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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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

January 8th, 2020

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 43rd legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sen. Tom Brewer

01-04-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

The 1st Session of the 106th Legislature will start next Wednesday the 9th of January. Once again my good friend Sen. Steve Halloran will introduce a bill concerning the Convention of States. Once passed, this will be Nebraska’s “application” to the US Congress asking that a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the US Constitution be called. I strongly support this legislation and will co-sponsor Sen. Halloran’s bill again.

2/3s of the States (34) have to make application for this convention to happen. So far 12 States have done this. 10 more States have passed the measure in one chamber of their legislature. Convention of States legislation has been introduced in another 25 States including Nebraska.

The framers of the constitution put two methods in Article 5 of the constitution so the constitution could be amended. Our country has used the first method in Article 5 (2/3 of Congress) thirty three times to create twenty-seven amendments to the constitution. The process clearly works. The second method in Article 5 (2/3 of the States) have a convention to propose amendments to the constitution. Once 34 States have made application, Congress calls the convention (names the time and place). All States may send a delegation whether they applied for the convention or not. Amendments to the constitution are proposed at the convention. Each State has one vote. Amendments voted out of the convention are sent to congress to select a mode of ratification, and then they are sent to all 50 States for ratification. We’ve never done this before, but I think it is high time we do.

Regardless of whether congress proposes the amendment, or the States do, it must be ratified by ¾ or 38 of the States. That amounts to 76 houses of government just like our legislature. They each have to vote to ratify an amendment. This works out to be about 2,500 State legislators like me all have to vote “yes” to ratify an amendment to the US Constitution. This is a very powerful safeguard the framers of the constitution put in place.

This is NOT a constitutional convention. This is a convention for purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution. I urge everyone to read Article 5. There is no authority to re-write the constitution. People have told me this convention could “run away” voting out all kinds of radical changes to the constitution. Repealing our 2nd amendment gun rights, or making abortion a constitutional right. I simply ask them to show me the 38 States and their 76 houses of government that would vote to ratify such a thing.

Instead of raising groundless theoretical worries, I would point folks to our “run away” federal government we can see every day in Washington, D.C. This is real. The looming disaster of our national debt and the harm it is going to cause our children and grandchildren is real. The States got together in Philadelphia in 1787 and created our Federal Government. I think it is past time for the States to get together and rein it in.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call. Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-28-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I would like to use this weekly update to share a “good news” story about government. It does my heart good to share something positive and hopeful. All things considered this is a small victory, but for me personally, my staff, and the family involved in this story— it matters a lot.

In the 1970’s, a county in my district built a North-South blacktop road through the Sandhill’s. The road spans many hills and valleys for over 60 miles. Along the path of this road are many wet meadows with culverts. This valley in particular was not built with a culvert to drain the valley. With the new roadbed acting as a dam across this particular valley, the seasonally wet meadow turned into a large permanent lake. What used to be a hay meadow yielding about 1,500 round bales a year was now under water. By 1983, the road became a state highway and was put under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT).

The family who owns the land complained to their elected officials for the next 50 years or so. Property Tax Assessors, County Board members, NDOT officials, Governors, US Senators, Members of Congress, and Nebraska State Senators including several of my predecessors. The family contacted me about this problem shortly after I took office two years ago.

My staff and I began trying to figure out how we would get a culvert installed under an existing state highway so the lake in the valley can drain. We discovered that the problem began because of the deliberate omission of the culvert. The reason for this was caused by an old feud between a rancher and a hired man from an adjoining ranch. We learned the US Corps of Engineers may be involved because the man-made lake created by the road could potentially be considered a protected wetland. The local NDOT district engineer needed to be consulted to engineer a solution. We were also informed that the NDOT has a construction plan going decades into the future, and how funding and priority are determined for different projects across the State. We quickly realized this is not as simple as just getting a length of culvert, a backhoe, closing the road, and getting to work. There are “a lot of cooks in the kitchen” when it comes to a project like this. We have talked and met with every one of them to address this issue.

Kyle Schneweis is the Director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation. After visiting with him he actually drove out to the Sandhill’s, stood on the road and saw the lake, and visited with the ranch family. The culvert will be installed in 2020. Better 50 years late than never. Thank you Director Schneweis. The Governor couldn’t have chosen a better person for this important job.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-21-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I was invited to the White House this week to be present for the President’s signing of the Farm Bill. It was an amazing opportunity to meet the President and see the White House, and be a part of a bill-signing ceremony. I’ve never done anything like this and was very honored to get such an invitation. In addition to the President, there were quite a few dignitaries in attendance. The Vice President, the Secretary of Agriculture and numerous members of Congress. Spending any time at all in Washington, D.C. reminds me of how blessed we are to live in this country.

I sat next to our Congressman, Representative Adrian Smith, and we watched the ceremony from the second row of the audience. He shared with me all the challenges he was dealing with in Congress, and the all political maneuvering going on in anticipation of the new Congress that will be sworn in this January. He also shared some of his experiences from the time he was a state senator in the Nebraska legislature which I found invaluable.

The Farm Bill does a number of good things. Getting enough elected officials to all agree on something is extremely difficult and only happens when there is a little something for everyone in the bill, so there are a lot of things in the Farm Bill.

The crop insurance portion of the bill as well as the funds to provide relief to farmers impacted by hurricanes is good. The bill reauthorizes the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which is very important right now because of our terribly low commodity prices.

The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by our country’s struggle to correct the unfair trade practices that have been going on a very long time. Part of the bill addresses the on-going opioid addiction problem we see in many rural areas. It also takes steps to help bring broad-band internet to rural areas.

The bill reverses a very old law and now makes industrial hemp legal. This crop was grown by the millions of acres during World War II, a lot of that was in Nebraska. Hemp doesn’t require a lot of water and you can get two crops a year from this plant. There is no infrastructure in place for this crop, and the market for it in the US is in its infancy so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

President Trump signed it the Farm Bill into law even though it lacked the administration’s much-sought-after changes to the food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program (Food Stamps). In a move that would sidestep Congress, the Agriculture Department unveiled a regulatory proposal to expand work requirements for those in receiving food assistance. USDA officials predict the rule change will save taxpayers $15 billion dollars over a decade.

From all of us here in my office, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-14-2018 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

My staff attended another in a long list of meetings we’ve attended about property taxes the other day. Represented at the meeting were over a dozen different industry groups. All of them are keenly aware of the impact any “solution” the legislature may come up with to the property tax crisis may have on their particular organization. I realize it’s their job, but I am still put off by how these groups focus on and jealously guard their piece of the pie. They are all looking out for their “special interest.” It’s sad to see people so near-sighted. A rising tide lifts all boats. If Nebraska does well, they will too. Instead they see the struggle to fix our immoral property tax problem though the lens of “winners and losers.”

So who’s looking out for the ordinary everyday Nebraska farmer or rancher? Right now, they are the biggest losers and have been for decades. One of the industry groups representing Agriculture said 60% of Nebraska’s farms and ranches will survive the terrible Ag economy we’re in. 30% are on the brink of bankruptcy and 10% will go under this year. Political people at the meeting groaned about the persistent “revenue problem” faced by the legislature year after year. Sales and income tax revenues are down again. The legislature will begin next month with a $95 million revenue shortfall requiring cuts in the State budget (again). This is not rocket surgery folks. The reason why revenues are down is very easy to understand.

1 in 4 jobs in Nebraska and 1 in 5 dollars in our State’s economy come from agriculture. The economy in Nebraska is driven by agriculture yet we have the HIGHEST agriculture property taxes in the country. Property taxes on agricultural property often exceed the amount of income a farmer or rancher could expect to make from the land. People are losing their homes, farms and ranches that have been in the family for generations. People are moving out of our state. There is a “brain-drain” of young college graduates who leave before the ink is dry on their diploma. People and businesses flee our state or don’t locate here to begin with because of property taxes. Tax revenues are down and the legislature is forced to cut the budget year after year because we are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Tax revenues can rebound and our State’s economy can grow when Nebraska’s agriculture economy has recovered.

To be clear, I think everyone should have property tax relief, but for our State’s economy to turn around we must lift the yoke of property taxes off the neck of the farmers, ranchers and agri-business who are responsible for the lion’s share of it. Commodity prices certainly aren’t helping, and our country’s long-overdue struggle for a fair deal with America’s trading partners is making things tough as well. But how can we be surprised Nebraska’s economy is struggling when we ask the #1 economic engine of our State to run a marathon wearing lead boots?
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-07-2018 Weekly Update
December 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



The 1st session of the 106th Legislature of Nebraska begins in a month. Our constitution says the Legislature only has to do two things: It has to meet on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January (the 9th of January this year), and it has to pass a balanced budget. The first day of session we elect the speaker and all the committee chairs and all 49 Senators are assigned to committees.


The “Committee on Committees” figures out committee assignments. For a supposedly non-partisan legislature, there sure is a lot of partisan politics involved in this process. It’s difficult but very important work because you live with these assignments for two years.


Some time ago I publicly announced my intention to run for the Chair of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. I am humbled by how much support I have received from my fellow senators so far. The election of committee chairs is the very first order of business on the first day of the session, so we will know by close of business on the 9th of January if I am elected.


I am trying to change my committee assignment from Banking, Commerce and Insurance to the Education Committee. How we pay for K-12 public schools is an important part of finding a solution to our property tax crisis. Nebraska is 49th in the nation in terms of how much money the legislature appropriates for school funding. Forty-eight other states spend more than we do and this has led to a severe over-reliance on property taxes to fund our schools.


Property Tax relief continues to be my top priority. I think we have a slim chance to come together and get something passed this session. To that end, I see three keys to success: (1) We need to elect a chairman of the Revenue Committee who will get property tax bills voted out of that committee. (2) We need to get a lot of bills voted out, and they need to be voted out early in the session. The more Senators with a bill on the floor, the more skin there will be in the game. The more Senators who can claim a little credit for property tax relief, the better. (3) Most importantly, the Speaker (Sen. Jim Scheer) needs to be re-elected and he needs to lead on this issue like he did last session. Unfortunately this wasn’t able to happen until very late in the session, but he was certainly very effective. His leadership early in the session is an essential component to success with this issue.


I do believe this session is going to be very hard. There is going to be a big fight over the budget that much is clear. However, the collective personality of this legislature is going to be completely different with the 13 new senators in the mix. New or old I know every senator in the body ran their campaign at least in part on solving the property tax crisis. Therefore I think it’s too early to be a pessimist. I think all 49 senators know in their heart we need to finally solve this problem. I hope we’re not too hard on each other and we have enough good will left over after the budget debate to get this done.


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.


11-23-2018 Weekly Update
December 5th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to take a break from politics and write about the day itself. Almost 400 years ago, in the Fall of 1621, long before the beginning of the United States, people came together to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth (before Massachusetts). What fascinated me about the American Holiday of Thanksgiving was the role Abraham Lincoln played in this wonderful day.


Individual States had “days of giving thanks” sprinkled all over the calendar, but it was Lincoln who made it a day for the entire country. During the absolute bloodiest year of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation, which all President’s since Lincoln have done.


It amazes me that he could think of a reason to give thanks in the Fall of 1863. I can’t think of a darker year of American history. Lincoln, always the glass-is-half-full optimist, could find a reason to give thanks. He didn’t use the proclamation for political points and he didn’t bash the Confederacy. He used it to give thanks for the entire country, even though it was divided. I think we should too.


We should start by giving thanks to all of those who do not get to have a Thanksgiving; who can’t take this day off.


Everyone in uniform, past and present, who are now and have missed countless Thanksgivings with their families being deployed to the four corners of the Earth. We should give thanks for our police and fire and emergency medical services for standing watch while we all enjoy a warm home and a bountiful table. We should give thanks to everyone in the hospitals and the nursing homes who have to labor on this special day. We should stop for a moment and ponder all the people who make our modern life possible from the prison guard, the electrical lineman, to the person who makes the sewer treatment plant run and even the person who fixes the cable so we can enjoy the traditional football games. For everyone we take for granted every day of the year, we give thanks to all of you.


Lastly, we need to realize that despite all our differences, it’s not 1863 in America. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot to be glad and optimistic about.


Happy Thanksgiving every one!


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

11-30-2018 Weekly Update
December 5th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



Last week, my Legislative Aide and I drove to Denver to visit with the Mountain-Prairie Regional Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). I wanted to ask them questions about NPPD’s ill-conceived R-Project powerline that is planned to tear through the heart of Nebraska’s Sandhills so a handful of people can make money off a terribly flawed government program. I was told by Ms. Noreen Walsh (Regional Director) and her chief biologist that there was “no reasonable expectation of take for Whooping Cranes” for NPPD’s R-Project power line. This is government-speak that means: Probably not going to kill Whooping Cranes. This turned out to be a false statement.


The R-Project had to undergo an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) ran by USFWS. Analyzing the impact the project has on threatened and endangered species is one of the things the EIS has to do under federal law. During this process it was determined by USFWS biologists that there was a “reasonable expectation of take” for the North American Burying Beetle, an insect on the endangered species list. Consequently, NPPD had to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) This acts as a license from the Federal Government for someone to accidently kill (take) wildlife that is on the endangered species list.


The impact the R-Project has on Whooping Cranes was also part of the EIS. It used very old and sparse data. Using this old data USFWS biologists concluded there was “no reasonable expectation of take for Whooping Cranes.” Several months ago, a “new” study that was partially funded by the USFWS was brought to light. This study involved over 50 individual birds fitted with GPS trackers. The resulting data set was new, large and detailed. The biologists analyzed the data and even obtained an independent review from a wildlife biologist at Oklahoma State University. They concluded the “new” data definitely demonstrated THERE WAS a reasonable expectation of take (would likely kill) migrating Whooping Cranes. There are only about 450 birds left.


So the question is why is the Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Regional Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service refusing to use this data? Why is her chief biologist saying the “science was bad” when several other USFWS biologists and an independent review all say this study was the best available science? Why were the two USFWS biologists stationed in Nebraska, who have lead the project from the start, suddenly removed from the project when this new data came to light? Also, why is USFWS in Denver willing to ignore Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by not including the new data in this study? Furthermore, why is NPPD unwilling to use the best available science to protect our endangered species?


I made a two-day trip to Denver, and met face-to-face with these government officials to learn answers to these questions. I was not satisfied with their answers, so this week I spoke in a conference call with Ms. Margaret Everson, the Acting Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C. On this call, the Regional Director in the Denver Office (Ms. Walsh) may have been less than honest with Ms. Everson. She said her office was considering the new whooping crane telemetry data WHEN JUST A WEEK AGO she told me to my face in Denver her office was not considering this data and that it was “bad science.” Has she changed her mind?


The bottom line is NPPD’s R-Project power line could follow another route that doesn’t pose a threat to endangered species and we could avoid all these problems, but they refuse to change it. I have been misled every step of the way and I am sick of getting the run around. I am forced to continue up the chain of command. I will travel to Washington, D.C. to speak with the Secretary of the Interior before the session starts. At the very least, NPPD could do the right thing and insist the Whooping Crane be made the subject of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study to their project.


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

11-16-2018 Weekly Update
November 21st, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



Three incumbent Senators seeking re-election were defeated in this past election. All politics are local and each one of Nebraska’s 49 legislative districts are unique in their own way. What mattered in one district may not have been an issue in another.


What I want to focus on is what all three of these races had in common: Property Taxes. More to the point, the continuing failure of the Legislature to pass meaningful property tax relief.


All kinds of things influenced the voters and contributed to the outcome of these races, but one thing is crystal clear; to one degree or another, the challenger was able to attack the incumbent senator about the legislature’s failure to pass property tax relief.


Property tax relief has been the number one priority in the 43rd Legislative District since long before I was sworn in. It is clearly the number one issue in the whole state. Every senator in this body, myself included, ran on fighting for property tax relief. Those of us who ran against and defeated incumbents all made an issue out of our opponent’s inability to get something done on property taxes. Now we’ve seen incumbent senators defeated, at least in some part, because of the legislature’s continuing failure to deliver on property tax relief. The next election is less than two years away. Shouldn’t this issue be the number one most important priority for Senators in the legislature? Doesn’t the prospect of becoming a defeated incumbent “one and done” senator finally provide sufficient motivation for the legislature to solve this problem?


It’s easy to find out what is most important to a Senator by the bills they introduce. Each one of the 49 Senators is given a “priority” bill. This is basically an agreement between a senator and the Speaker of the Legislature. The Speaker controls the legislative calendar and gets to decide when bills voted out of committee are put on the calendar and scheduled for debate on the floor.


Should all 49 priority bills be about property tax relief? Is that how we show the people of Nebraska that we hear them loud and clear? I don’t think so. I think it’s more important to the show the people of Nebraska that we can WORK TOGETHER to get this done. First, I think we need to elect a chairman of the Revenue Committee who will push hard to get property tax bills voted out of that committee, and not keep good bills stalled without a vote. Then I think we need several good property tax bills, introduced by a variety of different senators. Bills that address all three classes of property; agricultural, commercial and residential. I think we need different ways to pay for bills such as changes to the TEEOSA formula, changes to how we value agriculture ground, changes to tax levy authority, and/or ending certain sales or income tax exemptions. I also think we need to take a hard look at changing article VII of the constitution so we can better define how “the legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools.” Lastly I think we need the senior senators from both sides to step-up and provide the leadership to pull all of these different ideas together. I’m going to do everything in my power to help make this happen.


People in my district, and across the state, are losing homes, farms and ranches because they can’t pay the property taxes. I think we owe it to the people of Nebraska to finally solve this problem before we debate bills about prairie dogs or indoor tanning facilities or driver-less cars.


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

11-09-2018 Weekly Update
November 15th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



The election is behind us. On a National level, I was pleased to see those U.S. Senators who voted against confirming Judge Kavanagh lose their elections. On a State level, I was saddened to see the Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative pass 53% to 47% statewide.


It was defeated in 85 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. In the 13 counties of the 43rd Legislative District, it was defeated by wide margins in all but Dawes County, where the measure carried by just 258 votes. Initiative 427 was beaten in our district 57% to 43%. It’s safe to say the overwhelming majority of voters in my district do not support it. I will introduce legislation in the next session that will represent this dissatisfaction.


ONE COUNTY in Nebraska, by itself, had more than enough votes to pass this initiative. In Douglas County alone it carried by nearly 47,000 votes and passed statewide by 42,000 votes. 2/3 of Nebraska’s population lives in an urban setting. People in cities seem to vote for more government services.


Technically, the Legislature can change the “law” created by a ballot initiative, but laws made by ballot initiative are special. Our Constitution requires 2/3 of the legislature, or 33 votes to change a law created by the people. Getting 33 votes in the Nebraska Legislature is next to impossible. The plain truth is at this time there is nothing senators can do about Medicaid Expansion. The fight is going to be about how to pay for it, and what programs and services Nebraskans will have to do without. There isn’t the votes to raise taxes, so cuts to other programs must be made to fund Medicaid Expansion.


Medicaid Expansion has all but destroyed any chance of property tax relief in this next session, but it has shown me some very instructive statistics. I’m more convinced than ever the only way we will get property tax relief is through the ballot initiative that is currently slated for the 2020 election. If the outcome of this election is any guide, winning Douglas County means we will get property tax relief. The idea there is a parcel of land smaller than many ranches in my district that contains enough votes to impose its will on the rest of the State is just staggering to me.


In other news, an incumbent NPPD Board Member was defeated 62% to 38%. Mr. Thomas Hoff, who voted for the R-Project power line, won only his home county of Custer, and lost the other 20 counties of his district. The ONLY check and balance on our public power companies is the ballot box. I am so pleased the voice of the people effected by the decisions members of this board makes was heard loud and clear in this race.


Speaking of the R-Project power line (wind energy is it’s purpose) the Cherry County Commission met recently to discuss a zoning ordinance for wind energy. Over 80 citizens attended. They noted only 3 people spoke on behalf of wind energy at the meeting.


Whether it was national, state, or local, there was a little something for everyone in this last election. Something to be happy about. Something to be angry about. Something to keep working on. We shall press on.


“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”  Calvin Coolidge


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room #1101
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
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