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Mike Jacobson

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42

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One of my first challenges after becoming District 42’s State Senator was to adjust to its new boundaries following redistricting. In the wake of the 2020 Census, District 42 was significantly expanded beyond just Lincoln County and now includes all of McPherson, Hooker, Thomas, and Logan Counties to the north and much of Perkins County to the west. Each of these counties and the communities within them is unique, but in talking with community leaders it is clear that District 42 wants to grow. My question for you is, “How can the state support local growth?”

I believe the first step is identifying what the current residents are asking for. Stapleton is a great example of a community taking local priorities in stride. It has invested in starting a cooperative grocery store, renovating its community center, and applying for an Environmental Trust grant to build a recycling center. A cooperative grocery store may not work in every community. Renovating a community center is foolhardy if the center won’t be used by local groups. Solutions for growth take community buy-in to succeed. By pinpointing what the community members are asking for and willing to invest in, Stapleton is improving for the future.

The next step is recognizing what investments can most efficiently lead to further development. Continuing with the prior example, Stapleton is considering investments in affordable housing. Because of Stapleton’s proximity to North Platte, it is poised to capitalize on regional job growth if it can provide affordable housing and attractive services to newcomers. Although job growth within Stapleton is certainly an additional goal, by thinking regionally and in relation to nearby community efforts, Stapleton can “get the most bang for their buck” by building up the community population and then following with business-attracting initiatives. Conversely, another community may need to focus on recruiting certain types of businesses and jobs before turning to affordable housing solutions. The local community is best poised to identify and strategize avenues for growth based on its unique circumstances.

Finally, we need to provide State support for investments that are foundational or common to the state. Connectivity, both through broadband and cellular networks, is one item that has become foundational for everyday life. I believe the Legislature needs to take a more holistic approach to connect all Nebraskans now. For example, LB1024 (2022) allocated $40 million to building fiber infrastructure for second class cities and villages within the Third Congressional District. However, communities must have at least 300 people to be considered a village. McPherson and Thomas Counties both have unincorporated communities as their county seats. Despite providing important government services for their counties, these communities are not eligible for LB1024 broadband funding. Furthermore, it may take many years to connect fiber to every farm and ranch in the state. We need to invest in fiber and other Internet solutions in order to bridge the gap, so all Nebraskans can have access to broadband now.

Similarly, affordable housing is a common concern throughout Nebraska. The Legislature has supported programs to build new housing and renovate existing housing. These programs are important to lower the cost of development and construction and have provided opportunities for communities to expand housing opportunities. As interest rates and building costs continue to out-pace wages in many areas, are there other solutions? We have not fully explored what role modular housing and high-quality mobile homes can play in solving our housing crises. The Legislature needs to know what programs will be utilized by communities to achieve growth.

I am now focusing my attention on meeting with the various governing bodies within District 42 to better understand their visions for the future and what state resources they need to fulfill those visions. District 42 is very fortunate to have many residents who volunteer their time and talents in public service. Elected officials, business operators, and community leaders in your area have been great resources, but I need your input too. If you see a problem you believe the Legislature can help solve, please reach out to me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. My door is always open!

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42
Room 1302
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2729
Email: mjacobson@leg.ne.gov
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