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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
The second week of the Legislative session includes organization of committees and the introduction of bills. Again for the next two years, I will serve on the Appropriations Committee. My experience with county budgets has served me well as I work with the eight other members of the committee to develop a balanced budget for the state of Nebraska. Senator John Stinner will again serve as chairman, and Senator Anna Wishart was elected vice chair of the committee.
Before the Governor presented his biennial budget proposal in his State of the State address on Thursday, members of the Appropriations Committee attended a briefing with him at the Mansion. We were able to preview his ideas for spending, taxes and tax credits. Now the Legislature’s Fiscal Office will dissect his proposal and compare it to the intentions of the Legislature. Beginning next week, our committee will meet daily to review state agency budget proposals.
Most committees will start all-day public hearings on the 25th, under a new format of morning (10 am to noon) and afternoon (starting at 1:30 pm) hearings. The Appropriations Committee will begin public hearings on bills that have a fiscal note, or a cost associated with the bill, on February 8th.
The last day for bill introduction is the 20th, which marks the tenth day of the session. The remainder of the week will be used to debate changes to rules that govern the legislative process. This is done near the beginning of every legislative session; changes typically pertain to how we operate in committees and during debate. One new proposal that reflects our current environment is a discussion about meeting and voting remotely, due to situations like the pandemic.
At this time, I have introduced five bills. Just a reminder that you can find every bill and the complete text of each one, by going to the legislature’s website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov . Along the left hand side of the page, you will see a tab for “Bills and Laws”, and can search for bills in a number of ways.
LB 41 would make it easier for townships to receive their funds each month.
LB 42 makes a small appropriation to the Nebraska Hall of Fame, so the families of recipients are not stuck with the cost
LB 102 allows counties with Courts the option to reorganize the county court and district court employees
LB 103 – see below
LB 361 provides some funding for the state Educational Service Unit system.
I consider all bills to be important, because all the bills introduced by our state senators affect either a district’s constituents or the entire state. I introduced LB 103 as part of my continuing effort to reduce the burden and strain on Gage county residents due to the federal judgment, commonly known as the Beatrice Six. This bill allocates $2 million dollars per year for each of the next two years, from the state budget, towards payment of the judgment, and would reduce the time left to pay it off. This will not be easy to achieve and I will work hard to convince my fellow lawmakers of the merits of this action, because I feel it is necessary for the economic health of our district.
And speaking of health, please continue to follow the recommended guidelines for avoiding the coronavirus – wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid gatherings, get tested, and get vaccinated as soon as it is available to you. These procedures are our best hope in conquering a disease that has taken far too much already. Let’s continue to work together to stop it.
In good news for District 30, the Homestead National Monument has been officially renamed the Homestead National Historic Park by Congress, as signed into law this week. The Homestead National Historical Park commemorates the first claim under the Homestead Act with a heritage museum, the Freeman School, a tall grass prairie, hiking trails, a forest, and farming demonstrations. If you have never visited this great tribute to all the residents of the plains, I encourage you to do so when conditions allow. Click here for more information: Homestead National Monument of America (US National Park Service)
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at any time. Send your emails to email@example.com. Call my office at 402-471-2620. Visit the website for more information on the schedule, public hearings on all bills, and new guidelines for the hearings. www.nebraskalegislature.gov Stay well!
The first session of the 107th Legislature convened on Wednesday the 6th, as prescribed by the Constitution of Nebraska. The first order of business is to swear in newly elected and re-elected senators, with the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court administering the oath of office. The ceremony was different than when I was sworn in two years ago. At that time, my wife, children and grandchildren were able to be on the floor with me for that event. This year, senators all stayed at their seats and family and special guests were required to watch from the balcony. All this is a vivid reminder that we will continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic going forward.
With the new members officially seated, we moved on to the election of a new Speaker and the chairs of each committee. Senator Mike Hilgers, who represents District 21 – the area of northwest Lincoln and northwest Lancaster county – was elected as Speaker of the Legislature. He was unopposed in his bid to lead the Unicameral for the next two years.
The Executive Board elections followed. Sen. Dan Hughes, District 44 – which encompasses the southwest portion of the state from roughly Alma, NE to the Colorado state line – was chosen as chair of the Executive Board. Senator Tony Vargas of east Omaha, was elected as Vice Chair, assuring border to border representation on the Executive Board.
Senator Robert Hilkeman of west Omaha was elected chair of the Committee on Committees. This committee meets at the very beginning of the session to assign seats on the various committees. The state is divided into three caucuses based on our state’s congressional districts, and each caucus puts forward the names of those interested in serving on the Executive Board and each standing committee.
Senator Robert Clements of Elmwood, and Senator Wendy DeBoer of north central Omaha both ran for chair of the Rules Committee and Senator Clements was elected. The chair of Enrollment and Review traditionally goes to the youngest new senator, and this year Senator Tyrell McKinney, District 11 in north Omaha, will hold that post.
There are fourteen standing committees in the Legislature. These committees are responsible for holding hearings for all bills introduced, based on subject matter. Elections for these chairs were held in alphabetical order. Only three committee chairmanships were contested, for all the rest just one senator ran for the chair. The contested committees were Business and Labor, Education, and Natural Resources. Senators re-elected as chairs are starred with an *. Those elected were:
Agriculture – Senator Halloran*, District 33, western Hall County and all of Adams County
Appropriations – Senator John Stinner*, District 48, all of Scottsbluff County
Banking, Commerce and Insurance – Senator Matt Williams*, District 36, northern Buffalo and all of Dawson and Custer counties
Business and Labor – Senator Ben Hansen, District 16, Cuming, Burt and Washington counties
Education – Senator Lynne Walz, District 15, all of Dodge County
General Affairs – Senator Tom Briese*, of Albion, District 41, nine counties in north central Nebraska
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs – Senator Tom Brewer*, District 43, the Sandhills and parts of the northern Panhandle
Health and Human Services – Senator John Arch, District 14, west central Omaha
Judiciary – Senator Steve Lathrop*, District 12, southern Omaha, centered around I-80
Natural Resources – Senator Bruce Bostelman, District 23, Butler, Saunders and most of Colfax counties
Nebraska Retirement Systems – Senator Mark Kolterman*, District 24, Seward, York and Polk counties
Revenue – Senator Lou Ann Linehan*, District 39, western third of Douglas county
Transportation and Telecommunications – Senator Curt Friesen*, District 34, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton and portions of Hall County
Urban Affairs – Senator Justin Wayne*, District 13, northeast Omaha and northeast Douglas County
For the first ten legislative days, the Legislature will accept bills for introduction. As I mentioned in my previous update, all senators have been encouraged to limit the number of bills because of the concerns about large groups of people at committee hearings. I have adhered to the recommendation and will be limiting the number of bills that I introduce, which I will describe in more detail next week.
My office continues to be open for your communication at any time – via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 402-471-2620, and the answering service is available 24 hours a day if staffers are busy. I welcome your input, opinions, suggestions and comments and look forward to representing you and hearing from you in these next few months of the 90 day session.
Merry Christmas! This will obviously be a holiday season different than we would have imagined. So it is really important to remember – we are Nebraskans. All those who came before us worked through trials and difficulties, and showed us how to persevere and have hope. Here’s to better days ahead in the coming year.
With that new year right around the corner, we are gearing up for the next session of the Unicameral. We will convene, as required by the constitution, on January 6th. On that day, we will begin by swearing in the newly elected senators and then choose a new Speaker of the Legislature. I want to take this opportunity to thank outgoing Speaker Jim Scheer for his efforts over the past few years and his service to the state of Nebraska in some very challenging times. Not only were there budget concerns, different viewpoints and large numbers of bills to manage; our state also faced flooding and the pandemic. Sen. Scheer is leaving due to term limits, but his hard work is much appreciated.
After choosing a Speaker, the members will move on to elect committee chairman. There are 14 standing committees. Some chairmanships are contested, with at least two people declaring their intent to lead a committee. I have been diligent to meet with everyone running for these positions, as I want to understand their views on leadership and potential legislation and cast a wise vote for the chairs.
Senators have been encouraged to limit the number of bills introduced, due to concerns about the pandemic. One of the most significant rules of our Unicameral is that every bill introduced gets a public hearing, which is important to the success of our one-house, non-partisan process. However, this means having groups of people together in a hearing room while that bill is heard by the committee, and anyone else wishing to attend.
Finding ways to make the hearing process as safe as possible is crucial. I certainly intend to heed the advice and have reduced the number of issues I will address this year to those that are the most important. As you know, a legislative session spans two years and there will be time in 2022 to bring more bills for introduction.
I applaud the many organizations and businesses that are working hard to create safe environments for both customers and employees. This is so important to our local and state economy. I encourage you to support our local businesses as much as you are able. I especially want to commend our area school administrators, teachers and support staff. They have truly gone the extra mile to make sure our kids are healthy, able to stay in class, and participate in as many of the enriching activities our schools provide as possible.
My contact information for the coming session remains the same, and I welcome your communications. email@example.com 402-471-2620
Please, please continue to follow the simple guidelines recommended by our public health professionals. Wear a mask, wash your hands. Carefully consider how you will manage the holidays and stay safe. Wishing you all the best possible celebration of Christmas, and renewed hope and confidence in the new year.
The holiday season is nearly here. I want to wish everyone in District 30 a Happy Thanksgiving. We have all been saying “what a year!” and there has been much uncertainty and loss and still many unknowns ahead. Yet we can and should take stock of all the things for which we can be thankful in our great state.
Celebrating Veterans Day this week was a great reminder to be thankful for the freedoms we have in this country, and to remember the debt of gratitude we owe to those who served and are serving our country right now.
I also want to take this opportunity to urge you in the strongest terms to follow the guidelines issued by our public health officials. After meeting with hospital administrators and health professionals this week, I can tell you that if we do not act to curb the pandemic, the situation is poised to get much worse than it is even now. Any efforts we can make to slow the spread of the virus will have a direct impact on saving lives, preserving hospital beds, and keeping our communities open.
The only way to keep our schools open is to slow the pandemic. We all know that education is vitally important; but there is also an economic impact when schools have to close and parents are forced to make decisions about going to work. Keeping the teachers, support staff and students all healthy is crucial.
Another consideration is hospital capacity. We need health care workers and hospital staff to stay virus-free. We need hospital rooms and equipment available for both those who contract Covid, and those who have other serious or unexpected health issues. Think about this – if you are involved in an accident, or maybe have a heart attack, you want the hospital to have the staff and space to care for you in an emergency.
Our local businesses need our support, and we need to do that as safely as possible. They have devised creative ways to keep providing goods and services, maintain jobs and keep the area economy going. We absolutely must continue that momentum.
The bottom line is simple – for yourself and for the sake of others, wear a face covering/mask. Wash your hands. Maintain a safe distance from others. Avoid large gatherings and confined spaces of all kinds. If we do this NOW, we can shorten the time frame of ending this pandemic. Please, join me in working together for the benefit of everyone.
Related to the pandemic, and as you may have seen in the news, members of the Legislature were supposed to hold the annual Council meeting in Mullen late last week. Due to the uptick in virus numbers and the quarantine of several members and staff, that event was postponed. It is required by statute that the council meeting be held between 30 to 60 days before session starts in January. Plans are being developed to make that happen as soon as possible with appropriate restrictions.
Two years ago, when I had just been elected, I appreciated the time at the Council meeting to get to know my fellow senators, go through some orientation and hear updates on the issues. Eight new senators-elect will be joining the Legislature after winning in their respective districts. Three of those are former state senators and will bring a wealth of knowledge and an understanding of the legislative process. As a returning member of the Legislature this year, I look forward to meeting those newly elected and seeing my old colleagues, even if the format is modified.
In the past month, I have attended outdoor events in Bennet, Adams and Beatrice. I was able to address the Hickman City Council, speak virtually at the southeast Nebraska area Chamber of Commerce program, and meet with agricultural groups, area ESU and school superintendents via zoom. The Drive Time Lincoln program on KLIN radio invited me to talk about the Beltway project and tax issues in District 30.
My staff and I are working with the Department of Health and Human Services on rural health initiatives and of course, our continued concerns with BSDC (Beatrice State Developmental Center). We are also working with county officials on some tax legislation. The Appropriations Committee has met several times in the past few weeks to discuss the budget for next year and hear updates from state agencies.
If you have any concerns, ideas or suggestions, please contact my office at any time. Phone 402-471-2620 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please wear a mask! Happy Thanksgiving!
Since adjourning from the last session in August, much has happened, and a lot has stayed the same. In talking with folks around the district, that is a common feeling. Here we are in October with circumstances a lot like they were back in March. Yet in that time, we have moved from planting to harvest and spring to summer to fall. There have been some losses in our communities, and also some progress. And the election is just a few weeks away. I strongly encourage you to exercise this tremendous right and cast your vote!
The South By-Pass highway project continues at a rapid pace. I attended an event in October near Highway 77 and Saltillo Road, which included representatives from the federal, state, county and city governments; all working together to accomplish this huge construction effort at the lowest cost and in the fastest time frame possible. No doubt you have witnessed the incredible amount of earth-moving between Highway 77 and Highway 2 to the east of Cheney. The work will continue as long as the weather allows and then pick up again in full force in the spring. Please continue to drive cautiously through these areas. You can get a great birdseye view of the progress from this drone footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_bIyjldGx0
Nebraska’s expanded Medicaid program, Heritage Health, has been approved to offer enhanced benefits to people who qualify under this program which was first passed by voters in the last election in 2018. The State had applied for a waiver from the federal government, which has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Those extra services will be available starting next April. In the meantime, with the ongoing stress of Covid-10 and unemployment, this program will help provide additional medical care resources in our district and across the state.
The past few weeks have been packed with zoom meetings and webinars, which have turned out to be an excellent source of information and a great way to connect without the expense of travel. Topics range from rural health care to solar energy leases, trade with Canada to our state’s tax structure, and plenty in between. Of course, briefings on the Covid-19 virus, current statistics and progress on treatments top the list.
I was invited to tour a couple of district facilities including Monolith near Hallam, Marathon Petroleum at Beatrice; and addressed a hemp farming seminar near DeWitt. In person and phone meetings with University administrators, corrections officials, staff at BSDC and the Department of Health and Human Services continue as a priority. I have also attended a couple of agricultural organization meetings and spoke at a school.
As a member of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, I have been assigned to the Nebraska Children’s Commission. This group of 26 members represents both government and private entities that deal with foster care, juvenile justice and families; with a goal of improving the safety and well-being of children and families in Nebraska. More information on this commission can be found here: https://childrens.nebraska.gov/
In the time we have before January, compacted by the unusual schedule of the last session, my staff and I are researching several key issues and looking at potential legislation. I welcome your comments and insights and encourage you to contact me through my email at email@example.com or give me a call at 402-471-2620. The office is open and any messages will be returned as quickly as possible. Remember to vote!
The 106th Legislative Session has adjourned. The unusual timing seems appropriate somehow, with the events of the year so far. In the end, a large number of bills were passed into law. The majority of bills become effective three calendar months after the date of adjournment. Bills with the “e” clause (emergency clause) become effective at midnight on the day the Governor signs the bills. Some bills have an operative date for a specific day when the bill becomes law.
I designated LB 1014 as my priority bill in this 60-day session and it was passed into law our first week back in July. It provides that an association of employers that sponsors a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) may include self-employed individuals in their health insurance plan. For example, a farm organization or local co-op could offer health insurance to member farmers and ranchers.
Another bill that I advanced through the process was LB 106, which harmonizes Nebraska State Statute with federal law as it relates to the DNA Identification Act of 1994 and adds additional language to clarify that the forensic DNA laboratories must participate in the Combined DNA Index System. This simple measure will allow our state law enforcement agencies to operate more seamlessly with the federal system.
The Legislature was able to pass the budget bills, which were signed by the Governor with no line item vetoes. We also moved LB 1107 through the process to provide a degree of property tax relief, business incentives and the UNMC project. This was not a perfect bill by any means. I anticipate we will need to revisit some of the provisions in the next session and adjust as we go along and learn more about the effects of the virus on our state economy. However, I do feel it was important to make progress towards property tax relief and to assist property tax owners as much as possible.
In the next few months, I will work with the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on LR 367, which I introduced. This resolution will review services of county governments which are required by statute, along with the fees or fines, also in statute, which counties collect for those services. I believe a review of these set amounts is necessary and appropriate in our current circumstances.
The South By-Pass project, which is a major initiative in District 30, continues to be mainly on schedule for completion in three years. As you have no doubt witnessed first hand, the scope and extent of the project is huge. You can sign up for direct updates on the Nebraska Department of Transportation website: https://dot.nebraska.gov/lincoln-south-beltway/. Drone footage updates can also be viewed on Youtube, here is a link to the July video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjjUIAV1EBo.
As we re-enter the “interim” period between legislative sessions, my office will continue to be open and accessible by phone or email. Our present location on the 11th floor during construction at the Capital, does not allow for in person visits without an appointment. If you need an appointment, simply contact my office.
We will be back in session in January of 2021, barring any need for a special session. The Nebraska constitution requires that the Legislature convene annually on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January. Sessions in odd-numbered years last 90 days, whereas sessions in even-numbered years are 60 days. Adjournment dates vary based on how the Speaker schedules the 90- or 60-day session. Or as we have learned this year, on how a pandemic changes the legislative calendar. I look forward to hearing from you about your areas of concerns and ideas for legislation. Contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-2620.
The Legislature finished up a second week of debate in this uncommon session, and now has two recess days built into the calendar. This is done to provide the five days needed for bills to be approved or vetoed by the Governor, giving the Legislature a chance to consider any overrides that might come up. It has also given us a break and some time to think through the major issues we discussed the past week.
LB 814 was one of those bills up for debate, which would prohibit dismemberment abortions. I am a co-sponsor of this bill. It was advanced to Select File, and will have further discussion on the floor before taking another vote to move it to Final Reading.
Of course, the other major bill brought forward was LB 1107. This legislation encompasses property tax relief, business incentives and funding for a project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Here are the basics of the bill as it stands right now:
This is obviously a complicated issue with the bill itself spanning nearly 150 pages. I am studying the details and working with fellow senators to make sure we have covered as many bases as possible. I do want to point out that if we discover any adjustments that need to be made in the coming months, we will be back in session in January and can take up those points at that time rather than waiting another year. That is one benefit of finishing the session in August.
Please contact me at any time with your questions and concerns, and check my legislative webpage and social media for updates. You can also find information on all bills, the legislative calendar and contact information at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. 402-471-2620 email@example.com
The second week of this unusual session is in the books. While the perception might be that not much has been accomplished, there were nearly 50 bills on the agenda for Final Reading on Friday, which indicates many senators were able to move their priorities through the process for the sake of their districts and the state.
The three major issues which garner the most attention are still pending. Each one came to a standstill in our first week back in session, but the conversations, negotiations, clarifications and refinements are going full bore behind the scenes. I am still hopeful that we will take up these issues – property tax relief and school funding assurances, business incentives, and the UNMC project, early next week. All three of these issues have been complicated by Covid-19, the current and future costs resulting from the virus, and federal funds flowing into the state. I cannot yet say consensus has been reached, or that any of these measures will survive a gubernatorial veto, but we continue to do the work necessary to try to make it happen.
Two important hearings were added to the schedule that deal directly with current events in our state and nation. The first was held Friday afternoon in response to the introduction of LB 1222 by Senator Wayne of Omaha. LB 1222 would adopt the Municipal Police Oversight Act. Under the Act, each city which employs full-time police officers would be required to appoint a Citizen Police Oversight Board to monitor, investigate, and evaluate police standards and practices.That board would have seven members of the public appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council. Several hours of testimony from both proponents and opponents was heard by the Urban Affairs Committee on Friday afternoon.
The second hearing was called in response to conditions in the meatpacking industry and an amendment, AM 3238 to LB 667. The Business and Labor Committee wants to provide a forum and speaking opportunities for everyone involved in the industry, from beef producers to those working on the meat packing lines, safety and health officials to those who have been infected with Covid-19. That hearing will be on Thursday, August 6th at 1:30 at the Capitol.
LB 814, introduced by Sen. Geist to ban dismemberment abortions, was debated at length earlier in the week. After three hours, debate was stopped and the introducer will need to show the Speaker that she has the 33 votes for cloture. We have just seven days remaining, with all the aforementioned issues still to be acted upon. As one of the co-sponsors of this bill, I am confident it will return in January if time prevents us from taking up LB 814 again in this session.
I appreciate your emails and calls to the office during these busy days at the Capitol. As always, you can contact me at any time by calling 402-471-2620 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 24, 2020
The Legislature has convened to complete the last 17 days remaining in the session. As expected, the debate has been robust, even heated at times, since the issues waiting since March have certainly not lessened in importance.
We have been able to move a number of bills through final reading, including my priority bill, LB1014. This bill would provide that an association of employers that sponsors a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) may include self-employed individuals in their health insurance plan. For example, a farm organization or local co-op could offer health insurance to member farmers and ranchers. This bill passed on a 48-0 vote, and the senator who had to be absent for the vote indicated in the record that he would have also voted yes. Providing more options for ag producers to find health insurance will be good for the district and the state.
Also related to health care, LB 997 was passed this week on final reading. This bill helps consumers avoid being subjected to “surprise billing” in emergency situations by out-of-network providers or facilities.
Another beneficial bill was passed as well, LB 996 will expand broadband coverage across the state. The past few months have revealed quite vividly the need for better broadband in our area. The purpose of LB 996 is to complement broadband data submitted by service providers, improve Nebraska’s broadband map, and to encourage Nebraskans to participate in crowdsourcing efforts to improve the map, resulting in better funding and meeting these needs.
Discussion began on bills that were in earlier stages of debate this week as well. On Wednesday, we took up LB 1106, the property tax bill; and LB 720, the business incentive bill. Neither one received a vote that day, and now each bill sponsor will need to show the Speaker a count of 33 votes in favor of the bill to continue discussion on either. They had until Friday to do this. If neither one has 33 votes, then negotiations between the introducers, or changes to the bills, will need to happen to continue discussion.
The Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB) met on Thursday to review and update their forecast for FY2020-21. Changes in their forecast can be attributed to three main factors: the shift in income tax receipts from April to July; revenue losses due to parts of the federal CARES Act; and of course, current economic conditions.
The Legislative Fiscal Office also estimates economic growth and conditions and produces an average based on their own calculations and those of the Nebraska Department of Revenue. This is a new methodology, implemented due to the pandemic situation.
In February, the NEFAB and Fiscal Office estimated growth to be 5.2%. The July figure was reduced to 4.3%. However, in the fiscal years out to 2023, those numbers are substantially lower. Appropriations Committee Chair, Sen. Stinner cautioned that the Legislature will need to be very careful and thoughtful with the budget in the months ahead. The NEFAB will meet again in just three months to revisit and potentially revise these numbers.
The next couple of weeks promise to be intense and busy. Please feel free to contact my office at any time via email or phone. 402-471-2620 email@example.com