicial Nominating Commission – Supreme Court – First District – Term: 4 years – Meets: As Needed (Seward and Lancaster Counties)
Lay Member – Non-Democrat
Lay Member – Non-Republican

Judicial Nominating Commission – Supreme Court –  Fifth District – Term: 4 years – Meets: As Needed (Hall, Adams, Webster, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton, Clay, Nuckolls, Polk, York, Fillmore, Thayer, Colfax, Butler, Saline., Jefferson, Saunders, Gage, Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Pawnee, Nemaha, and Richardson Counties)
Lay Member – Non-Democrat
Lay Member – Non-Republican

Tourism Commission – Legislative Confirmation – Term: 4 years – Meets: Quarterly
District 6 – Butler, Polk, Platte, Merrick, Nance, Boone, Madison, Pierce, Antelope, Knox, Hall and Boyd CountiesPublic Employees Retirement Board – Term 5 years – Meets: Monthly
State Patrol Member (Term expires 1/1/2020)
Lay Member (Term expires 1/1/2023)

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

Weekly Column – April 12th
April 12th, 2019

Throughout the course of each legislative session, I often become engaged in legislation that is brought by other State Senators.  From time to time I become aware of this legislation by visiting with my colleagues or by hearing from constituents.  As I learn about bills that are of interest to my constituents, I may investigate them further, and if it is a piece of legislation I am supportive of, I will sign onto the legislation.

One of those bills is LB 670, a bill to adopt the Opportunity Scholarships Act and to provide for tax credits, which was introduced by Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn.  Under LB 670, individual and corporate taxpayers would qualify for a non-refundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization.

The act would prohibit any taxpayer from receiving tax credits in an amount exceeding 50% of their state income tax liability and that each nonprofit, scholarship-granting organization certified by the State must provide scholarships to eligible students to attend a qualified, nonprofit, private elementary or secondary school.  For a student to be qualified, they must be a dependent member of a household that has a gross income which does not exceed two times the required level for the federal reduced-price lunch program.

For calendar year 2020, the amount of tax credits available is capped at ten million dollars, but each year thereafter, the cap will increase incrementally.  The ten million dollar nonrefundable income tax credit does not, and will not, reduce state appropriations to our schools.

I want to be clear, I am extremely pro-education.  I fully support our state’s public schools, private schools, parochial schools, our community colleges, our state college system, the University of Nebraska system, and our State’s private colleges.  A good education is a good education whether you receive it at Emmanuel-faith Lutheran School in York or at Osceloa Middle School.

Nebraska taxpayers spend approximately $3.67 billion dollars on Pre-K-12 education each year to educate approximately 312,635 students and there are currently approximately about 38,000 students enrolled in private schools statewide.  The individuals who enroll their children in private schools pay both tuition to private schools and their property taxes which helps fund our public schools.

I fully believe these individuals who are in support of LB 670 are not asking for a lot in the grand scheme of things.  LB 670 would allow the parents of underserved children in our state to have a choice on where to educate their children.  I believe that ten million dollars, equivalent to 2.7% of the $3.67 billion dollars spent on education, is not a huge ask to give children a hand up.

With tightening education budgets and a property tax crisis in our state, I fully support offering parents and children additional choices on where they receive their education.   I shudder to think that if our private schools in this state would close, forcing those 38,000 students to enter the public school system.  Would our local communities across the state be able to afford to educate these students?

LB 670, as amended, was advanced from the Revenue Committee on a vote of 5 ayes, 2 nays, and 1 present not voting on April 11, 2019.  The amendment proposed by the Revenue Committee limits the maximum scholarship amount awarded to any student to the cost of tuition and fees of the qualified school and that the average scholarship amount awarded per student does not exceed 75% of the statewide average expenditures per formula student.  I look forward to standing in support of the bill when it is scheduled for debate by the full Legislature.

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

Weekly Column – March 29th
March 29th, 2019

In this week’s column, I want to highlight another bill of mine.   At the beginning of session, I introduced LB 607 on behalf of the Board of Cosmetology, Electrology, Esthetics, Nail Technology and Body Art.  LB 607 is an extension of the effort the Health and Human Services Committee and the Legislature has taken over the past few years in updating the statutes that govern these professions.

First and foremost, LB 607 updates the definition of manicuring to include the practice of performing on the natural fingernails of a person and provides a clear cut definition of the practice of pedicuring.  Before LB 607, the act of pedicuring fell under the definition of manicuring, but the practice was never defined itself.

LB 607 also updates statutes regarding tattooing to align the definition with current industry standards and puts into statute language that will allow for temporary body art facilities and temporary body artists.  This is important as it will allow for the State to host body art conventions at locations such as the Pinnacle Bank Arena or the CHI Health Center in Omaha.  The temporary body art facility will be licensed and inspected by the department and the license is only valid for up to seventy-two hours and shall expire at the conclusion of the event.  The temporary body artist license could allow the artist to offer services at the temporary body art facility or to be hosted in by a facility licensed as a traditional body art facility.  An individual must be registered by the State before they can practice as a temporary body artist and the registration should only last for fourteen consecutive days which can be renewed up to two times per calendar year.

During the hearing on LB 607, the Health and Human Services Committee heard from numerous industry professionals who expressed the need for this legislation, particularly the statutes that would license natural nail procedures.  Since individuals do not have to be licensed to perform these services, it means these individuals providing these services do not have to have minimum competency, do not have to adhere to disinfectant regulations, equipment regulations, and general safety regulations as that licensed nail technicians must meet.

 Since these individuals providing unlicensed services do not have to meet minimum competency standards and disinfectant standards, this puts our citizens at risk.  By using tools that could be unclean, our citizens are at risk of contracting mycobacterium fortuitum or even MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph infection that can lead to severe scarring, amputation, and even death.

I want to highlight the experience of Niki.  Niki received a pedicure in June of 2018 by an individual not licensed.  Since that person was not licensed, they used a “cheese grater” foot file, a tool that is prohibited for use by licensed individuals.  Unfortunately, Niki developed a flesh-eating infection.  In the past eight months, Niki has received five surgeries, most recently to amputate her leg to hopefully stem the infection from spreading.  Her amputation occurred hours after the hearing on LB 607.

Niki is just one example.  Unfortunately, there are numerous other lawsuits that have been brought to my attention relating to incidences due to unlicensed individuals providing these types of services that have resulted in harm to the customer.  At this time, LB 607 remains in the Health and Human Services Committee even though the bill reduces barriers to enter the practice and provides for greater opportunities for our body artists while increasing public health of our state.

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

Weekly Column – March 22nd
March 22nd, 2019

In this week’s column, I want to highlight bills of mine that were discussed in committee last week.  On Tuesday, March 12, I introduced three bills, LB 379, a bill that changes provisions under the Delayed Deposit Services Licensing Act and the Nebraska Installment Loan Act, LB 27, a bill that changes provisions related to the budgetary process of community colleges, and LB 669 which would appropriate $15 million dollars to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for the sole purpose of pancreatic cancer research.

LB 379 was introduced to address two issues identified following the adoption of LB 194, a bill to reform the delayed deposit services industry last year.  LB 379 requires delayed deposit service operators to license under the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System.  Under current law, licensed delayed deposit companies are the only entities that are not required to use this system when licensing with the State.

Secondly, the bill allows for delayed deposit services online, with an additional licensing fee, as long as that licensee has at least one principle place of business within the state.  Consumers want to access credit online, and the reality is our constituents are already accessing these loans online, just through a lender that is not licensed and regulated by this state.  LB 379 allows Nebraskans a safe, regulated source for that short term, small dollar credit.

LB 379 advanced from the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and has been named a priority bill by the Speaker of the Legislature.

LB 27 was introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Community College Association.  LB 27 would allow community colleges to have greater flexibility in their budgeting process by removing the 2 cent capitol levy distinction and merging that fund with their general fund.  This would allow for dollars currently allocated for general fund use to be used for capital improvements or for money currently allocated for capital improvements to be used for general fund purposes.  LB 27 simply allows for greater flexibility.  LB 27 did not receive any opposition during the hearing, but remains in the Education Committee.

Finally, I want to address LB 669, a bill that means a lot to me.  LB 669 is a bill that allocates $15 million dollars from the Health Care Cash Fund to create a Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska Medical Center that would focus on pancreatic cancer research.  Before any state dollars are appropriated from the cash fund, the University must raise $15 million dollars in private funds for this same purpose, thus creating a public/private partnership to research this terrible disease.

My involvement in this proposal is unfortunately based on personal experience.  I lost my beautiful wife Suzanne to pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago. Her diagnosis came without warning, as she was the picture of health until she began noticing symptoms. This made a huge impact on our lives and continues to impact them daily.  In visiting with medical professionals on how to screen for this cancer, it quickly became evident that there is no such screening available and that there is little they can do to prevent the onset.

LB 669 has been endorsed by the Board of Regents and now we are working on funding the Center.  This can’t bring Suzanne back, but it’s my hope that it will help many in the generations to come as UNMC focuses on pancreatic cancer research and treatments. Our goal is that one day they will discover a screening that can prevent and prepare families for this type of situation.

The reality is that currently there is inadequate focus on this specific type of cancer and it is considered underfunded in research, largely because of how rare it is and its high mortality rate.  The Nebraska Legislature sadly learned this lesson this week.  On Wednesday, the Legislature lost a true icon who had been with the institution for fifty years to pancreatic cancer.  During her tenure, she mentored over 1200 college students who signed up for the Legislative Page program, some of whom have gone on to do great things and some who have become state senators or even members of the United States House of Representatives.  All of us at the Legislature will miss her dearly.

We should think about Suzanne, the former Mayor of Seward, Bob Elwell, and our fellow citizens who are facing this disease and undergoing treatment.  I believe in UNMC and the work they are doing and I wish them the best as they look for a screening, new treatments, and maybe someday, a cure and I pray the Appropriations Committee incorporates LB 669 into the budget.

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

March 15th – Weekly Column
March 15th, 2019

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been impacted by the wild range of weather that has affected our state over the past week.  The flooding throughout the state is nothing like I have ever seen before.  I want to thank our local and state emergency management officials, first responders, and volunteers who are risking everything to save others.  If you need help finding housing, food, or any other help related to this natural disaster affecting our state, please call 2-1-1 to talk to a specialist near you.  211 is a free, community resource hotline that is available to the public provided by the Heartland United Way.  211 is a wonderful service for individuals when they need basic services such as food banks, clothing, or shelter, health services, and/or emotional support.

I urge you to take caution as you travel throughout the state.  As of Friday, March 15, at least four bridges in the State have washed out or been damaged.  These bridges are at Highway 12 at Niobrara, Highway 22 just south of Genoa, Highway 281 south of Spencer, and Highway 11 just south of Butte.  Flooding continues to run over numerous roadways and bridges.  If you come across water over the roadway, do not drive through it and do not drive around barricades or flagged closures.  Due to the adverse travel conditions around the state, please check 511 prior to leaving.   511 provides the most up to date travel conditions and is available by dialing 5-1-1 or online at www.511.nebraska.gov.  The Nebraska State Patrol highway helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance by dialing *55.  Remember, if you are in an emergency, always call 911.

Another component of this situation in our state is the impact the blizzard and flooding has had on the livestock across Nebraska, specifically on Nebraska’s cattle men and woman during calving season.  Often low pressure systems can bring an uptick in animal births, and in Nebraska it was literally a perfect storm of new calves being born and farmers and ranchers struggling to reach them due to blizzard conditions or floodwaters.  In some cases, we are hearing stories of entire herds of cattle being swept away in floodwaters.  Our ranch families often spend years building up their herds, and losing many of them in one catastrophic event is almost unfathomable.

Through all of these situations, whether flood devastation, cattle loss, and even the loss of some of our Nebraskan neighbors as they have rushed to help others, I am heartened by the outpouring of love and generosity of Nebraska’s people.  As we continue to lift each other up in prayer, we also see true engagement from our fellow citizens as they prepare to open their homes to house their neighbors who have been displaced, as they fill sandbags, as they risk their own lives to save others, and as they provide necessities to our citizens in need.

Maybe I am unique, but in true times of crisis such as the one we are facing, I don’t worry about our state.  Nebraskans know how to pick themselves up, dust off their boots, and go to work rebuilding.  We have seen it time and time again following tornadoes, floods, fires, and other devastation.  We are a hearty bunch, and even if you don’t see that on the national nightly news – that doesn’t matter – because it’s happening everywhere across our state right now.  Although District #24 has had challenges with flooding and loss – our situation should leave us thankful that the loss was not worse.  I am confident that once we are back on our feet, we will reach out to the rest of Nebraska that was not quite as lucky.

Please know that as your state Senator, I will do everything I can do to advocate for the resources for our area needed to repair and rebuild.  Nebraska’s emergency management officials, the Nebraska National Guard, the Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the many elected and appointed officials across our district have been wonderful in their proactive approach, their commitment to keeping our families safe, and their service.   Again, I thank them.

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

 

State Sen. Mark Kolterman hopes the state will allocate $15 million and private donors will provide another $15 million to fight the disease that took his wife’s life.

Suzanne Kolterman died in November 2017 of pancreatic cancer, a disease that crept up on her with little notice. By the time it was diagnosed, she had advanced cancer and only 18 months to live.

The senator said his legislative bill, which was heard Tuesday by the Appropriations Committee, isn’t about him. He already endured his wife’s death and there’s no going back.

But Kolterman, of Seward, would like to see the University of Nebraska Medical Center receive a big chunk of money for pancreatic cancer research so that the disease can be detected earlier and, possibly, cured. The money would bolster a program that already is known nationally for pancreatic cancer research.

The committee hearing made it evident that Kolterman’s proposal has competition. At least three other programs sought money from the state’s health care cash fund Tuesday, and more than 20 already are drawing a total of at least $61 million from it this year. Members of the committee said they want to be cautious in the use of that fund. State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln asked Kolterman if there were other sources of money for his concept.

“I know it’s a big ask,” Kolterman said of his request. “I appreciate the fact that we’re dealing with limited funds.”

UNMC is one of three National Cancer Institute Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) in pancreatic cancer. The two others are the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Washington University in St. Louis.

Kolterman’s bill, Legislative Bill 669, would draw $15 million from the state’s health care cash fund. UNMC would have to raise $15 million in matching money from donors before receiving the state funds.

The National Cancer Institute says SPORE programs “must demonstrate a high degree of collaboration between first-rate scientists and clinicians” and show excellence in translational research, which moves a project from the lab to the patient clinic.

UNMC is working on treatments, earlier detection and other elements in the fight against pancreatic cancer. The American Cancer Society said the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer from 2008-14 was the lowest — 9 percent — of all of the cancers listed.

The society estimated that 270 Nebraskans and 480 Iowans will die of pancreatic cancer this year. Nationwide, the estimate is 45,750.

UNMC is near the conclusion of a five-year grant of $11.5 million for pancreatic cancer research through the federal SPORE initiative.

“We’re known nationally as being a center” for pancreatic cancer research, said Michael “Tony” Hollingsworth, a professor and pancreatic-disease scientist at UNMC.

Among those who spoke Tuesday in support of Kolterman’s proposal were Shirley Young, whose husband, Jim (Union Pacific’s CEO), died of pancreatic cancer in 2014; UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, whose father, Arthur, died of the disease in 2012; and UNMC oncologist James Armitage, whose wife, Nancy, died of it in 2017.

“I really think this is an opportunity to do something important,” Armitage said in an interview.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey also testified in favor of Kolterman’s proposal.

Kolterman said he wants UNMC to maximize its strength in pancreatic cancer research. “The point is, we have a gem in our backyard here in Nebraska,” Kolterman said in an interview early this week.

He said UNMC physicians and staffers gave his wife good care, and she lived much longer than the Mayo Clinic suggested she would.

“We had a wonderful 18 months,” he said. The Koltermans took three grandchildren to Hawaii in August 2017.

“She promised them she would take them there, and she fulfilled her promise,” he said.

While his grandchildren call him Grandpa, he said, they had an unusual name for their grandmother. He fondly recalled that they just called her Kolterman.

 

https://www.omaha.com/livewellnebraska/health/senator-who-lost-wife-to-pancreatic-cancer-seeks-million-from/article_f2e8a8fb-fb11-5460-b67d-769f7b4e0bc8.html?fbclid=IwAR3F3OJgnhuHWOdst2Qjc5PNm81U6aYlkmZ6Y5a1aNQ09YsdnTEgUNhF75E

When vendors have been unable to meet the terms of the state contracts, the resulting cancellations have cost Nebraska millions in recent years.

If the state were able to nip potentially problematic contracts in the bud, before they cost taxpayers too much or resulted in embarrassing failures, it should presumably save money. Fiscal prudence benefits all Nebraskans.

Sen. Mark Kolterman has proposed creating an appeals process for companies that believe agencies have awarded contracts in error. He believes – as does the Journal Star editorial board – the addition of judicial review to state contracts exceeding $5 million will provide another layer of security to ensure Nebraskans’ tax dollars are spent wisely.

The Journal Star’s Chris Dunker detailed shortcomings in Nebraska’s existing procurement laws and how single-source contracts and the lack of a judicial review process have been problematic. A company that felt it should have been able to bid on a 2017 Department of Labor contract awarded without a bid, for instance, had no formal avenue to protest when the deal was awarded to another vendor.

At the time, business attorneys and state senators worried the lack of such recourse – which most states have in some fashion – hurt Nebraska’s reputation. Driving away bidders and deterring competition, they surmised, costs us all.

Then, consider a pair of technology upgrades that Nebraska formally canceled last December, for instance. The projects cost the state – and its taxpayers – about $6 million apiece before new administrators pulled the plug following a reviewing of the progress.

Nebraska got little more than heartburn for that $12 million. State officials decided to make do for the time being with one system while pursuing an update through a different vendor for the other. A transition to streamline payroll and personnel operations was estimated by the Department of Administrative Services to run $12 million over budget before it was canceled.

We applaud these officials for cutting their losses – which are all of ours, too – before additional cost overruns. We believe that Kolterman’s proposal decreases the likelihood the state finds itself in this type of fiscal pickle going forward.

The Seward senator expressed a willingness to craft “a process everyone can live with.” That process will need to be designed to address such matters expediently, calming state officials’ concern over an appeals process they fear could delay projects.

But cost-effectiveness by and confidence in state government must drive this idea. As Labor Commissioner John Albin told the Journal Star about the 2017 contract: “I’d rather suffer a little bit of embarrassment being late than a lot of embarrassment in a failure.”

As would all Nebraskans, we presume. Hence, extra protection against a failure makes sense for the state’s procurement process.

 

https://journalstar.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-closing-gaps-in-procurement-process-good-for-taxpayers/article_59b8f84b-dde3-51df-bb68-8bc95fbeaa8f.html

Weekly Column – March 8th
March 11th, 2019

In this week’s column, I would like to discuss LB 720, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act with you a second time.  This week, on March 6, the Revenue Committee held the hearing on LB 720.  As a reminder, LB 720 will increase the value of the incentive program to the Nebraska tax payer through better investments, better jobs, more robust reporting and more overall transparency as compared to the Nebraska Advantage Act.  LB 720 accelerates the value of the tax credit by simplifying the process, will increase the competitiveness of the program by increasing the Net Present Value of tax credits, thus helping Nebraska to win more projects and other opportunities for our state.  Finally, LB 720 will allow the State to build stronger relationships with businesses in order to encourage greater levels of investment and will allow the Department of Economic Development to better understand the needs of businesses and the evolution of business thinking in real time.

During the hearing that lasted approximately four and a half hours, the Revenue Committee heard from testimony from the Director of Department of Economic Development, Dave Rippe, Chad Denton on behalf of the State Chamber of Commerce, Walker Zulkowski on behalf of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association, David Brown on behalf of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, David Arnold on behalf of Buildertrend and Andy Hunzeker on behalf of Lincoln Industries, all of whom argued feverously that LB 720 is a critical piece of legislation that our state needs in order to grow the state.

The Revenue Committee also received letters expressing their support of the legislation from the City of Lincoln, the North Platte Area Chamber & Development, Advanced Power Alliance, Novozymes, Great Plains Communication, Omaha Public Power District, the United Cities of Sarpy County, First Five Nebraska, and the Nebraska Public Power District.

I completely agree with those who expressed support, both in person and via letter.  LB 720 is a critical piece of legislation for our state.  I am very passionate and am on record in finding ways to lower Nebraska’s already high property and income tax burden but I also believe if we cannot provide a competitive package to attract businesses to invest or to even relocate to Nebraska, there will be no money available for any type of tax relief and there will be less money for education.  If we, as a state, do not provide business incentives to recruit new industry to our state, I believe we will hurt the opportunities of our children and our grandchildren.

I am not alone in this effort.  I am thankful for all of those who testified in support of growing Nebraska.  I am honored that 21 of my colleagues from all corners of the state and of all political persuasions have cosponsored the ImagiNE Nebraska Act to ensure our state’s economic future in this ever changing global environment.  Having incentives to help grow our tax base is critical for our children’s future, for tax relief, and for job opportunities down the road.

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

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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