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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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community members are invited to a conversation about legislative issues on Monday, Sept. 30, in Bennet, Nebraska. The event will be held from 6 to 7 p.m., at Bennet American Legion Hall, 970 Monroe St.
Hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, the event is free, and members of the public are invited to attend. Refreshments will be provided.
“This legislative session, we saw many issues important to rural communities debated, including a healthy soils task force, property tax reform, and the beginning farmers tax credit,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy manager with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Join us to learn how the 2019 legislative session impacted rural areas.”
State Sen. Myron Dorn will share an overview from the 2019 session and what he is working on for 2020.
“Senators rely on their constituents to be engaged with them on these issues, so be sure to bring your questions and comments,” Rasmussen said.
For more information and to RSVP, visit cfra.org/events, or for questions contact Trenton Buhr, Center for Rural Affairs policy assistant, at 402.687.2100 ext. 1010 or email@example.com.
Contact Senator Myron Dorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2620.
The month of August, filled with fairs, the start of school, area sports and the anticipation of harvest season, was also a busy one at the Legislature. Even though we are not meeting in session, there is plenty of work being done.
I was able to attend two leadership events that will be helpful to me as I represent you in the Unicameral. The first was the Global Leadership Summit hosted by the Reformed Church in Firth. Even though I was only able to take in the first day of the conference, it was good to meet with fellow residents of southeast Nebraska and hear world class speakers. The next day I was off to Minneapolis as a Fellow in the 2019 Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD). As one of 36 selected to participate, it was a great experience. Meeting other state representatives and senators from 11 Midwestern states and Canada gave me the opportunity to hear about the issues they are facing in their states and provinces, which are very similar to Nebraska. The speakers were top notch and they kept us very busy with presenters and workshops.
With little time to spare, I returned to Nebraska to go on a tour of the Beatrice State Developmental Center and the Lincoln Regional Center with members of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. I was able to share some insight about BSDC with my colleagues on that committee, and get a firsthand look at the Regional Center for myself.
Norris Public Power hosted a tour of their Centerville operations facility in late August. We had a good discussion with NPPD administrators about a number of matters regarding public power in our state.
Listening sessions continued with different sectors of our state’s economy and those receiving state funding. Senators DeBoer, Brandt, Friesen and myself have been meeting with various groups and then discussing what we hear. There will be more of those in the next couple of months.
In late August, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce had a statewide tour with a stop in Beatrice on the 27th. Governor Ricketts and I both spoke about the impact of business incentives on our budget and the state’s economy, as well as the ongoing need for property tax relief.
Related to this, I was part of a joint hearing of both the Revenue and Appropriations committees about the business incentive proposals pending before the Legislature. Good questions were asked, and I continue to see the need for a link between property tax relief and tax credits to businesses.
On the last day of the month, I invited Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha to join me for a live broadcast on KWBE Radio. We discussed some of the similarities and differences in our districts and how we approach being a state senator. I appreciated Sen. Hunt coming to Beatrice for the program.
Following the radio program, a number of urban senators were invited to Senator Tom Brandt’s farm near Plymouth. I spoke to the group about the challenges facing agriculture and helped show off the good life in our area.
A number of interim hearings are scheduled for the month of September, including one that will take a look at my funding proposals for the SIM-NE project that trains rural EMTs. As we move through the fall months, we senators will be firming up our ideas for legislation to be introduced in January, as well as looking at any adjustments that need to be made to the budget given current economic conditions in the state.
My office is staffed year round, so contact me at any time, I appreciate hearing from you. 402-471-2620 and email@example.com
LINCOLN – Three of Nebraska’s Senators, Wendy DeBoer of District 10, Myron Dorn of District 30, and Lynne Walz of District 15, were among 36 select legislators to complete a leadership training program that identifies and assists emerging state and provincial leaders in the Midwest.
DeBoer, Dorn, and Walz met with lawmakers from ten other states and three Canadian provinces on August 9-13, in Minneapolis, for the Council of State Government’s 25th annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD).
The three Nebraska senators learned about a variety of policy areas affecting the Midwest and exchanged strategies with the other lawmakers about returning civility to our political life and trying to lessen the partisanship which hampers the legislative process. DeBoer, Dorn, and Walz say they will bring those lessons back to the Unicameral to share with their colleagues and help Nebraska make better laws through more cooperation in the Legislature.
“As Senators, I have always believed our first priority should be passing the best laws for all Nebraskans, not trying to fit within a party platform,” said Walz.
“Because of our unique non-partisan Legislature, Nebraska can and should lead the country in a return to civility and cooperation across political differences. We don’t always agree, but we are all on the same team,” said DeBoer.
“In my experience, one of the most important things we can do to build bridges and work together in the Legislature is to listen. Really listen to each other. Because first and foremost, people want to know their voice is being heard,” said Dorn.
Legislators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan were chosen to participate through a competitive, nonpartisan selection process.
BILLD was founded in 1995 to help new legislators meet the demands of federal devolution and, in many states, term limits. These two emerging forces have highlighted the shortage of training available for legislators, a void that BILLD aims to fill.
DeBoer, Dorn, and Walz believe their training at BILLD will foster more cooperation in the Legislature to better serve Nebraskans.
We enjoyed a typical July in Nebraska – temperatures hovering near 100, kids on detassling crews and other summer jobs, community celebrations and county fair activities. At the Capitol, we used this time to take a close look at the issues, find new solutions and prepare for next year’s session. That includes everything from attending national conferences to small group meetings in the office.
In late June I traveled to Washington DC to a Budget and Tax Academy, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This was an intense program with many good speakers; and state senators and representatives from across the country. It was interesting to find that many states are encountering the same problems that we have in Nebraska. Property taxes are a common issue – even in states with lower rates than we have here. Many states are dealing with expanded Medicaid. In the case of medical marijuana and gambling, some states have seen a degree of success while others seem to wish they had not taken a similar route. I appreciated the opportunity to learn as much as I could from the presenters and meet fellow legislators from across the nation.
Also in June I toured the Sheldon power plant at Hallam along with Sen. Brandt of District 32. Just to the south of the Sheldon plant, the new Monolith facility is under construction, which will be making carbon black. Senator Brandt and I were given an overview of the progress and a timeline for starting operations.
I had the privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens at the Homestead National Monument in June. In addition, I have written in support of changing the name of this fine landmark to simply Homestead National Park, which more clearly represents the park’s attractions.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Nebraska Investment Council. Two of my fellow Appropriations Committee members were there, as well as the chair of the Retirement Committee. The program was enlightening and educational regarding the state’s investment funds, how they invest and the financial condition of the state program.
Along with Sen. DeBoer of Omaha, I participated in a listening session in Lincoln to gather input on taxation and spending. Many discussions and meetings are taking place concerning property taxes during these interim months between sessions. We will meet next week to summarize what we learned and talk about any possible legislation that could be developed as a result.
My staff and I have met with several individuals who have concerns about distracted driving and recent motor vehicle accidents in the district. As many of you are aware, distracted driving has increased as cell phone use has increased. There are several bills that will carry over to next year’s session which could help address this matter.
While on the topic of transportation, I was able to meet with our area district engineer Tom Goodbarn, and Erich Strach from the state Department of Transportation office recently in Adams. We looked at ongoing and future projects and discussed the roads and bridges in District 30, including the south beltway project.
On June 17th, the Governor held his annual economic development conference in Lincoln. The main speaker was Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton. Many state senators were there and the speakers focused on being economically successful. The Governor also talked about Nebraska’s success the past several years, noting that the state has been awarded the national Governor’s Cup for the most economic development projects per capita of any state for three years in a row.
Mike Boehm, vice chancellor of the University’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), met me in Adams for lunch late in July. We discussed ways the ag college impacts our state, not just in District 30 but from border to border. This week I met with interim university president Dr. Susan Fritz. It was good to get her take on the overall status of the university system, and the search for a new president.
Another important meeting was held with Tom Bliss of the Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD). This organization is working hard to connect needs with the right resources for the good of our part of the state.
County fair season is in full swing in the area and I enjoyed the annual agriculture appreciation barbecue at the Gage County fair in July and the chance to talk with so many acquaintances and fellow local producers. I attended a luncheon this week at the Lancaster County fair to learn more about the Event Center and Ag Society, and observed some of the exhibits designed to connect urban and rural residents in the county.
This month I will convene a working group studying ways to improve the funding stream for the SIM-NE program. This is the educational equipment and staff that travels from the University’s med center, UNMC, out to local EMTs and emergency rooms in small hospitals, providing hands-on realistic training. As an EMT myself, I consider this a vital program for health and quality of life in rural areas.
I have invited several Omaha area senators to visit in the next couple of months. Learning more about the similarities and the differences between our districts will go a long way in the coming session. We have a lot to show them in District 30!
Contact me through the same channels as during the legislative session – by email or phone. firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2620.
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