Welcome to the official website of Nebraska’s 41st Legislative District! It is an honor to be your senator, representing the counties of Antelope, Boone, Garfield, Greeley, Howard, Pierce, Sherman, Valley, and Wheeler. I look forward to one more year of service to Legislative District 41 and the State of Nebraska.
I am committed to working hard to represent the interests of rural Nebraska. I hope this website will be a helpful tool which allows you to keep in touch with your Unicameral. This truly is a citizen-driven Legislature that we have!
My office and staff are ready and willing to take your calls. If you ever have questions or concerns about what is happening in the Legislature, please let us know. My office number is 402-471-2631. When you’re in Lincoln, please stop by my office in the State Capitol, room 1107.
Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature!
Rural Nebraskans want property tax relief. My constituents want it, I want it, and the Governor has made it his top priority this legislative session.
The Revenue and Education Committees spent the better part of last fall grappling with the issue. Senator Mike Gloor and I, as chairs of the respective committees, led that charge. Our stepping off point was the unfinished work of the earlier Tax Modernization Committee which recommended that the state increase support for public education as a mechanism for lessening the reliance on property taxes to fund education.
First let me say that this is no easy challenge to meet. But we try. Secondly, as Education Chair in our Unicameral, I value education and I believe Nebraskans want to keep it strong. But because education commands the greatest part of the property tax dollar, it must be part of the solution.
So what are we trying to do this legislative session? Suffice to say there are several bills that propose different alternatives, some of which grew out of our discussions this past fall. Senator Gloor and I worked with the Governor and agreed to carry bills that spoke to ways to achieve property tax relief.
The ‘education’ bill seeks to place some limitations on the budget authority of school districts. It removes some of the exceptions school districts have which allow them to exceed the $1.05 levy limit, and it limits the amount of money a district can put into reserve each year.
Senator Gloor’s bill took a similar approach with the other political subdivisions that use property tax dollars (counties, NRD’s, etc.) In addition, his bill includes a formula that would put an aggregate 3% limit on ag land valuation increases statewide.
The components of both bills will have varying impact on taxpayers across the state. To say everyone could see a drop in their taxes would be inaccurate. But both bills take steps to empower the local political subdivisions to make fiscal decisions that could result in lower property taxes.
The valuation component of Senator Gloor’s bill would have a positive impact on increasing the amount of state aid that goes out to schools. In addition, I have introduced a second bill that would propose to put even more dollars from statewide income tax receipts into state support for all students with an accompanying drop in the maximum levy for school districts.
Admittedly, I am oversimplifying a very complex situation. The bills are being met with varying degrees of hope and concern. As always, the devil is in the details. But I would offer two things to you, readers in District 41. We very much want to attack this problem. Please know that. Secondly, reach out to your local school district: ask questions, visit with board members, and get their reaction to these proposals.
This is an issue that needs several approaches if we are to obtain sustainable property tax relief.
The Second Session of the 104th Legislature was gaveled into order by Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley at 10:00 a.m. on January 6, 2016. This is the second year of a two-year session so this 60-day session is tentatively scheduled to adjourn in mid-April. Bill introduction will continue through January 20. Public hearings begin on January 19.
I will continue to chair the Education Committee and serve on the Revenue Committee. My staff and I are located in room 1107 which is on the first floor in the west corridor of the State Capitol. Please stop by my office and say hello if you’re in Lincoln, especially over the next four months when the Legislature is in session.
As has been my practice the past seven years, I write a biweekly newsletter during the legislative session. Our area newspapers are kind enough to share the newsletter with you in print form.
The Legislature’s website is updated daily while the Legislature is in session. Information about bills, amendments, fiscal notes, hearing schedules and other legislative business is easily accessible at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov The Unicameral Update is a free weekly publication containing hearing dates, in-depth stories, summaries of debate and other legislative information. The Update is available online. A free printed subscription may be ordered by calling the Unicameral Information Office at (402) 471-2788 or send an email request to email@example.com Subscriptions must be renewed each session.
You may also live stream the Legislature and legislative committee hearings by clicking on the Live Video Streaming link on the legislative website.
Area teachers who may be planning student field trips to the Capitol while the Legislature is in session must schedule tours in advance with the Capitol Tour Office at (402) 471-0448. Please call the tour office as soon as possible to reserve your preferred date and time. Tours can’t be booked through my office nor do I have any influence in changing the Capitol Tour Office’s schedule. I strongly encourage teachers to call early and be flexible on their dates.
If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631. You may write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address. I look forward to hearing from you AND working hard for you and the betterment of rural Nebraska in our Nebraska Legislature.
Last September, my staff and I took a whirlwind three-day tour through all nine of the counties in District 41! I hosted town hall gatherings in each county and listened to many comments, suggestions, ideas and concerns from my constituents. We also made a point of stopping and taking a photo of each county courthouse. These photos now hang framed in my legislative office.