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

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.

 

May 10 weekly update
May 10th, 2019

The Legislature continues to take up a wide range of issues, but most of those topics were overshadowed by two complicated subjects this week – tax revenue and the budget. I say these bills are complicated because revenue includes all forms of taxation and yet greatly impacts school funding. Of course the budget is affected by the economic conditions of the state. And one factor influencing the economic condition of the state is – taxation.

Before looking into these, let me point out that the Legislature has only one constitutional requirement as far as passing bills in any session – it must appropriate funds for the expenses of the state government, and, the budget must be balanced.  Of course, in every session many bills do become law and other important matters are addressed.

Coming back to the two main proposals brought to the floor this week, we have one set of bills that will be acted upon – those that make up the budget from the Appropriations Committee. The other main bill is less certain, LB 289 from the Revenue Committee.

The appropriation bills can be amended as we go through the stages of debate, but we will pass a budget in some form.  The set of bills that comprise the budget are LBs: 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299. Of these, LB 294 is the mainline budget bill and is 268 pages long. All of these are on the Legislature’s website and linked to the home page (see site information at the end of this article).

Regarding the revenue bill, LB 289, the three hours of discussion we had were largely philosophical in nature and no specific details about collecting property, sales and income taxes, or how to fund education, were hammered out.  Following the protocol set up by the Speaker, after three hours the bill’s sponsors must show him they have enough votes to invoke cloture (33 votes required) before the bill is put back on the agenda.

Nearly every senator points to property tax as a key concern. This has been a common theme for the past twenty years. As Senator Linehan, chairman of the Revenue Committee pointed out, if it was easy to fix the property tax issue, it would have been done by now. But that does not lessen the necessity to find a better and fairer solution for all tax payers. The problem is deciding on what is better and what is fair. For example, differences between populated versus less populated areas of the state, agricultural versus industrial areas, large schools versus small schools, and even political divisions all became evident during the debate on LB 289.

While there is some agreement on needing to reform the tax system in our state, the communication I receive in my office is also divided in supporting or opposing the elements in LB 289. No one wants to bear the brunt of higher taxes, but neither is anyone willing to suffer all the spending cuts – and understandably so. The senators on the Revenue Committee are working hard to find compromises that are acceptable which would stand up as amendments to the bill. We shall see if they are able to bring this issue back for debate.

There will be no letup in intensity in the coming week. Bills already scheduled for debate include LB 720, known as the “ImagiNE Act” concerning business incentives; and LB 670, the Opportunity Scholarship Act which would give tax breaks to those making scholarship contributions. LB 720 has a fiscal note of over $30 million in the biennial budget; and LB 670 could cost $ 22.5 mil in that same two-year time frame.

Also on the agenda will be LB 110, the Medical Cannabis Act. The bill’s sponsors have spent many hours with medical professionals and others and as a result the sponsor does have a lengthy amendment to add to the bill. This is an issue that could be important to have regulated by the state rather than let it happen by other means. I will be listening intently to the debate on this one.

All in all, it has been an interesting week, and promises to be the same next week. I encourage you to get on the website and look carefully through the budget yourself. As taxpayers we all need to be educated on where our dollars go and all the areas the state funds. You can find it at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. Click (here) or on the page link for the Appropriations Committee Proposed Budget.   Contact me directly at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620.

 

 

 

May 3 Update
May 3rd, 2019

This is field trip season when fourth graders from across Nebraska come to visit their state capitol. I have really enjoyed meeting many young residents from District 30, their teachers and the brave parents who accompany them. But this week, we had a group in the building from much farther away.  The city of Lincoln, in cooperation with the U.S. State Department, brought several journalists from northern Africa and the Middle East to the Capitol to study freedom of the press. While here, they met with the Governor and Secretary of State. Then they spent some time observing our debate. As the host senator for the legislative part of their visit, I was able to greet them and welcome them to Nebraska.

On Tuesday of this past week, the Legislature took up my motion to override the veto of LB 472. As you know, the bill would give counties the option to collect a sales tax for the express purpose of paying a federal judgment of $25 million or more, as long as property tax is also being collected for the payment, for just the time needed to make the payment.

For an override motion, each senator is allowed to speak as they would on any legislation. However, no amendments can be made and when debate is finished, a simple yes or no vote is taken. Thirty votes are required for an override, a greater number than the 25 needed to pass a bill.

The override vote for my bill was 41-8. I appreciate the support and understanding of my fellow senators in providing another tool that Gage County can use to pay off the judgement. This was not a vote against the governor, this was a vote for the bill.

And as I said in my statement on the floor, I pray this state never has a situation happen like the Beatrice 6 again. I pray no person ever has to go through what the Beatrice 6 went through. I pray a county never goes through anything like this again. This bill cannot correct all of those things. It can help pay off the judgment with something besides property taxes.

Two major committees sent out the results of several months’ work this week – the revenue package and the budget bill. Being a member of the Appropriations Committee, I can tell you that we have looked at every spending request and budget item before the Legislature. Balancing a budget of around $4.5 billion is no small task.

On the other hand, reforming our state’s tax structure is equally difficult for the Revenue Committee. I anticipate there will be a lot of changes in the revenue package before any final votes are taken. Obviously any proposed amendments regarding taxes will affect the state budget. So passage of these two major bills is a delicate balance and needs to be very deliberate.

What I want to see in any new tax package are safeguards that we will not end up in the same situation a few years down the road. I hope to see a more fair and equitable revenue system that meets the needs of the entire state, and one that is sustainable. We are scheduled to begin discussion on the revenue bill, LB 289, on Tuesday. We will begin debate on the budget the next day.

I mentioned the school students and international journalists who visited recently. It proves you are never too young or too old (or apparently, too far away) for a field trip to our state Capitol. Let me know if you are in the building, and please continue to contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2620.

April 26 Update
April 26th, 2019

This week in the Legislature showed the importance of all those civics classes in high school about “how a bill becomes a law”. For the first time this session, the Governor returned a bill with his veto, and it was mine, LB 472.

LB 472 would allow a county board to enact a one half of one percent sales tax, to be used only for the payment of a federal judgment of $25 million or more, and would sunset in 2027 or when the judgment was paid, which ever came first. Property tax would still have to be collected at the maximum fifty cent levy limit, but adding sales tax revenue would help pay off the judgment faster and end that property tax sooner.

A bill needs 25 votes to advance. LB 472 was passed by the Legislature with 43 affirmative votes on April 18, and presented to the Governor. The Governor then has five days and can either sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or let the bill become law without his signature.

LB 472 was returned with a veto on Wednesday. On Thursday, I filed a motion to override the veto. The motion will require 30 yes votes to achieve the override, and I expect it to be taken up early in the week. In the meantime, I will continue discussing the issue and an override vote with my fellow senators.

A potential tax package showed the need for another legislative procedure this week. Because an amendment to LB 289, heard by the Revenue Committee, contained substantially new material, a public hearing was held even though hearings ended some weeks ago. The hearing was also unique as it combined the Revenue, Education, and Retirement Committee members. Nearly seven hours of testimony was given on a revenue package addressing property and sales tax and school funding, with nearly all of those speaking in opposition to the bill. The Revenue Committee will now have to come to a decision on a tax reform package before sending it to the floor for debate.

Another rule of the Legislature concerns the state budget, which must be presented by the Appropriations Committee to the full body by the 70th day of the first session. That day is May 2nd.  Serving on Appropriations has meant meeting in executive session nearly every lunch hour and after adjournment several days per week as we put together our recommendations.

One of the final pieces we needed to finalize the state budget fell into place with a Thursday meeting of the State Economic Forecasting Board. The board members look at where we are today and project where they think the state will be financially in the future. Their forecast was $45 million higher for the current fiscal year than their previous projection; and $10 million higher for the next fiscal year (2019/2020).

The increased revenues in the forecast will, by law, go into the cash reserve (known as the rainy day fund) putting the fund by year’s end at $372 million. It’s important to know that the cash reserve/rainy day fund is not like a savings account for future wants. Funds in the cash reserve have been and can be diverted to general fund uses.

And while $45 million is substantial and encouraging, it comes nowhere near meeting all the budget requests from departments, legislative bills and the Governor, especially after cuts made in previous years and projects put on hold. Critical areas include corrections, roads, education and health and medical needs; but we must also consider every state agency, board and commission as well as cash reserve requirements and express obligations of the state.

While property tax relief is not under the purview of the Appropriations Committee, any relief in recent years has been achieved in the budget by use of credits, not through tax revenue. It is my hope that we will make real headway on tax reform with a Revenue Committee bill in this session.

If you would like more in depth information on any bill or topic, I encourage you to contact my office at mdorn@leg.ne.gov, 402-471-2620. The legislative website is also an excellent source, specifically the Unicameral Update publication at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

 

April 19 Update
April 18th, 2019

A blessed Easter to everyone! The Legislature is in recess until Tuesday the 23rd and the four day weekend is welcomed by those not able to get home on a regular basis from the Capitol to their home districts across the state. It is also welcomed by those of us involved in agriculture as we try to catch up on field work and working livestock after a very long winter and late spring.

Two of my bills were passed into law this week. LB 239, as amended into LB 212, and LB 472. Looking back on the weeks since I took office, I see how much work went into these issues and the effort required to move a bill through the legislative process. Representing you and the varied concerns of District 30 is definitely a full time job, which I have enjoyed very much.

The Revenue Committee has released a tax reform bill in an effort to revise school funding and address property taxes. Because this is an amendment to LB 289 and has new components, a public hearing will be held on Wednesday the 24th at 4pm.

This bill has a large number of moving parts, none of which are set in stone at this point. I will give you a summary of the basics of the bill. Dealing with state aid to schools will help provide property tax relief. This would be accomplished by moving revenue generated by a state sales tax increase directly into a property tax credit fund and into school aid. Every school district would get a third of its funding from state aid.

The proposed state sales tax increase, the first one since 2002, would be three-quarters of a cent. In addition, some exemptions would be removed, meaning we would pay on items previously excluded from sales tax such as pop, candy and a few services. The tax on cigarettes would rise to $1 per pack.

The Revenue Committee calculates that property owners would receive a ten percent reduction in valuation, with the average decrease in property taxes at 20%. Eventually these measures would result in $540 million in property tax relief, although not right away. The bill includes provisions for year one and year two to phase in the changes.

LB 289 would put a lid on spending based on the consumer price index (CPI), but also allow for student growth in a school district.  As I mentioned, the state would contribute at least 33% of school district funding.

To say this is a complicated issue would be an understatement. There are eight members on the Revenue Committee and there is not consensus among the members on how property tax relief should be accomplished. However, they do agree that something must be done in a state that has some of the highest property tax in the country. To that end, I will be studying the bill, watching the public hearing on the 24th, and look forward to the debate on the floor.

Please send your comments and concerns to my email at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620. Thank you.

 

April 5 Update
April 5th, 2019

After extended discussions on the floor over the course of several days, the Legislature has again been able to progress forward, moving bills through the stages of debate. Two of my bills have advanced to Select File, which is the second of three steps every bill must go through.

I introduced LB 239, a simple bill to harmonize county and state laws concerning the notice of hearing dates. Because my bill was similar to others brought to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee, one bill was broadened to include several of these senator’s concepts. As a result, my LB 239, which was amended into LB 212 by the Committee and then the Legislature without dissent, has moved on to Select File.

My bill to address the federal judgment due in Gage County was taken up on the floor on Thursday. LB 472 would allow a county to collect a sales tax, in the amount of one half of one percent, to pay only federal judgements, and then the tax would end. In my opening remarks about LB 472, I emphasized that imposing an additional tax on citizens in the county was not anything an elected official, at the state or county level, would wish to do. However, the judgment is due and must be paid. The options have been exhausted. This is not a “want” or a “need”, it is a federal court ordered mandate.

Consequently, the best way to meet the obligation is to pay it off as quickly as possible, in a manner that is fair to the claimants and all the citizens of Gage County. My fellow senators agreed. I had two amendments to the bill to add clarifications to the use and duration of the sales tax collection.  After brief discussion, the body voted overwhelmingly to accept my two amendments and advance the bill.

I mentioned the lengthy and somewhat contentious debate that occurred earlier this week. Let me address some of the procedures that made that happen.  The Speaker of the Legislature has held to the practice of allowing three hours of debate on a bill, and then moving on to other bills until the introducer can show there is enough support among the members to end a filibuster. If that can be shown, the Speaker will put that bill back on the agenda, where it can have another three hours of debate and then go to a cloture vote.

A cloture vote to end a filibuster, which requires 33 yes votes, is a taken in order to stop debate; then a vote on the actual bill is taken with no further discussion allowed. Historically, some senators have been known to never vote for cloture for philosophical reasons, believing that debate should continue for as long as it takes. Other senators always vote for cloture, thinking that several hours of talk is enough and minds are not going to change. Of course, actual circumstances will vary according to the subject matter of a bill any time cloture is invoked.

Last week, a bill on the floor was debated up to the three hour time limit and no vote was taken, despite assurances that the discussion was not meant to be a filibuster. This sparked a heated exchange among several senators, which grew to include a number of different bills and issues. Two recess days and a long weekend did little to diminish the sentiment on these issues. The dialogue continued when the Legislature reconvened on Tuesday, with several senators placing amendments on bills that were on the agenda.

The process of making motions and placing amendments is sometimes used as a way to get time to speak on the floor. This is fully within the rules of the Legislature and can be a useful tool. Priority Motions jump ahead of any other amendments or discussion on a bill; and this resulted in the previous week’s conversation continuing throughout the session on Tuesday.  However, the remainder of the week progressed a little more smoothly and we were able to act on a fair number of bills.

Communication with my office only requires a few computer clicks or a phone call. Please contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620.

 

 

 

March 29 District 30 Update
March 29th, 2019

 

The 50th day of the legislative session has come and gone, just 40 days remain to tackle some of the major issues before us. We begin all day floor debate on Tuesday; hearings for every bill introduced were completed this week.

My final bill to be heard in committee was LB 106. The Nebraska State Patrol brought this issue to me for introduction. The bill itself only changes nine words in existing state law, but it will bring Nebraska into compliance with current FBI guidelines for the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). NSP Superintendent John Bolduc joined me in giving testimony in support of the bill.

Also with the end of hearings, it is good to see some of the bills we have worked on move through the legislative process. LB 524 dealing with annexation, which the speaker designated as one of his priorities, should come up for floor debate soon.  LB 239, regarding hearing dates for county budgets and which is now amended into LB 212, is on the agenda for next week, as is LB 472.

LB 472 is my priority bill for this session and has been in the que on the legislative agenda for the past few days.  It is my hope to debate the bill the week of April 2nd.  LB 472 would allow a County Board to enact a one-half of one percent sales tax to help pay a federal judgment.  Concerns were raised by the League of Nebraska Municipalities who represent cities and towns across the state regarding a county’s ability to impose a sales tax on city residents and the potential expansion of this tax.

In working with the League, I have introduced an amendment proposing to further narrow and define when and how such a tax can be applied.  First, the sales tax could not replace available county property tax levy authority and requires a county to use its maximum available levy authority to pay the judgment during the collection of the sales tax. Second, the sales tax under this proposal can only be used toward payment of a federal judgement over $25 million.  And finally, the amendment imposes a specific termination date or ‘sunset’ of January 1, 2027 or upon the complete payment of the judgement, whichever comes first.

I am fine with the additional recommendations that make up this amendment, which will have to be approved by the Legislature before they can advance the bill. My intent is not to expand a county’s taxing authority but to address only a federal judgement such as the one currently owed by Gage County.  Any county could find themselves in a similar situation and may need additional revenue streams to pay a judgement in a timelier manner. The county has no choice but to pay the judgement. The sooner a debt is paid, the sooner there is tax relief for all county residents.

As part of my attempt to find viable solutions to pay the federal judgement, I have continued to visit with people about LB473 and 474. These two bills remain in committee – and without that committee action or priority designation – are not likely to come to the floor in this session. The issue has so many moving parts and effects that need to be considered for the good of everyone involved, from plaintiffs to tax payers, it is important to keep this issue ‘on the radar’ of my fellow state lawmakers.

As the state moves from emergency actions into the recovery phase from the blizzard and floods, both Nebraska and Federal emergency managers continue to keep senators updated.  If you or anyone you know has flood damage, be sure to document all damage and losses. That is the first step in requesting help from FEMA. Immediate information is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Information about the Legislature can always be found at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. My email is mdorn@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is 402-471-2620.

 

 

 

March 22 Update
March 22nd, 2019

It is amazing how, in just a few days, the world can change so drastically. News and images from the blizzard conditions in western Nebraska and the flooding across eastern Nebraska, and in our own district, show the magnitude of rebuilding needed in our state. I am confident that we will pull together to restore the damage – but it will take time. And of course, there will be stress factors from multiple sides.

We are grateful for our capable first responders, the National Guard, the Salvation Army and Red Cross, all on the scene from the start. In addition, there are many excellent resources available for longer term assistance. If you need help of any kind, good places to begin are the www.nema.nebraska.gov or www.nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong/ websites.  You can also simply call 402-817-1551.

Rebuilding will also require money. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, we are charged with balancing the state budget which was already tight. Now we are looking at needs we never dreamed of just days ago.  The President granted the state’s request for a disaster declaration and corresponding aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Even with the declaration, the state will need to supply 12.5% of the funding, and local governments another 12.5%, with the remaining 75% coming from federal FEMA dollars.

With 79 of the state’s 93 counties reporting disasters so far, preliminary estimates of local damage are already in the multiple millions of dollars. The statewide total of these approximations is nearing a billion dollars at this writing and I am certain those numbers will rise as farmers, ranchers, homeowners, businesses, adjusters and inspectors are able to get a good look at the aftermath of the storms and floods.

As for District 30 at this time, Gage county’s dollar estimate remains below $1 million. Lancaster county sustained damage closer to $4 million between roads, bridges and well field issues.

Our thoughts are on the survivors and clean-up efforts, yet the work of the Legislature must continue. We have passed the halfway mark of the session and much work remains. This week was the deadline for designating priority legislation. The Speaker chooses 25 bills for his priority list and selected one of mine for that list, LB 524, which harmonizes dates to clarify when tax valuations on newly annexed properties take effect.

Each senator can designate one bill as their priority. My bill, LB 472, could be on the agenda for floor debate as early as next week, and would give a county the ability to create a sales tax of one half of one percent, which could only be used to pay a federal judgment, and would terminate when that payment was complete.

We have one more week of committee hearings; the first bill I introduced, LB 106, will be heard on the last day for hearings, March 28. LB 106 puts our state regulations for the DNA data base in line with federal procedures.  We will begin all day floor debate on April 2nd.

Please contact me with your concerns at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620. I always appreciate hearing from you.

 

 

March 15 Update
March 15th, 2019

Even with many important issues before the Legislature this week, all eyes have been on the effects the weather has had on our state. I attended a briefing for state senators conducted by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency which includes the National Guard and State Patrol. As a result of the blizzard conditions, snow melt, ice jams, heavy rain and flooding, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been activated. We know a great number of Nebraska citizens are facing costly repairs and rebuilding in the coming weeks. A number of counties will need to fix or replace infrastructure as well.

Here at home in District 30 as we all know, Gage county must pay a federal judgment of over $28 million and I have introduced three bills that deal with that in different ways. Two have already been heard in committee, LB 474 would allow a claim to be made of the state, LB 473 would make it possible to request a low interest loan from the state. This week the Revenue Committee heard LB 472. This bill would give a county the ability to create a sales tax of one half of one percent, which could only be used to pay a federal judgment, and would terminate when that payment was complete. If Gage county used this means of collection, the length of time to pay off the judgement could be shortened, helping reduce the burden that is now on property tax alone.

Once again, the county was well represented at the hearing and the committee members asked excellent questions. I continue to discuss the bill with my fellow senators to encourage them to help Gage county find ways to meet the requirements of the judgment that will mitigate the burden on all of our tax payers.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) brought their SIM-NE (Simulation in Motion Nebraska) truck to the Capitol on Tuesday in support of my bill, LB 666, which would provide a modest amount of funding for this project.

SIM-NE is a statewide, mobile education system that takes state-of-the-art, hands-on training to emergency medical service providers in rural communities, including health professionals in hospitals. SIM-NE provides this training using four 44-foot trucks that provide mobile, real-life experiences designed to enhance lifesaving skills to individuals in their local communities. This also allows training to be team-based as learners train side-by-side with the people they normally work with during an emergency response.

As an EMT myself for over thirty years, I can attest to the quality and vital importance of the training received from the SIM-NE project. It is my hope there will be enough funding in the budget for this, and a few other small ticket items, which bring so much benefit to our communities.

Field trip season is kicking into high gear and I am enjoying the opportunity to see the students and faculty from District 30 schools in the Capitol. If you cannot visit, you can watch on line through the website at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. Contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620.

March 8 Update
March 8th, 2019

With only about three more weeks of committee hearings, many bills have now been sent to the floor for first round debate. This includes my bill, LB107, to update and modernize the statutes governing municipal plumbing boards. The bill would make a variety of clean-up changes to the existing law including: extending the term of office for plumbers serving on plumbing boards, eliminating the requirement that plumbing boards be appointed in August of each year, eliminating the requirement that plumbing boards meet every two weeks and requiring that plumbing boards meet at least once each year or within four weeks of a written request, allowing fees for plumbing licenses to be set by the city councils but not for more than the cost of the licensing program, increasing fine amounts for violations of the plumbing board statutes; and providing that municipalities may apply other applicable regulations, such as continuing education requirements, as part of plumbing licensing.

Another of my bills, LB 239, also advanced by being amended into LB 212. LB 191 was amended into the same bill.  LB 239 just changes the five day notice requirement to four, so that county and state notice requirements are the same. The rest of LB 212 deals with additional open meeting topics. Packaging simple, non-controversial and like-topic bills into one bill is a common practice, which helps to streamline the legislative process.

Understanding the rules and procedures is an important matter. There are about 65 pages of rules which govern how we do things in the Legislature. One topic that gets a lot of attention is the cloture rule. A motion to invoke cloture is made when you want to stop debate, usually a filibuster, and take an immediate vote. The presiding officer (usually the Speaker or Lt. Governor) can rule the motion out of order if he/she determines there has not yet been full and fair debate on the issue, and that decision cannot be challenged.

If the Speaker allows the cloture motion, all debate ceases. The first vote taken is whether or not to invoke cloture and it needs a two-thirds vote (33) to pass. If it passes, the next vote is whether or not to advance the bill (or any amendments, in order, if they were offered). However, if the cloture vote fails by not getting the 33 votes, debate ends on the bill for the day. In recent years, it would also signal the end of debate on that bill for the entire session because there is rarely enough time for bills to be placed back on the agenda.  As a result, cloture should be used as a last resort since it has come to determine the fate of a bill for the rest of the session.

A more common way to end debate is to “call the question” or “previous question” and if five members raise their hands in agreement when asked by the Speaker, debate can cease and a vote can be taken. Again, the Speaker or presiding officer can rule the motion out of order if he/she feels there has not been adequate debate on the issue. This ruling can be overruled by a motion to overrule the chair and a simple majority vote of the Legislature.

These rules are vital to keeping order and fairness in the business of the Unicameral. It also makes me appreciate organizations like FFA and 4-H that have parliamentary procedure competitions. Having this knowledge is an excellent skill set for everyone to develop.

I have a couple of bills up for committee hearings next week.  On Tuesday the 12th, LB 666 will be heard in Appropriations. This bill provides funding for first responder simulation trucks used for training in rural areas.

LB 472 will go before the Revenue Committee next Wednesday the 13th. This bill would allow counties to levy a sales tax to help pay a federal judgment. It would be limited to the purpose and time needed just for that judgment.

The Legislature advanced LB284 this week which begins the process of collecting sales tax on internet sales. As it stands now, the sales tax would be due starting on April 1st.  This will be a welcome addition to a very tight state budget.

Please share this update with others in the district and follow me on Facebook. Contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov and 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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