NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Rick Kolowski

Sen. Rick Kolowski

District 31

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 rkolowski@leg.ne.gov

March 18 update and news
March 19th, 2019

Legislative Update March 18-22:

Constitutes of District 31,

We have seen severe flooding with people across the state dealing with devastating losses. Governor Pete Ricketts and Vice-President Mike Pence will be surveying the damage done by the waters. In addition, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will be meeting with  the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Lincoln to work out an expedited declaration of emergency to the White House.

Recovery is beginning already. NEMA has answers many questions you may have about what can be done to assist Nebraskans affected by flooding. You can access that information on their website at https://nema.nebraska.gov/ and can call at (402) 817-1551. For information about debris removal, call the Crisis Cleanup Hotline at (402) 556-2476. If you or someone you know is looking for information about livestock recovery, the Farm Service Agency office website (https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Nebraska/index) will answer any questions.

In legislative news, Tuesday (3/19) was the deadline to designate bills as a priority. Each Senator picks one of the bills they feel is most important and designate that bill as a priority. A Senator picks one, any committee can select two, and the Speaker can designate up to twenty-five bills. Priority bills are generally considered before other bills. A bill with this designation is almost guaranteed debate once moved out of committee.

As listed previously, Senator Kolowski has chosen LB 619 with AM 287 as his priority. This bill looks to assure insurance coverage of mental health services provided by a credentialed mental health professional in a school setting. This will help many Nebraska students and their families and reduce the time a student is out of the school day for such services. Students that receive these services are still entitled to their education in the least restrictive environment, and this bill will help Nebraska students get their needs met. LB 619 with amendment 287 were advanced to the second round of debate, known as Select File, on Monday, March 18th. From here the bill has 2 more opportunities for debate before a final vote.

Also on Monday, LB 409, my bill to update design and construction codes for health care facilities was advanced from General File, or first round of debate, to Select File and is now in line for the second round of debate.

On Wednesday, March 20th, I will be speaking to the UNL President’s Advisory Council. This group is an invitation only group who serves in an advisory capacity to the University of Nebraska president. There are around 100 members that represent each of Nebraska’s forty-nine legislative districts. Members serve as advisors for the president on issues that impact them as students. I will be giving these students an overview on the legislature; a look at our members, some procedures for how it runs, a brief look at a few bills, and information on my committee assignments.

You can read all about the happenings at the Unicameral at the Legislature’s website at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. It has a wealth of information about every bill, Senator and news of what is going on it the Legislature. Unicameral Update is a weekly newsletter you can subscribe to or read on the website. Each debate and hearing are streamed through NET on their local channel or through a link on the Nebraska Legislature’s web site.

I am proud to serve as your state Senator! I and my staff will continue to serve District 31 as best we can. If you have any concerns about upcoming legislation or just want to give your input, you can reach us at (402) 471-2327 or by email at rkolowski@leg.ne.gov.

 

March 4-8 Update
March 7th, 2019

Weekly Update: March 4-8

Hello from Lincoln! We are working hard to continue to pass our introduced bills. Two of our bills had hearings this week, LB 619 and LB 620. I have designated LB 619 (Requires health care plans to pay for mental health services provided in schools) as my priority bill with AM 287. I am looking forward to working with my fellow senators on getting this important legislation and many others passed in the coming weeks.

This past week, I was fortunate to hear constituent concerns through the Black and Brown Legislative day event put on by the Urban League of Nebraska. This program aims to help communities of color to bring their concerns about legislation that affects them to Nebraska Senators. It was great to hear their concerns and how I can help their communities continue to prosper.

On Wednesday, I also attended the Economic Development Task Force lunch and learn, “Overview of Tax Incentive Programs in Nebraska.” This presentation gave me and other senators in attendance an overview of tax incentive principles. Presenters included Josh Goodman of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Anthony Circo of the Legislature’s Performance Audit Committee and Renee Fry of Open Sky.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Senator! I and my staff will continue working hard to serve the people of District 31. If you have any concerns about upcoming legislation or just want to give us your input, you can reach us at (402) 471-2327 or by email at rkolowski@leg.ne.gov.

My Bills:

This session, I have introduced seven bills. The following gives the statement of intent for each bill and a brief explanation of its purpose.

  1. LB 140: Prohibits an operator, an owner of a tanning facility or a lessee of a tanning facility to allow any person less than eighteen years of age to use an indoor tanning device at the tanning facility.
    1. This bill aims to restrict the use of tanning booths by minors. People who use tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. The younger a person is when they begin using tanning beds, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer. Status: In Health and Human Services Committee.
  2. LB 409: To adopt the 2018 guidelines for design and construction of hospitals, outpatient facilities and the construction of residential health, care and support facilities.
    1. The purpose of this bill is to implement recent guidelines on building codes for hospitals and other health care facilities. Status: General File with amendment.
  3. LB 410: To exempt certain sales of clothing and footwear from sales and use taxes.
    1. Parents of students know the financial strain that comes around every year when back to school shopping takes place. This bill looks to create a sales tax holiday for back to school clothing and shoe shopping that would alleviate some of this strain on Nebraska families.  Hearing scheduled for March 14 in Revenue Committee.
  4. LB 619: Requires a health insurance plan to pay for mental health services provided in a school or educational setting.
    1. This bill looks to assure insurance coverage of mental health services provided by a credentialed mental health professional in a school setting. This will help many Nebraska students and their families and reduce the time a student is out of the school day for such services. Status: In Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.
  5. LB 620: Changes the violation of texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense.
    1. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year in the United States. This bill aims to reduce this number by changing the designation of the crime to a primary offense. Status: In Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
  6. LB 621: Change provisions relating to solar energy and wind energy, declare certain instruments void and unenforceable, and provide for a civil cause of action
    1. Some homeowner’s association covenants prevent solar energy systems from being installed on homes and buildings. LB 621 seeks to prohibit such provisions by homeowner associations. Status: In Judiciary Committee.
  7. LB 733: Provide and change requirements for polling places.
    1. This bill aims to increase the accessibility of polling places in order to encourage more Nebraska citizens to vote in our elections. Polling places should be accessible to all Nebraskans, including those with physical disabilities. Hearing schedule for March 14 in Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

January again saw the beginning of the Legislature for 2019. New Senators were sworn in on the first day and voting for Committee chairs took place. Changes in seniority and committee chairs creates many changes in room assignments. In addition, the replacement of the heating and air conditioning system has one quarter of the building under renovation. Senators who would normally be on the first and second floors are temporarily moved into some of the upper floors of the tower. Before you come to visit your Senator it’s a good idea to visit our website or call to confirm the room number.

This year, 739 bills have been introduced, only seven of which I’ve introduced. The topics of my bills include banning tanning for persons under 19, design and construction standards for health care facilities, a sales tax holiday for back to school clothing shopping, texting while driving, solar panels and accessibility for voters. I will write about each one of these bills in future posts.

This year, I sit on two standing committees – Education Committee and Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. I have also been reappointed to the Midwestern Higher Education Commission. Committee hearings have started and will continue through March. In April we will go to full days of floor debate on bills and the state budget.

The Nebraska Unicameral is unique because, not only is it the only Unicameral with one house but because every bill introduced gets a hearing. In other states with a House of Representatives and a Senate, not every bill gets a public hearing. The Unicameral provides citizens the chance to weigh in continually from the beginning “idea” stages to the final product in the third round of floor debate. When the Legislature is not in session, Senators and citizens are working on gathering information on topics of interest and preparing for the next year.

In encourage you to contact me about any legislative bill or governmental concern you may have. Much information is available at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.  You can search bills, look up information on Senators, find Committee reports and if you don’t know who your Senator is, there is a “Find your Senator” function. Please take advantage of this great resource. If you are reading this post on the Legislature’s website, you will also find many useful links on the right side of this web page. Thank you for allowing me to represent you in the Unicameral.

Welcome
January 9th, 2019

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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Rick Kolowski

Sen. Rick Kolowski

District 31
Room #1018
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2327
Email: rkolowski@leg.ne.gov
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