NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Roy Baker

Sen. Roy Baker

District 30

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at rbaker@leg.ne.gov

October in District 30

October 10th, 2017

Sen. Kolowski, Kyle McGowan and Sen. Baker with keynote speaker Wes Moore at the Changemakers event in Omaha, sponsored by the Nebraska Children and Families organization.

South Beltway Road Project

October 4th, 2017

LINCOLN SOUTH BELTWAY

The Department of Transportation shared the latest plans for the south beltway at a public hearing on October 3.  The beltway will be an eleven-mile freeway, connecting US-77 on the west and Highway 2 on the east, with five interchanges.

Planning began in the 1960s for a beltway loop around Lincoln.  The project was ready to go in the early 2000s, but was put on hold due to lack of funding.  Now funds from the Build Nebraska Act have been earmarked for the project, supplemented with contributions from the City of Lincoln.  At present, the plan is to begin the construction of the south beltway in 2020, with an estimated completion date around 2025 to 2027.  Between now and 2020, the Nebraska Department of Transportation will consider further public input, make refinements, and begin acquiring the necessary properties.

The south beltway will enable some of the through traffic to avoid passing through the City of Lincoln as well as facilitating east-west traffic within the City. In the future, it is likely that beltway loop will be completed with the construction of the east beltway, connecting the south beltway eastern terminus with Interstate 80.

The City of Lincoln has continued to grow and expand in all directions.  Completion of the south beltway could accelerate Lincoln’s growth to the south.  Commercial development may well crop up around the beltway interchanges, including gas stations, restaurants, retail, and other.   The beltway, once completed, is likely to have a significant impact on the growth of Hickman and other communities in Legislative District 30.

The south beltway somewhat follows the half mile line between Saltillo and Bennet Roads.  In the present plan, interchanges will be developed at Highway 77, near 27th Street, at 68th and 82nd Streets, and approximately west of 120th Street.

September in District 30

September 11th, 2017

Gov. Ricketts opened the Platte Institute in Lincoln on Sept. 26.

September 22 dedication of the courtyard fountains at the Capitol.

I attended the community open house on September 10. Humann was closed last year for remodeling and additions.

Toured Henzlik Hall, formerly University High School on Friday, Sept. 8.  Uni High closed 50 years ago. I did my student teaching there in the second semester of 1966-67.

September 11, 2017

September 11th, 2017

Joint ceremony of first responders to remember 9-11 on the front steps of the Capitol.

 

As one of the speakers at the Homestead National Monument on Eclipse Day, August 21st, I talked with Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

 

Official proclamation for the eclipse, visible in much of Nebraska and especially District 30, on Monday, August 21st. Lora Young, director of the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce joined me as Lt. Gov. Foley presented the documents.

 

The Lincoln, Omaha and Nebraska State Chambers of Commerce sponsored their annual Federal Legislative Summit on August 9th at the SAC Museum. Congressmen Smith and Fortenberry, and Senators Fisher and Sasse addressed the gathering.

July in District 30

July 5th, 2017

I attended the Governor’s economic development conference on July 13th,  and the public hearing of the Economic Development Task Force at the Capitol on July 15th.

A news article from 1956 explains how the city of Lincoln both got its name and became our state’s capital city.

Clara Bewick (like Buick) Colby arrived in Beatrice with her husband in 1872. She wasted no time in making her mark in the community. She started the first public library and community theatre. Colby established herself as a significant force in Nebraska and the National Women’s Suffrage movement. She launched The Woman’s Tribune newspaper in 1883, circulating news of the suffrage movement throughout the Midwest and the West for 26 years. Clara Colby made an impact. Nebraskans supported referendums granting women the vote in 1882 and 1914, but both attempts were defeated. Colby, died in 1916 – four years before women won the right to vote in 1920, and nearly seventy years after the suffrage movement began.

Stormy skies continue to greet Gage county residents this summer. Photo taken looking northeast from the Homestead National Monument on Sunday morning, July 2nd.

The bluegrass band Toasted Ponies entertained the crowd at the Hevelone Center in Beatrice on July 1st, part of the Arts Council summer programming.

June Interim Activities

June 5th, 2017

The history of Lancaster and Gage counties, from the 1930’s  publication “Nebraska in the Making” by Mike Parks.

Duonix / Flint Hills gave tours of their biodiesel plant at Beatrice on Thursday, June 15th; Gov. Ricketts addressed the crowd as well.

 

A very attractive and informative display along the trail in southern Gage county, in honor of Standing Bear.

 

Sen. Baker addressed a break-out session of 2017 Boys State in the Capitol today, June 9.

Over 150 antique tractors paraded around the Capitol this afternoon, June 9, as part of the state’s Sesquicentennial celebration.

Sen. Baker addressed the business meeting at Mosaic in Beatrice on Friday, June 2nd. Residents, family and staff were celebrating Mosaic’s annual Home Day with games and food.

Announcement

May 24th, 2017

Legislative Update – May 24, 2017

Senator Roy Baker – District 30

As we wrap up the work of the First Session of the 105th Legislature, I would like to announce that I do not plan to run for re-election to my District 30 seat in the Nebraska Legislature.

It has always been my wife’s and my intent, following my retirement, to relocate to be closer to our family.  When I retired as Superintendent of the Norris School District in 2010, my wife and I deemed it important to remain in the area to help look after Paula’s aging parents, who were in the mid-80s and still living in their own home. Both passed away during my first year in the Legislature.

Upon completion of my legislative term in 2018, we will be moving from our current home and establishing residences in Minnesota and Arizona to be near our sons, daughter-in-law, and our young grandchildren.

I am making my announcement now to allow interested District 30 citizens in Lancaster and Gage counties time to consider their candidacy and begin the planning necessary to carry out a campaign.

It has been an honor to serve District 30 residents as their State Senator the past three years, and I will continue to carry out my duties to the best of my ability during the remainder of my term.

I have appreciated the emails, letters and phone calls to the office and the sharing of opinions, ideas, and concerns.  Your communication during the interim is equally important and I look forward to hearing from you.  402-471-2620 rbaker@leg.ne.gov

 

May 19 update

May 19th, 2017

Legislative Update – May 19, 2017

Senator Roy Baker – District 30

Much of the time in the waning hours of the 2017 Legislative session was been given to discussions of the budget.  On May 15, Governor Ricketts announced $56.5 million in line-item reductions in the budget adopted by the Legislature.  Included in the reductions:

  • Restoring funds to the Roads Operation Cash Fund,
  • One-half percent reduction the General Fund appropriates for operations of various state agencies, boards, and commissions of state government and community colleges,
  • $16.8 million in 2017-18 and $16.8 million in 2018-19 n were vetoed for four DHHS programs:  Behavioral Health Aid, Medicaid, Child Welfare Aid, and Developmentally Disabled Aid, and
  • Other minor cuts.

Various motions were submitted on May 17 to override the line-item reductions for the four DHHS programs.  We heard from a large number of providers from District 30, who are deeply concerned about what those provider rate cuts might mean for their rest homes, the Developmentally Disabled services, Child Welfare, and Behavioral Health providers.  Most of the motions ended with 26 or 27 yes votes, short of the 30 needed to override the Governor.

In other actions in the final five days, several bills passed on final reading without controversy, including   LB289, that greatly increases the penalties for sex trafficking.  Increased rates were authorized for ground emergency medical transport.  One additional juvenile court judge was authorized, and judges’ salaries were approved.

LB496, the Community Development Law, received 31 votes on a cloture vote, short of the 33 needed, and is done for this session.  This bill would have extended workforce housing funds to rural areas.

Sen. Mike Hilgers’ gun bill, LB68, was scheduled to come up on Select File, but he pulled his bill from the agenda. He stated that he wants to work on the language over the summer and bring LB68 back in 2018.

In 2016, LB 895 was passed by the legislature calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a detailed analysis of the Beatrice State Developmental Center and the Bridges program. Senators raised concerns when the reported costs of serving an individual at BSDC was approximately $450,000 per individual per year and the population was declining. After more discussion, senators also wanted an analysis of the aging buildings on the campus, compliance with the Olmstead decision (a U.S. Supreme Court Case) and how BSDC fits into the service array for all individuals with developmental disabilities.

First I would like to compliment Courtney Miller and her staff for conducting a very thorough and compassionate review of the future of BSDC and the impact any changes to the program would have on the residents. I think they did a very good job of balancing the needs of the residents, the needs of the campus and the needs of the DD community as a whole.

The report is due by June 1, 2017 to the legislature with the findings and the future vision of BSDC and the Bridges program. On May 9th the department held a public hearing on the initial findings.  A number of potential recommendations were put forward but the preliminary recommendation the department deemed most appropriate was a combined service array for BSDC.  The proposal would have BSDC continue to support the 109 individuals currently living at the facility. They recognized these individuals call BSDC home.  Considering the average length of stay at BSDC is 47 years and the average age of the residents is 67, moving these clients out of the only home many have known for the vast majority of their life would be cruel. The recommendation also would have BSDC provide: respite services, crisis intervention support and consultative assessment services, and acute crisis stabilization as an intermediate care facility (which would be time limited service).

As for the Bridges program in Hastings, it was originally designed for high risk, behaviorally challenged individuals with developmental disabilities.  However the program cannot remain in compliance with federal Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waiver regulations.  The department has moved the six residents at this facility into community based services and has closed Bridges.

I think the report is the best outcome for BSDC, its residents and the Beatrice community which for decades has embraced the facility and the residents.

The last day of the current session is Tuesday, May 23rd. The agenda will include mostly housekeeping items to wrap up the business of the Legislature as we move into the interim months. As always, your communication about areas of concern is important whether we are in session or back at work in the district.  402-471-2620;  rbaker@leg.ne.gov.

 

 

May 15 update

May 15th, 2017

Legislative Update – May 15, 2017

Senator Roy Baker – District 30

Debate on the budget, when it came up for Final Reading, was contentious.  Final Reading is usually the stage of debate that is fairly straight forward and runs smoothly, but not so with this budget package.  Even though the Legislature came in with a lower budget package than the one offered by the Governor, there were a few senators who believe we did not cut deep enough. Those senators are prophesying the doom and gloom of Nebraska economy.

I believe our Appropriations Committee members have worked long and hard on the budget. They brought forward a package that looked at each agency, each program, and all spending and revenue sources.  They made cuts they believed were necessary and appropriate.  Reductions were made to the budgets of the University and state colleges and to roads.  Funds were even taken from the state’s rainy day fund.  This is not new occurrence, this is an avenue previous legislatures have used to balance the budget.  A few agencies and programs were spared cuts when the committee deemed reductions in funding could cause greater harm than good. Some agencies are very small, with only a few staff.  Funding to other programs, like the Department of Corrections and the stabilization aid to K-12 schools, was prioritized.

The committee took a scalpel to the budget and not an ax.  Those few senators who fought the bill on Final Reading were wanting to wield the ax, lest we all return for a special session in the fall. I would rather see a cautionary budget with appropriate cuts.  If, in the next few months the revenue forecast improves, then the agencies, even though trimmed, can still function and provide their services. Whereas, if cuts are too deep, some programs could be irreparably harmed, and the people served would be harmed.  If revenues do not improve or decline farther in the coming months, then a special session may be necessary but the senators would then return with the facts on the existing revenue picture and not conjecture.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on day 86 of the 90 day session next week. Please continue your communication with me in these last few days of session as well as during the interim months.  402-471-2620  rbaker@leg.ne.gov

 

 

 

Sen. Roy Baker

District 30
Room #1208
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2620
Email: rbaker@leg.ne.gov
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