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Senator Kolowski and his aide, Margaret, met with members of Students for Sustainability to talk about renewable energy standards. The discussion was enlightening and the breakfast at La Peeps was delicious. The students are so informed and so full of passion!! From left to right are: Corah Johnson, Cate Kelly, T.J. Pfannenstiel, Senator Rick Kolowski, Libby Dogger, Margaret Buck.
Senator Rick Kolowski
2019 Session Summary
Three of the bills I introduced passed:
LB 619 – private insurance coverage of mental health services provided in a school
LB 409 – design and building standards for health care facilities updated to 2018 standards (from 2001 standards) with an exemption for remodeling of nursing homes
LB 733 – accessibility standards at polling places
Status of my other bills:
LB 140 – to prohibit tanning before the age of 19. Held in committee.
LB 410 – sales tax holiday for back to school shopping. Held in committee.
LB 620 – to make texting while driving a primary offense. Held in committee.
LB 621 – To prohibit Homeowners Associations from banning solar power. Held in Committee.
LB 147 – restraint bill for schools/students
Chairman Groene’s pull motion was successful. The bill (without being amended) is on General File and will be addressed next year. The amendment remains pending.
LB 670 – Private school scholarships and tax credit program
The filibuster was successful, the bill was stopped.
Major legislative action in 2019:
LB 294 – Budget
$49 million for new max security prison beds
Increased behavioral health provider rates in Medicaid
Court system – more $ for problem solving courts
Property tax credit fund – added $51 M for total of $275 M
Medicaid Expansion – This budget includes funding for the first 9 months of Medicaid expansion. However, the Governor has chosen to apply for what’s called an“1115” state plan waiver. The proposal includes the addition of more eligibility requirements on Nebraskans and making it more difficult to qualify. An 1115 waiver would apply to even those currently on Medicaid. This was unnecessary. He could have implemented a “1332” waiver in 2019 through the Affordable Care Act for just the expansion population. Although the Legislature was disappointed with this, we had no legal way to force the administration to implement in a certain way.
LB 183 – DID NOT PASS – Revenue/tax package to try to shift tax burden from property to sales tax by removing exemptions for Pet related veterinary, Storage facility rental, Moving services, Hair care, nail, spa and beauty services, Tattoos, Maintenance on single family housing remodeling and repair, Interior design, Limousine, Taxi and Ride share, Lawn care, garden, landscape, Parking, Swimming pool, Dating, Telefloral
LB 289 – DID NOT PASS – Revenue/tax package to do the same as 183 but with a rewrite of TEOSSA, school funding.
LB 720 – DID NOT PASS – Business tax incentive program: Would give more transparency for cities so they know what tax deferrals they have to budget for. Some rural Senators opposed it on the basis of too little property tax relief.
Other items that took legislative time:
LB 155 – Eminent domain. Passed. Landowners now have a rebuttable presumption basis to challenge a utilities use of eminent domain for transmission lines.
LB 373 – Bill to require county zoning laws that include create a 3-mile set-back for wind generation, noise thresholds and decommissioning regulation. Held in Committee.
Gubernatorial vetoes/override attempts:
LB 472 – Allows a county board to institute a ½ percent county wide sales tax to help pay a federal judgement. This is specific to Gage County’s federal judgment in the case of six people wrongly convicted and imprisoned. Override attempt: successful.
LB 492 – Expanding the regional metropolitan transit authority to provide more public transportation in Omaha. Override attempt: successful.
LB 533 – Updating state statutes to be consistent with federal law by using gender neutral terminology of “spouse” to replace “husband and wife” in statute and on marriage licenses and certificates. Vetoed. Override motion made and withdrawn.
LB 470 – Created a program to allow employers to make a contribution to the 529 College Savings Plan of an employees’ family member and to exempt military housing from property tax in exchange for payments in lieu of taxes by developers. Passed. Vetoed after the Legislature had adjourned for the year.
LB 436 – Complete Count Committee to encourage people to respond to census requests. Passed the Legislature, vetoed after session adjourned sine die.
In support of a bill to help keep harmful drugs out of the hands of our children, Senator Kolowski made the following speech on the floor that is worth reading:
SENATOR KOLOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, Senators, and good morning, students, glad to see you here. I want to thank Senator Ashford for his comments concerning this bill and Senator McCoy for bringing this forward. I speak as a former high school principal, with my last 15 years at Millard West High School. I had a file on my desk that I’ll tell you about very briefly, but it was related to the number of student funerals I attended over my 15 years as principal. Auto accidents, alcohol, drug situations, depression, and suicides were part of the reality of life of any high school administrator when you’re dealing with large numbers of students and the issues that we face in our world today. Tomorrow morning I’ll be going to the…to visit with the Catholic Charities program in Omaha that I’m the administrator of record for, and that’s the Journeys program, where 16 students are in a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week drug/alcohol program for the difficulties they’re facing in their lives. I wish I could take every senator from this hall to meet and listen to these students. And in most cases you would not believe the students’ stories, what’s going on in their lives, and what they’ve faced and what they are facing at the current time. The need for problem solving, decision making skills on the part of these students, how to fight peer pressure, to set and make personal goals in their lives are extremely important, and they have great difficulties trying to overcome those things that they had been facing. Those stories those kids would tell you are true. I meet with them every month, a number of hours. And I work with these students, hopefully, trying to get them to a place where they can be released back to their homes, back to their schools, and hopefully will lead a clean life as they move on from the program. We need this bill. We need this bill to pass. It’s a reality that surrounds us in every community, in every town, in every school in this state, and we would be burying our heads in the sand if we would ignore that.
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