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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 31st legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Rick Kolowski
Peaceful protests are a foundational element of our democracy as stated in the First Amendment. Thankfully, most of the protests around the country and here in Nebraska have been peaceful. I stand in solidarity with the protesters looking for dramatic change in the treatment of black Americans in the justice system from their first encounter with law enforcement to all forms of incarceration. It’s time. It’s actually past time for this to happen. The data shows the disproportionate treatment has and is happening in all law enforcement and justice areas. The pandemic has shed light on disproportionate care and outcomes in our health care system. These deaths, whether it’s at the hands of law enforcement, a bar owner or the neglect of a health care system should not be happening in our country.
I am hopeful that with the level of nationwide and even global voices now raised that solutions will follow. I pray that our country has evolved to the point where we will no longer allow this to happen. It will take many people continuing to push for equal treatment of all to make the necessary changes.
Specifically in the Nebraska Legislature I will support bills such as the one I introduced this year to clearly state that as long as a person is lawfully in a private place or is in a public place, they can record a police interaction without fear of being charged with interference of the officers duty. I will also support the elimination of cash bail in favor of a risk-based assessment, reducing or eliminating minimum sentences, mandating de-escalation training and community policing, and any other bill that makes our justice system actually live up to its name.
As a retired high school principal, my focus in the Legislature has always been education. By federal law the educational system cannot discriminate against people of color and yet our entire society has such an ingrained bias that it still shows up in education. I will always look for and support ways to engage and enrich all students.
I have a poster in my office that reads, “Hate Has No Home Here.” That is a motto I live by in all aspects of my life. These protests have shown, however, that “no hate” is just the beginning of making our society an equal and integrated society for all people. I will support any policy that works toward that ideal.
In this devastating time of the Coronavirus pandemic there are many sources of information. One that I recommend is the daily 2 p.m. governor’s press conference that can be viewed by going to nebraskalegislature.gov and selecting the NET logo and the corresponding link for the Governor’s press conference. There is also a very good document from the Legislative Research office about Covid 19 and the outlook for Nebraska. It can be found under Reports – General Research.
Of course cdc.gov and your county/district health department webpages are excellent resources for information.
Above all please abide by the public health suggestions of hand washing, cleaning high touch areas and social distancing – and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Responding to the 2020 Census is safe, important, and easier than ever! Visit my2020census.gov to respond online.
Be on the lookout: Invitations to respond to the 2020 Census will start hitting mailboxes in our State on March 12. For the first time, Nebraskans will have the opportunity to fill out their census forms online in addition to completing the form by phone or mail.
Completing the 2020 Census is a critically important civic duty that determines federal funding for public safety, schools, housing, health care and other essential services. It shapes our representation in Congress, and much more. It’s important everyone in Douglas County and in Nebraska be counted because census numbers affect everyone from seniors to students, kids and parents, businesses and communities.
Remember, being counted in the census is as important as voting is to our democracy and is part of our responsibility as residents of the United States. To learn more about the 2020 Census, visit: https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html]
The 2020 Legislative Session is rolling along and moving quickly. The last day for senators to designate a priority bill is February 21, the half way mark of the session is February 25 and the last day for hearings is February 27.
I introduced five bills and a substantive resolution this year.
LB 903 is a bill to authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a license plate recognizing Downs Syndrome Awareness. Mike Adams and Mark Kuecker are part of DADS of Omaha, requested the bill introduction. I am happy to do so.
LB 973 is a bill to create a statutory structure for homeowners associations and to assure that homeowners can install solar energy systems.
LB 1112 is a bill that change the definition of a forensic exam after sexual assault. Currently there are state and federal dollars that pay for the forensic gathering of evidence and testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. However, it stops short of paying for treatment. LB 1112 would add the preventative treatment of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy to the definition.
LB 1113 is another bill requested by a constituent from Omaha. This bill inserts clarifying language into the definition of interfering with a peace officer to say that recording an officer in the line of duty is NOT interference as long as the person doing the recording is in a public place or a private place they have the right to be.
LB 1168 is a bill to redirect part of the lottery dollars that go to fund educational programs. The $1.4 million involved in this bill will increase the availability of students to take dual credit courses and career and technical courses.
LR 294 is a resolution written by the students of Prairie Hill Learning Center asking that the State of Nebraska official recognize the climate crisis, the human causes of climate change and take steps to combat it.
I named LB 1188 as my priority bill yesterday. LB 1188 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to hire a superintendent to oversee the schools that teach children during their stay at one of the youth rehabilitation centers. Two other bills will be amended into LB 1188 before it is advanced from Committee. The goal of these bills is to improve the processes NDHHS uses to assess and plan treatment for youth. Given the recent incidents and dereliction of responsibility by the state to properly care for these youth and the buildings housing them, I felt this bill to be of utmost importance. It will be part of the solution proposed by Senators Sarah Howard, Tony Vargas and the Health and Human Services Committee. I’d like to thank Senator Howard for encouraging me to be part of this solution.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Adolescent Community, (402)-470-1235, email@example.com
Senator Rick Kolowski Introduces a Resolution into the Legislature Written by Middle Schoolers about the Climate Crisis.
Senator Rick Kolowski will submit a resolution about the climate crisis in the Nebraska Legislature. The resolution was researched and written by a group of students ages 11 to 14 from Prairie Hill Learning Center, a school near Roca, Nebraska. The students currently have seven senators agreeing to co-sign the resolution. They’re getting the co-signers signatures on Friday, January 10th at the state Capitol.
“Scientists are in agreement that climate change will significantly harm our planet. We need to start fixing our mistakes for our future generations,” stated Conor Willeke, age 14.
The students’ resolution is asking the Legislature to acknowledge that we are in a “climate and ecological crisis caused by humans” and that “the Legislature has a moral obligation to combat the climate and ecological crisis.” Senator Kolowski declared,“My generation and our national leadership has failed to acknowledge and address climate change in a meaningful way. A group of local middle school students, however, are paying attention and are doing something about it. They are exercising their right as citizens of our state to voice their concerns in weekly protests and in the language of this legislative resolution. It is with great pride that I introduce this resolution on their behalf.”
“This is our future and we need to stand up for it. We can’t just wait around and let people in power ignore what’s happening,” said Clio Baird, age 11.
Since September 20th the group of middle schoolers have been regularly striking down at the capitol along with local college and high school students. The middle schoolers go down for an hour every Friday to strike as a part of their weekly routine. The school strikes were inspired by 17-year old Greta Thunberg and the Friday for Futures movement.
“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we only have 11 years left to deal with this problem before the worst effects of climate change are unalterable. We need to take this opportunity to fix the problem that, whether you like it or not, we all took part in causing,” stated Lane Albrecht, age 12.
“The passion and leadership of these students is absolutely inspiring. The Nebraska Legislature should definitely take the time to listen to them,” said Senator Kolowski.
Prairie Hill Learning Center
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH LEGISLATURE
Introduced by Senator Rick Kolowski
WHEREAS, according to a warning published on November 5, 2019, about the effects of climate change, signed and supported by over eleven thousand scientists, the climate crisis “is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.” Later on in the statement the
scientists wrote that “climate change reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable” and that because of the climate crisis, humanity could face “untold suffering”; and WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency states that intense weather phenomena, including large storms and heat waves, are likely to
occur more frequently because of the climate and ecological crisis. Major storms can lead to loss of property and both storms and heat waves can cause death; and
WHEREAS, the Fourth National Climate Assessment says that over time these heat waves increase drought and wildfire risks. Heat waves and droughts have depleted water supplies, which has contributed to over ten billion dollars in losses for the agriculture sector; and
WHEREAS, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, many forests are burning because of changes in temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture due to global warming. Hotter temperatures in the spring and summer, and the fact that snow is melting earlier in the spring, are likely to cause a longer wildfire season and cause wildfires to be more intense and burn for longer; and
WHEREAS, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were eleven major wildfires between 2000 and 2017 in the United States of America. In that eighteen-year period, both the number of deaths and the financial damage caused by each wildfire dramatically increased. In the first wildfire of 2000, no one died, and the cost was $1.6 billion. In the last wildfire of 2017, fifty-four people died, and the cost was $18.7 billion; and
WHEREAS, the Fourth National Climate Assessment also states that flooding might increase across the United States of America, including in areas where precipitation is expected to decrease. All flood types, including flash flooding, urban flooding, river flooding, and coastal flooding are, to different degrees, affected by the climate. The risks from future floods are very major; and
WHEREAS, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sea levels are rising at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year. The two major causes of rising global sea levels are oceanic expansions due to the warming of oceans and increased melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The oceans are absorbing about ninety percent of the increased atmospheric heat that results from human emissions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration goes on to state that “with continued ocean and atmospheric warming, sea levels will likely rise for many centuries at rates higher than that of the current century”; and
WHEREAS, higher sea levels cause deadly and destructive storm surges to push farther inland, which means there will be more nuisance flooding, which is estimated to be three hundred to nine hundred percent more frequent in United States coastal communities than it was fifty years ago. Nearly forty percent of the United States’ population lives in such coastal communities. Eight out of the ten largest cities in the world are close to a coast according to the U.N. Atlas of the Oceans; and
WHEREAS, according to a 2014 report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, animals have an increased risk of extinction because of the climate crisis; and
WHEREAS, a report done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln concluded that disruptions in the climate have decreased agricultural yields in Nebraska over the last forty years and are predicted to decrease agricultural yields significantly over the next twenty-five years; and
WHEREAS, the State of Nebraska has contributed to the climate crisis but has done little to nothing to slow the effects.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE ONE HUNDRED SIXTH
LEGISLATURE OF NEBRASKA, SECOND SESSION:
Thank you to the Prairie Hill Learning Center students for bringing the very important issue of climate change to the forefront. The dedication of the students to this issue is phenomenal. It is more true today than ever — that these students ARE the future.
This resolution gives scientific facts and data about how our climate is changing and asks the leaders of Nebraska to acknowledge their role in the changing climate and to make a commitment to the work that needs done to mitigate the effects of that change. The students wrote the resolution and asked me to submit it. I consider it my honor to do so. Students gathered signatures from Senators and participated in a press conference this morning and will stay through the afternoon for their Friday strike event to bring awareness to climate change issues.
The bill is expected to be submitted Monday, January 13, 2020. Look for a resolution number after that date and watch nebraskalegislature.gov for a hearing date and progress of the resolution.
Senator Rick Kolowski participated in the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Lincoln on October 29. Long a supporter of wind energy, Senator Kolowski now has a bill in Committee to expand residential use of solar energy systems.
A few tidbits from the conference:
Nebraska is poised to “pop” with solar production expected to grow exponentially in the next few years.
Nebraska is a net exporter of electricity.
The overall carbon footprint of power production in Nebraska has already been greatly reduced by the retiring of coal and the increase in renewable energy sources, mostly wind. This trend will continue for the near future. This change is driven by market forces, not regulation of any kind.
We love public power!
For specifics please look for the presentations from the conference on the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference website: https://www.nebraskawsc.com