NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at mgroene@leg.ne.gov

Education Hearing 10/19/2018

October 12th, 2018

Education
Room 1525 – 1:30 PM

Document
Number
Introducer Description
LR452 Vargas Interim study to examine alternative teacher certification programs

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning the 1992 Quill case, deciding for South Dakota in the Wayfair internet sales tax case, Nebraska can now collect sales taxes on internet purchases from citizens.

The interstate commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution that regulates commerce over state lines exists to protect consumers and create a level playing field for businesses. It was to stop states from protectionist practices for in-state businesses by basically creating regulatory burdens on out-of-state products. Because brick-and-mortar business had to collect a sales tax from consumers and the out-of-state use tax was not enforced, the past court’s decision actually gave out-of-state businesses an advantage that in-state businesses did not share.

Talking to main street retail business owners while campaigning in 2014, my opinion changed on the sales tax issue. Local businesses were making the merchandise sales pitch, but were losing the actual sale due partially to a 7 percent price advantage out-of-state internet retailers had. I don’t like paying taxes any more than you do, but I have formed the philosophy that in order to get tax relief for all, we first must all have a stake in the game. Sales taxes help pay for public services, streets and roads, and public education.

If you buy your products locally, you are helping to pay for those services with your sales taxes, but at the same time if your neighbor purchases a product online from an out-of-state company, they are not helping pay for those same public services they enjoy. I hold the same view on all tax policies that allow government to pick winners and losers. We all need to be in the same tax-burden boat, rowing together toward tax relief for all.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue cannot differentiate between online and local sales. Accordingly, there is no way to put an accurate number on state internet sales tax receipts; however, the Revenue Department has estimated it to be $30 million to $40 million. Once we enact proper legislation, the proceeds should eventually be put toward property tax relief, but first they need to be added to the general fund with all other tax receipts. How we collect taxes and how we spend tax dollars are two separate issues and need to have separate debates.

I do not support a special session of the Legislature to address the internet sales tax issue. The issue needs more time to be researched; the law we craft and pass must reflect the present South Dakota statute approved by the court. Also the optics to the taxpayers are not good with the Legislature rushing to Lincoln to increase taxes on consumers after we rejected Sen. Tom Brewer’s call for a special session on property taxes.

The matter can wait until January when the regular session starts. This gives the governor and interested parties time to have a well-vetted bill introduced on day one and passed with an emergency clause.

I wish to give a shout-out to Renae Brandt on her efforts toward moving the debate forward on the future of the Pawnee Hotel. We often lament that our young people do not take leadership roles in issues confronting our local government. As far as I am concerned, Renae is North Platte and she is definitely a rising community leader. It is always good to put a face on community efforts and is good policy to have more than one idea presented on community actions. Renae has my support, and in my meeting with her, she showed all the attributes of a leader. For the good of the community, I doubt she will back off the issue.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Towards the end of each legislative session is the time for bill signing ceremonies by the Governor, attended by the sponsoring Senators. It is a good time to explain to the public the “why” and the “how” the legislation will affect their lives. I was recently involved in a couple of those signings

LB944; adjustment to the 2017 biennium mainline budget. Tuesday, I attended the Governor’s North Platte appearance for a signing ceremony. Because of a continuing state tax-receipts shortfall, we had to adjust present spending increases down and rob the cash funds (hotel tourism occupation tax for example) to pay necessary general fund expenses. No, we did not cut spending; we slowed down the increases to a half of a percent annually. To the majority of Nebraskans, the big accomplishment included in this bill was to clarify in state statute what federal law already states in the Title-X family health grant program, that no grants will be given to health clinics that includes abortion as a recommendation for family planning. I took some political heat last year when I helped defeat similar language because it endangered critical federal funding that rural family clinics were presently receiving, such as North Platte’s Peoples Health Clinic. The new budget language, which I shared a part in, will now protect the Title-X funding for those clinics that were adhering to the intent of the law.

LB1081; the Education Committee priority bill. Every year I try to introduce legislation that includes a reduction in spending, LB1081 includes the removal of redundant reporting requirement for Poverty and Limited English plans by the Omaha area learning community schools and the Department of Education, saving state taxpayers $75,000.

We also worked with Senator Lou Ann Linehan to include an amended version of her LB651, the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act (NRIA). NRIA can be summed up by an old education saying “the first years of a child’s education, through third grade, is spent teaching a child to read, so during the remainder of a child’s lifelong education, they can read to learn”. The Act requires schools to administer, three times each school year, an assessment of reading skills to all students in Kindergarten through third grade. Testing three times is critical to inform the teacher, parent and student of the student’s progress.  Students already assessed and receiving special instruction through limited English and special education programs are exempted. Parents or guardians of a student identified as having a reading deficiency must be notified by written correspondence and the school is to include parents in the individual reading improvement plan designed for the struggling student.

Senator Linehan agreed with us to make sure we did not mandate additional cost to the schools. Therefore, we only mandated the assessments, the parental reporting and the creation of individual reading plans but made the bill’s recommendations of how they achieved results voluntary. With a few tweaks and refocusing, the NRIA should fit into most schools’ existing reading programs and the requirement to offer a summertime program can be incorporated into existing public library programs. With the passage of LB1081, the Legislature has now made it clear in law, the public’s intent and what all good teachers already know: the critical importance that good reading skills accompanied by a vast vocabulary is essential to gaining a passport to success in America.

It was good to see that Lincoln County Community Development Corporation received $159,750 and the North Platte Area Development Corporation received $383,400 from the newly created Nebraska Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act created by Senator Williams’ LB518. I supported his efforts to transfer an existing $7.3 million, created from fees paid on property deed transfers, from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  This program gives the grants to the home builder and most importantly, any new housing project using the grant money will remain on the property tax rolls.

It is not yet clear why the property tax petition effort was halted by the sponsor. No matter, the issue remains. Next week I may give some insight into where the effort can go from here.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Education Hearing 3/22/2018

March 15th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 12:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
Appointment Von Behren, Paul – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Ohles, Frederik – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission
Appointment Baxter, Nicholas – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB1033 Murante Eliminate learning communities
LB1125 Groene Change school finance base limitation and local effort rate provisions

 

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education Committee Hearing 2/20

February 15th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LR285CA Murante Constitutional amendment to eliminate the State Board of Education
LR291 Kolowski Recommend that school administrators, teachers, parents, and students be educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks
Appointment May, Lisa – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission
Appointment Kobza, Robert – Board of Educational Lands and Funds
Appointment Simmons, Joyce – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Frison, Deborah – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Bernthal, John – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

Education Hearings 2/13/2018

February 7th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB999 Vargas Change provisions relating to the Student Discipline Act
LB1110 Vargas Require annual reporting of school performance scores and classifications
LB1116 Linehan Create the Quality Education Accountability Commission and the Quality Education Accountability Office
LB1052 Pansing Brooks Require instruction and teacher education related to dyslexia

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education Hearings 2/12/2018

February 7th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB801 Stinner Adopt the Panhandle Beginnings Act to provide certain services to school-age children
LB998 Walz Create the Collaborative School Behavioral and Mental Health Program
LB1081 Education Committee Change education provisions regarding reporting, penalties, residency, boundaries, priority schools, subpoena authority, poverty, and limited English proficiency

 

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

*Education Committee Policy Change*

If you are NOT testifying in person on a bill and want to submit a letter to be included in the official hearing record, the deadline to submit to the Committee Chair’s office is 5:00 p.m. the business day before the hearing.   Also, you must include your name and address and note in your letter that you would like it to be made part of the official record.

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB888 Wayne Require schools to post the child abuse and neglect toll-free telephone number
LB912 McCollister Provide for posting by public schools of a toll-free telephone number set up to report child abuse and neglect
LB898 Howard Require public postsecondary educational institutions to conduct an annual sexual assault climate survey
LR270CA Kolowski Constitutional amendment to reduce the minimum age in the constitutional requirement to provide free instruction

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1306
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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