NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Myron Dorn

Sen. Myron Dorn

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 mdorn@leg.ne.gov

August Wrap-Up
September 6th, 2019

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 mdorn@leg.ne.gov

“Live” on KWBE Radio
August 30th, 2019

My thanks to Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha for joining me ‘live’ on KWBE radio in Beatrice on Friday morning, August 30th, and to our radio host Doug Kennedy!

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.

Senator Dorn, Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont and Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Blair, attended the BILLD leadership conference in Minneapolis in mid August.

    

June/July Wrap Up
August 1st, 2019

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. mdorn@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2620.

Sen. Dorn awarded fellowship
August 1st, 2019

For immediate release

Contact: Laura A. Tomaka

630.925.1922/ltomaka@csg.org


Senator Myron Dorn awarded fellowship
to attend Midwestern leadership institute

 

(Lombard, Ill.) May 11, 2019 — Senator Myron Dorn of Adams, Nebraska Legislative District 30, was among 37 select lawmakers chosen to participate in a training program that annually identifies and assists promising state leaders in the Midwest.

Senator Dorn will meet with two fellow lawmakers from Nebraska and 10 other Midwestern states and four Canadian provinces on August 9-13 in Minneapolis, Minn., for The Council of State Governments’ 25th annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD).

“The Bowhay Institute is one of the premier leadership training programs in the nation,” says Nebraska Sen. Sara Howard, who serves as co-chair of the institute’s steering committee. “The legislatures in the region have benefited greatly from the skills their members have gained through this unique educational experience. Many of the graduates now hold key leadership positions in their state.”

Since 1995, 840 lawmakers have graduated from the Bowhay Institute. State legislators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin are chosen to participate through a competitive, nonpartisan selection process.  Members of the Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan legislative assemblies are selected by their caucuses to take part in the program.

BILLD was founded in 1995 to help new legislators meet the demands of increased policy responsibility being shifted to the states and, in many states, term limits and high legislative turnover.  These two emerging forces highlight the shortage of training available for legislators — a void that BILLD aims to fill.

A program of The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office, the 2019 BILLD program will be held in partnership with the Center for the Study of Governance and Politics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Courses and seminars are conducted by Humphrey faculty, Midwestern legislative leaders and professional development experts. In addition to curriculum designed to develop leadership skills, the program analyzes a variety of public policy issues, including the economy, trade and health care policy.

The Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development is named in honor of the late James Bowhay, longtime director of The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office. The program is funded through grants from foundation and corporate sponsors and an in-kind contribution provided by The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office.

Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments has national headquarters in Lexington, Ky., and regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago (Lombard, Ill.), New York City and Sacramento. The goal of the national, nonpartisan organization is to assist and advance state government by providing research assistance, professional development opportunities, interstate consulting services and educational networking opportunities.

June 7 Session Wrap Up
June 7th, 2019

Rather than being at the Capitol this week, I have been able to spend a little more time at the farm with my family.  It comes as a welcome break after the 12-14 hour days of the session – even though farming usually means even longer days!

We did adjourn “sine die” on May 31st, which means we will not meet again until next January, barring any need for a special session. But it would be accurate to say our work is not done on many issues.

Those bills that were passed and signed by the Governor into law in this session will take effect on September 1st. The exceptions would be bills which had an “e-clause” meaning they take effect immediately upon being signed, or those with an effective date which stipulates a specific time.

The bills that were waiting to be debated when we adjourned will stay there, waiting for a turn on the agenda next January.  When we convene in 2020, we will have ten days for new bill introduction as we did in this session, but since we already have things ‘in the hopper’, floor debate can begin right away.

These months between the long and short sessions are called the interim. While I do not intend to be in the office at the Capitol every day, my staff will be there and I will come in for meetings and conferences as scheduled. We will use this time to study several topics in depth and look at proposals for new legislation. The time is also valuable for meeting with fellow senators and fine tuning the existing bills or writing new ones. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be attending some budget briefings and workshops as the nine members of the committee continue to look into state spending.

Interim Studies, introduced as legislative resolutions, LRs, have been assigned to committees for work over the summer. Some of these require public hearings and those generally begin about the same time as school starts, although some may be sooner. All hearings will be listed on the Unicameral website at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

I introduced LR 181, to examine new funding streams for financial stability of the simulation-in-motion Nebraska program which trains local EMTs.  We will meet with various stakeholders over the summer to figure out the best way to insure the continued success of this vital service to rural areas. A hearing for this study will be held on September 27th at the Capitol.

The Nebraska Legislature is a member of several national organizations of state representatives. I have been chosen to represent District 30 and Nebraska at a Budget and Tax Academy in Washington DC, and was named to the Agriculture Committee of the Midwestern Conference of CSG, the Council of State Governments. I was also honored to be recommended by my colleagues to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and was selected as a Fellow in BILLD, the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development.

The summer and fall months will give me additional time to travel through the district. My plan is to attend some town board meetings and drop in at local coffee shops to talk directly with fellow residents in Lancaster and Gage counties. I will also be scheduling some community conversations so be watching for announcements about dates and locations over the next few months.

As I mentioned, my staff works year round, so unless they are attending an event in the district where you can talk with them in person, feel free to contact the office at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call in at 402-471-2620.  I welcome your comments and concerns and ideas about how to improve our state government.  Here’s to a productive summer for everyone in District 30!

 

 

 

May 31 Update
May 31st, 2019

At the end of a school year we have term papers, final exams, and that last report card.  At the end of a legislative session we finish up debate and vote on bills, act on any of the Governor’s vetoes, extend some issues into next year’s agenda, and make plans about what to work on over the summer and fall “interim” months.

Similar to work in the classroom, some subjects are just harder than others. Grading the work of the Legislature these past few months, the marks easily run from an A to a D depending on the topic. Some would say a few issues scored even below that.

Passing Grade – On the plus side, I am glad my colleagues saw fit to pass, and then override the veto, of LB 472 which will allow Gage County to pay the pending federal judgment in a shorter time frame. I was also pleased to introduce and pass into law LB 239, 524 and 525; all dealing with streamlining the business side of local governments.

Keep Studying – Because one of my bills for educating area EMTs is still sitting in committee, I introduced a study resolution, LR 181, to look at new funding streams for the financial stability of the simulation-in-motion Nebraska (SIM-NE) program. SIMs are mobile trucks that provide hands-on training with high-fidelity, life-like mannequins. These trucks travel across the state and provide invaluable training to emergency care providers, including doctors, emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, nurses, paramedics, and other emergency health care personnel. We will look at the Health Care Cash Fund and other ways to provide this vital instruction to small towns and rural areas.

Needs Improvement – Along with many Nebraskans and residents of District 30, I was disappointed to see no real resolution to the property tax dilemma happen in this session.  There was some property tax credit provided in the budget, but what we really need is a major change in our tax system. However, as I have mentioned previously, do not give up hope. The issue is still front and center for a number of senators, especially those who represent districts similar to ours – where agriculture is one of the primary economic drivers. This topic, as well as business incentives, will definitely be studied and refined before we reconvene next January; and I will be involved in those discussions.

As a freshman senator, I feel my past service on various boards and organizations prepared me well for the Legislature. There are many people and resources available here to help you learn the procedures and navigate the rules. This summer I will represent the Unicameral at a couple of regional workshops dealing with state budgets, leadership and agriculture and I look forward to expanding my knowledge base and experience for the benefit of the District.

Please contact me at any time at mdorn@leg.ne.gov. Or call 402-471-2620. You can follow me on Facebook, look for Senator Myron Dorn, and access my official web page at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

 

 

 

May 24 Update
May 24th, 2019

 

As expected, long hours and lengthy conversations characterized the past week in the Legislature. We are the point in the session where some big issues are on the agenda. When much is at stake, the different needs between the legislative districts become more evident, leading to extended debate. On two days we stayed in session well into the evening hours. By statute, the legislative day must end by 11:59 pm. We came very close to that mark on Wednesday, adjourning at 11:36 pm.

Final reading was held on Thursday for the 30 bills on Consent Calendar. The Consent Calendar is a way for the legislature to move bills through the process that are fairly straight forward. For a bill to be placed on the Legislature’s Consent Calendar, the sponsor of the bill submits a letter to the Speaker.  Only bills which had no opposition at the hearing can be submitted to the Speaker; or if there was opposition, any concerns must be addressed. Also the bill had to have advanced from committee with no dissenting votes from committee members – only then can a bill be considered for Consent Calendar.   After the letter is submitted to the Speaker, his office reviews all requests.  The Speaker decides which bills will be on Consent Calendar and then the list is printed for all the senators and the public to see.

I wanted to explain this process in relation to LB 533 which was on Consent Calendar, to indicate at no time was this bill ‘slipped in’ or ‘rushed through’ but was offered honestly and within all the rules of the legislature. It had a public hearing, it had General File and Select File debate.  Senators, staff, lobbyists, organizations, constituents and even the executive branch, have the opportunity to review all bills and amendments that are introduced.

I had not heard from anyone who was in opposition to LB 533 until late Thursday, after floor action on the bill.  The bill had a public hearing on February 21st before the Judiciary Committee. The day of the hearing, no one spoke in opposition to this bill and all eight senators who serve on this committee voted to advance the bill out of committee. LB 533 did pass on Friday morning.  Another bill on the Consent Calendar, LB 427, relates to the legitimacy of children born to parties in a marriage. LB 427 strikes the words, “the wife” and replaces it with “either spouse.” This bill was passed on Final Reading earlier on Thursday with 40 senators in support.

Some communication to my office said that Federal law states a marriage is between a man and a woman.  However, in June of 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision making gay marriage legal in all 50 states. Our personal opinions aside, this is now the law to which states must adhere.

The debate about property tax became linked to business incentives this week as we took up LB 720 and LB 183 on the floor. LB 289 is continuing to be discussed among senators but does not have the 33 votes to proceed. I saw an editorial that said there were a lot of wheels spinning, but none getting any traction. That is a good description of the problem when it comes to finding property tax solutions. For example when one suggestion to lower land valuations to 50% for taxing purposes was amended out of LB 183, a number of senators would no longer support that bill. Another idea to remove sales tax exemptions on certain products and services was rejected by several others. Opinions differ on how, and how much, to cap spending and to cap tax credits, causing some to say they can’t support a bill on those grounds. We have senators digging in their heels on revenue and spending, some because they feel it represents their views and their constituents, and some for political reasons. I am not saying any of these reasons are right or wrong, but the result is a lack of consensus it takes to move a solution forward.

This has been a trying process and certainly reinforces the comment that if reforming the tax code was easy, it would be done by now. However, it is important to note that none of these proposals are dead. I will help work on these over the summer interim, and any bills held over to next year can be taken up for debate right where they were left when we reconvene next January. Remember also that new bills can be introduced to correct things that aren’t working in the laws that do get passed in this session. All this to say – don’t give up hope.

As we recess for Memorial Day, I am grateful for all who have served in the armed forces. We have just a few days left in the session – whether we adjourn early or stay until day 90. Please continue to contact me with your concerns. My office is open year round, and the answering machine is always on. mdorn@leg.ne.govor 402-471-2620.

In this first session for me as a state senator, I have learned so much.  Looking at how the legislature works and what the rules are, to the long and varied list of topics addressed in the bills – there is a lot to learn.  We are now at the point in the calendar where nearly every bill is a key one.

After a late night session on Wednesday of this week, the budget bills have finally advanced to Final Reading, which is the last stage for a bill. On Tuesday, the main budget bill got several hours of debate and failed to advance. At issue was the funding of a study about future needs for nursing home care in the state. The amount of funding needed for the study is small in comparison to other budget items, and even draws in some federal dollars to help with it. So the discussion was not just about funding a study but also about the responsibilities and duties of state agencies and different senator’s views on spending. Eventually on Wednesday evening, the bill did advance with the study included.

There will likely be more floor debate and proposed amendments to the budget bills prior to a final vote; and then I anticipate some line item vetoes from the Governor. The Legislature will take up those vetoes during the final week of May.

Another of the big bills before us right now is LB 720. This bill, introduced by Sen. Kolterman, gives incentives such as wage and tax credits, and some tax refunds and exemptions based on investment levels and hiring of employees. Sen. Kolterman had an amendment to require these businesses to provide health insurance. Several senators wanted to amend the bill with provisions for job training, more direct oversight by the Legislature and caps on the amount this bill would cost the state in lost revenue.

I believe a good addition to LB 720 would be a requirement for incentivized business to contribute to scholarships in areas where Nebraska needs to train and retain workers in certain professions. However, the bottom line for me is that the first thing our state needs is property tax relief and reform. Until that happens, I find it difficult to whole heartedly support this bill.

The bill that would achieve at least some degree of property tax relief is LB 289. Because we spent three hours debating this bill last week, the Speaker wants to see that the sponsors have 33 votes on the bill before he places it back on the agenda.  Senator Linehan and Revenue committee members, as well as myself, continue to talk to fellow senators and work on amendments to address concerns about the bill – but I do not believe the necessary votes are there yet.

Some of the primary concerns I am hearing as I talk to citizens in the district and my fellow senators are about the education funding portion of LB 289. There is a definite division between the larger schools in Lincoln and Omaha, and smaller schools in the rest of the state. Others do not wish to see any increase in sales tax. The mechanics of the property tax credit fund and dispersion of funds to schools trouble a few senators, and some simply do not want to go against the wishes of the Governor and won’t support the bill.

Late on Wednesday we took up LB 110 which addresses the use of medical marijuana. We had a three hour debate about the legal aspects, the medical benefits, and good debate by senators both for and against this issue. I felt the talk remained on track and brought out some important points. Sen. Wishart worked with many interests to amend the bill into a form I felt was better than as originally introduced. However, she does not think she has the 33 votes to show the Speaker to bring it back. As a result, proponents could mount a petition drive this summer to put medical marijuana use on the ballot in 2020.

The plan by the Speaker at this time is to adjourn for the year on May 31st.  That would be a week earlier than initially shown on the calendar, since May 31st would be the 86th day of the 90 day session. Even though adjourning early saves the state a small amount of money and allows senators to return to their jobs in the districts, there are still some senators with pending priority bills who would like to see us work through that first week in June. I have been fortunate in moving nearly all of my bills through the process already and into law.

Your calls and emails are as important now as at the beginning of session. Contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or 402-471.2620.

 

Sen. Myron Dorn

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