NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

District 28

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 28th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

New State Holiday Would Replace Columbus Day

LINCOLN – State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB 485 today to create “Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders’ Day.” The new state holiday would replace Columbus Day and would be celebrated the second Monday in October each year.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our wonderful state, what better time to honor Chief Standing Bear and Nebraska’s other great indigenous leaders,” said Senator Pansing Brooks. “Chief Standing Bear is a recognized as a symbol of civil rights throughout the United States and his plea for humanity exemplified the plea of all Native Americans throughout history.”

Replacing Columbus Day is not a new concept. Nebraska’s neighbor to the North, South Dakota, has been celebrating “Native American Day” since 1989 when legislators there unanimously passed a bill replacing Columbus Day with “Native American Day.”

Columbus Day is a controversial holiday due in part to Columbus’s treatment of native peoples.

However, Senator Pansing Brooks said while Columbus Day is a divisive holiday for many people, Chief Standing Bear and his story are something all Nebraskans can be proud of.

In Standing Bear v. Crook in the United States District Court, Chief Standing Bear argued that Native Americans are persons within the meaning of the law. Near the close of the trial, Chief Standing Bear rose, famously held out his right hand and addressed the court stating “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.” The court rendered a decision in favor of Chief Standing Bear in May 12, 1879.

As stated in the legislation, “the trial speaks to matters of citizenship, humanity and the rights of all Americans. The historic case echoes Nebraska’s motto of “equality Before the Law, reflecting Nebraska’s deep conviction that everyone who comes before the law is equal.

However, Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders’ Day is established to honor not only Chief Standing Bear but also the many other remarkable leaders of the state’s indigenous people, including but not limited to Chief Blackbird (Omaha), Chief Little Priest (Winnebago) and Big Eagle (Santee Sioux). Chief Standing Bear was a member of the Ponca Tribe.

Senator Pansing Brooks said the establishment of Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders Day would come in time to begin this year, making it especially significant given the state’s sesquicentennial, a yearlong celebration involving a variety of programs.

“Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders’ Day will be something uniquely Nebraskan,” said Senator Pansing Brooks. “It will help instill in every citizen a greater understanding of our history, our cultures and our common humanity, and it will further our state’s motto of “Equality before the law.”

LB 407 Creates Task Force to Examine Health Issues Caused by Alcohol

 

LINCOLN – Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, District 28, introduced LB 407 today, which creates the Whiteclay Public Health Emergency Task Force. The bill was cosigned by Senators Brett Lindstrom, Tom Brewer, Roy Baker, Sue Crawford, Mike McDonnell, Mark Kolterman, and Anna Wishart.

The Task Force will collect, examine, and analyze data on the following, among other things:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other health conditions related to alcoholism
  • Access to treatment and detoxification facilities, telehealth, distance learning, and other health resources for those affected by the consumption of alcohol
  • Children who are at risk of continuing the cycle of alcoholism without outside intervention
  • Effectiveness of policies, procedures, and programs implemented by other states directed towards Native American populations as they relate to preventing and combatting alcoholism
  • Sources of federal, state, and private funds for prevention, detoxification, treatment, rehabilitation, and economic development.

“For far too long we have ignored the immediate safety, economic, and treatment needs of those affected by the predatory alcohol sales in Whiteclay,” said Senator Pansing Brooks. “This Legislation is a much needed step in addressing the myriad of issues facing Whiteclay. The genocide occurring through the sale of alcohol is our problem as Nebraskans, and we are complicit. We have an obligation to work towards fixing those problems. Together, everyone can play a part in helping turn Whiteclay from a dismal area of despair, into a place of hope and healing.”

The Task Force will also seek to encourage participation and obtain input from academic and medical experts, as well as non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions, and city, county, and tribal government officials to evaluate and develop strategies and solutions to help victims escape alcoholism.

The Task Force will be composed of an Executive Committee and an Advisory Committee. Members of the Task Force will include state legislators, university officials, state government agency officials, public health experts, as well as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Task Force will create a long-range strategic plan which will set measurable goals and benchmarks. This plan will include recommendations for future actions that may be needed to attain the goals and benchmarks previously established in order to decrease the incidence of alcohol-related health problems.

After first visiting Whiteclay, Senators Lindstrom, Baker, and Senator Pansing Brooks developed a multi-faceted approach to aid the people of Pine Ridge, Sheridan County, and Whiteclay. These include:

  1. Establishment of a Nebraska State Patrol substation and/or enhanced patrol hours in Whiteclay to enforce laws.
  2. Condemnation and removal of abandoned buildings where crime and trafficking occur.
  3. Creation of a drug and alcohol detox and treatment center combined with a job training program.
  4. Expansion of Economic Development opportunities in Whiteclay and Sheridan County.
  5. Establishment of wireless broadband for enhanced public safety, telehealth and distance learning opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINCOLN, NE: Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced legislation today (LB 289) aimed at significantly increasing the penalties for human trafficking in Nebraska.

The legislation is the result of collaboration between Senator Pansing Brooks, Attorney General Doug Peterson, members of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Women’s Fund of Omaha. It is being introduced in conjunction with President Obama’s 2010 designation of January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and the Governor’s recent proclamation of January 2017 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The Nebraska Family Alliance is also supporting this legislation.

“The traffickers and purchasers who prey upon and enslave vulnerable individuals and children should be on notice. Nebraska will no longer tolerate their heinous conduct,” said Senator Pansing Brooks. “The chance of persecution and the severity of penalties will be increased should anyone contemplate abusing Nebraska’s most vulnerable again. Not in Nebraska. Not ever.”

Under the proposed legislation, the penalty for the trafficking of a minor is increased to a Class IC felony from a Class II, and the penalty for using force or the threat of force to coerce minors into human trafficking has increased from a IIA to a IB felony. The bill also increases penalties for anyone engaged in sex trafficking by inflicting physical harm or the threat thereof from a Class IIA to a ID felony, while the penalties for engaging in sex trafficking will increase from a Class III to a Class II felony. Further, the penalty for anyone who solicits a victim of sex trafficking will be guilty of a Class II felony, up from a Class III felony.
“As Nebraskans recognize the existence of human trafficking in our state, increasing protections is a critical next step,” said Attorney General Doug Peterson, “This bill provides substantial progress in our commitment to fight human trafficking.”

Last year, Senator Pansing Brooks introduced LB 843, a bill that granted victims of human trafficking immunity from prosecution for prostitution. That bill made clear that those who are trafficked are victims and not criminals. The Governor signed the bill into law on April 13th, 2016.

Below are the Felony classifications under the Nebraska Criminal Code

28-105. Felonies; classification of penalties; sentences; where served; eligibility for probation.

(1) For purposes of the Nebraska Criminal Code and any statute passed by the Legislature after the date of passage of the code, felonies are divided into ten classes which are distinguished from one another by the following penalties which are authorized upon conviction:

Class I felony Death
Class IA felony Life imprisonment
Class IB felony Maximum — life imprisonment
Minimum — twenty years imprisonment
Class IC felony Maximum — fifty years imprisonment
Mandatory minimum — five years imprisonment
Class ID felony Maximum — fifty years imprisonment
Mandatory minimum — three years imprisonment
Class II felony Maximum — fifty years imprisonment
Minimum — one year imprisonment
Class IIA felony Maximum — twenty years imprisonment
Minimum — none
Class III felony Maximum — four years imprisonment and two years
post-release supervision or
twenty-five thousand dollars fine, or both
Minimum — none for imprisonment and nine months
post-release supervision if imprisonment is imposed
Class IIIA felony Maximum — three years imprisonment
and eighteen months post-release supervision or
ten thousand dollars fine, or both
Minimum — none for imprisonment and nine months
post-release supervision if imprisonment is imposed
Class IV felony Maximum — two years imprisonment and twelve
months post-release supervision or
ten thousand dollars fine, or both
Minimum — none for imprisonment and nine months
post-release supervision if imprisonment is imposed

To view the full Report, please follow this link: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/reports/lr424.php

patty-official-portraitLINCOLN, NE: Recommendations regarding necessary improvements in the Department of Correctional Services have been made in a report released today by a bi-partisan committee of the Nebraska Legislature.

The report is the result of work completed in the Legislative interim by the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee, which was established under LR34.

“We believe the recommendations in this report are essential to addressing the chronic and systemic challenges in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services,” said Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, Chair of the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee. “These challenges continue to create serious barriers to the well-being of correctional officers, the successful rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals, and the public safety of our communities.”

“The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has been without sufficient resources for many years, leading to understaffing, low morale, inadequate programming, and inadequate mental health care,” said Senator Pansing Brooks. “Getting the Department back to where it needs to be will require significant resources in the next legislative session and beyond. Tough decisions need to be made. Our state budget can no longer be balanced on the back of corrections cuts.”

The committee held ten hearings on specific topics including staffing, overcrowding, mental and behavioral health and treatment, programming, and restrictive housing.

“The committee found that significant problems remain in the Department of Correctional Services, including a high number of vacant positions, significant turnover in staffing, overcrowding, lack of appropriate programs to ensure that individuals gain skills and participate in rehabilitative activities so that they can become parole eligible, and much more,” adds Senator Kate Bolz. “Decisive action is needed in both the Executive and Legislative branches to implement these recommendations and stabilize our system as quickly as possible.”

Thirty-three recommendations were made by the committee. Specific recommendations included:

•Budget proposals submitted to the Nebraska Legislature by the Department of Correctional Services should be fully funded.

•The Legislature should convene a group of attorneys to conduct a comprehensive review of the Nebraska Criminal Code in order to address front-end issues related to overcrowding. The group should provide a report to the Judiciary Committee with recommendations for changes by September 15, 2018.

•Promotion of efforts to recruit and retain behavioral health staff members through increased wages, improved working conditions and a student recruitment initiative in partnership with the Behavioral Health Education Network of Nebraska should be quickly implemented.

•Development of an implementation plan to address the recommendations for increased programming as proposed by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, as well as increasing access to cognitive behavioral therapy and gender-specific programming for women must occur.

•Implementation of mission specific housing for individuals with specific needs, such as mental illness, and ensuring that restrictive housing rules and regulations meet American Bar Association standards should be initiated.

The Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee was established in 2014 to examine the circumstances of Nikko Jenkins’ confinement and release. This examination has led to a multi-year oversight and legislative reform effort by the Nebraska Legislature. Committee members included: Senators Seiler, Pansing Brooks, Bolz, Chambers, Coash, Ebke, Krist, Mello, Morfeld, Schumacher, and Williams.

“All over the sky a sacred voice is calling your name.” Listen for that voice as we gather.
We are here to align our collective conscience.
We are here to pray for healing of the on-going devastation and genocide of a people in a sovereign nation on our northern border.
We are here to pray for ourselves.

whiteclay-prayer-vigil-collage

                                             A photo college of the Prayer Vigil

As we come together today I would ask that we acknowledge and honor the spiritual fact that the people of the Oglala Lakota nation are God’s people, as are we.
They are a gathering of precious souls—many of whom are broken by their particular vulnerability to addiction to alcohol. That vulnerability is one we have known and understood and exploited for centuries–even before the establishment of WC in 1904 when Roosevelt removed the 50 mile Alcohol Buffer Zone.

We, as Nebraskans, are complicit in gathering the taxes yet turning a blind eye to the trauma and annihilation of a people wounded and abandoned beside us. We must pray for forgiveness and for blessings for the beloved people of PineRidge. We must bolster each other’s faith in order to fight for justice and to stand with those who are powerless and oppressed.

My faith stands on 3 simple words: God is Love. For me, the phrase is it’s own simple palindrome because it reads the same forward and backward—God is Love. Love is God. Great spiritual power exudes from the knowledge that God is Love. I believe that if our society were perfected in Love, we would not stand by and watch the isolation, the trauma of the indigenous souls around us. If we were perfected in Love, we would not shrug our shoulders in indifference to the unemployment, poverty, disease, and lives of our brothers and sisters who are plagued by addictions that work to undermine a noble culture. If the faith that God is Love were the compass by which our society and lives were led and governed, we would have solved this issue long ago.

We all need to pray to not become overwhelmed but determined in Love. Determined to bring our gifts and talents, our LOVE, to work to heal an untenable, indefensible situation where people in Nebraska are preying on the particular vulnerabilities rather than praying for the victims.
As Black Elk said: The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
Finally, Black Elk encouraged us saying, “let every step you take upon the earth be as a prayer.”

It is now up to us to walk this earth in prayer and to ACT with Love that is God as our spiritual guide for the sacred souls of the Oglala Lakota people and for our own interconnected souls. I end with the sacred Lakota prayer which I hope you will memorize and repeat in your own meditations:
“Mitakuye Oyasin” (Mi-talk-u-ee O-ya-sin)—“we are all related.” Mitakuye Oyasin.

LINCOLN – Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, Legislative District 28, issued a statement today following the Liquor Control Commissions’ unanimous decision to compel the four liquor stores in Whiteclay to reapply for their liquor licenses.

The decision comes in light of information revealed at the October 11 Hearing on Whiteclay as part of Senators Pansing Brooks’ and Lindstrom’s Interim Study (LR 567) on Whiteclay. At our Interim Hearing, Sheridan County Commissioner Jack Anderson said the County does not have adequate law enforcement to promote public safety and catch potential violations of the Liquor Control Act in Whiteclay.

Senator Pansing Brooks full statement is as follows:

“I want to commend the Liquor Control Commission for its vote today. It is clear to me, through our Interim Study on Whiteclay and through my own communication with other officials, that adequate law enforcement does not exist in that unincorporated area.

As the Transcript from our Interim Hearing shows, Sheridan County Commissioner Jack Anderson said that Sheridan County “absolutely” does not have the adequate resources to provide law enforcement to Whiteclay.  On the same day as our Interim Study, a report came out quoting Sheridan County Commissioner James Krotz about the need for funding for public safety in Whiteclay, as well. These comments validate my own understanding from a conversation that I had on my first visit to Whiteclay in May. While there, I talked with Sheriff Terry Robbins for 40 minutes about the adequacy of law enforcement and he indicated he did not have the deputies to send to Whiteclay to adequately monitor liquor violations.

These issues with law enforcement relate to one of the proposals in our multi-faceted plan calling for full-time law enforcement in and around Whiteclay.  The reason we have called for added law enforcement is because we believe that law enforcement in Whiteclay is inadequate for public safety. Lack of law enforcement also makes it difficult to uncover and prosecute any and all violations of the Liquor Control Act.

I have been saying since I first became involved with this issue that there is a clearly defined procedure established by the Legislature to evaluate the compliance of all liquor stores, whether in Whiteclay or anywhere else, under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act.  That procedure ensures the Due Process rights of all parties.  These statutes lay out very clearly the requirement for the adequacy of existing law enforcement in any area that sells alcohol.

I want to thank the Liquor Control Commission for doing their due diligence to ensure that the statutes are met regarding the issuance of liquor licenses.  Having the stores go through the long-form process will trigger an evidentiary procedure through which all parties can provide evidence to determine the adequacy of law enforcement in Whiteclay and each liquor store’s compliance. I am grateful and find it appropriate that the Liquor Control Commission voted unanimously to initiate the long-form process regarding alcohol sales in Whiteclay.”

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

District 28
Room #1206
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2633
Email: ppansingbrooks@leg.ne.gov
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