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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 30th 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.
Sen. Myron Dorn
Update Feb 16, 2024
Sen. Myron Dorn
Some unusually mild weather for mid February, but it’s been business as usual at the Legislature. That includes some very long public hearings in some committees, and good debate on the floor.
This week was the deadline for designating a priority bill for the session. I chose LB 1108, my bill that would take the “Fifty Cents for Life” program up to one dollar, to benefit the EMS and statewide trauma programs. The original bill would have added another 50 cents to the once-per-year car registration. At this time, we are looking at other funding sources, but those must be on-going and sustainable. We need to generate about $2.5 million per year to recruit and retain volunteer EMTs for rural areas, create a robust EMS service with an accurate registry and adequate equipment and training. The bottom line is that no matter when or where you dial 911, we need a squad able to respond.
This past week I had four bills heard by the Appropriations Committee, LBs 941, 942, 943 and 944. All of them appropriate funds to improve the state’s Medicaid provider rates for a variety of health care programs including assisted living and nursing facilities, and emergency and crisis behavioral health needs. We had an excellent turn out of citizens who use these services, as well as health professionals in support of these measures.
Last year, 29 nursing homes (out of 200+) closed in Nebraska. At this rate of closure, we will soon be in crisis mode for nursing care. Staffing numbers are an issue. The Medicaid reimbursement rate is an issue. About 60% of patients in these categories are on Medicaid, and the rate has not increased at the same pace as inflation. If you get up to 75 to 80% Medicaid patients, your facility cannot make ends meet with the low rates we have now.
I am hearing lots of feedback from counties about LB 1067, prioritized by Sen. Clements. The bill would phase out the inheritance tax over the next few years. Currently there are only six states with an inheritance tax, Nebraska being one. There are also 12 states that have an estate tax and Maryland levies both.
An estate tax is paid by the estate, not the heirs, but obviously still very similar. However, Nebraska is the only state with an inheritance tax that doesn’t affect state revenues, only county revenues. Let me be clear, I don’t mind eliminating the inheritance tax, but I do want to ensure that counties are reimbursed for the loss of this revenue stream.
About $75 to 80 million has gone to the state’s counties through the inheritance tax. Sen. Clements has a very small carrot out there, to pay counties so many dollars a day for inmates in their jails, which would total about $3.5 million. Not anywhere near the $75 million that will be lost, so that has not appeased the counties very much.
Counties must pay for everything from public safety and county law enforcement to county roads and bridges.
The only source of revenue for a county is property tax. Inheritance tax funds are used by many counties for the yearly operational budget; however some, like Gage county, have been careful to put this extra revenue aside for special projects. Either way, without it, there will be counties that have to raise property tax to compensate for the loss of revenue. Let me say it again, if this bill passes, the end result is an increase in property taxes, caused by the state not replacing that lost revenue in some way.
The Governor’s move to take federal summer grocery aid for low income families was a welcome decision. This will benefit children who may rely on school lunch programs just to eat, to have access to food during the summer break. It will also return some of our federal tax dollars back to Nebraska and benefit local businesses and jobs. I appreciate the administration’s willingness to reconsider and take advantage of this opportunity.
We have a couple more weeks of hearings and are nearing the halfway point of the session. Please continue to call and email with your concerns. email@example.com 402-471-2620 www.nebraskalegislature.gov
The legislative process has been running smoothly this week, with good discussion on the issues and movement on a number of bills. I had three pieces of legislation advance to second round debate.
LB 47 was incorporated into a Government Committee bill, dealing with open meeting laws and posting of notices. LB 130 concerns statutory language about Medicaid nursing facility rates, the calculation and an annual inflation factor. LB 940 permits a county to pay for programs or services that provide assistance to survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. These agencies are typically non profit organizations and the bill makes it clear that a county is allowed to contract for these services.
On Thursday, I participated in a press conference to explain the critical need for access to health care across Nebraska. Right now, fifteen Nebraska counties have no nursing home or assisted living facility. Nebraskans’ access to this care is becoming increasingly limited due to inadequate funding, a depleted workforce and an increase in the cost of goods and services needed to operate. These care settings are activity hubs and major economic drivers for their towns. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities support more than $3 billion of Nebraska’s economic activity.
The goal of the press conference was to communicate the importance of all Nebraskans having access to care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, when and where they need it (right care, right time, right place.). Maps illustrated geographic “care deserts” in Nebraska and the challenges that situation brings to quality of life for patients, their family members and the care staff.
Two of the speakers shared their first hand experience of living in a “care desert”. First was a health care provider who had to find employment at a great distance from home after a facility closed in her area. The second was a patient who could only find recuperative care at a facility two and half hours from the family’s ranch home. I appreciated their willingness to share their stories and help illustrate the vital need for improved access. My bills addressing these concerns, LBs 941, 942, 943 and 944 will be heard in committee next week.
Several bills generated a great deal of interest in public hearings this past week. One of those was Sen. Brewer’s LB 1339 that would broaden state law as to who can carry a firearm on Nebraska school property. Districts could also voluntarily establish a written policy for their own schools. There are very passionate people on both sides of this issue. We also have such a diverse array of schools across the state. Lincoln and Omaha have a police force that can respond in minutes. Some rural schools could be an hour away from a response to an emergency situation. We have about 250 school districts in Nebraska, so when we develop policy, we need to remember all of them and allow guidelines to be in place so every school can be considered a safe place.
There are several proposals for property tax relief, most heard in the Revenue Committee. LB 1308 by Sen. Von Gillern would remove the exemption of sales and use tax on ag repairs and parts. I am hearing a lot of feedback from suppliers that the parts business would then go to Kansas or other states.
I am not sure how this will fit into the bigger picture – property tax will be part of a package that comes to the floor, but I can say a lot of work is yet to be done. It will take discussion and a willingness to give from all sides. To get to the Governor’s goal of a 40% reduction in property tax, will exemptions be enough? Will a raise in sales tax help? Will it be 1% or a half percent? What can be done to rebalance the “three legged stool” of taxation? Any tax measure that is offered could be filibustered and would take 33 votes to move forward as well.
As we take up all these bills, I appreciate your communication. Contact me at 402-471-2620, firstname.lastname@example.org and check the website for more information: www.nebraskalegislature.gov
We bid farewell to January, with plenty of reminders of the month’s weather on our county roads. Here at the Legislature we are continuing with morning debate on the floor, and afternoon public hearings.
My bill to support rescue squads, LB 1108, was heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Community this week. The original program, “Fifty Cents for Life”, was first introduced by the late Senator Denny Byars in 2001. A fifty cent fee added to motor vehicle registration is used to fund the Statewide Trauma System Act and the Emergency Medical Services Practice Act. About $1.2 million dollars is raised per year with this valuable program, paying for continuing education and testing for EMTs, adequately equipped ambulances and trained emergency care providers.
This fee has never been increased but costs have gone up exponentially, so the goal of LB 1108 is to raise this to a dollar, just one dollar per year per vehicle, with an aim of improving rural emergency services. This bill was brought to me by Governor Pillen after his review of the program, seeing the vital contribution of our rural volunteers and the needs of rural EMS. As I have pointed out, you can’t buy a cup of coffee for 50 cents, but it could support our emergency services and could help save a life.
Our session so far has gone reasonably well, with the movement of quite a few bills through the first and second levels of debate. We did spend a couple of days this past week discussing Sen. Jacobsen’s bill to require two person crews on railroads traveling through the state. His district is home to the largest rail yard in the state, in North Platte. In this filibuster, it’s a little different than last year, as the participants on the two sides of the argument are all Republicans. Good points regarding state restrictions v. federal rules, safety, financial impacts on the workers and on the railroads were discussed. Supporters of the requirement hope the federal government will issue a nationwide order but that is not guaranteed. I am in favor of a two man crew, but the measure fell short of enough votes to invoke cloture and may be done for the session.
Once again, a topic of great interest is Daylight Saving Time (DST). Based on the feedback to our office, I would say about a third want year-round DST; another third want year-round standard time; and the last third are fine with changing the clocks twice a year. The present bill is for year-round DST, but is dependent on both federal approval and surrounding states adopting the same law. Right now, a state can opt to stay year-round on standard time, but not DST. The only states which do not participate in DST are Arizona and Hawai’i.
During the interim I looked into the critical need for adequate and affordable child care, which is a huge drawback to finding employees when it is unavailable. Many entities in the district are developing their own child care programs in order to deal with workforce shortages. LB 856 by Sen. Fredrickson, Omaha, would help to recruit and retain both providers and more workers in the overall economy by subsidizing child care. This issue is gaining attention as it affects the economy, a person’s availability to be employed outside the home, the affordability of child care; and how all of these fit into the overall picture of how our workforce functions.
A bill from Sen. Holdcroft of Bellevue, LB 878, would prohibit schools and educational service units from having special elections for a bond issue or property tax levy. These questions could only appear on ballots during statewide general elections in even numbered years. The objective is to maximize voter turnout and limit the cost of elections. As an example, in a recent Lincoln schools election, only 30% of voters came out to vote, so in reality, only 18% of the people passed that bond issue which affected all property tax payers. With proper planning you can work around the dates of elections, but on the flip side, we do need to consider interest rate fluctuations and supply chain concerns. The closer the election to the start of the project, the more likely it is to come in on budget.
I welcome your communication at email@example.com or 402-471-2620. Additional information can be found at www.nebraskalegislature.gov . Thank you!
The last full week of January saw morning debate, afternoon hearings and the annual State of the Judiciary address from Chief Justice Heavican. As you remember, we ended the previous week by discussing rule changes. On Thursday and Friday, the conversation turned to those proposals which came out of the Rules Committee on a three to two vote.
Sen. Hansen submitted a rule change to limit the number of bills a senator or a committee could introduce each session. The total number of bills has risen every year I’ve been here and some feared the volume would become unworkable at some point in the near future.
There is quite a process involved in bill introduction, beginning with writing and drafting, presenting a bill at a public hearing, educating 48 other senators, and generally “working” a bill to see it through to adoption. The time it takes for a senator and staff, bill drafter, the fiscal office, committee councils and clerks to complete a bill, needs to be taken into consideration. There are many unseen steps to getting a bill through the process and I have limited my own bill introduction to what I consider manageable numbers. I voted in favor of restricting the number of bills that can be introduced by a senator to 20, even though I have not introduced that many myself.
A proposed rule change which failed to be adopted was the elimination of the secret ballot for leadership positions. I cast hundreds of votes each year – taxes, education, agriculture, healthcare, business, roads and other areas; these are the votes that impact Nebraskans. These are the votes that are and should be on record and public.
Leadership positions within the Legislature are internal and impact how senators interact with each other. The secret ballot for leadership positions has worked for decades and for good reason. It allows senators (regardless of party affiliation) to vote on the person he or she feels is best to fill a leadership role.
Discussion about reducing the number of votes needed for cloture ended due to time constraints. We also passed over proposals relating to calling the question and barring the press from executive sessions, again, based on the Speaker’s time table for rules debate.
Each year the Legislature hears an update from the Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice on the Judicial Branch. Last year Court staffing shortages were a problem, but this year fewer than 100 vacancies remain unfilled, with 1600 employees statewide; which exceeds pre pandemic levels.
Chief Justice Heavican laid out the numbers in probation compared to incarceration. Right now there are 16,000 people in Nebraska under community supervision (adult probation). By contrast, about 5,500 people are incarcerated. However, the cost of probation is $3,500 per person per year; while the average cost for someone in prison is $41,000 per year. Another successful initiative has been the problem solving courts program. In fiscal year 2023,1600 people participated in 33 of these courts at an average cost of $4,400. Areas of concern in the judicial system include cyber security, the lack of juvenile facilities across the western two thirds of Nebraska and the long waiting list at the Office of the Public Guardian.
The first bill to be advanced in this session was LB 461 which changes the procurement process for goods and services by the state. The situation came to light in the failed services for child welfare from St. Francis Ministries in 2022, which underbid by 40% and was awarded the contract. Process updates in LB 461 are bid letting, evaluation factors, guidance on realistic and reasonable costs and detailed requisitions. The goal is to raise red flags on very low bids that are outside the norm, better vetting of providers and their ability to responsibly meet requirements, while making sure the goods and services are the best value for the state.
In public hearings, I presented LB 940 before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee. The bill adds language into statute to permit a county to enter into agreements to help fund programs or services that provide assistance to survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This is simply a technical change making it permissible for a county to make this kind of a payment to a non profit organization. It is permissive, in that it allows payment; but payment remains at the discretion of the county. There was tremendous support for the measure and no opposition, so I am hopeful this will move quickly through the process.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org , call 402-471-2620 and check the website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov
Nearly a quarter of the current session is already in the books. Bill introduction is complete with the addition of 597 new bills, and public hearings begin on the 22nd. The Governor has outlined his budget proposals and the Appropriations Committee has begun working on the state’s finances. By the time you see this update, debate on the rules will have been completed and going forward, our time on the floor will be spent on bills and resolutions.
We did adopt some rule changes that will affect how we do our work on the floor. I want to point out that many of these changes simply streamline how we conduct business as a legislative body, and do not have a direct effect on the public. For example, “E and R Amendments”, the step in processing a bill called Enrollment and Review, are brought forward when the Revisor’s office here at the Legislature finds a grammatical mistake or a need to harmonize a statute with other sections of the law. Those amendments are just technical in nature. Another instance of legislative business is to take up the state budget on the same round of debate with judges salaries and state claims. We approved a rule to allow for fiscal notes to be sent electronically, rather than printed and sent to each senator for each bill, reflecting a savings of time and money.
You may notice some of the new rules if you observe debate, which refer to the order of amendments and whether or not a question can be divided. Again, these are designed to improve the process, not change substance. In sessions when we have a “consent calendar”, we will now need five senators to disagree that a bill qualifies for “consent” rather than the previous three. Consent calendar is a method used by the Speaker to put non controversial bills, which had no opposition, on the agenda. Each bill in this category is limited to 15 minutes of debate and then a vote is taken.
A rule change that will benefit both senators and the public can be found in the new requirement for “statements of intent” to be submitted three days prior to a public hearing. This statement is a short paragraph that describes a bill in layman’s terms; you can find the intent statement, and all fiscal notes, on the legislature’s website for every bill. I will discuss any additional rule changes next week.
Thursday morning, prior to the Governor’s State of the State address, the Appropriations and Revenue committee received a private briefing from the Governor, as is traditional. The Governor and his staff went over the budget proposals and discussed how they intend to implement those ideas. After the presentation, I am comfortable saying that if the economy remains strong as it has been the past few years and revenue stays where it is, and as long as funding is controlled and the dollars are accounted for, then the Governor’s plan is a sustainable program.
No one can predict a recession and so there is always the need to be prepared; to make sure that during good times you are preparing for the down times of the economy. We need to be aware of costs and control spending, so when we run into the inevitable rough patch, we are ready. As the Governor pointed out, back in the 1970s and 80s in agriculture, the ones who survived had a long term plan and had prepared for it.
The Governor did discuss a hard cap on government entities that collect property tax. For example, if valuations go up 10% and the levy isn’t lowered, in practicality, property tax went up 10%. So, the levy must be adjusted accordingly. There are different levels being discussed about the cap, and there will be some exceptions for growth, etc. We need to remember that a valuation increase in itself is not necessarily a bad thing for a property owner, since it reflects market value and potential. But tying the levy and property taxes to that valuation is what causes the problem.
The property tax credit fund, which was enacted over three years ago, still does not show that everyone is taking advantage of this method to lower their property tax. About 25% of the fund in this Act is going unclaimed, so a portion of that fund will be moved to another line in the budget and shown as revenue for the state.
Another idea from the Governor is to pull some agency funds back into the main budget from unexpended cash funds. As he said, the state is not supposed to hoard funding in this way. Finally, a major proposal in the Governor’s plan for raising more revenue is through an increase of one cent of sales tax, and by eliminating various exemptions from sales tax such as soda pop and candy, for example.
Six bills were introduced by Speaker Arch at the request of the Governor, to accomplish these recommendations. The Appropriations and Revenue Committees will hold hearings and consider these proposals before the full legislature takes them up for debate.
As we move into public hearings I encourage you to check the Legislature’s website for schedules, statements of intent, fiscal notes and the portal to submit your comments if you are not able to testify in person and wish to do so. And as always, I welcome your communication. www.nebraskalegislature.gov email@example.com 402-471-2620
The second session of the 108th Legislature is underway. It was an early start this time, convening on January 3rd, as required by the state’s constitution. The first few days are used for the introduction of new bills, which gives us a chance to get reacquainted after the interim months, and to discuss the issues ahead. It also allows time to scrutinize the bills being dropped into the hopper and perhaps sign on as a co-sponsor.
With this being the second part of a two-year biennium we already have bills ready for debate. I introduced LB 130 last year to put language into statute to create a separate and distinct budgetary program within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), called the Medicaid nursing facilities services program. This puts the program directly into law instead of having to put this language into the budget bill each time. This bill is on General File (first round) and ready for debate.
Another carry over bill, LB 401, will be my priority for the session. This bill provides support for a statewide Mesonet System, a series of weather observation stations across Nebraska. During the interim months, I hosted two listening sessions to determine the buy-in from agencies and non governmental organizations. We determined that build out could be funded by these interests, while ongoing operation and maintenance could come from the state.
The weather stations measure wind, humidity, temperature, air pressure, precipitation, soil moisture, soil temperature and solar radiation. They will also be equipped with cameras to detect wildfires and verify severe weather.
The applications for this weather data, which is generated every minute, include forest and wildfire risks; smoke and other air quality effects; drought indices, soil moisture, precipitation; heat load on power lines, energy demand and grid risks; water usage, demand and irrigation scheduling; spread of disease and pests; protection of life and property (both urban and rural); federal funding and insurance payments based on weather conditions. The U.S. Drought Mitigation Center, based in Lincoln, the Forest Service, USDA and the National Weather Service are already users of this important data.
New legislation which I have introduced includes LBs 941, 942, 943 and 944. This group of bills deals with Medicaid for assisted living, behavioral health needs and crisis services, and increased provider rates. As I have stated before, the need to support our long term and nursing care facilities statewide has reached a critical point, as has mental health treatment. As our population ages and moves to larger population centers, we must ensure quality care and options for all residents.
I introduced LB 940 to allow counties to fund organizations that provide services for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This is not a new service and many counties do an excellent job of engaging organizations such as the Hope Crisis Center to step in and assist survivors. The bill simply puts into law the correct language to grant permission to make these payments from a county to the providing entity.
One bill I brought forward this year, LB 1095, is simply “clean up” language for last year’s priority regarding E-15 fuels. The bill clarifies the definition of gas for the purposes of the tax credit, and defines the three year look back to the most recent three years. The Department of Revenue requested these clarifications.
Finally, I have introduced LB 1108. This increases the yearly motor vehicle registration fee from fifty cents to one dollar for the Nebraska Emergency Medical System Operations Fund. The original bill that placed “50 Cents for Life” into law was introduced by former Senator Dennis Byars in 2001. He saw the need for supporting our emergency first responders and other aspects of this vital program, which supports the statewide trauma system, EMS programs and emergency services for children. Governor Pillen is an advocate of this initiative as well, and I hope to see continued strong support for our EMS across the state.
This past week, we took up a discussion of the internal rules of the Legislature, which determine how bills, amendments and resolutions are debated. We will also talk about the conduct of committee hearings and the use of filibusters. There were several senators, the Clerk of the Legislature and the Speaker involved in proposing changes which would improve the procedures and the products of our very unique Unicameral. Debate on these motions will continue next week, but the Speaker would like to finish up on rules by the 19th and turn to bill debate the following week.
Your comments, suggestions and concerns are always welcome. You can talk to my staff or leave a message at any time, by calling 402-471-2620. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also find information on bills, committees and the calendar at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.
Harvest season is well underway, fall sports are going strong. Please be careful on the roads since tractors, combines and semi trucks; student drivers and school buses; along with dust, rain and the variable speed of traffic increase the need for extra caution. Still, it is a wonderful time of year to live in southeast Nebraska!
Activity at the Capitol is also picking up. Many committees hold public hearings related to study resolutions in the fall. You can find a full schedule at nebraskalegislature.gov.
Before the close of the last session, I introduced three resolutions for additional study. The first, LR 164 deals with improving accessibility to the Capitol building itself, including parking, entryways and interior spaces. My staff and I have met with building administrators about what options are available. The age and the architecture of the building do limit what can be done, but we agree that some changes can and should be made.
Several meetings have been held to discuss LR 208, which looks at the funding mechanisms and operations of the Mesonet system. This is a series of weather reporting stations across the state that collect vital information about wind, precipitation, soil conditions and other meteorological parameters. The results are used by a variety of entities from the National Weather Service and Natural Resource Districts to local fire departments. We have more discussions scheduled with stakeholders and the University which manages the system.
This week we will held a discussion about LR 203, a study to see how the state can ensure effective emergency medical services in rural communities. While it seems this might only be a “rural” issue, a robust EMS system potentially affects anyone who travels anywhere outside the metropolitan areas of Nebraska, so everyone is a ‘stakeholder’ when it comes to funding first responders. A public hearing will be held on LR 203 on October 25th.
The past several months have been busy as usual. I had several meetings with Southeast Community College administration dealing with property taxes. My staff and I have been working with the Department of Transportation on a couple of issues, as well as looking at progress on broadband expansion.
I have continued to analyze provider rates at medical and long term care facilities and have toured at multiple locations. I feel that getting a first hand look is the best way to determine needs. This has also included child care and early childhood development centers, and behavioral health and hospital systems. I was able to participate in a school safety planning session, and get a look at food bank and food security issues. We have had several meetings with a veterans group to talk about their concerns.
The Governor’s Agriculture and Economic summit was held in Kearney, which always includes an informative array of speakers. The following week I attended the National Conference of State Legislatures conference as the Unicameral’s liaison. Again, it is always good to hear the speakers and connect with elected officials from other states. You quickly find out the issues we face here in Nebraska are common across the country, and how other areas are working to solve them.
After spending the interim months learning as much as possible, we will now begin to zero in on the topics for possible legislation to be introduced in January. The coming session is a “short” 60-day session, and once again we will hear bills on subjects which will no doubt generate considerable debate. Your input is always appreciated and valuable to me. Contact me at email@example.com or call 402-471-2620.
Unicameral Update, the media division of the Legislature, along with Clerk Brandon Metzler, has created a podcast series. Sen. Dorn was featured in September. You can listen to the podcast on Apple here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unicameral-update/id1684334573?i=1000627199016 and on Android here: https://rss.com/podcasts/unicameralupdate/1102532/
The Clerk of the Legislature and Unicameral Update, media division of the Legislature, have started a new podcast series. Sen. Dorn was featured in September. You can listen on Apple here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unicameral-update/id1684334573?i=1000627199016
and Android here: https://rss.com/podcasts/unicameralupdate/1102532/
The “interim”, those months when the Legislature is between sessions, brings a completely different workload for senators and staff. This allows us to turn from daily hearings, meetings and floor debate to a more focused study of important issues. We also have more time to meet with constituents and attend meetings and events. That has certainly been the case since early June, when the session adjourned.
As chairman of the Performance Audit Committee (PAC), I have held several meetings with Audit staff and committee members in preparation for the retirement of director Martha Carter, and the hiring of Stephanie Meese as the new director. We appreciate Martha’s years of dedication and success at PAC, and welcome Stephanie as we move forward. Stephanie has worked for the Legislature since 2004, and has more than 15 years of auditing experience. She previously served as Legal Counsel to the Legislative Audit Office, and happens to be a resident of District 30.
The purpose of the PAC is to review state agency programs to evaluate the agency’s success in effectively implementing legislative intent. Senators are able to recommend programs for review, and the committee selects those which have priority. I believe PAC has an important role in making sure legislation is carried out correctly and responsibly.
As part of my duties on the Appropriations Committee, I also serve on the Building and Maintenance Committee again this year. This involves examination of state owned properties across Nebraska, and assessing their current condition and needs for upkeep. Each summer the committee selects four locations for hands-on appraisal. Our first tour was at Peru State College. This committee also has approval authority over gifts and grants of “brick and mortar” to state institutions.
We are working on three interim studies, LR 164, LR 203 and LR 208. The purpose of LR 164 is to study
improving the handicapped accessibility of parking, entryways into, and interior spaces in the Nebraska State Capitol. The State Capitol has only one entrance that allows handicapped accessibility with a ramp and push button entry, handicapped parking is a great distance from entries, not all restrooms are adapted for handicapped accessibility, and elevators are not large enough to accommodate some wheelchairs.
Due to the historic nature of the State Capitol and physical structure, certain handicapped accessibility changes may not be feasible. However, the State Capitol should be accessible to employees, citizens, and visitors to the greatest extent possible.
LR 203 was introduced to review how the State of Nebraska can ensure it has effective emergency medical
services in rural communities. Access to emergency medical care is vital to the health of rural communities across the country. Ambulance services face increasing difficulty in responding to emergencies in the rural areas due to workforce shortages and financial crises.
About a third of rural emergency medical services agencies in the USA are in immediate operational jeopardy because the agencies cannot cover costs, largely due to insufficient medicaid and medicare reimbursements. These reimbursements cover, on average, about one-third of the actual costs to maintain equipment, stock medications, and pay for insurance and other fixed expenses.
The final study, LR 208, examines the current funding mechanisms and operations of Nebraska’s Mesonet
System. The Mesonet is a statewide weather monitoring and data collection system consisting of sixty-eight individual weather stations in forty-nine Nebraska counties. Each weather station collects real-time data on approximately thirty separate weather-related data points. This information is especially useful in times of drought, wildfires and water shortages that we have experienced in recent months.
Nebraska’s urban officials and city managers, food and agricultural producers and many business concerns rely upon this publicly available data for a variety of important decisions. The information is also utilized by our Natural Resource Districts, cooperatives, the National Weather Service, the Forest Service, Game and Parks, local fire departments to name just a few.
I am working with UNL IANR Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm on bringing together these many interested parties, to discuss needs and funding. Listening sessions will be conducted, and a working group will determine if future legislation will be beneficial.
A quick list of some of the meetings and activities I have been able to attend so far includes: Chamber of Commerce meetings, hosted international visitors, Gage County Sheriff, National Weather Service in Valley tour, Veterans group, Homestead Days, broadband ribbon cutting, Blue Valley ribbon cutting, Grazing Lands tour and panel, Gage County Board of Supervisors, EMS representatives, Behavioral Health Legislative Discussion Group, Tractor Testing Laboratory, Health and Human Services operations, Lincoln Industries tour, serving at the People’s City Mission with Lincoln/Lancaster senators, Nebraska Investment Council, Cell Gro Technologies in Lincoln, Wymore Car Show, meetings/calls/zooms with individuals constituents and this week, the Gage County Fair.
I always appreciate hearing from you, any time of the year. Contact me at 402-471-2620, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing address is: District 30, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604.