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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
Eleven days of the session are in the books, which means bill introduction is over, and public hearings have begun. There were 482 new bills introduced for a total of 1221 for this session, which spans 2019-2020. A large number of bills address taxation and spending; some offer new ideas to increase revenue or distribute funds, and some have been written as back up to pending legislation.
During bill introduction, I read through the one-liners (a brief one sentence explanation of a bill or constitutional amendment). As varied as the ideas are, my reactions to some are just as varied – from a nod of my head and thinking that sounds like a good idea, to why do we as a state need this bill? Then I put it into perspective. There is usually a constituent or a group of people who have asked for a bill to fix a problem, or it springs from an idea a senator has. A senator decides if the issue needs a bill or can be handled some other way. It may be as simple as giving that constituent or group a chance to present their issue; or the other extreme where a situation is dire and needs legislative attention. Almost every bill has someone behind the scenes believing the issue is important.
The legislative process allows for all of those ideas to be presented to the committee at a public hearing, a process very unique to Nebraska, whereby the committee members have the opportunity to hear proponents, opponents and neutral testimony. If the majority of committee members agree the bill has merit, it will be advanced to our first stage of floor debate. A committee can also hold a bill for further discussion by committee members or hold it for other reasons. The committee can also indefinitely postpone a bill, which kills the bill for that session.
With that said, here are some of the bills being heard by committees this past week:
The main property tax bill, as introduced by the Revenue Committee, is LB 974. The bill had a hearing on Wednesday with good representation from the school districts, agriculture and property owners from across the state. The basic framework reduces reliance on property taxes for school funding, and has a projected cost to the state of $520 million over three years, which will go directly to property tax relief. A cap would be placed on school budget growth, tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). As with any bill, there will be an opportunity to offer amendments and continued work on the details. The Revenue Committee will have to keep working to build consensus to get this moved through the legislative process, but it is a start.
Senator Jim Scheer, the Speaker of the Legislature, has introduced a constitutional amendment to increase the number of senators from 50 to 55. Currently the legislature has 49 senators but we could add one more with the existing constitutional language. Senator Scheer’s LR 279CA would ask the voters to consider increasing the number to 55 senators. Every senator’s district is based on population. Scheer said the change would decrease the number of constituents in each legislative district and hopefully keep the some of the rural districts that cover hundreds of miles, from growing even larger.
One of the bills I introduced had a quick and efficient public hearing this week. LB 763 would add townships to the list of entities that can access their funds on a regular basis from the county treasurer without cumbersome paper work. The bill simply corrects the oversight of including townships when the county fund disbursement legislation was enacted many years ago.
The Health and Human Services Committee held a briefing Wednesday morning on the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers (YRTC). They detailed what has happened the last six months with the Geneva, Kearney, and now Lincoln facilities. The Committee listed 14 recommendations for improvements and guidelines with the state’s YRTC institutions. Out of this report and those recommendations, the Committee introduced six new bills to help with the problems. We will have opportunities to have public hearings and discussion on this important issue.
The Appropriations Committee also began meeting this week. At this time we are reviewing state agency budget reports and will work through those before holding hearings on new bills. As you can imagine, there are a large number of requests for funding with the last year of revenue coming in above projections.
Last week the Governor gave the executive branch report to the Legislature in his State of the State address. The Governor outlined key issues of property tax relief, LB720 which is a business tax incentive package, funding for last year’s flooding concerns, and an income tax credit for military retirement benefits.
This week we heard from the judicial branch of government. Chief Justice Mike Heavican reported on activities of the Supreme Court to be accessible to everyone in the state while building confidence in the system. New initiatives put in place across Nebraska by the court system include ways to reach all races, genders, income levels and languages.
As you can see from this report, which covers just a few days, many important topics come to my attention. Let me assure you, your concerns are just as important and I encourage you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402–471-2620.
In the first seven days of the session, bills that address the major issues facing our state have been introduced. These include property tax, corrections, Medicaid and underlying all of this – the state’s budget. We have three more working days for bill introduction, and hearings on new bills begin on Tuesday the 21st.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I get a first-hand look at the income and expenditures of our state. Many excellent ideas and projects are proposed each session but the reality is that they must fit within the budget or be self-funded. One program that I strongly support is SIMS-NE, the Simulation in Motion educational trucks which are used to train rural EMTs and hospital personnel. My bill, LB 761, proposes an addition to the “Fifty Cents for Life” initiative to insure the SIMS program will continue and that their equipment will remain up to date. As an EMT for over 30 years, I know from experience how important it is to have realistic training and the impact of having a rescue squad in a rural area that knows what it is doing.
I introduced two other bills, LB 762 and 763. LB 762 provides funding for the Nebraska Hall of Fame. Basically, the bill helps with the cost of placing a family member into the Hall and removes that financial burden from the descendants.
LB 763 simply includes townships in the current method of distributing funds which are collected by the county. Entities which receive these funds include villages and cities, school districts, ag societies, rural fire districts, ESUs and so on; but townships had not been included on the list resulting in a cumbersome process for the county treasurer and the townships. The bill takes care of that. Improving and streamlining our government is part of the legislative process, and I appreciate when these proposals are brought to my attention.
The beginning of the session is a good time to review “how a bill becomes a law” and how you can get involved. Every bill goes through a long process before being enacted, and often undergoes many changes along the way. In Nebraska, every bill has a public hearing and testimony is open to the public. After the hearing, the committee votes to advance, hold or kill the bill. As a citizen, you can testify in person, send a letter of support or opposition, and send letters or emails to the committee members.
If the bill is advanced out of committee to the full legislature, it goes through two rounds of debate and voting (General File and Select File) before one last vote on Final Reading. Sometimes the bills will have amendments recommended by the committee which had the hearing; and other times, senators will propose amendments to the bill during the debate stages. This is a good time to contact your own senator with your opinions. You can also send your communication to every senator. Information about the progress of every bill, and contact information for all senators can be found at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
Due to the Capital HVAC project, my office has moved into the tower for the current session, so you will need to call ahead to arrange any visits. You are always welcome and encouraged to contact me. email@example.com 402-471-2620
On Wednesday, January 8th the 106th Legislature, Second Session convened at 10 am. This will be a 60 day session and at this time, the last day is scheduled for April 23rd.
The first ten days of session are when new bills can be introduced. There are also 481 carry over bills from last session. I have heard talk that normally in the second session you can expect around 350 new bills to be introduced.
As we start the new session the state has experienced revenue growth. At the end of the 2019 session, the Cash Reserve Fund balance was projected to be about $333 million. The budget was passed by the Legislature using those projections. The actual receipts at the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year on July 1, 2019 included around $176 million in additional revenue. The fund balance of $333 million, plus the additional revenue of $176 million, minus $54.7 million which was transferred to the Nebraska Capitol Construction Fund, increased the unobligated Cash Reserve Fund balance to approximately $455 million.
The Cash Reserve is not a “savings account” as we might understand it. It is to be used for temporary transfers to the state’s General Fund when balances are not sufficient to process expenditure transactions. It is important to maintain the Cash Reserve Fund to insure strong financial health for the state in future years. It has also been crucial in years of revenue shortfalls, to help in balancing the budget, which is required by our state constitution.
However, with that $176 million in revenue growth in FY18-19, discussion during the interim has certainly proposed using some of those funds, and funds from future revenue growth projections, to help achieve property tax relief. Early in the session, the Revenue Committee has plans to introduce a proposal to accomplish that. Of course, there will be many additional ideas for utilizing that revenue.
Other major issues of interest during the 2020 session will be: LB 720, the tax incentive bill for businesses, the Department of Corrections staffing issues and prison overcrowding, deficit funding for the Department of Transportation as well as 2019 flood damage costs of roughly $52 million, and Department of Health and Human Services issues with Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers (YRTC) at Geneva and Kearney.
On Monday January 13th we will begin full floor debate on bills carried over from 2019. Public hearings for new bills will begin on January 21st. You can access the legislative calendar, daily agenda and information on every bill at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
In preparation for the session, I have been doing my homework on a wide variety of topics and meeting with a lot of people and organizations. The December schedule included educators and administrators, county officials, public power interests, special needs providers, safety and brain injury protocol proponents, farmers and land owners, University chancellors and the new NU president, Ted Carter.
That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Whatever your interests or concerns are, I encourage you to contact me. Call 402-471-2620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. Dorn toured Mosaic’s Beatrice agency on December 6th. Pictured (l-r) Kent Rogert, Sen. Dorn, Jessica Javorsky of Mosaic and seated, resident Jack!
The Tri-County Board of Realtors hosted a coffee for Sen. Dorn and Sen. Brandt of Plymouth on Friday December 6th in Beatrice.
The annual dinner of the NSEA Capitol District at Misty’s in early December. Standing Gene Martin, Susan Wait, Carol Floth and Fran Martin. Seated from left to right are Rick Koenig, Jolene Walker, Sen. Dorn, and Sheryl Wiese.
As always, November and December seem to go by quickly as everyone prepares for the holidays. Here at the Legislature the pace picks up rapidly, gearing up for the next session.
The month of November began with a meeting of area school superintendents and ESU administrators and an important discussion of education and school finance issues as it pertains to property tax. Those keywords – property tax – will be an obvious theme in my updates for the foreseeable future.
I was able to participate in a round table discussion on herbicide use in early November. The Department of Agriculture continues to investigate this matter which concerns a fair number of farmers in our district.
It was good to be able to talk a bit with Ted Carter, who is in line to become the next president of the University of Nebraska system if approved by the Board of Regents. He has an impressive background and range of experiences that could be a benefit to NU.
My guest on KWBE Radio in November was Senator Tony Vargas of Omaha. I appreciated his willingness to come to Beatrice and discuss how he represents his district in the Legislature and the ways our districts are similar and vastly different.
The Appropriations Committee held two more hearings in November and another this past week. We had joint sessions with the Revenue Committee to receive reports on research projects at the University all across the state and a tax expenditure report from the Department of Revenue; and a session with the Transportation Committee to hear from the Department of Transportation. Joining me in the office for his job shadowing project on one of the hearing days was Trystin Somers of Palmyra High School. I enjoyed meeting him and learning about his goals for the future.
My legislative aide and I took a tour of the Nebraska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Lincoln last week. The Center works with sight impaired individuals of all ages, training them to live independently.
In the office and across the district, we continue to meet with stakeholders and organizations to discuss their concerns and potential legislation. The range of topics is quite varied, as you would expect in a district with both urban and rural interests.
I was a panelist for the Peace and Civility Project event on the UNL campus on Nov. 19th. Also on the panel were senators Patty Pansing Brooks, Tom Brandt, Suzanne Geist and Anna Wishart. UNL journalism professor Rick Alloway was the moderator. We discussed ways to work “across the aisle” for the students and members of the public who attended, and took questions afterwards.
Just before Thanksgiving, the members of the Legislature met for the annual Legislative Council. Most of us had not seen each other since May, and this informal setting allowed us to catch up and talk about issues in general terms rather than in specific bill language. We also heard updates from the chairman of the major committees, an important preview to what’s ahead when we convene in January.
If you have visited the Capitol in the past year, you have seen the HVAC project underway, which affects a significant portion of the building. My office will be moving into the tower for the coming session, so you will need to call ahead to arrange any visits. You are always welcome and encouraged to contact me. Wishing you all a very merry and blessed celebration of the Christmas season. Here’s to a good new year for everyone in District 30. email@example.com 402-471-2620
Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha joined Sen. Dorn on KWBE Radio on Nov 8th to discuss the upcoming legislative session and issues facing the state.
Sen. Dorn was a panelist at the Peace and Civility Project event on the UNL campus on Nov. 19th. Also on the panel were senators Patty Pansing Brooks, Tom Brandt, Suzanne Geist and (not pictured) Anna Wishart. UNL journalism professor Rick Alloway was the moderator.
A cold harvest season is flying by and we are headed into the last few weeks of planning before the Legislature convenes in January. To be prepared for the next session, I’ve attended several public hearings, district events, met with senators and had many conversations with constituents and stake holders.
Early in the month, the Appropriations Committee met jointly with the Agriculture Committee to hear from the state Brand Committee and get an update from the Nebraska Department of Ag. We will meet again jointly with the Revenue Committee next week. I also attended programs presented by the Open Sky Policy Institute and the Platte Institute. I appreciate being able to hear from both these organizations, which have different approaches to the issues.
Working with my fellow senators is an important aspect of serving in the Legislature. A couple weeks ago, I participated in a town hall meeting with Senator Lynn Walz in Scribner. I was able to hear some of the stories of how communities around Fremont dealt with the March flooding, and some of the flooding issues they still have including refurbishing houses, roads that are still closed and farm ground that has been taken out of production.
As you may recall, Senator Hunt spoke on KWBE with me in September. Later this week, Senator Vargas will join me on the radio program. Both of them represent areas of Omaha. Again, I believe it is helpful to hear why people approach the issues in different ways and the concerns that affect their districts.
At a pancake breakfast in Bennet on the 12th, I spoke with quite a number of constituents. We talked about property tax relief, conceal carry permits for volunteer fire department and rescue squad members, and the need for strong volunteer departments in our rural areas.
The junior class at Beatrice High School attended a school board meeting held over the noon hour at the school in mid-October. This helped fulfill the requirements of the new “civics” bill implemented by the Legislature this year. I was glad to see and hear about many important activities happening at Beatrice High School.
Another event I attended was the CAFCON forum held in Lincoln at Lutheran Family Services. CAFCON is a consortium of a dozen organizations which form the back bone of child welfare services in the state. They discussed many matters they are facing, the primary one being state funding and how it is handled.
Lincoln police Chief Bleimeister and staff from the mayor’s office met with me to discuss issues relating to District 30. Several organizations have met me in my office to talk about their legislative goals for the coming year. Along with other senators who represent portions of our capitol city, I talked with the editorial board of the Lincoln paper about the most pressing issues for the district.
The Nebraska Association of County Officials met at SCC in Lincoln in mid-month as well. We talked about the condition that county roads are in and how to fund them. I outlined the topics that will be discussed in the next legislative session. There were also concerns about how bills passed have impacts on counties, and more importantly, county budgets.
I was a panelist at a convention on solar and wind power in late October, along with several other senators whose districts are looking at energy generation projects. Part of our discussion centered on the new solar farm going in northeast of Lincoln.
In between these events, I have continued to meet with various groups to discuss ways to handle the property tax issues across our state. Since the upcoming session is only 60 days in length, we will need to be very intentional with bills introduced and our priorities.
My staff is at work on upcoming legislation, as well as working with individual constituents who have contacted my office. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2620. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in District 30.
Homework isn’t just for our students this time of year, it is for your state senators as well. It is a season of balancing the work I need to get done at home in the farming operation with the work of studying the issues facing the Legislature.
As a result, I have been able to attend several listening sessions, hosted by a variety of organizations. In September I participated in gatherings with the Educational Service Units, the Blue River Area Agency on Aging in Beatrice, Public Health Solutions in Crete, and both the Platte Institute and OpenSky Policy Institute. I also met with individuals in my office, and with several senators to discuss what we have been hearing at these sessions.
The Appropriations Committee, on which I sit, has convened several times in recent weeks. We held joint hearings with the Health and Human Services Committee to discuss provider rates and hear updates on expanded Medicaid. At the end of this week we will be meeting jointly with the Agriculture Committee to hear from the Nebraska Brand Committee and get a briefing from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
All of this information gathering is very helpful as we focus on the big issues like property tax and business incentives, health care and problems in corrections. These are the areas that will command the most attention in the coming session and rightly so.
In the meantime, I believe we can also find ways to support and revitalize our state on a slightly smaller scale. And in truth, those critical services require attention to stay viable. I am continuing to work on securing sustained funding for the SIMS-NE program. The Simulation in Motion trucks go out to rural EMTs and hospitals to provide training and lifelike, hands-on experience in the areas of Nebraska where we do not have quick access to paramedics and ambulance service like Lincoln and Omaha do. The SIMS-NE program is one way to keep our quality of life in rural areas strong and inviting. My study resolution, LR 181, was heard by the Appropriations Committee last Friday. Doctors, EMTs and University personnel were on hand to speak in support of the program and educate my fellow committee members on the vital need to fund this project.
I had the privilege of hosting Beatrice high school student Chance Earnhart from Diller as a job shadow on the date of the hearing. In a very meaningful coincidence, Chance was able to provide testimony at the hearing about the role of EMTs in helping save the life of his father, Jim, who received Bryan Health’s Trauma Champion award for 2019. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know Chance and his willingness to speak at the hearing in support of EMT training.
On the last day of September, I participated in another listening session at the Legion Hall in Bennet, organized by the Center for Rural Affairs. We had an excellent turn out of residents from across District 30 and very good discussion. I appreciate very much the time people take to attend a listening session, their thoughtful questions and interest in the workings of our state government. A big thank you to all who came out and to CFRA for putting it together, and providing pie!
Please continue to contact my office as we begin to put together possible legislation to be introduced in January, or with any concerns you might have. 402-471-2620 or email@example.com.