Sen. John Kuehn
District 38

Welcome

January 7th, 2015

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 38th 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. John Kuehn

Letter to the District – Week 16

May 7th, 2015

As the 104th Legislature enters the last weeks of the session, some of the most contentious issues facing the body still remain to be debated. Perhaps the most controversial is LB 268, introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers, which would repeal the death penalty.  The bill passed first round debate on General File. Anytime an issue relates to an individual’s life, it is a difficult and emotional topic to discuss. I have heard from a number of constituents and I have taken the opinions of both sides into account during my deliberation. It has only come after a great deal of thought, research, prayer, and reflection that I have made my decision to not support LB 268.

It is an unfortunate reality that there individuals in society capable of committing crimes so heinous and inherently violent that strict penalties are demanded – up to and including life sentences or even death. Direct communication from voters in District 38 has concurred with this principle.

At this time, 11 individuals are on death row in Nebraska. During the first round of debate on LB 268, I had the opportunity to hear the stories of these 11 individuals and the graphic details of the brutal crimes they committed. With regard to the 11 currently sentenced, their guilt is not in question. Neither is the exceptionally violent and heinous nature of their crimes.  Unlike other states, Nebraska has been prudent and careful in its application of the death penalty. Our state process has not been subject to erroneous execution.

My first priority is to protect the public safety of constituents in District 38.  While various reports have examined the deterrent effect of the death penalty, several resonate with me.  In 2009, researchers found a 20% reduction in child murder in states that made the crime eligible for the death penalty. The punishment did not have to be carried out, merely having the penalty on the books reduced child homicide.

I do not disagree with the fiscal argument in favor of repeal of the death penalty. However, the expense incurred to protect innocent lives does not have a price. If having the death penalty accounts for just one less murder in Nebraska, I accept the cost. Although the state of Nebraska does not currently have a legal means of execution, the deterrent effect remains.

In addition, I have heard from a number of county prosecutors from across District 38 who have voiced legitimate concerns about LB 268. Capital punishment serves as a critical tool in the present-day judicial system. The presence of a death penalty affords prosecutors flexibility in dealing with offenders and power to ensure just punishments.

Governor Ricketts has already expressed strong opposition to any potential death penalty repeal. Given that, if LB 268 were to advance, it would need 30 votes to overcome a gubernatorial veto. Every vote on this bill will matter, and it promises to be a difficult decision for each Senator. Regardless of your position of agreement or disagreement, the issue is not taken lightly. Your input is valued on this polarizing debate. In the final weeks we will also be debating a number of social and fiscal issues of importance to Nebraskans. I encourage you to contact my office at 402-471-2732 or by email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 15

May 1st, 2015

After extensive deliberation among members of the Judiciary Committee, the debate over the legalization of medical marijuana has reached the floor of the legislature with the advancement of LB 643. Advancing with a significant committee amendment, the “Medical Cannabis Act”  would permit the regulated prescription of medical marijuana under oversight from the Department of Health and Human Services and medical experts from across the state. The bill creates a registry of users to track those issued prescriptions.

Proponents of the act assert that marijuana and compounds contained in marijuana, called “cannabinoids” offer better potential for treatment of some medical conditions than those products and treatments currently approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Some of these conditions include chronic pain, glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, and Crohn’s disease.

As a scientist and clinician, I have many technical and ethical concerns about the claims made about the use of medicinal marijuana. Controlled studies that demonstrate the efficacy of cannabinoids are minimal and results are ambiguous. Anecdotal evidence in specific cases have shown promise, but conclusive evidence supporting these anecdotal claims is lacking. One thing that is conclusive, however, is the dangerous and life-long physiologic effects cannabis use has on developing brains.

Many of the advocates for medical marijuana use children with uncontrolled seizures and the elderly in chronic pain as the greatest beneficiaries of legalization. In the absence of conclusive evidence of its efficacy and safety, we are utilizing these vulnerable populations as test subjects to build that data set. Simply put, this is not an approach I can support.

Diversion of marijuana prescribed for medical use to recreational users, especially young adults, is a major concern for me. The magnitude of the problem of diversion of controlled substances in our rural communities should not be underestimated.  Opioid painkillers and ADHD drugs are routinely diverted from the individuals to whom they are prescribed, either intentionally or via theft, and abused by others.  To claim it will not be an issue with medical marijuana is to ignore the reality of the problem we are facing with existing controlled substances.

I am not insensitive to the needs of those who have not found relief from currently available therapies. I am a strong proponent of biomedical research, access to clinical trials, and reducing barriers to accessing medical care. However, in the absence of definitive evidence to demonstrate its safety and efficacy, the known disadvantages of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use are too great for me to support LB 643.

Medical marijuana is a contentious issue across the country and I welcome your opinions or concerns regarding its potential legalization. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 14

April 28th, 2015

Tuesday, April 28 marks the 70th legislative day of the 104th Legislature, first session. On that day, the state budget for the upcoming biennium will be introduced to the Legislature. Covering state operations and spending for the period of the next two fiscal years, the budget proposed by the Appropriations Committee will amount to $8.7 billion. General Fund spending, which is obtained from sales and income tax revenue, will compose approximately $4.3 billion of the total budget. The remaining $4 billion is spending from Federal and Cash funds.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have been actively involved in the development of the budget that will be presented to the full legislature. I am very proud of the work that has been done by the committee to develop and propose a budget that meets the obligations of government while being responsible stewards of your tax dollars. The budget, as proposed, represents a two year average growth rate of 3.1%. This is the third lowest budget growth rate in the past 30 years. Included in that growth rate is an additional $120 million of Property Tax Credit over the biennium, increasing the property tax credit paid to taxpayers by over 40%.

Developing a state budget is no simple task. The Appropriations Committee represents the diverse interests of the state, with 3 members of each Congressional District represented on the committee. I have been impressed by the manner in which the 9 members of the committee have worked together to prioritize interests of the entire state and the deliberate manner in which every budget item is given consideration. Balancing the requests of all state agencies, the budget proposed by the office of the governor, and the concerns of constituents with finite revenues is a demanding process. Setting priorities for spending between state services and strategic economic investment encompasses meeting both the needs of the “now” as well as thinking forward toward the needs of future Nebraskans.

I am proud of the budget that will be brought to the floor for debate. It is responsible, strategic, and reflective of the values of Nebraska taxpayers. I am particularly proud of language in the proposed budget that will increase transparency of state spending by agencies within each fiscal year. We cannot manage what we do not measure, and having accurate financial status at the close of each fiscal year is a significant step forward in conserving your tax dollars. In addition to a significant increase in Property Tax Credit, the tax dollars appropriated demonstrate the state’s commitment to K-12 education. At a time when many states are cutting support for higher education, the proposed budget has important investments in Nebraska’s public universities, state colleges, and community colleges.

Debate on the budget bills will begin on Thursday, April 30. On that day the Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB) will also meet to review the economic forecasts for the state in the coming fiscal years. The NEFAB develops the revenue projection based on the economic forecasts they review and analyze. The budget was developed using the latest forecast projections from the February meeting of the board. Any changes in the revenue forecast by the board could have significant effects on the budget. While Nebraska has a 33 year historical average revenue growth of 5%, any slowing of that growth would require revision of the budget.

I encourage you to engage in the unfolding budget discussion over the coming weeks. As always, I appreciate your input on the budget and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 13

April 17th, 2015

Last November Nebraska voters approved an increase to the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 in 2015 and another jump to $9 in 2016. Initiative 425 was successful on a platform outlining the need for a living wage for those hardworking single parents struggling to make ends meet. I do not disagree with this sentiment, and I believe every citizen should have access to the means by which to support themselves with reasonable pay for their work.

However, when many considered the wage increase, they did not factor in a vital group negatively affected by the minimum wage: young people. States with minimum wage levels greater than $8 per hour have higher youth unemployment rates and lower workforce participation among young workers when compared to states with lower minimum wage.  Teens initially entering the workforce under the age of 18 are subject to safety regulations restricting the tasks they can perform. Additionally, student workers in particular have complicated school and activity schedules, and they often require additional training and oversight in their “first jobs”. Simply put, they require more time and management resources from employers than more experienced workers.

First jobs make a significant difference on the earning potential of young adults who are saving for college, contributing to their families, and active in their communities. A study published in 2014 showed that high school seniors who worked 20 hours per week had annual earnings 20% higher 6 to 9 years after graduation. That critical early earnings period post-high school can be the difference between financial independence or being strapped with debt for many young adults and families throughout their working lives. Given what is at stake for our youth, I am committed to helping incentivize employment opportunities for them.

Throughout District 38 small town business owners have been clear to me about the impact the increased minimum wage would have on their ability to provide jobs for high school students. For that reason, I used my priority designation for this session to guarantee floor debate on LB 599.  Introduced by Senator Laura Ebke of Crete, LB 599 seeks to create a separate wage for Young Student Workers. Those under the age of 18 and enrolled in a public, private, or home high school program will be eligible to receive a minimum wage of $8 effective January 1, 2016. In addition, provisions in this bill restrict the decreased minimum wage to just 25% of payroll to avoid employer abuse. Students with dependents or enrolled in a vocational program are not eligible for the wage.

LB 599 does not force high school workers to be paid less.  It does not allow employers to create a business model hiring only young, lower paid workers. It does not apply to college or vocational students. It does create incentives for business owners to take a risk and invest in critical first jobs for high school students. It does help provide support for our small town businesses and students who are disproportionately hurt by the increased minimum wage.

This past week, LB 599 advanced through the first of three rounds of floor debate with almost 2/3rds of the Legislature’s support. My colleagues and I recognize our responsibility to provide and maintain vital opportunities for our next generation. This bill is important to our communities, small businesses, and our future workforce.

Good public policy recognizes that sweeping generalized regulations can have negative impacts on specific groups and seeks to correct those injustices. That is the goal of LB 599: to correct a negative situation for youth workers in our state that Nebraska voters would never intend to create. The difference between $9 per hour and $8 per hour pales in comparison to the difference between $8 per hour and $0 income. That is the impact we are talking about.

As always, I appreciate your input on LB 599 and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 12

April 10th, 2015

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is considering advancement of LB 623 to the floor of the legislature.  Introduced by Senator Jeremy Nordquist and prioritized by Senator John McCollister, LB 623 would bring Nebraska law into harmony with the other 49 states and grant the nearly 3,000 DACA children in the state of Nebraska access to restricted driver’s licenses.

There is much confusion and misrepresentation about who the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals children are and their legal status in the United States and Nebraska.  Commonly referred to as “dreamers”, in order to qualify for DACA status an applicant must have come to the US before the age of 16, be younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, be in school or have graduated from high school, or have served in the military. When accepted, DACA status individuals receive a social security number and a two-year renewable work permit.

These are children who are documented. They have social security numbers and pay taxes. They serve in the U.S. military.  They are “Nebraskans” for the purpose of tuition at the University of Nebraska.  They can have licenses for the practice of medicine and law.  They live, study, and work under a work permit requiring renewal every two years.

LB 623 allows individuals who have applied for and received DACA status to apply for a special class of driver’s license to permit them to legally drive and purchase the accompanying liability insurance. That is it. It does not grant them monetary benefits, health benefits, voting rights, or any other aspect of citizenship.  Like any documented foreign worker, it allows them to legally drive.

The scope of support for LB 623 is broad across the state, especially in agriculture. The Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Dairy Association, Nebraska Restaurant Association, Nebraska Retail Federation, and National Safety Council of Nebraska are but a few organizations who recognize the importance of the “dreamers” to the future growth of Nebraska agriculture and our economy.

These children represent the most complicated component of the immigration discussion. On the federal level, our immigration system is broken. In the meantime, we have productive, documented, tax-paying young men and women who can die in service to our country, teach our children, heal our family and friends, and obtain licensure for any number of professions–yet we deny them a license to drive. Common sense must prevail above the screaming of political pundits on this issue.

As with any bill, the language of LB 623 can be fluid and I look forward to extensive debate among my colleagues on this issue. As always, I appreciate your input on LB 623 and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

 

Letter to the District – Week 11

April 2nd, 2015

The value of Nebraska’s transportation infrastructure is immeasurable. We take for granted the extensive network of roads, highways, and bridges that enable our population and billions of dollars in commercial and agricultural activity to move across our state on a daily basis. It takes more than 2.2 million semitrailer loads to transport Nebraska’s grain crops from field to market every year alone. However, our roads and bridges are aging and a great percentage of our infrastructure is in dire need of repair.

The facts about our infrastructure’s disrepair are grim: 19% of Nebraska’s bridges are deemed structurally deficient ranking – 6th worst in the country. The Department of Roads estimates a need of $10.2 billion over the next 20 years to repair or improve our increasingly decimated network of highways.

Nebraska is not alone in this problem. In recent years, federal funding for road construction and maintenance has stalled. With little assistance on the horizon from Congress, states across the country are now responsible for implementing independent solutions.  On the local level, elimination of state general fund aid to cities and counties has placed significant pressure on their budgets, requiring many to use the full extent of their property tax authority to maintain and repair vital infrastructure.

The state can not continue to “kick the can down the road” on such a vital piece of the state’s economic growth. Each year the Legislature fails to address this problem, the greater the expense becomes for the taxpayers and our local and county governments. Staying on the current path is not acceptable. The revenue from a gas tax increase would offset the stress currently placed on Nebraska’s counties and municipalities and their dependence on property tax revenue.

This past week LB 610 passed the first round of floor debate. Introduced by Senator Jim Smith, LB 610 would increase the state’s gas tax by 1.5 cents per year over the next four years. By 2019, it is estimated the state would generate $80 million in annual revenue to go directly to road and bridge improvement. South Dakota and Iowa, along with 10 other states, have recently addressed their infrastructure funding gaps with an increased gas tax.

LB 610 is a desirable solution because it is a direct user fee. Those who use the roads will pay for them. A gas tax is a cost-effective strategy to collect fees from every individual who travels through our state and puts wear on our roads. The burden on a motorist’s wallet will be minimal. An individual who drives 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets a modest 20 mpg will pay less than $1 per month in the first year. After four years, when the increase is fully implemented, that same driver will pay less than $50 per year.

Realigning our tax revenue to balance property, income, sales, and user taxes is a complex process.  Establishing a non-general fund revenue stream to address costly local infrastructure is an important first step.  Returning a state source of funding to cities and counties allows them to address property taxes in a long-term, structural manner that benefits all taxpayers and helps grow Nebraska’s economy.

I have no doubt I will face criticism for my support of LB 610.  I don’t want to pay any more at the pump than anyone in District 38.  However, I am committed to taking this first crucial step in what will be a multi-year, innovative attempt to address our rural infrastructure without placing a greater burden on property owners and income taxes.  Rather than ignore the problem, I along with my colleagues have chosen to proactively address the need and work toward solutions.

As always, I appreciate your input on LB 610 and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 10

March 30th, 2015

Nebraska’s livestock industry is a vibrant and significant piece of the state’s agriculture sector and overall economy. Producing approximately $10 billion a year, livestock production represents almost half of all agriculture receipts in Nebraska. As a cattle producer, I understand firsthand the vital role the livestock industry has in this state.

Sustainably growing the livestock industry is important to me, my family, and Nebraska. As I advocate for growth in livestock production, I am cognizant of the economic, infrastructural, environmental, and community issues that surround livestock confinement facilities.

LB 106 seeks to create and adopt the Livestock Operation Siting and Expansion Act. As proposed, the bill directs the development of a matrix to be used by all counties when evaluating zoning applications for livestock confinement facilities. The matrix would be developed through the Department of Agriculture. It also establishes a bureaucratic process by which state authority can override the decision of local county officials who deny a zoning permit. In effect, the bill grants the State control over livestock zoning.

County zoning was first authorized in Nebraska in 1967. Since that time, there have been numerous legislative and judicial modifications addressing zoning issues at both the state and local levels. This is not the first, and it likely will not be the last, attempt to weaken county zoning control in favor of giving increased authority to the state.

From the first day of my campaign in December 2013, I pledged to ensure control over zoning and planning remains at the county level. I strongly believe county planners, commissioners, and community leaders are the best leaders to recognize and assess how a proposed livestock confinement operation may affect their communities and resources. They alone are in a position to know their local community and assist livestock producers in the siting process that protects the livestock producer, brings maximum benefit to the community, and builds community support for livestock production. Nebraska is a diverse state with wide-ranging geographic and economic differences. Even District 38 varies in its local needs. Zoning practices that are appropriate in Clay County may not apply to Phelps County.

Zoning issues can be challenging for both livestock producers and community leaders. I’ve attended many meetings where emotions run high. I fully support the development of clear guidelines and criteria for evaluating zoning applications of all kinds to remove emotion from the discussion and provide clarity to livestock producers and community leaders using current scientific knowledge and accepted evidence based practices. There currently exists no barrier for counties to do so. Several already have. I encourage livestock industry groups and county officials to cooperatively develop such guidelines and include them in their county plans.

I do not, however, believe it is the best interest of livestock producers or local communities to grant the state the authority to force all counties to use a single matrix, overriding the will of local elected and appointed officials.

Over the years, my bull has jumped the fence into the neighbors pasture, my cows have gotten out onto a public roadway, and neighbors have had to wait patiently while I move a herd of cattle across the highway. Despite the inconvenience, we work together, understanding the give-and-take of living in an agricultural community. My goal is to help counties and producers have the tools to promote the dialogue and communication that is the core value of our communities.

This week, the Unicameral will debate LB 106. I look forward to constructive deliberation on the issue, as a number of amendments have already been filed to the original bill. The language of the bill will likely be fluid throughout the process, and I will endeavor to promote livestock development while protecting the local control of our counties and communities.

As always, I appreciate your input on LB 106 and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 9

March 20th, 2015

Over the next 40 legislative days, a number of controversial and complicated issues will come to the floor of the Nebraska Legislature. From gas taxes to the death penalty, extended debate is anticipated to take place when each comes to the floor for deliberation. Polarizing topics, many of the bills will elicit strong opinions and feeling in support and in opposition. To each issue, every individual brings their own life experiences, religious perspective, and political ideology. I have already heard from many of you in District 38 regarding a number of the upcoming issues, in both strong support and equally strong opposition.

LB 610 would add 1.5 cents per gallon to the current gas tax annually over a four year period, to a total of 6 cents per gallon. The revenue would be directed to infrastructure improvements in roads and bridges. While I am certainly not in favor of increased taxes, the overwhelming need to repair aging bridges and other transportation infrastructure is a real and pressing need in rural Nebraska. As agriculture equipment continues to increase in size, the need is greater than ever to update our transportation infrastructure. Balancing the needs with the costs is the legislative challenge.

LB 268, which would repeal the death penalty, has advanced from the Judiciary Committee and has been prioritized by Senator Chambers. While I certainly feel the ultimate penalty should remain for the most heinous of crimes, the practical reality is that Nebraska does not have a legal death penalty in place now. Given that we have not executed a death row inmate since 1997, some feel the penalty is not an effective deterrent. The costs associated with maintaining death row inmates for decades without a legal means of execution available is a significant use of taxpayer dollars.

LB 106 would remove local control of livestock facility siting. LB 472 would expand the Medicaid program in Nebraska. LB 586 would extends workplace protection to LGBT individuals. LB 623 would enable children of DACA status to obtain driver’s licenses and state identification cards. LB 599, which I prioritized, allows an exception to the increased minimum wage for high school students.

None of these are simple issues. I have spent, and will continue to spend, many hours exploring and reflecting on each of these issues. My faith and my values are at the forefront of my meditations. My work on the Appropriations Committee has given me a new perspective on the costs associated with decisions made by state government, and their impact in both the short and long term on Nebraska taxpayers.

It is easy to have a strong, inflexible position on a controversial issue as a private individual. However, when I press the button on my desk and cast my vote, I am well aware of the implications and responsibility. My votes have real costs to Nebraska families. They impact the jobs and working conditions of my constituents. It may even be the difference between life and death.

Whether you agree or disagree with my votes on upcoming issues, please know two things. First, I have listened to your concerns and taken the opinions of all of my constituents on both sides of an issue into account during my deliberations. Second, I do not cast my votes on the amendments, procedures, and underlying bills without deliberate thought, research, prayer, and reflection.

Many difficult decisions on spending, policy, and social issues lie ahead. I appreciate your input on all issues before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 8

March 13th, 2015

Each year senators are allowed to designate one bill as their “priority bill”. Priority bill designation guarantees a bill will be scheduled for debate on the legislature. With the session half over, the debate on the biennial budget, and priority bills designated by senators, committees, and Speaker Hadley will make up the majority of this year’s remaining agenda.

Components of my bill, LB 389, are being combined as an amendment to LB 360, which has been prioritized by the Agriculture Committee. For my priority designation, I looked for bills which have advanced out of committee and will make a significant impact in District 38. To that end, I have designated LB 599 as my priority bill. LB 599, which I cosigned, establishes a new definition of a Young Student Worker as an individual who is 18 years of age or younger and is attending either a public or private high school. High school students are frequently employed in entry-level positions that provide valuable work experience. They also serve a critical role as part-time workers in small businesses.

LB 599 would support employers who provide these critical jobs for high school students by allowing them to offer a wage at $7.25 per hour. A committee amendment would raise that to $8 per hour. I have heard from many small business owners and employers from the district in strong support of LB 599. This bill enables small businesses to continue to hire and employ high school students and maintain those jobs that play such a vital role in our rural communities across District 38 and Nebraska. I anticipate a robust debate of the issue on the floor of the legislature.

This past Wednesday, I introduced LB 318 to the Appropriations Committee. The bill distributes funding to Nebraska’s eight Economic Development Districts, which provide vital services in the areas of community planning and housing development. Communities throughout District 38 know well the value provided by South Central Economic Development District, which serves the region. I am excited to help provide additional resources to continue the development of our rural communities through this highly successful model. Many constituencies in the district provided support on the record for LB 318. I am grateful for the support.

As always, I welcome your questions or concerns and I truly value your input regarding pending legislation or any particular issue. My office can be reached at 402-471-2732 or jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38

Letter to the District – Week 7

March 9th, 2015

We are closing in on the halfway point of the first session of the 104th Legislature. Senators forge ahead on schedule with floor debate in the morning and committee hearings in the afternoon. Over the next few weeks, the bulk of the remaining of public hearings will conclude and the body will begin meeting in session all day on the floor.

During the last two weeks of floor debate, senators have debated a wide array of proposed legislation. Several bills have led to extensive debate among senators, resulting in close votes by the Unicameral. LB 10 would abandon Nebraska’s unique system of splitting electoral votes adopted in 1991 and return to the national standard of a winner-take-all. The bill was advanced to the next step in the legislative process after a cloture vote to end a filibuster succeeded with only the minimum 33 required votes. LB 10 will come up again for debate in Select File.

Following the presentation of the preliminary budget to the Legislature, the Appropriations Committee has begun public hearings with agencies and on specific appropriations bills. We recently heard a number of proposals related to increase funding of the Property Tax Relief Credit Fund through either the General Fund or the Cash Reserve Fund. We have outlined a variation of those proposals in our preliminary budget, adding an additional $45 million to the fund.

Last week I presented two bills in the Appropriations Committee that centered around post-secondary education in Nebraska. LB 565 aims to provide critical funding to institutions providing programming and training in fields designated as “high-need” and integral to the workforce demands and future economic well-being of Nebraska. LB 496 establishes the Yeutter Institute for International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska. Honoring former United States Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter, the institute would be a public-private partnership would enhance Nebraska’s role as a leader in agriculture, business, and law. Among those writing letters of support for the Yeutter Institute were former President George H.W. Bush and former U.S. Senator Ben Nelson.

This upcoming week, I will have a hearing on LB 318, which provides needed economic development funding in regions across Nebraska. I have had the honor of receiving support from a number of municipalities in District 38 and I look forward to those who will be advocating for my bill at the hearing.

A number of constituents from the district stopped by for visits to the Capitol and to participate in committee hearings. I always encourage constituents to give testimony, make their voice heard, and be a part of what makes Nebraska’s system of governing so unique. The people of this state truly are the second house of our legislative branch.

As always, I welcome your questions or concerns and I truly value your input regarding pending legislation or any particular issue. My office can be reached at 402-471-2732 or jkuehn@leg.ne.gov. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter @JohnKuehnDVM.

Senator John Kuehn, District 38