Sen. Colby Coash
District 27

Nebraska crowdfunding bill LB 226: What it means for startups

March 10th, 2015


Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln has introduced a bill, LB 226, that creates a framework for equity-based crowdfunding.

“This is designed to work like other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter,” Coash said. “But instead of being a donation that might get you a t-shirt, this platform gives investors a share in the company.”

The Nebraska Department of Banking & Finance would manage the program. Nebraska companies interested in using the program would be required to pay a $200 filing fee, submit documentation to be presented to prospective investors, and provide an escrow agreement with a financial institution where investments will be deposited.

Investors, who must be Nebraskans, will be allowed to make deposits in the escrow fund through a third-party web portal. The company must specify the fundraising time frame and investment target, and investors can cancel their commitment if the target amount is not raised by the deadline. The company must also disclose the terms and conditions of the securities being offered. The company cannot access funds until the target amount has been met or exceeded.

High-risk investments

LB 226 is very up-front about the fact that these investments carry a high degree of risk.

“Venture capitalists and banks aren’t interested in this type of investment,” Coash said. “They do see the potential for companies that start in this way to eventually grow to a level that they would be interested.”

Under the bill, investors are required to certify that they understand the investment is in a high-risk, speculative business venture, and that they may lose all of their investment. Investment limits are also established for both accredited (high net worth/high income institutions or individuals) and unaccredited investors.

A baseball analogy

Senator Coash used a baseball analogy to describe his goals for the crowdfunding bill.

“A home run would be nice, but a couple of singles would be great, too,” he said. “Who knows where the next Valmont or Hudl might come from?”

LB 226 has not yet been reported to the full legislature, but Senator Coash said that the Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee would be sending it out unanimously with one minor technical amendment.

Unlike another proposed bill this session affecting Nebraska entrepreneurs, LB 156, the crowdfunding bill has no financial impact on the state’s General Fund, and could potentially pass before the main budget bills. However, it still requires a priority designation, or else the bill must be scheduled for debate along with other bills with no committee opposition and no General Fund impact.

State lawmakers advance bill giving producers incentive to film in Nebraska

February 12th, 2015

February 11, 2015 by Brent Martin, Nebraska Radio Network

It might be a small incentive, but it is an incentive.

Film makers will get a break on vehicle registration under a bill advancing in the Unicameral.

Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln sponsors LB 45 which would exempt vehicles used in a movie production from state license registration requirements for up to a year.

Coash says it’s a small step to providing incentives to make more movies in Nebraska.

“Film in this state is more than art; certainly is that, but it can also be an economic driver,” Coash tells colleagues during legislative flood debate. “It puts people to work. It can be difficult to find steady work in this area. And so, what we find is a mass exodus of people who want to do this kind of work and they have to go elsewhere to do it.”

Coash says removal of the vehicle registration requirement gives movie producers one less obstacle to filming in Nebraska.

“I have talked to many of these people and they want nothing more than to be able to come back to Nebraska, make this their home and continue to pursue that vocation,” Coash says. “There are a lot of reasons why that can’t happen and that doesn’t happen, but what we’re doing with LB 45 is giving them one less reason.”

Cigar bar bill advances in Legislature

February 6th, 2015

February 04, 2015 12:30 pm • By ZACH PLUHACEK | LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR

Smoking in cigar bars is a step closer to being re-legalized in Nebraska.

Lawmakers advanced a bill (LB118) with that intent Wednesday and will need to vote twice more before it reaches the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Supporters hope the move will address a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling that undid cigar bars’ exemption from the 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act. The court found the exemption violated the law’s intent to protect people from secondhand smoke.

“We want to go back to status quo,” said Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, sponsor of LB118.

Larson’s staff and the cigar bars’ lobbyist are consulting with constitutional experts to ensure the bill adjusts the act’s language to satisfy the court, he said.

But at least two senators, Bob Krist of Omaha and Merv Riepe of Ralston, urged caution.

“It’s a fine line,” Krist said later Wednesday.

He pointed to the ongoing legal battle over another bill, his own, that created a 500-foot buffer zone for protesters at funerals in the state. Opponents have accused the state of targeting a particular group of protesters. A trial in the case is set for March.

In addition, Krist said, Larson “poked the Supreme Court in the eye” with statements he’s made to media about the cigar bar ruling. Krist co-signed Larson’s bill at first but has since withdrawn his name.

Larson has said there’s a “sense of urgency” surrounding the bill because cigar bar owners are losing business while smoking is prohibited.

“I don’t share the same sense of urgency,” Krist said.

He voted to advance the bill Wednesday, along with all but two other senators who voted. But a handful of senators, including Ernie Chambers of Omaha, were not present, so the outcome could be different next time around.

Cigar shop customers and workers know they are entering an environment with smoke, Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln told fellow lawmakers.

“There is no expectation by the customers of a place like this that they would be protected from secondhand smoke,” Coash said.

The courts “went off the rails a little bit” by striking the exemption, he said.

Coash is a member of the General Affairs Committee, where the bill originated, and served in the Legislature when the original Clean Indoor Air Act was passed.

The Legislature is “in the business” of making exemptions, he said, pointing at the state’s tax code, which includes dozens of items and services for which sales taxes are not assessed.

“We poke holes in a large policy all the time,” Coash said.


Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or On Twitter @zachamiLJS.

Nebraska Moves Forward with Investment Crowdfunding Legislation

February 3rd, 2015

February 2, 2015 @ 5:37 pm By JD Alois

Today (February 2nd) the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee will be having a hearing to discuss LB226 sponsored by Senator Colby Coash from Lincoln, Nebraska. The bill puts Nebraska on the roster of the growing number of stats that are pushing forward with their own intrastate crowdfunding exemptions in lieu of missing federal rules. The bill is said to be modeled after the one legalized by Indiana last year.

Senator Coash was quoted in the JournalStar on his initiative;

“The main difference between a Kickstarter website and this legislation is that when you contribute to a project on Kickstarter, typically you receive a T-shirt, or a poster, or other promotional gift depending on the size of the contribution, but have no monetary stake in the project,” Coash says in the statement of intent for his bill. “LB226 gives the investor a monetary stake in the project, not a donation.”

Nebraska State CapitolThe bill is said to be modeled on an Indiana law that went into effect in 2014. Twenty other states considered or passed crowdfunding laws last year, as well.

Nebraskans worth less than $1 million or couples making under $300,000 a year would be allowed to invest as much as $5,000 in a single business online. Funding for small businesses without audited statements will be capped at $1 million. With audited statements the funding may hit $2 million.

Corporate securities attorney Bart Dillashaw of Lincoln who is also president of the Nebraska Angels investment network was quoted on the legislation;

“That’s where the action’s at. Nothing really happens until the SEC tells us what the rules are.”

“Regulations create an ‘artificial barrier’ that allows only people with a certain amount of money to invest. So long as the risks are disclosed, they should be able to make those decisions for themselves.”

“I’m excited to see the Legislature paying attention to the startup sector. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Companies interested in using the exemption would need to register with the Banking Department for a small fee. Coash’s plan was described as a method for people with moderate incomes to invest in a bar, restaurant or other small business.

Bill would allow crowdfunding of startup businesses

February 2nd, 2015

January 31, 2015 11:00 pm • By ZACH PLUHACEK | LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR

A Kickstarter donation can get you a lot of things: a free T-shirt, naming rights to a goat, an old Nike sneaker signed — and worn — by the director Spike Lee.

“You can do that all day long,” says Colby Coash, a state senator from Lincoln.

But no matter how many days’ lunch money you donate to your favorite project on a crowdfunding website, you can’t get an ownership share in return. No stock. And no income from your investment, other than the aforementioned goat naming.

State law forbids it. So Coash wants to change the law.

A bill he sponsored in the Legislature this year would allow Nebraskans to buy small stakes in local startups online without jumping through the same regulatory hoops as big investors buying into major corporations.

“The main difference between a Kickstarter website and this legislation is that when you contribute to a project on Kickstarter, typically you receive a T-shirt, or a poster, or other promotional gift depending on the size of the contribution, but have no monetary stake in the project,” Coash says in the statement of intent for his bill. “LB226 gives the investor a monetary stake in the project, not a donation.”

The bill is modeled on an Indiana law that went into effect in 2014. Twenty other states considered or passed crowdfunding laws last year, as well.

The measures allow companies to operate exchanges, similar to Kickstarter, where people can invest in startup companies or other businesses that operate within their own states, though not elsewhere.

Coash’s bill — which is cosigned by Sens. Heath Mello of Omaha and Tyson Larson of O’Neill — would enable Nebraskans worth less than $1 million or couples making under $300,000 a year to invest as much as $5,000 in a single business online.

In many cases, those people would need to go through a broker to buy shares in a business registered under current state law, said Patricia Herstein, general counsel for the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance.

Companies would be able to solicit smaller investments — $5,000 from each person, up to $2 million total — online without preparing as many legal and accounting records, a costly process for a small business or startup, Herstein said.

National efforts to enable crowdfunding investments between states have been opposed by consumer protection and labor groups, who argue it could expose inexperienced investors to fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission continues to craft nationwide crowdfunding rules.

“That’s where the action’s at,” said Bart Dillashaw of Lincoln, a corporate and securities lawyer who works with Nebraska startups and is president of the Nebraska Angels investment network. “Nothing really happens until the SEC tells us what the rules are.”

Regulations create an “artificial barrier” that allows only people with a certain amount of money to invest, he said.

“So long as the risks are disclosed, they should be able to make those decisions for themselves.”

Herstein said the goal of regulation is to protect investors, “and you accomplish that through full disclosure of every material fact.”

Coash’s bill includes an all-caps disclaimer to appear on disclosure documents. Investors must also acknowledge that they are investing in a “high-risk, speculative business venture,” and that they can afford to lose all of their investment or even more under some circumstances.

The bill also would require companies to provide investors with quarterly reports on their operations, financial status and executive pay.

Firms would still need to register with the Banking Department, and pay a $200 filing fee. The Legislative Fiscal Offices estimates the bill would raise the state about $5,000 a year, assuming 25 companies apply with the state each year.

Coash’s plan offers an avenue for people with moderate incomes to invest in a bar, restaurant or other small business, Dillashaw said.

“I’m excited to see the Legislature paying attention to the startup sector,” said Dillashaw. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Welcome Back the Members of the 104th Legislature event!

December 31st, 2014

Lancaster County Senators 

Colby Coash                   Kathy Campbell          Ken Haar

Kate Bolz                         Patty Pansing-Brooks                Laura Ebke

     Roy Baker                    Adam Morfeld             Matt Hansen


 Mueller|Robak LLC


Invite you to the Welcome Back the Members of the 104th Legislature event!


Please join us for appetizers and a cash bar:

Wed., January 7th, 2015

The Cornhusker Hotel

(Grand Ballroom)



Thank you to our generous sponsors:

Nebraska Independent Community Bankers * Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Nebraska

Nebraska Rural Electric Association * Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Nebraska

Nowka and Edwards * Rembolt Ludtke LLP * O’Hara Lindsay and Associates

Kelly & Jerram * Kissel/Erickson, Sederstrom & Associates * American Communications Group

Moylan Law Offices * Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District

Nebraska Bankers Association * Nebraska Farmers Association * Nebraska Cattlemen Association

League of Nebraska Municipalities * Loran Schmit * Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry * Nebraska Association of County Officials

Nebraska Association of Nurse Anesthetists * Nebraska Natural Resource District

Black Hills Energy * Nebraska State AFL-CIO * Heartland Strategy Group * Peetz and Company

Radcliffe and Associates * Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation * Jack Cheloha, City of Omaha * LIBA

Eric Gerrard, LLC * Nebraska Press Association * Husch Blackwell

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce * Frazier & Fraizer Law Offices * COX Communications * NSEA

Home Instead Senior Care * Bromm and Associates * Brennan & Nielsen Law Offices

No RSVP necessary.

Please contact Katie in Senator Coash’s office at with questions.

LR574 – Interim Study Report

November 6th, 2014

There is a substantial percentage of individuals in the United States who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Across the nation, there is a growing interest in fully integrated facilities for the deaf community.  An interim study on LR574 was introduced by Senator Coash during the 103rd Legislature.  LR574 explores the need for fully integrated residential services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing in Nebraska.  LR574 sought comments from the deaf community and residential providers regarding challenges that the deaf community faces in society, such as access to hearing aids, communication, and isolation.

Click on the link to read the full report.

LR574 Final Report

Heineman signs Nebraska autism coverage bill

April 22nd, 2014
Associated Press 
LINCOLN, Neb. — An estimated 1,000 Nebraskans will receive insurance coverage for autism therapies under a new state law.

Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill into law Monday standing alongside two families with autistic children, and said the measure means more to him personally than any other he’s signed into law.

The proposal allows for up to 25 hours per week of covered therapy until the insured person turns 21 years old. Required coverage would include applied behavioral analysis, a treatment method that has been shown to help autistic children learn to function better. Certain insurance plans will be exempt from the autism requirement, including those that are sold in the individual and small-group markets under the new federal health care marketplace.

Vicki Depenbusch and 15-year-old son Jacob stood next to Heineman during the bill signing. Heineman and Jacob met in 2010 at a parent-teacher conference, and the pair has been friends ever since, Heineman said. Jacob was nonverbal until he was about 4, but with the treatment and support from his school district, he started communicating through sign language, pictures and then words.

“I’m signing this bill into law on behalf of Jacob and Nebraska’s autism families who are challenged with autism every day,” Heineman said.

Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln, the bill’s sponsor, said there were times he considered giving up on the bill. It advanced out of committee in early April, leaving lawmakers little time to debate and vote on the bill. He credited parents for their help getting the bill passed.

The treatment that is covered requires a lot of training and education to be provided, Coash said, but noted the investment will save money in the long-run as children become independent and productive adults.

“This therapy opens doors and what it does for children is it allows them to interact with children in a way that they wouldn’t have but for this therapy,” Coash said.

Colleen Jankovich was the other mother who stood with Heineman during the bill signing.

“I’m so grateful for everyone for everything they’ve done because it means there’s a future in our state for our children, and that’s all that matters,” she said at the news conference.

Nebraska is the 36th state to require this kind of coverage.

The bill is LB254.

Read more here:

Office of Guardianship Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

March 28th, 2014

Lincoln, NEB. Nebraska is one step closer to joining the rest of the country in having an Office of Public Guardianship.

“We tried to do it on a volunteer basis, but it didn’t work out as everybody would have liked,” said Governor Dave Heineman.

Though Senator Colby Coash, who introduced the bill, said it has been years in the making, a very public scandal last fall showing flaws in Nebraska’s volunteer guardianship program provided the motivation to get this done.

“That incident was kind of a catalyst to say ‘okay with a void of guardians you open yourself up to thing like what we saw in Scottsbluff.’ And so the time seemed right to pull this off,” said Lincoln Senator Coash

“It’s unfortunate we had really one person who made a series of mistakes. We caught those. We need to protect those with the appropriate guardianship,” said Governor Heineman.

Now, The guardianship system, volunteer and assigned, will have more safeguards to avoid abuse or confusion.

“One of the functions of this office will be to support those volunteer guardians through training and things of that nature, so even the volunteer guardians are going to have some support which i think will be helpful to them,” said Senator Coash.

He said he still needs to look through the actual bill, but Governor Heineman said he supports it.

“I do think it’s a good bill that Senator Coash has produced. I do want to read it in detail though before we make our final decision, but I do think it’s something needed,” said Governor Heineman.

Senator Coash said if the Governor approves the bill, part of the process will be finding someone to take on this role as the public guardian. He said the candidate will need to be a jack of all trades.

“You certainly have to have an understanding of guardianship issues, guardianship laws and vulnerable populations. You have to have some ability to account for funds, so there’s some responsibility to understand accounting and finances. And some experience with the courts and vulnerable people,” said Senator Coash.

The Governor now has 5 days to approve or veto the bill.

Press Release: LB920 to create the Office of Public Guardian

January 28th, 2014

January 27, 2014
Contact: David Slattery
(402) 471-2632

Senator Coash introduces LB920 to create the Office of Public Guardian

LINCOLN, NE – Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln introduces LB920 to establish the Office of Public Guardian under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska State Court Administrator. Additional co-sponsors of the bill include Senator Ashford of Omaha, Senator Brasch of Bancroft, Senator Davis of Hyannis, Senator Harms of Scottsbluff, Senator Lathrop of Omaha, Senator McGill of Lincoln, Senator Schilz of Ogallala, Senator Seiler of Hastings, and Senator Watermeier of Syracuse.

Nebraska is the only state that does not have an Office of Public Guardian and relies entirely on volunteers to take care of its most vulnerable citizens. The Office of Public Guardian establishes a director of the Office of Public Guardian, a deputy public guardian, and up to twelve associate guardians. While our state will continue to rely heavily on volunteers, the office will serve as a means of last resort as guardian or conservator for those situations where no family member or suitable individual is available. Additionally, the office will provide training and resources to current and future guardians and conservators.

Late last year, State Auditor Mike Foley released a report highlighting that the present system of obtaining a guardian as inadequate and leaves wards of the state vulnerable to fraud, abuse, and theft. One case of fraud of particular concern mentioned in the report was that of Judith
Widener, a public guardian to more than 600 wards in 60-plus counties across the state. Ms. Widener deliberately mishandled her wards’ finances and was charged with embezzling over $600,000 of their funds by spreading it out to more than forty bank accounts. Coash states, “Her appointment over 600 times was a result of a judge having no other option when appointing a guardian or conservator. It is time for Nebraska to follow others states and provide for an alternative that protects vulnerable Nebraskans.”

“As you look at a 50 state analysis, what you find is Nebraska stands alone and that we have no option other than volunteers. We have a situation where there is no other choice, and that makes it a ripe environment for people like Judith Widener, who will take advantage of vulnerable people,” says Senator Coash of District 27.

“In consultation with interested stakeholders from across the state, I am introducing legislation to establish the Office of Public Guardian that seeks to protect Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens. The effort to create the Office of Public Guardian has been ongoing for several years and in light of State Auditor Foley’s report in November of last year, there is no question that this legislature needs to act quickly to protect those whom are unable to protect themselves,” says Senator Coash.