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Sen. Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40

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Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature advanced the redistricting proposals of the Redistricting Committee for the Congressional and legislative districts after considerable debate. Amended maps were not adopted, though changes could still be presented on the next round of debate.

LB629, introduced by Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, adopts the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act. LB629 was debated and advanced by the Legislature. In district 40, there has been positive feedback from the first pipeline construction due to increased economic activity and the responsible practices of TransCanada. However, the fragility of the Sandhills is a serious concern. The kind of regulation contained in LB629 will ensure that an oil company will be responsible and will have to fix any ongoing or future land restoration issues. The pipeline has created a positive impact thus far in Nebraska, and this additional route can result in similar positive impacts. LB629 is a right step in ensuring that.

LB397, introduced by Senator Steve Lathrop of Omaha, was also debated and advanced. In prior debate, myself and several of my colleagues expressed concerns with the provisions of LB397. However, Senators and many interest groups developed a compromise, which was adopted by the Legislature. In this compromise, the Commission on Industrial Relations will be allowed to consider all benefits of employment, including health insurance and pensions. LB397 also more appropriately specifies who can be considered comparable employers and allows more flexibility in determining compensation. These provisions will likely result in cost savings to public employers, a main goal of this reform.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

The Legislature passed several significant bills on final reading, including LB305, to begin the process of developing a state meat inspection agency, and this legislation has also been signed by Governor Heineman. The Legislature also passed LB229, authorizing more funding for water resources projects; several bills relating to the biennial budget for the state; and LB84, authorizing sales tax to be used for roads projects beginning in 2013.

There was also considerable movement on bills relating to abortion. The Legislature passed LB22, which affirmatively opts out of allowing qualified health insurance plans that cover abortions to participate in health insurance exchanges within Nebraska and limits the coverage of abortion in all health insurance plans, contracts, or policies delivered or issued for delivery in Nebraska. The Legislature debated and advanced LB521, which limits telemedicine by requiring that drugs used for the purpose of inducing abortions be administered by or in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed, dispensed or provided it. In addition, LB690, which requires written consent by a parent or guardian for anyone under age 18 who is seeking an abortion, was also advanced to the floor by the Judiciary Committee and will be debated by the Legislature soon. I have been supportive of all of these bills and will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure these protections are passed.

The Redistricting Committee also held public hearings throughout the state on the proposed legislative maps. The Legislature has advanced the first of these, LB699, which changes the boundaries of the districts for the Nebraska Supreme Court and Nebraska Court of Appeals. The Legislature will soon debate the remaining redistricting bills. Proposed maps for legislative districts would move Rock, Boyd, and Dixon Counties, as well as the western half of Holt County into District 40 and move Pierce County to District 41. Proposed maps for Congressional districts would put all of District 40 into the Third Congressional District.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Redistricting Committee introduced the bills outlining the changes in the districts for Nebraska’s members of the House of Representatives, the Legislature, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, the Public Service Commission, and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and Board of Education. Proposed maps move most of Northeast Nebraska, including the eastern part of Cedar County, into the 3rd Congressional district, now represented by Congressman Adrian Smith. Proposed maps also change Legislative District 40, to include Boyd County, Rock County, Dixon County, and the western part of Holt County. Knox, Cedar, and the eastern part of Holt County remain in District 40. Pierce County would move to District 41, currently represented by Senator Kate Sullivan from Cedar Rapids. I am very disappointed to have Pierce County move to another legislative district. The Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings on all of these bills and changes may be debated by the full Legislature.

The Legislature advanced the budget this week through the first two rounds of debate. Increased revenue forecasts have led to reduced withdrawal from the cash reserve. For 2011, $37 million will be transferred from the cash reserve to the general fund, and for 2012, $68 million will be transferred. Earlier estimates had allowed for $128 million to be transferred each of those years, and considerably less is needed at this time. It is important to maintain a healthy balance in the cash reserve, and the Legislature will continue to work rebuilding the balance in coming years.

The Legislature also began debate on LB397, which changes provisions relating to the Commission on Industrial Relations. While this bill did advance to the second round of debate, I and several of my colleagues are working on some additional changes to make the reform more comprehensive.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature voted to pass LB600 this past week over the objections of Governor Heineman. LB 600 adopts the Nursing Facility Quality Assurance Assessment Act, which allows for an assessment to be paid by nursing homes to ensure matching funds for federal reimbursement. With LB600, nursing homes will be more adequately reimbursed for Medicaid expenses due to access to federal funds, thereby benefiting privately paying residents of these nursing homes and alleviating the burden on the state. LB600 will reduce nursing home facility losses and ensure care for our State’s nursing home residents.

Two bills that have been prioritized for this session and relate to abortion are currently stalled in the Judiciary Committee. LB690, introduced by Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, changes current law to require notarized written consent from a pregnant woman less than eighteen years of age and one of her parents or a legal guardian before obtaining an abortion. LB521, introduced by Senator Tony Fulton of Lincoln, would prevent abortion providers from administering chemical abortions through use of web-cams and instead requires the presence of a physician. I fully support both of these bills and am continuing to work with the other members of the Committee to advance them to debate before the Legislature.

The Appropriations Committee has also released the Biennial Budget for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk has also scheduled debate of several budget bills for Monday, May 2, and continuing on throughout the week. These bills relate to salaries of legislators and state constitutional officers, capital construction, and various state government expenses. For more information, a copy of the Appropriations Committee report can be accessed at the Nebraska Legislature’s website: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

LB84 was debated on select file and an amended version was advanced to final reading. As amended, LB84 directs one quarter of one percent of existing state sales tax to be used for construction of high-priority highway projects. This tax diversion will begin in 2013, after the current budget, and continue until 2033 and will generate approximately $65 million per year. At least 25% of these funds shall be used for the expressway system, with the remaining funds used for other transportation projects as determined by the Department of Roads. The amendment reduces the funding by half, largely due to concerns about other budget priorities like education. I fully support the amended LB84 and the investment in Nebraska’s roads, while keeping in mind that other priorities must be adequately addressed as well.

LB360, introduced by Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, was debated on general file. LB360 amends the tax structure for wind energy companies to clarify the property tax exemption, but as amended, does not eliminate the tax credit against the nameplate capacity tax to wind energy companies for previously paid property tax. During debate, I expressed my opposition to the changes proposed in this legislation because this credit remains intact. I am continuing to work with the introducer of this bill as well as other Senators to eliminate this tax credit and will again express the problems with this credit during the second round of debate. The tax credit is unfair to Knox County and is an example of an unnecessary reduction in tax revenue.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature debated significant legislation on the second round of debate this week. LB235, identifying the state aid formula for public schools, was advanced. LB305, legislation to begin the process of implementing a state meat and poultry inspection agency, was also advanced.

My priority legislation, LB 229, which allows for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to apply for a Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) grant, was also advanced after an amendment was adopted that establishes the required benchmarks that DNR must meet in order to continue receiving NET funds.  Under the amended LB229, after the first 3 year grant of $3.3 million per year, DNR will be required to submit a report to the Legislature in order to qualify for a second 3 year grant of $3.3 million per year. This report will provide demonstrable evidence of the benefits accrued from the projects and activities conducted with grant funds as well as documentation that the matching fund requirements have been met. In addition, the Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature will be required to provide a report, which will include an outline and priority listing of water management and funding needs in Nebraska, an outline of statewide funding options which create a sustainable funding source to meet the needs set forth in the report, and recommendations for legislation. DNR will not be eligible for funding beyond the first 3 years unless the projects and activities have resulted in enhanced stream flows, reduced consumptive uses of water, recharged ground water, supported wildlife habitat, or otherwise contributed towards conserving, enhancing, and restoring Nebraska’s ground water and surface water resources. LB229 is a step in the right direction for preserving our water resources, and I am pleased that the interested parties were able to agree on the mechanisms included in this bill as well as the future benchmarks that must be met.

Another bill, LB698, which removes the requirement to label ethanol at the gas pumps, was not advanced. Senator Christensen, the bill’s introducer, requested that the bill be laid over to next session after some Senators raised concerns about consumer awareness. While ethanol production is vital to the agricultural economy in Nebraska, the impact on the consumer must be further evaluated.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature took up important bills relating to education this week. Senator Greg Adams of York introduced LB637, which was debated and advanced. LB637 ensures minimum standards of operation for private or out-of-state post secondary institutions and provides consumer protection, calls for a study of the need for uniform policies and practices regarding dual-enrollment courses and career academies, and enables the University to offer certificates in additional fields upon approval from the Coordinating Commission if the preponderance of the courses comprising any such certificate are above the associate-degree level. These provisions will benefit Nebraska’s students by improving college readiness and opportunities within post-secondary education.

LB235, also introduced by Senator Adams, was debated and advanced as well. LB235 lays out the changes to the state aid to education funding for the 2011-2013 biennium. LB235 authorizes $822 million in state aid to schools next year and $880 million the following year, which is $32 million more for the biennium than was included in Governor Dave Heineman’s proposed budget. Because $140 million in federal stimulus money that was received last year will not continue and because state aid to education is nearly a quarter of the state’s total budget, unfortunately some cuts to state aid are necessary. However, the Education Committee worked diligently to make the changes in state aid as fair as possible.

Another bill advanced by the Legislature was LB177, introduced by Senator Gwen Howard of Omaha. The purpose of LB177 is to assist the Department of Health and Human Services in accomplishing the following: using due diligence to notify adult relatives when a child is removed from parental custody; making efforts to place siblings together, or provide for sibling time if placement together is not possible; and creating transition plans for children aging out of foster care. These are very important goals for our foster care system, and LB177 is a positive step towards achieving them.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature debated LB305 on general file and, with strong support, advanced the bill to the second round of debate. The Legislature also adopted an amendment to LB305, which clarifies the funding needed to move forward. I am very pleased that my colleagues understand the importance of this issue, and I will continue to work diligently on the development of state meat inspection in Nebraska.

LB229, my priority bill for this session, was also passed through to the second round of debate. LB229, as originally introduced, transferred $7 million per year from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to the Water Resources Cash Fund, administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). NET; various environmental, conservation and agriculture groups; and members of the Legislature worked to develop a compromise plan. As amended, LB229 now allows DNR to apply for grant funds up to $3.3 million per year for 3 years from NET. These projects must relate to any river basin determined to be fully appropriated or designated as overappropriated pursuant to the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act. The Legislature will match these funds for the water projects selected. This compromise demonstrates the commitment of the Legislature and NET to more adequately address the numerous water resource concerns that our state faces.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature debated a very important bill this week, LB84, which adopts the Build Nebraska Act. LB84 will strengthen our infrastructure and provide funding mechanisms for maintaining our roads by directing one half cent of existing state sales tax to the State Highway Capital Improvement Fund to be used for construction of high-priority highway projects. This tax diversion will begin in 2013, after the current budget, and will continue until 2033. This will generate $125 million per year. LB84 also authorizes $500 million in highway bonds to accelerate construction of high-priority, high-dollar projects, with such bonds required to be paid within 20 years.

LB84 is essential for our state. Nebraska has not made maintenance of our roads a priority in recent years, and the funding from user fees and fuel tax has been insufficient due to lower revenue and increased costs. Specifically, consumers are purchasing less gasoline because of high prices and more fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, the Department of Roads has not been able to meet its needs. There has been considerable deterioration of the highway system, and many needed projects have not been addressed. LB84 offers a solution to these problems without increasing taxes.

Investing in the infrastructure in our state will stimulate business growth throughout Nebraska, and an adequate highway system is vital to commerce. It is important that we complete the expressway system that connects mid-sized towns to the Interstate, as well as replace unsafe or dilapidated roads and build new roads to meet any increasing demand. LB84 contributes to a positive business climate in Nebraska, and diverting sales tax to pay for our infrastructure is a responsible approach. While we face many budgetary concerns, revenue is expected to increase as the economy rebounds, and we all have to determine which expenditures should be our highest priorities.

LB84 was advanced on Friday, but with several amendments pending, additional debate will certainly be required.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

This past week saw the conclusion of committee hearings in the Judiciary Committee and others, and next week, the Legislature will begin all day floor debate on bills that have advanced out of their respective committees.

The Legislature debated many priority bills that relate to reducing state spending and balancing our budget. LB465, introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, eliminates certain Medicaid, SNAP, and other public assistance benefits for certain legal immigrants who have been in the United States for less than 5 years. LB465 mirrors federal public assistance law, and Nebraska will see savings of approximately $4 million per year with the elimination of these expenses. LB468, also introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell, would allow for increased co-payments and other reductions or restrictions to be placed on the amount, scope and duration of goods and services within the Medicaid program. LB468 is expected to result in savings of at least $400,000 in the next year and, according Governor Dave Heineman’s budget, even more savings in following years. Medicaid costs encompass a substantial portion of the State’s budget, and these cost savings are essential in reducing total expenditures. Both of these bills were advanced following debate.

The Legislature also advanced LB451, introduced by Senator Galen Hadley of Hastings, which would enact the Business Innovation Act to provide that the Department of Economic Development (DED) shall establish programs to provide financial assistance to companies receiving federal SBA grants, creating prototypes, identifying commercial products and processes, using Nebraska public college and university researchers and facilities for applied research projects, and engaging in value-added agriculture and microenterprise. The bill would repeal the Agricultural and Value-Added Partnerships Act, the Microenterprise Development Act, and the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act. LB451 includes a provision that the Act will terminate on October 1, 2016. LB451 streamlines these programs and allows for greater investment. LB451 results in savings of approximately $1.5 million per year, but the appropriation for the new program is $7 million per year, which will lead to greater business growth.

This week I also introduced LR121, which encourages the support and continuation of the University of Nebraska at Omaha collegiate wrestling program. This program is one of the most successful sports programs in our state, including winning 6 national titles in the past 8 years, and yet UNO announced that it planned to cut the program in its move to Division I. If you also feel strongly that this program should be continued, please contact the members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, who will vote on the announced plans on Friday, March 25.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40
Room #1019
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2801
Email: tlarson@leg.ne.gov
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