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Patty Pansing Brooks

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

District 28

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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

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

District 28
Room 1016
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2633
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