Welcome to my web page with the Nebraska Legislature. I’m so glad you stopped by. This website has a wealth of information on the people and the processes of the Legislature as well as information on the specific legislative bills introduced and passed. In addition, you’ll find links to Nebraska statutes, the Nebraska Constitution and many related documents and institutions. Of course if you can’t find what you need please contact me or my staff and we’ll be happy to assist you.
It is my honor to represent the people of District 35. I look forward to hearing from you.
At our February 2016 meeting Governor Ricketts signed the PCMH Agreement during a visit to the Stakeholder meeting. Thanks, Governor! We look forward to working with you in the future on PCMH in Nebraska.
including Enhance Health Network presentation on the TCPI grant.
November 5, 6 2015 Milbank Memorial Fund meeting, Detroit
Margaret Buck, Margaret Brockman attended.
Because Nebraska has a multi-payer PCMH agreement, we are part of a learning collaborative sponsored by the MMF. The collaborative includes the 8 states with a federally funded program plus Montana and Nebraska. Montana’s program is now part of their Department of Insurance through statute.
At this meeting we interacted with representative of CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Systems) and representatives from Mathematic, the contractor involved in evaluating the 8 federal contract programs. Mathematic presented information on what they see in the initial evaluations and how to improve the future reports and evaluations. The CMS representative spoke to the evaluations, opportunities for improvement in the programs and evaluations and to the possible future of the programs. Although we are not one of the 8 federal grant states, their success has a huge impact on our work and it gives us information opportunities for us to join any future expansion of the programs.
We also discussed the progress of some of the state level programs – Arkansas, Colorado and Vermont.
The last few hours of the meeting were dedicated to brainstorming the future of this collaborative and how MMF can be of assistance to the involved states.
Overall, much information is shared and contacts made. Although our private agreement is unusual in this group it is considered no less valid or important. In fact, the comment was made to me that they expect to see more agreements such as ours in the future from other states.
Some take aways:
A neutral convener for aggregating data and savings calculation is necessary for removing barriers for rural providers to participate as well as community resources such as shared care managers.
Oklahoma has a 3rd party convener we need to learn more about.
A key principle for the Colorado Green Mountain program: Upfront investment, over a reasonable amount of time, then redistribution of total spending toward demonstrated sources of value.
Form of payment matters as much as level of payment.
PCMH “effect” becomes apparent in year 4 according to a private insurance company study.
One way to approach policy makers about PCMH reform is to articulate what will happen if we don’t do this.
Taxes and health care were the focus of eight years of work in the Nebraska Unicameral
As most of the readers of my column know, I am term limited and this was my final legislative session. This column will summarize my observations on the 2016 session, my last.
The most significant issue before us this session related to the tax relief, specifically property tax relief. As my previous columns have pointed out, working with the Governor and coordinating my Revenue Committee with Senator Sullivan’s Education Committee, we were successful in passing bills that should be helpful in this regard. By themselves, the bills that passed (OB 958, 959, 1067) are helpful but not game changers. However, viewed in light of multiple property tax credit bills passed over recent years, the Legislature has shown long term commitment to tax relief in this area of tax policy. It is my hope that future Legislatures will honor this commitment by adding to it in subsequent years.
With all tax relief we have to answer the question of how to offset the revenue decrease to the State budget. After years of negative to slow economic growth, the State budget has been repeatedly cut to the point now where we have major crises in multiple areas. The prison riots are one example. Therefore, in an effort to create a revenue source for property tax relief, I proposed an increase in the cigarette tax to raise $90 million that could go toward property tax relief.
LB 1013 proposed to increase cigarette tax by $1.50 to $2.15 per pack. The estimated new revenue would be $120 Million. The new revenue would have gone to fund $90 Million in property tax relief and $30 Million in health related programs including tobacco cessation efforts and public health. The health benefits of reduced tobacco use would help the state budget in terms of lowering Medicaid expenses and the “new” revenue could go directly to property tax relief. However, the big tobacco lobby is the best funded lobby in the State and hard to overcome, and we could not get the bill advanced. It seems the third time is not always a charm.
Medicaid Expansion, known as the Transitional Health Care Act, was the most conservative of the proposals yet to expand Medicaid. It would have assisted Nebraskans living at the income level of 100 to 138 percent of the federal poverty level in purchasing health insurance. The bill contained incentives for healthy living and added a monthly financial responsibility for anyone on the program. To address the fear that the federal government would fail to fund the program at the promised 90 percent level, the bill was written as a three-year pilot program that would have needed to be continued by legislative action. I supported the bill because it provided an avenue for health care transformation which I believe is the best way to improve health care and contain costs. Even with those provisions, opponents successfully filibustered the bill.
Medical Marijuana: although I had concerns about this bill I worked with Senator Garrett and Senator Howard to make sure the bill more tightly regulated the product and the persons who could access it as a medical product. I would have supported an amended version of the bill but it was successfully filibustered. I have been told that advocates are planning to bring this issue to a public vote through a referendum in the future.
Readers may recall that in 2015, in an effort to address our aging road system, the Legislature authorized an increase in the gas tax of half a cent per year until in four years a maximum of 2 cent increase is reached. During last year’s interim the Legislature and Governor’s office continued to explore other options to continue these improvements. The result was LB960, the Transportation Innovation Act, which will create three programs: the Accelerated State Highway Capital Improvement Program, the County Bridge Match Program and the Economic Opportunity Program. Through the three programs funding will be directed to priority transportation routes, to rebuild bridges and to finance transportation systems to attract new business to the State and to support business expansions. The bill is funded with a one-time cash reserve transfer and the money from the above mentioned gas tax increase.
This year’s Corrections budget includes funding to replace and equip the Tecumseh facility after the prison riot and to build a 160-bed female unit addition to the Lincoln Community Corrections Center. The female unit will provide better segregation and free up beds for adult male population. The funding also continues the placement of state prisoners in available spaces in county jails (Hall County participates in this). This is a first step in trying to address prison overcrowding.
One of my goals in running for this office was to shepherd our State through health care reform. Patient Centered Medical Home has been the front line transformative process that I see as beneficial to our health care system. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made during my eight years.
Patient Centered Medical Home is transformational health care, especially primary care. It is a quality improvement, cost containment and payment reform mechanism. The physicians and their team of health care providers take a more patient sensitive, holistic approach to medicine with an emphasis on preventive care, management of chronic care and integration of behavioral health. Evaluations are showing progress in all areas including patient and physician satisfaction. More importantly, the initiative now includes all the major health insurers in the State, Medicaid and major health associations. I leave the Legislature with great satisfaction knowing that a program I initiated has been wired into the health care delivery and payment system.
My office spent some time working on LB 851, the Tax Transparency Act. LB 851 was an effort to make more budget information available to the public from quasi-governmental organizations such as the State Fair. This bill is appropriate, well intentioned and supported by the State Fair management. However, my office worked to assure that the State Fair would not be mandated to supply some types of information regarding entertainment contracts. To do so would have been very detrimental to their ability to bring entertainment to the Fair. Working with the Committee and the Attorney General’s office, as well as the Fair administration, we were able to get appropriate clarification on this issue.
Another bill that I played defense on was LR 380 CA, introduced by Senator Bloomfield, a proposal to change the distribution of lottery funds and to drastically reduce the amount going to Grand Island as the host city of the State Fair. I went to work to explain to Senators on the Committee how that money benefits the State Fair and that, in fact, the City of Grand Island has to provide matching funds to attain those lottery proceeds. Ultimately, the bill the lacked the support necessary to be voted out of committee.
As I mentioned, due to term limits I am unable to run for election again. I’ve enjoyed my time and work in the Legislature and am honored to have served the people of District 35 for eight years. Thank you for that privilege.
Although I will not be working on new legislation during the interim, I and my staff will continue to serve the people of District 35 until the next Senator is sworn in on the first day of the 2017 session. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2617.
Senator Gloor spoke to the students at the 2016 No Butts Day rally on the west steps of the Capitol. No Butts Day is a rally cry against the use of tobacco products and the targeted advertising of tobacco companies toward youth. Thank you students!!!!
In 2012 the income tax brackets were widened and the state inheritance tax was eliminated resulting in a three year savings to taxpayers of an estimated $97 million.
In 2014 your Legislature completed a ‘Tax Modernization’ study and embarked on an aggressive agenda of tax relief. Income taxes were “indexed” for inflation. Income thresholds under which social security income is exempt were increased. Furthermore, we initiated income limitations and indexing for inflation for homestead exemptions and some veteran’s retirement benefits as well as exempted agricultural machinery repair from sales tax. We also added $25 million to the existing $115 million property tax credit fund. It was a good year for taxpayers.
Even with a slow down in the economy, we worked in 2015 to build on the tax relief of the previous years. We added an additional $64 million to the property tax credit fund for a cumulative total of $204 million a year in property tax relief. My bill to add a personal property tax exemption of $10,000 a year for businesses, big and small, agricultural and non-agricultural, was also signed into law. In short, the Legislature has worked aggressively to provide tax relief over the last four years. Two challenges remain if we are to continue on that path.
First, the legislative reviews of our taxes conducted over the last few years have all concluded that we are too dependent on property taxes to fund K-12 education. This problem has been exacerbated because of the recent significant increases in agricultural land value. The obvious solution would be for the State to allocate more funding to schools to relieve the dependency on property tax. State revenue comes from income and sales tax (property taxes are collected by the counties) so this is a rebalancing of our K-12 funding formula.
Second, as I pointed out in a column last May, the Legislature cannot control spending of all the entities with levy authority listed on you tax statement. The Unicameral has established budget limits and levy lids to set ceilings on spending growth but we, as Nebraskans, love our local control and depend on locally elected Boards to control local spending.
The challenge is to find an appropriate means to provide state dollars and to do so in a way that finds its way to property tax payers rather than being absorbed into budgets. We can learn from history. The State began providing significant dollars to fund education in the mid-1990’s. The immediate effect was relief for local property taxes. However, after three years those dollars were absorbed in school operating budgets and the increased demand for property tax dollars resumed.
I want to be clear that the intent behind this bill is not to fix blame on the officials we elect to the Boards these entities. Most attempt to control expenses and the resultant out flow of tax dollars. But we taxpayers can be very insistent. We want good roads, effective law enforcement, quality education at all levels, clean and readily available water and long term care available when our seniors can’t afford to care for themselves… and the list goes on.
Senator Sullivan had a column last week that discussed the work her Education Committee and my Revenue Committee have done during the interim on this challenge. We also were successful in engaging the Governor’s office in working collaboratively on the dual issues of State funding for local education and budgeting at local levels. The result are two bills that we, as Committee Chairs, have introduced at the Governor’s request, LB 958 and 959. Both bills seek to provide State dollars as a replacement for local property tax dollars. To assure this insertion of new dollars finds its way to property tax relief the bills also seek to limit the growth in assessed value of agricultural property and restrain spending by local entities with levy authority. That list includes not just schools but also counties, cities, community colleges, natural resource districts and several more listed on your annual property tax statement.
Increases to the budget spending limitations or exceeding levy limits are not absolute but must be taken to a vote of the people. That would seem to be the ultimate accountability; if we want these services then we agree to pay for them.
The hearing on my bill, LB 958, was last week. There are several other bills introduced by other Senators that propose to address portions of the problems I’ve stated that will be heard the same day. It will be an interesting day but an important one for all Nebraskans, not just those who pay taxes. I will continue the theme of taxes in future columns.
As always please feel free to contact me at: Senator Mike Gloor, District 35, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or by email at: email@example.com or by phone at 402-471-2617.