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Tom Brandt

Sen. Tom Brandt

District 32

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Legislative Update
October 17th, 2022

I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to Plymouth-native Johnson-Brock (Nemaha County) industrial technology teacher Ashton Meints Bohling, who is one of the winners of the 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. The award referenced her teaching style in which students brainstorm and create their own projects, including developing small-engine tool kits, redesigning oxyfuel stations and creating tool hangers for welding booths. The prize comes with a check for Aston and $35,000 toward her industrial tech program that she has helped grow over the years by improving the school’s shop space, adding new equipment and expanding the curriculum. My staff had the opportunity to interview Ashton last summer for my LR185 interim study on the feasibility of an ag magnet school in Nebraska. Her insight and expertise in ag education was very helpful to the study and I appreciate her contributions.

Speaking of ag education, in honor of National Farm Day last week, here are some facts on farming compiled by the Nebraska Corn Board:

  • Nebraska has 44,800 farms and ranches.
  • Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska total 44.8 million acres, which is 92% of the state’s land mass.
  • The average size of a Nebraska farm/ranch is 1,000 acres.
  • The average age of a Nebraska principal farm/ranch operator was 56 in 2017.
  • One in four jobs in Nebraska are related to agriculture.

Election Day is fast approaching, and is only three weeks away. In a previous column, I mentioned registering and ways to vote. I believe that having your say in the political process is important, and equally important is engagement with elected officials and letting constituents know what I am working on and how I spend my time. One way that I do that is providing a newspaper column every two to three weeks to all the newspapers whose coverage area includes Legislative District 32. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the newspapers for printing my article when I submit it. I have subscriptions to all the newspapers and enjoy their reporting. Another way to learn about my work and office is to read this Senator blog. I post a version of my newspaper column here, information and photos from events I attend, and media concerning legislation. Unfortunately, there is not a way to subscribe to the blog but I encourage you to check it regularly as it is updated at least once a week. The best way to engage with me is to email me directly or call my office and talk to my staff. 

One of the issues that I worked on this year was addressing domestic abuse in the wake of Brooke Koch’s death and what could be done to prevent future domestic abuse deaths. With that in mind, I introduced LB1009 to create a domestic abuse death review team. LB1009 was eventually amended into LB741. Last week I was interviewed by CSG Midwest (The Council of State Governments is an association of state officials) about domestic violence and LB741, and here are snippets from the report:

Nebraska is taking a deeper dive into domestic violence-related deaths to understand and prevent them

When he first began working on a bill to create an administrative body to examine domestic abuse-related deaths, Sen. Tom Brandt says, Nebraska was one of nine states that did not have such a review team in place. The absence of one made it more difficult to identify patterns of behavior and implement preventive measures.

Working with victims’ families, advocacy groups and others, Brandt developed the framework for a State Domestic Abuse Death Review Team. Run out of the attorney general’s office, the team would investigate contributing factors to these deaths and provide recommendations for change. Members would be privy to a large number of records associated with individual cases, including, when applicable, information from the state prisons.

Brandt initially thought his bill would only get a hearing, and not pass, as it was getting late into the Unicameral’s 2022 session. However, during that hearing, another senator, Wendy DeBoer, asked to include the measure in her own omnibus priority bill, LB 741. “That happens like zero times — that somebody asks to include somebody else’s bill,” Brandt says.

LB 741 passed unanimously and was signed into law in April. The result: Brandt’s vision for a Domestic Abuse Death Review Team is now a reality.

Read the entire article here.

(Photo courtesy of Greg Scellin)

On Monday this week, I was invited to a ribbon cutting in Geneva for a new Runza and Good2Go convenience store, along with US Senator Deb Fischer and other distinguished guests. This ribbon cutting is the result of a private public partnership between the City of Geneva, Runza and Good2Go. This is a win-win-win for all involved, especially the residents of Geneva, who do not have to drive all the way to York for a tasty Runza and can enjoy the convenience of all filling up with gas on Highway 81. This project is part of a greater effort of Nebraska communities developing through investment in economic development. Thanks go out to the City of Geneva, Mayor Eric Kamler, Clerk-Treasurer Kelly Stroh-Heath, Runza, and Good2Go Convenience Stores, a division of Lichti Oil. Thank you everyone for going the extra mile to support economic development in Legislative District 32!

(Photo courtesy of Eric Kamler)


From Hastings Tribune coverage:

Tom Brandt, Nebraska senator representing District 32, invited the audience to imagine first stepping off the train 150 years ago.

While named Belvidere, meaning ‘beautiful to see,’ Brandt said the view was likely prairies as far as the eye could see if not obfuscated by smoke from the steam engine.

He believed people worked hard and returned to the train depot to collect freight, ship livestock or mail and receive letters from home.

The train would also bring new immigrant arrivals, many speaking languages other than English.

“This is the common story of many Nebraskans, including my own family, who have been here for generations,” he said. “Today, we stand in the same spot to celebrate, knowing Belvidere has a long history of being a railroad town.”

Brandt said he was in awe of the endeavor to restore the last railroad depot of the ABC line in Thayer County.

“Because of the hard work started 10 years ago, this project is now a reality,” he said. “This depot you are dedicating today will be an excellent attraction, especially when coupled with the adjoining Thayer County Museum.”

Through the energy of Thayer County’s best, the treasure of the Alexandria depot has been preserved and moved here to be explored by those generations that will follow.”

Belvidere Mayor Linda Hudson speaks to (from left) Kelli O’Brien, Union Pacific senior director of public affairs for Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota; Tom Brandt, Nebraska senator representing District 32; and Jackie Williamson, curator of the Thayer County Museum, during a dedication ceremony for a renovated train depot on Sunday in Belvidere.

Read the full article of the dedication ceremony here.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has selected 64 meat processing facilities to receive grants designed to support the growth of meat processing in Nebraska. NDA awarded a total of $4,914,247.08 of grants in the first round of funding through the Independent Processor Assistance Program.

The Independent Processor Assistance Program was created in Senator Tom Brandt’s LB324 that was passed in 2021 by the Legislature. This year’s LB755 asked for $10 million to fund the program and the funds were ultimately included in LB1014, which allocated Nebraska’s share of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funds. In the end, NDA will award approximately $9.8 million in grants to support projects designed to improve and/or expand Nebraska’s meat processing capabilities.

The meat processors who received the grant money had to meet certain criteria which included: existing meat processors to facilitate improvements, enhancements, or expansions to increase harvest capacity and/or product throughput; operating as either a USDA-FSIS facility or a federally regulated custom-exempt slaughter and processing facility; being domiciled in the State of Nebraska and registered in good standing with the Secretary of State to conduct business in Nebraska; existing sales revenue of less than $2.5 million; and employing fewer than 25 people.

Additional Independent Processor Assistance Program grants will be allocated again in the first half of 2023 until funding is gone. Previous recipients of grant funding will be eligible to apply in subsequent rounds, but preference will be given to applications not previously awarded funding. For questions, contact Breanna Wirth, NDA Legislative Coordinator, at 402-890-1509 or

Here are the list of award recipients:

1. 4 His Glory
2. Ace & Ida Inc.
3. AK Meats LLC
4. Albion Locker
5. ASC Lockers
6. B and J Main Street Market
7. B&B Locker
8. B.I.G. Meats
9. Belschner Meats
10. Borchard Custom Cuts
11. Busy Bones Butcher
12. C.R. Packing
13. Cedar Rapids Locker
14. C&G Wild Game Processing, LLC
15. Chuckwagon Meats
16. Cornelius Butchery
17. Cornhusker Beef Company
18. Country Butcher
19. Den’s Country Meats
20. Diller Locker
21. Elmwood Meat Plant
22. Faltin Meat Market
23. Flat Water Meats LLC
24. Franklin Locker
25. Fremont Meat Locker
26. Gentert Packing
27. Grant Packing
28. HD Processing dba Blue River Meats
29. Hearty Rancher
30. Homeland Processing
31. Husker Meats
32. Jansen’s Custom Cut
33. KB Quality Meats
34. Kelley’s Custom Pack
35. McLean Beef
36. Melcher’s Locker
37. M-K Meats
38. NE Family
39. Nelson’s Butcher Shop
40. North Bend Locker
41. Oakland Meat Processing
42. Oxford Locker
43. Patriot Beef
44. Pelicans Meat
45. Pickrell Locker
46. Polk Locker

47. Prairie Processing
48. R&M Meats
49. Ravenna Locker
50. Rodriguez Brothers Processing
51. Shelton Locker
52. Steve’s Butcher Shop
53. Table Top Meats
54. The Fairfield Butcher Shop
55. The Rusty Butcher
56. Twin Cities Pack
57. Twin Loups Quality Meats
58. Valentine Locker
59. Wahoo Locker
60. Wausa Locker
61. Whiskey Creek Critters
62. Wildcat Locker Inc
63. Willow Creek Meats
64. Winfield Foods

Nebraska’s statewide farm to school network, created by Senator Tom Brandt’s bills – LB396 (2021) and LB758 (2022) and administered by the NE Department of Education – are helping schools address childhood obesity, as covered in the September 25th Omaha World Herald article ‘Nebraska physicians, schools addressing childhood obesity’. From the article:

Public and private schools across the state have adopted a variety of programming to tackle the rising obesity rates in the past decade or so. From school gardens and calorie-limited vending machines to longer recesses and partnerships with local food producers, the strategies aim to reduce obesity while encouraging healthy habits for all children, regardless of weight.

One such initiative that has become more popular recently is farm-to-school programs that connect schools with local farmers and food producers. In the 2021-2022 school year, schools across the state spent more than $3 million on locally produced dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables. That includes more than 1,840 pounds of broccoli, 66,000 ears of corn, 107,000 pounds of chicken and millions of milk cartons.

Sarah Smith, the farm to school coordinator at the Nebraska Department of Education, says that recent policy victories have led to increased interest in the program. In 2021, the Nebraska legislature passed the Farm to School Act, which allocated funding and created Smith’s full-time position to coordinate the programs. 

“It’s a triple win,” Smith said. “The students win, the farmers and the economy wins, and the communities win. There are public health and food security benefits, as well as lifelong health benefits when farm to school is in the picture.”

Especially in rural areas of the state, farm-to-school programs are becoming more common. Many teachers and families already engage in farming or ranching, and the small district sizes make it easy to coordinate with local food producers.

Yesterday the Office of the Governor recognized October as Nebraska’s Farm to School Month. I’d like to thank the NE Department of Education (NDE) for making this happen and I wish Nebraska continued success in the Crunch Off competition.

The following are excerpts of remarks delivered by Sarah Smith, NDE Farm to School Specialist:

Farm to School Month fosters an opportunity for partners and stakeholders to celebrate the connection between students and local food, to share our farm to school stories, and to show gratitude to our school nutrition and farmer heroes providing essential services while we continue to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We acknowledge the energy and dedication that is empowering farm to school activity in our state with the 2021 passage of Senator Tom Brandt’s LB 396, the Nebraska Farm to School Act. This Act has helped set the stage for stakeholders to strategically work together in pursuit of a more equitable, robust, and comprehensive farm to school program statewide. We celebrate this forward movement as it crafts a triple win: a win for our students and schools, a win for our agricultural sector, and a win for our communities. 

October will also bring us into the annual Mountain Plains Crunch Off where schools and early childhood institutions will bite into local and crunchable produce. In 2021, Nebraska won the Crunch Off competition against eight Mountain Plains states, having the most Crunch registrants per capita.  More than 58,000 participants (3% of Nebraska’s population) crunched on apples, carrots, peppers, and even roasted pumpkin seeds! 

There is potential to have lifelong impact on our communities when leveraging farm to school as a pathway to advance food education, access, and security. Nebraska celebrates our agricultural heritage and cultural diversity with farm to school month during October’s Farm to School Month.

Legislative Update
September 5th, 2022

Happy Labor Day!

Voting is one of our important rights as Americans and the general election is quickly approaching so I would like to provide some pertinent information regarding it. This year you will have the opportunity to vote for many offices including governor, state senator, House of Representatives, and many more. First and foremost, you should register to vote if you have not done so already. If you cannot remember whether you have
registered or not, you can check your status at:  To register to vote, go to your county election office (clerk’s office) or NEReg2Vote. Any registered voter in Nebraska can request a mail-in ballot. Nebraska is a “no-excuse” state so any registered voter may request an early-voting (absentee) ballot. If you voted by mail in the last election, you must re-apply in order to vote by mail in this year’s election. You can register for a mail-in ballot when you register to vote and if you’re already registered, contact your county election office or the Nebraska Secretary of State for the application. The last day for an early-voting application to be received is 6 p.m. on October 28th. Early-voting ballots are not sent out until October 3rd. Early-voting ballots should be mailed back at least one week before the general election. You can also hand deliver your mail in ballot to the county dropbox by 8 p.m. on election day, November 8th. You may also vote early in-person at your county election office for 30 days prior to the general election until the day before the election, November 7th. If you have questions about voting, call the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office at 402-471-2554.

Dilapidated buildings, especially in our downtown areas, are a serious issue in rural and small town America that needs to be addressed, and Legislative District 32 is no exception. Last month I met with officials from Fairbury, Geneva, Thayer County, Chester, Hebron and Beatrice along with my colleague Senator Myron Dorn, to discuss dilapidated buildings and what can be done about them. We talked about the reasons that almost every community in Nebraska seems to have them, the cost and number of such structures, assisting local communities, the relevant groups to get involved, and how we can address the problem. I am going to continue to have conversations with community stakeholders on dilapidated buildings and come up with some feasible solutions, including consideration of introducing a bill with Sen. Dorn, who sits on the Appropriations Committee.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate Hebron-based MetalQuest on its $125,000 grant award to interest more Nebraska teens in high-tech jobs. MetalQuest is using the grant to purchase robotic equipment to introduce students to industrial robotics automation and coding. The grant came from the Developing Youth Talent Initiative. Nebraska is facing a crisis in attracting workers, with about 50,000 vacant jobs across the state, so every little bit helps. Good work MetalQuest!

Abortion issue to be front and center, in 90-day session

BEATRICE – Even though there was no special session of the Nebraska Legislature called by the Governor on the abortion issue, that doesn’t mean the topic won’t be front and center next year.  Lawmakers start a 90-day session January 4th.

“If we’d had a special session, it probably would have been in September. We’re coming back in January, anyway…we’re reasonably confident this will be at the forefront of the session…and you will have 16 to 18 new senators there, also. It would have been difficult, probably, in a special session to pass something with the existing body. Let’s save the hundred thousand dollars….let’s learn from the other states that are in court right now…Idaho, Texas, Tennessee. A lot of these states have what they call trip laws…and that’s what Nebraska would have had, had that passed.”

Senator Tom Brandt, of Plymouth says lawsuits are being filed on both sides of the issue across the U.S., since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe V. Wade.

Brandt said he was in Wichita, Kansas at a council of state governments convention two weeks before the vote. “You just sort of get a sense from talking to people that they have some reasonableness on rape, incest, life of the mother…healthcare…how far should a policy making organization like a legislature interfere with what goes on between a doctor and his(or her) patient.”

Read the entire article by Doug Kennedy here.

Legislative Update
August 16th, 2022

Our office is constantly working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation and private companies on improving and expanding roads in Legislative District 32. I am happy to report that one such project came to fruition recently and was celebrated with a ribbon cutting where I was honored to be invited and participate. A new mile of pavement on Southwest 42nd Street, between West Hallam Road and Pella Road, opened late last month. The new stretch is located adjacent to the Monolith facility, located north of the Village of Hallam. Lancaster County Engineering was awarded a grant for the project from the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) Economic Opportunity Program (EOP), which was created as part of the Transportation Innovation Act. The remaining costs for the project were split between Lancaster County Engineering Department and Monolith. Lancaster County Engineering designed this section with asphalt to include a 28-foot surface with 4-foot turf shoulders. This 10-inch asphalt slab has a 12-inch stabilized lime base. New culvert pipes have also been installed at two locations. Rumble strips have been added to the edges of the pavement to notify drivers that they are about to leave the road. It is great to see another successful public private partnership and a smooth road!

As always during the first weekend of August, I attended Czech Days in Wilber, one of the most fun events of the year! My campaign team and I marched in the parade and handed out candy. During and after the parade, I enjoyed visiting with constituents in Sokol Hall and on Main Street. I also attended a lunch before the parade to meet with Czech queens and dignitaries as well as the Czech leadership in Wilber and greater Nebraska. This year, I learned more about a proposed Czech brewery that will be run by Wilber residents. The group has been working with Alpha Brewing in Lincoln to identify brewing equipment and with consultants from the Czech Republic who specialize in setting up authentic Czech breweries. I look forward to a pint of Czech beer when it opens! And Czech Days wouldn’t be complete without eating some delicious homemade kolaches as well as all of the local and Nebraska vendors who brave the heat and humidity to give the festival its unique atmosphere. Na zdravi!

Finally, the application process is now open for the Legislative Page Program to any Nebraska college student who is interested. Pages are selected in the fall each year to work for the upcoming legislative session, beginning the following January. Pages run errands, deliver messages, photocopy materials, assist the presiding officer, set up and staff committee hearings, and perform other duties as assigned. The deadline for submitting page applications with letters of recommendation for the 2023 legislative session will be Friday, October 7 at 5:00 p.m. The page selection committee will meet in October to select individuals for page positions. For further information, go to: or contact the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at (402) 471-2271 or Feel free to contact my office at 471-2711 or if you have any questions or for help with the application process. 


Sen. Tom Brandt

District 32
Room 1528
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2711
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