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After reading the Telegraph’s editorial last Sunday, it is quite obvious the writer does not have a clue as to the workings of the unicameral process. Since the writer deemed it appropriate to lecture me on issues of government, I feel it necessary to correct the record.
Do I work with other senators? Below are a few recent instances.
LB160 – Senator Quick’s inclusion of early childhood care facilities as a use of (LB840) Quality Growth Funds. We helped get the bill passed by adding an amendment loosening the restrictions on what facilities qualified.
LB6 – Senator Blood’s bill to change residential provisions relating to spouses and children of military personnel stationed in Nebraska for in-state tuition purposes when the individual is reassigned to another post outside of Nebraska. We worked together to clean up the language to better express Senator Blood’s intent and to ease residency qualifications for military families. The bill is out of the Education Committee and is now a Speaker Priority bill.
LB619 – Senator Kolowski’s bill prohibiting denial of coverage for mental health services delivered in a school. We worked with him on an amendment to make clear that the covered provider could only be a private practice practitioner and not a school or ESU employee. The bill advanced to final reading.
LB147 – Our bill changing the Student Discipline Act to provide for use of necessary physical contact by a teacher or administrator to protect individuals in the classroom, give teachers the ability to have a disruptive student removed from their classroom, and trigger a mandatory conference between the teacher, parent and administrator concerning the student’s behavior. We have spent hours in negotiations with the NSEA, the lobby for people with disabilities, and senators on the Education Committee to craft a good bill that we plan to yet get out of committee.
Property taxes: As chairman of Education and a member of the Revenue Committee, I have spent long hours, as have other concerned senators, attempting to craft the language of the bill that Revenue Committee Chair Linehan plans to finalize by April 15th.
N-CORPE: We are working with the Attorney General, the Department of Natural Resources, the Governor’s Office and senators on the Natural Resources Committee to finalize amendment language. Not an easy task when you are fighting local misinformation by N-CORPE proponents.
As to floor debate over Senator Wayne’s LR14CA, I stand by my opposition to the bill. Treating our state’s constitution as if it were a place to create statute is not the proper way to address a moving target such as redevelopment law. No developer is going to create a redevelopment project in an area already dense with older houses and commercial properties in North Platte or north Omaha, where people already work and live. What is needed in those areas, as I have shared with Senator Wayne, is to create a way that small contractors, landlords, or homeowners can receive TIF for truly redeveloping a single home in a blighted and substandard area, without prohibitive legal and bonding costs eroding their proceeds from TIF. Senators Wayne and Chambers are well aware that when it comes to the misuse of TIF as an economic development tool instead of its intended purpose addressing redeveloping truly blighted and substandard areas, we are on the same side of the issue.
Don’t let the political antics on the legislative floor fool you, as it apparently has the editorial writer. Sometimes people of principle, as Senator Wayne, Senator Chambers, and I are, need to reestablish where our boundaries lie. At the end of the day, Senator Wayne and I will continue to work together on TIF, property taxes, and education legislation, as we have in the past with the clarification of TIF statutes in passage of LB874.
The editorial writer’s concern about rural versus urban cooperation is foolishness. What has turned Nebraska into a high tax, over-regulated state is the willingness of past senators to nod and agree to vote for “let’s get along” legislation. Respect for each other’s priorities is what will accomplish the task at hand, and respect was built last week during the floor-rumble on LR14CA.
Sorry about not writing more columns, but as you can see, I have been busy.
Contact Sen. Mike Groene: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729.