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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 35th 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. Dan Quick
THANK YOU, VETERANS!
On Thursday, November 8, I was honored to speak to the veterans in our community for the 20th annual Veterans Day program at the Grand Island Veterans Home. It is the responsibility of all Americans to recognize and to honor veterans’ service to our country and the sacrifices they have made and to help those with struggles heal after they return to civilian life. Thank you for your service to our country.
GRAND ISLAND SENIOR HIGH CAPITOL TOUR & LUNCH
On Tuesday, November 13, I had the pleasure to tour the Capitol with a small group of students and faculty from Grand Island Senior High (GISH). I especially appreciated hearing about their experiences at GISH and learning their thoughts on other topics over lunch. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet them!
For years, manufacturing has been a major industry here in Grand Island. To celebrate 2018 Manufacturing Month, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Dream It. Do It. Nebraska held tours of two businesses to learn about the products and objects being manufactured right here in our community.
Two businesses were chosen by the Chamber to highlight this year. On Thursday, October 25, I toured Chief Fabrication, and on Thursday, November 1, I toured Penrose Machining.
These tours were a great opportunity for me to learn about what manufacturing businesses in our community are currently doing and to gain further insight into their plans for the future. I am thankful to the local workers and business leaders who helped with the tours and to the Grand Island Chamber Commerce and Dream It. Do It. Nebraska for planning them.
CONGRATULATIONS, GISH FOOTBALL!
Congratulations to the Grand Island Senior High (GISH) football team for a great season. I enjoyed attending and watching our team play in the Nov. 19 Class A State Championship game along with Dr. Grover, parents, friends, and students who cheered them on. They played with heart, determination, and impressive teamwork which allowed them to lead for most of the game. We are all proud of you and congratulations again on your second place finish and winning season.
During the last session, the legislature voted on and passed LR296.
This resolution created a special committee to look at assisted living facilities that provide mental health care. LR296 states how the committee shall be composed and provides a guideline of the actions the committee can take in order to thoroughly investigate state-licensed care facilities. This resolution also states the committee will release a report with its recommendations and findings before December 15, 2018.
We had meetings early in the process with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which provided us with information about facility inspections and the inspection process. We also heard from advocates for residents who live at some of the facilities about the issues they face. The committee proceeded by requesting further information from DHHS, meeting with an individual from the Ombudsman’s office, and doing site visits to facilities throughout the state. I was also able to go along with a surveyor for a site visit to an assisted living facility to watch an inspection.
What I have learned from my visits so far has been invaluable. Because the funding source from residents is Social Security and Medicaid, the costs to provide the type of care most residents need is greater than the funding provided. The lack of funding presents a problem to the provider based on what services and how much care they can provide for the residents. These are individuals who suffer from mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive behavior, post traumatic stress disorder, and others. These illnesses require a special care, including programming, counseling, and treatment through medications, but this is difficult to provide with a lack of funding.
What I have witnessed while touring facilities is that most are doing their best to provide the needed care, programming, and living facilities for the residents. However, some facilities are only doing the least amount required, which places the resident in a bad situation of not having the care or programming they need, and unhealthy living conditions. The challenge for the LR296 Committee is to find a solution for facilities so they can best help their residents.
MEDICAID EXPANSION INITIATIVE 427
With the Medicaid expansion measure on the ballot this year, I wanted to express my thoughts on why I am in favor of Initiative 427.
If passed, Medicaid expansion will provide coverage for 90,000 hardworking Nebraskans. Those who would be covered work at jobs that come without health care coverage and have annual incomes of $16,753 for an individual and $34,638 for a household of four.
They are our family members, friends, and neighbors who live in both rural and urban areas. They work jobs in restaurants and shops, in home health care, on construction sites, on farms and ranches, and more.
The problems for people who can’t afford health care include severe illness or even death from treatable illnesses, loss of a job, bankruptcy, homelessness, and legal problems.
Those of us who can afford health insurance or have coverage through an employer understand how important preventative health care can be. For many who do not have health insurance and are struggling to make day to day financial decisions, preventative care can take a back seat. This means that many can’t afford a doctor’s visit for an illness, yearly checkups, or cancer screenings. Illnesses go undiscovered or are ignored until they are so sick that the emergency room is the first care they receive.
Preventative health care is essential whether you have insurance or not and has a major effect on the cost of health care as well as insurance premiums. Our fellow Americans who live in states that have expanded Medicaid use preventative services more than low-income individuals who live in states like Nebraska which haven’t yet expanded Medicaid.
The expansion of Medicaid will not only benefit individuals and families but also will provide economic growth with the dollars that will be spent for needed health care. A recent report from researchers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney shows that the federal funds received from expanding Medicaid will flow from the health sector into supporting services and Nebraska’s economy, touching all Nebraskans.
The report also shows that expanding Medicaid will reduce uncompensated care and will help protect the health infrastructure necessary for a strong local economy, particularly in rural areas.
In 33 other states, Medicaid expansion has improved the health and lives of low-income Americans through increased access to primary care and preventative care. It’s time to pass Initiative 427 and expand health care for our 90,000 Nebraskan neighbors who need it, while growing our economy with the federal tax dollars we all have paid.
Note: This opinion was also published in The Grand Island Independent on October 26, 2018.
CONGRATULATIONS TO GRAND ISLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
Grand Island Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Grover and me at the GEAR UP announcement on October 15.
On Monday, October 15, I attended the Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS) announcement that they won a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) seven-year federal matching grant for a new college readiness program. Only 24 GEAR UP grants were awarded in the country, and this was the only GEAR UP grant awarded in the state. I am incredibly proud of the hard work and effort put in by both GIPS and members of the community not only to win this grant but also to earn the in-kind contributions and partner matches for a total impact of over $13 million! I look forward to seeing GEAR UP implemented in the coming years to benefit students in our community and prepare them with the skills to attend post-secondary education.
MIDWEST INTERSTATE PASSENGER RAIL COMMISSION (MIPRC) ANNUAL MEETING
All of us on Milwaukee’s new streetcar, The Hop, during the MIPRC annual meeting.
On October 3-5, I joined 53 others to attend annual meeting of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) in Milwaukee, WI. During the meeting, I toured the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, which recently gained a new passenger concourse, and the maintenance facility for Milwaukee’s streetcar system, known as “The Hop,” which is scheduled to begin next month. This new system will provide increased access to parts of Milwaukee for its residents and visitors. I also attended presentations on a wide variety of topics related to passenger rail systems, including recent states’ developments and updates from the region.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many individuals interested in developing passenger rail systems in the Midwest. When looking for new locations, many businesses are interested in seeing what types of public transportation we offer in the community or state, and I am also excited to explore the ways this can benefit Nebraska’s tourism industry.
HOLLAND CHILDREN’S MOVEMENT HONOR ROLL AWARDS
I attended the Holland Children’s Movement Honor Roll Awards on Thursday, October 18. I was recognized alongside 19 other state senators for receiving an “A” grade for standing up for children and working families in the Nebraska Legislature. I am very grateful to the Holland Children’s Movement for recognizing me, and I plan to continue fighting for children and families in our community and in our state.
KENYA TRADE DELEGATION TRIP
A photo from my visit to a Kenyan coffee farm. Kenyan coffee is considered by many to be among the best coffee in the world.
A county government official talking with me during a visit to a coffee farm outside of Nairobi.
County officials and me taking a photo after a meeting to discuss their county’s efforts to benefit farmers in the area.
From Friday, August 17, to Sunday, August 26, I participated in a local trade delegation to Kenya through the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation (GIAEDC) to discuss making Grand Island a distribution hub of Kenyan coffee in the United States and to explore opportunities to export goods and services from Nebraska to Kenya. We also shared ideas on how to improve agricultural practices in Kenya.
During the week, I met with coffee farmers and their families, county governors, members of parliament, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Deputy President. I also toured a coffee processing facility. Although I am not usually much of a coffee drinker, I enjoyed trying many delicious cups of coffee.
Kenyan coffee is considered by many to be among the best coffee in the world, and Kenya’s climate contributes to the flavorful beans grown in the country.
Our effort is to help the farmer sell directly to Nebraska and the U.S. market. This will benefit the farmer by allowing him to receive a better price for his produce, and it will benefit Nebraskans by providing an opportunity to buy and consume the best coffee in the world.
I am thankful for all of the people I met in Kenya for treating us like we were a part of their families, and I look forward to continuing discussions going forward.
Even though the 105th Legislature-Second Session adjourned for the year in April, my office has continued to stay busy by conducting research for interim studies, attending meetings, and preparing for committee hearings.
Urban Affairs Hearings
On August 28, the Urban Affairs Committee met in Omaha to hear four resolutions. We heard testimony on LR 398, Sen. Justin Wayne’s interim study to examine the impact on sanitary and improvement districts upon annexations by municipalities; LR 392, Sen. Matt Hansen’s interim study to examine neighborhood issues and potential neighborhood improvement tools; LR 397, Sen. Wayne’s interim study to examine the statutory authority for municipalities to establish port authorities; and LR 399, Sen. Wayne’s interim study to examine issues related to metropolitan transit authorities. Further hearings for LR 398 and LR 399 were held in Bellevue on September 4.
On September 25, we met here in Grand Island to hear three resolutions. We heard testimony on LR 319, my interim study to determine a sustainable revenue source for the Nebraska Main Street Network; LR 400, my interim study to examine issues related to the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act; and LR 433, Sen. Hansen’s interim study to evaluate the availability of affordable housing in Nebraska municipalities with an emphasis on rental housing. That afternoon, we met in Ord to hear further testimony on LR 400 and LR 433. I appreciated hearing from all who took the time to share their expertise or experiences with the committee, but I am especially thankful to those who took the time to speak on my interim studies.
Natural Resources Hearings
On August 31, the Natural Resources Committee met in Lincoln to discuss LR 387, Sen. Dan Hughes’s interim study to examine issues relating to the spread of Eastern Red Cedar trees. There was a very good turnout for this hearing, with many Nebraskans sharing their views on this invasive species affecting many in rural communities.
Farewell wishes to Katie Chatters & Craig Breunig…
Katie Chatters and Craig Breunig both served in my office since I was elected in 2016. Katie left as my Administrative Assistant to move to Pennsylvania with her family, and Craig retired as my Legislative Aide after working with the Legislature for 19 years. Please join me in thanking Katie and Craig for their dedication to District 35 and to the State of Nebraska.
…and welcome to Conner Kozisek & Sarah Wagelie!
Two new legislative staffers started in my office this summer. My new Legislative Aide is Sarah Wagelie (Left) and my new Administrative Assistant is Conner Kozisek (Right).
Conner Kozisek started as my new Administrative Assistant on August 20. He is from Ainsworth and recently received a B.A. in political science and Spanish from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Outside of the office, Conner enjoys watching and discussing films and visiting coffee shops with friends or a good book. His responsibilities include scheduling meetings for the office, helping me communicate with constituents, and assisting constituents with any problems they might have with the state. He is happy to answer any questions you may have at 402-471-2617 or at email@example.com.
Sarah Wagelie began as my new Legislative Aide on September 10. She is from Omaha and received her B.A. in political science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2016. She has experience working in the legislature, previously serving as the Administrative Assistant for Senator Matt Hansen’s office. In her free time, Sarah enjoys to stay involved with local politics and spend quality time with her cat, Oakley. Her responsibilities include assisting in legislative research for bills, resolutions, and interim studies, and drafting and advising legislation. She looks forward to answering your questions at 402-471-2617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have just completed my first session in the Nebraska Legislature and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and impressions of this year. As slow moving as it may have seemed for most of you it went by extremely fast for me. We witnessed a divided legislature to begin the session resulting in a battle over the rules for the first 30 days. Near the end of the session we experienced almost the same division when we voted to override the Governor’s veto on the budget. There were 667 bills introduced this year and we worked together to pass more than 170. We worked through a major budget shortfall and passed a balanced budget for the next 2 years.
Each Senator has his or her motive for supporting or opposing a bill and I understand that it is next to impossible to please everyone. Before voting on a bill I would make sure I understood how the bill would affect my constituents and all Nebraskans for that matter and then come to a decision on whether to support or oppose it. When asked about my position I was honest with my response in explaining my decision. The experience I gained this first session was invaluable and I have enjoyed my time working in Legislature even though there were times I was disappointed in how a vote would turn out. I would say the most disappointing moment for me was near the end of session when we voted to override the Governor’s veto on the budget. Even though several of us voiced our concerns and shared our personal stories we could not muster up the votes to override the veto. This was a cut to provider rates for facilities that provide care to people with behavioral health issues, those with disabilities and for the elderly. The Appropriations Committee did an excellent job of putting a budget together that was balanced and took care not to cut needed services too deeply so Nebraskans would not be harmed. I put my trust in them and I wish others had as well.
When I was going door to door before the election many of you expressed the need for property tax relief. LB461 was brought to the floor during the session, but it didn’t offer true property tax relief and it came at a time when we were dealing with a $1.1 billion-dollar shortfall. This bill gave income tax relief and changed the formula for agricultural land from property value to more of an income value based tax. There would be no property tax relief for those living in urban areas. The income tax portion provided tax relief to corporations and higher wage earners and provided little to no tax relief for working families. Another problem is that schools, municipalities, counties, and many other local boards rely on property tax revenue for their budgets. If we are going to reduce revenue we need to make sure we have revenue from somewhere else to help fund them.
I know it has nothing to do with legislation, but on several occasions, I had the opportunity to visit with 4th grade classes who had traveled to the Capitol for their field trip. They were all very polite and I even had the opportunity to answer some of their questions and have my picture taken with them. I enjoyed speaking to the children and I want to thank you for letting me visit with you and those students.
On the bright side, I did have two of my bills pass this year. One is LB383 which allows for a member of planning commission hold another office within a community of the first class, second class or village if they do not already serve as mayor, on a city council or village board, as a member of any community redevelopment authority, or a citizen advisory review committee. This would solve a problem in some smaller communities where elected positions go unfilled because there are not enough people interested in holding those positions.
The second bill is LB455 which updates the minimum standards set forth in the National Electrical Code issued and adopted by the National Fire Protection Association which govern the State Electrical Board. It allows the State Electrical Board to continue to have the power to adopt, promulgate, and revise the rules and regulations necessary to enable it to carry into effect the State Electrical Act.
I still have three other bills on general file awaiting debate during the next session which begins in January 2018.
I introduced LR164 to request an interim study which will examine the need for restoration, development, and capital improvement of sites that attract tourists to Nebraska. During the summer and fall I will be involved with several interim studies through the committees I serve on. Some will have hearings in Lincoln and others in out-state Nebraska including Grand Island. Interim studies are open to the public and there will be notification of a location and time for all hearings.
I recently made a trip along with Senator Lynn Walz to Washington D.C. to speak with Nebraska’s Congressmen and Senators. Senator Walz and I were appointed as the legislative commissioners to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission or MIPRC. There are 11 states included in the Midwest region with 9 states having active membership. The membership states are Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Iowa and Ohio are the two states not represented. There is intercity passenger rail as well as long distance which would be Amtrak that runs through Nebraska. In Nebraska in 2016 there were 54,593 passengers who used Amtrak with the most riders traveling from Omaha to Chicago and Omaha to Denver. Another 118,692 passengers traveled by Amtrak through our state with some de-training here in Nebraska. President Trump’s current budget proposal would cut funding for long distance passenger rail which means no funding for Amtrak in Nebraska. We were visiting our representatives in Washington D.C. to express our concerns and educate them on the importance of Amtrak to our state and to find out what their feelings were on the President’s plan. Other issues discussed were frequency of service in Nebraska and how in the future there are plans for a separate line running through Iowa from Chicago to Omaha to increase daily service and ridership. Another possible plan for the future is a line that runs from Kansas City to Omaha, but that may be further down the road.
Also, this summer and fall my plans include participating in interim studies. I will be working on bills for next year, attending local events, talking with constituents through meetings and even going door to door to get your input.
Please feel free to contact my office if you have an issue or would like to schedule a meeting and visit my face book page at State Senator Dan Quick
The legislative session is over halfway through and I have seen the Legislature begin to work together on issues important to Nebraskans. We passed the permanent rules, which was important so we could move on to more pressing issues. I have found it very interesting to watch and participate in floor debate. There have been a few bills that you may have an opinion on, but after hearing debate begin to wonder if it may or may not be the best thing for everyone. We have been able to get a lot of good work done on the floor in the last couple of weeks and with committee hearings being over, we have moved on to full-day debate. I have signed on as co-sponsor for nine bills, am included on five committee bills, and have five of my own.
My priority bill for this year was LB181 which was a workers compensation bill. It would allow for a second opinion examination paid for by the employer only if the first examination was done by a doctor chosen by the employer. In current law an employee can go to their own physician when injured on the job and the employer is obligated to inform them of this right. The reason this law is important is because there is nothing in the current law to hold the employer accountable if they do not notify the employee of their right to seek an exam or treatment from their own physician on an initial visit.
This law would not create more expense to an employer if the employee goes to their own physician and would help the employee feel more at ease by being treated by someone they know. I decided to bracket LB181 until next year so I would have time to work with employers on some of the issues they have. This bill is important as it will create a more equitable system that will benefit both the employer and employee.
There have been several bills introduced and debated on the floor since my last article and I feel that we have been able to make significant progress. There have also been a few bills that have had some opposition and have taken several hours to debate.
One of those bills is LB335, which proposes to eliminate the rate changes for child care providers in 2017. I oppose this bill because I believe it will have an adverse effect on working families by reducing the subsidies for children needing child care who are below the poverty level. This could have consequences for parents who must make the choice of whether they can afford to work a job that pays them less than the cost of child care. We want people to stay employed and better their situation instead of pushing them back on to welfare. There are no easy solutions as we need to reduce the budget deficit for the state and yet still provide programs and services to those in need.
LB632 is the bill that I have received the most emails and phone calls about so far. This bill would affect the craft brewers and change the way they way do business and may prevent them from expanding. We have not met in executive session to move this bill out of committee and I’m not sure when that will happen. I cannot support this bill as it is currently written and although I have not seen them yet, I hear there are amendments.
LB72 is another bill I am opposed to and it could be an issue for employees as well as citizens of a community or municipality. The bill proposes to place bond holders to be paid first in the event a community or municipality files for bankruptcy. This would place bond holders over citizens who rely on city services as well as employee wages, benefits and pensions.
Although it has never happened, under current law it would be decided by a judge on how the process would be carried out and who and how much would be received. My suggestion was that if there needs to be an order, that we place services first, employees second and bond holders third. The bill has not passed first reading at this time, but has had a few hours of floor debate so far.
As we move into the final 30 days of this session, we will continue to debate the various priority bills. Several of these measures promise lengthy debate. We will also have extended debate on our state budget. We are required to pass a balanced budget and this year is going to be difficult due to the large shortfall we are facing. Tough choices will have to be made on what programs and services will be cut, reduced, or spared. April 24 is the day the budget will be due to us, but I suspect it may come out a few days earlier so we have some time to look at the numbers.
At this time I intend to have a wrap-up article prepared at the end of the session to highlight what we have accomplished. I also want to schedule a few meet and greet coffee get-togethers. In the meantime, please feel free to continue to contact my office on issues that are of concern to you. Also, go to my website at news.legislature.ne.gov/dist35/ or see me on Facebook.
Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island represents District 35 in the Nebraska Legislature. Contact him online at news.legislature.ne.gov/dst35/
Thank you to the voters of District 35 for electing me to the Legislature. I am both humbled and honored to serve you. After my election and before the session started, I hired my office staff. My administrative assistant, Katie Chatters, and my legislative aide, Craig Breunig, have several years of experience serving in our state Capitol. Their knowledge and insight are proving to be invaluable to this freshman senator. I also received some great advice from two former senators, Annette Dubas and Mike Gloor. One piece of advice was “listen and learn.” The other was when speaking, “less is more.” I greatly appreciate their advice and their service to Nebraska.
I find my first year in the Legislature to be historic for Nebraska as we celebrate 150 years of statehood. But this year, history is also being made within the Legislature with the push to create partisanship. I have been discouraged by these actions as I have always believed that our Unicameral is unique by being a nonpartisan body. As I went door to door during my campaign, people would ask me which political party I belonged to. I would reply that the race is nonpartisan, tell them my party affiliation, then say that it should be more about the person and less about the party. This is something that I feel strongly about. We have seen it happen way too much, especially in Washington, D.C., where party lines are drawn and nothing gets done.
It would be great to see elected officials working together to solve problems in America and the state of Nebraska instead of letting party politics control their vote. I understand we all have our issues we are passionate about and that sometimes divides us, but I also believe that we can come together to reach solutions to the problems we face. I have met and talked with many senators and I have confidence that eventually we will start working together, just as the Legislature has done in previous years.
I have been appointed to serve on three committees: Natural Resources, Urban Affairs and General Affairs. We have had hearings on several bills and have already sent most on to general file. I am excited for the opportunity to serve on Natural Resources as I have worked in public power for 28 years and understand how it plays an important role in our state and to its customers. With Grand Island being an urban district, Urban Affairs will also be a committee that I will be able to provide knowledge of the issues we face in our district. On General Affairs, we will be dealing with issues covering a broad range of topics. I know that my life experiences will provide me with the knowledge and insight it takes to be a productive member on these committees.
With the help of my staff, I have introduced five bills and have signed on as a co-sponsor to several others. As a freshman senator, I decided to introduce bills that pertain to areas that I have knowledge and interest in.
Although my bills are important to me, the budget deficit and problems within corrections will be two of the biggest issues we face this year and in my opinion take precedence over everything else. With the deficit problem, I know there will be some programs that must make cuts, but I want to make sure the cuts aren’t so deep that those needing the services are harmed, including the disabled and children. Our children are our future and I want to ensure we have quality programs in place for them, whether that be for education or child welfare.
As state senators, it is our responsibility to work together and have debate from all sides to put together a budget that works for all Nebraskans. We may address tax reform, but I cannot guarantee that we will be able to make any changes this year because of the budget shortfall. I have already received calls and emails about issues you are passionate about and I will do my best to address your concerns. I do not take my vote lightly and I understand, as I hope you do, that there are people on both sides of every issue.
Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island has begun his first term in the Nebraska Legislature, representing District 35.