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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

03/17/17 Weekly Update

March 22nd, 2017

Floor debate on priority bills continued this week. A lot of time continues to be spent on the “Choose Life” license plate. This is a controversial issue and has generated a lot of debate and cloture votes. The Helmet Law Bill from Sen. Lowe of Kearney is also a controversial issue where debate went to a cloture vote. That failed by one vote which was disappointing. Sen. Lowe is a good senator. Like Senator’s do, he tirelessly promoted his bill with all the Senators of the body. I supported him. He had received promises from several who pledged to vote for cloture (stopping debate) and they changed their vote at the last minute. I am taking the time to explain this because I hear from folks all the time who tell me they don’t like the political partisanship they see in our non-partisan legislature. I would urge folks to remember that integrity; being true to one’s word, is far more important than political ideology. Lack of integrity causes far more problems in our Unicameral than any political party ever did and I am sad to report I see it every day.

My bill that would establish a two-year moratorium on commercial wind energy development in the Sandhills (LB 504) survived a kill motion and is now “held in committee” and will very likely stay there without any action for the rest of the session. The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Dan Hughes (LD44) opposes the bill, and as long as he does, it will never come out of the committee to the floor of the legislature for debate. I would like to thank the many hundreds of my constituents in the 43rd District who took the time to come testify for the bill, and who have called and written letters and emails to the committee. Thank you for being Nebraska’s “2nd House.”

The Revenue Committee will meet in Executive Session very soon. My bill to put a four-year cap on property taxes beginning in 2019 (LB 576) will be on the agenda. I have worked closely with the eight members of the Revenue Committee and as I write this the vote is too close to call. We need five votes to advance the bill to general file. As I have said before, Nebraskans should not have to suffer future increases in property taxes while waiting for the legislature to fix this extremely complex problem. I would urge people interested in this bill to contact the members of the Revenue Committee, most especially the Chairman, Sen. Jim Smith (LD 14) and ask him to vote to advance the bill to general file.

I have two bills left to introduce:

LB 503. Stops the State from collecting union dues from employees.
Business & Labor Committee, 20 March at 1:30pm, room 2102.

LB 502. Implements “Constitutional Carry” for guns.
Judiciary Committee, 23 March at 1:30pm, Room 1113.

I’ll be doing a Town Hall in the district this Saturday. Please join me at the Bunkhouse in Valentine at 8:00am on Saturday the 25th of March. It’s at 109 East Highway 20.

I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills before the legislature. Please keep your calls and letters coming. Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.

03/10/17

March 15th, 2017

We had a short week this week with a recess day on Friday. Floor debate on priority bills continues, although we are way behind compared to previous years. I worry we will not be able to hear all the priority bills. The bottom line on bills is if it has not been designated a priority bill by a senator, a committee, or the speaker, I seriously doubt it will make it to the calendar and be heard on the floor.

I introduced two bills this week. LB 501 clarifies language in the law about the requirement to post signs that govern the concealed carry of handguns on private property. Since it was a “gun related” bill it faced a spirited debate from Sen. Chambers (LD11) and a lot of questioning from the other members of the Judiciary Committee.
LB 576 would put a four-year cap on property taxes beginning in 2019. This bill drew a lot of attention in the Revenue Committee. I was very impressed by the number of folks from the district who came to testify. As I have said before, Nebraskans should not have to suffer future increases in property taxes while waiting for the legislature to fix this extremely complex problem. That said, I am not hopeful this bill will make it out of the Revenue Committee, and even if it did, it wouldn’t be heard on the floor because of how little time is left in the session. I suspect a number of other Property Tax measures will face the same fate. During my testimony for this bill, I publicly stated I would make it my priority bill next session if the measure fails to make it to the floor this year.

The Natural Resources Committee met in Executive Session this week. A motion was made to kill LB 504, which is the bill I introduced to put a two-year moratorium on commercial wind energy in the Sandhills. The motion was defeated so the bill remains “held in committee.” The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Dan Hughes (LD44) did go on record opposing the bill. When the committee report is published I will name how the Senators voted on the kill motion. At present, the committee has not voted to advance the bill. Even though a motion to advance the bill would likely fail, I want that vote anyway. At the very least, the people of Nebraska, and in particular those in the Sandhills, deserve to know how the Senators of this committee would vote on a motion to advance this important issue. I would urge my constituents to contact Chairman Hughes and members of Natural Resources Committee and ask them to vote on a motion to advance LB 504.

The two committees I sit on (Government, Veterans and Military Affairs; and Banking, Commerce and Insurance) continue to hear bills every day. We are meeting in executive session and voting on a large number of bills.

I have two bills left to introduce:

LB 503. Stops the State from collecting union dues from employees.
Business & Labor Committee, 20 March at 1:30pm, room 2102.

LB 502. Implements “Constitutional Carry” for guns.
Judiciary Committee, 23 March at 1:30pm, Room 1113.

I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills before the legislature. Please keep your calls and letters coming. The last day of committee hearings is the 23rd of March. After that, the legislature is in session all day (and probably into the night on some days!) Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.

03/03/17 Update:

March 8th, 2017

This week things were moving right along for a while, but we’ve become bogged-down with a filibuster on LB 46 which would create a “Choose Life” license plate. There was a tragedy on Thursday at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. The legislature is now looking into this situation. I believe this will take priority on the floor in the week ahead, as we look into what happened. I would urge folks to wait for the State Patrol to finish its investigation. The report will no doubt contain recommendations for all to consider.
I introduced three bills this week. Two of these bills were controversial. LB 504 will establish a two-year moratorium on commercial wind energy development in the Sandhills, and LB 505 will require State agencies to report certain information about refugee re-settlement in Nebraska. These bills drew considerable attention from the public and testimony ran late into the evening. I was humbled by the people supporting these measures who came from far and wide in the middle of calving season to testify. Thank you!
March 8th I will introduce LB 501 which cleans up some language in the law governing the concealed carry of handguns on private property, and on March 9th I will introduce LB 576. This bill would put a four-year cap on property taxes beginning in 2019. I want people to know I understand the incredible importance of reducing property taxes in the district and Nebraska. This is a very old problem. The people of Nebraska have been very patient for decades as the legislature has tried and failed to solve this problem. At the very least, Nebraskans should not have to suffer future increases in property taxes while waiting for the legislature to fix this extremely complex problem. If we can pass LB 576 into law, hopefully a “cap” on property taxes looming in the future may generate the kind of political will necessary to solve this problem once and for all. I see my bill as a great “companion” to one or more of the other property tax bills being considered. I think it makes any other idea to fix this problem easier. The bottom line is kicking this can down the road again is not an option. Property taxes, especially on agricultural ground in the district, aren’t just “too high.” I believe they have reached the point where they are immoral.
The two committees I sit on (Government, Veterans and Military Affairs; and Banking, Commerce and Insurance) continue to hear bills every day. I chaired the Government committee this week when LR1CA was heard. This measure would put a question on the ballot in the next election that would amend Nebraska’s constitution requiring an ID to vote. There was a lot of public interest in this measure. Testimony for this hearing ran late into the evening.

I have four bills left to introduce:

LB 501. Clarifies laws concerning signage prohibiting concealed-carry.
Judiciary Committee, 8 March at 1:30pm

LB 576. Puts a cap on Property Taxes.
Revenue Committee, 9 March at 1:30pm

LB 503. Stops the State from collecting union dues from employees.
Business & Labor Committee, 20 March at 1:30pm

LB 502. Implements “Constitutional Carry” for guns.
Judiciary Committee, 23 March at 1:30pm.

I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills before the legislature. Please keep your calls and letters coming. The last day of committee hearings is the 23rd of March. After that, the legislature is in session all day (and probably into the night on some days!) Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.

February 24th Weekly Update

March 1st, 2017

02/24/17 Update:
Another busy week in the legislature has flown by! This is the first week there were no extended fights on the floor about rules, so we actually began addressing bills and moving them through the process of amendment and debate.
This week I introduced two more bills in committee, LB 165 which concerns the eVerify system that would help address the problem of illegal aliens in our work force, and LB 498 which makes some language changes to make the property tax relief provided by the Homestead Exemption Act easier to use for seniors, disabled, and low-income folks.
I’ve made a decision to name LB 340 as my priority bill. Every senator gets one priority bill that “should” be put on the calendar and debated on the floor of the legislature. This bill restructures the function of administering our State Veteran Homes from something the Department of Health and Human Services does to the Department of Veterans Affairs. I urge everyone to take a look at this bill. It will greatly improve the delivery of important services to our Veterans. I am very excited about working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs to see the bill make it all the way to the Governor’s desk.
Another busy week looms ahead as I introduce two bills on the 1st of March (LB 500 and 504) and another on the 2nd (LB 505) I strongly encourage folks to take a look at my bill concerning wind energy development in the Sandhills (LB 504). I would really appreciate hearing from you on this bill. This is a very contentious issue and I welcome your input no matter what side of the issue you are on.
The two committees I sit on (Government, Veterans and Military Affairs; and Banking, Commerce and Insurance) continue to hear bills every day. I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills I will hear in those committees. It is very helpful.
The property tax issue is working it’s way through committees in the form of at least fifteen different bills I know of. People visit with me every day about this serious problem. LB 576 is my bill to help deal with this. As I write this, I cannot honestly say I am hopeful a solution will emerge this session. I hope I am proven wrong.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather and see the snowfall totals we have in the district. So far I haven’t heard about any problems getting cattle to feed, and hope it’s not making the calving season too tough. Please keep me posted. With what we have on the ground right now, we’re one bad snow storm away from real trouble.

I have seven bills left to introduce in committee. I encourage everyone interested in these bills to consider attending the hearing or writing letters to the committee chairperson.

LB 500. Changes laws concerning concealed-carry for Law Enforcement officers. Judiciary Committee, 1 March at 9:15am

LB 504. Creates a Wind Energy Task Force / Moratorium.
Natural Resources Committee, 1 March at 9:15am.

LB 505. Requires certain information about Refugee Resettlement to be made public. Judiciary Committee, 2 March at 1:30pm

LB 501. Clarifies laws concerning signage prohibiting concealed-carry.
Judiciary Committee, 8 March at 1:30pm

LB 576. Puts a cap on Property Taxes.
Revenue Committee, 9 March at 1:30pm

LB 503. Stops the State from collecting union dues from employees.
Business & Labor Committee, 20 March at 1:30pm

LB 502. Implements “Constitutional Carry” for guns.
Judiciary Committee, 23 March at 1:30pm.

Again, I appreciate all of your input and concerns. Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.

24 February 2017 Press Release

February 24th, 2017

For Immediate Release:

Hearing for LB 504
Two-year moratorium on the construction of commercial wind energy in the Sandhills

LINCOLN – Senator Tom Brewer, Representing Nebraska’s 43rd legislative district which covers most of the area known as “The Sandhills,” will testify in front of the Natural Resources Committee at 9:15am Wednesday morning the 1st of March, where he will introduce LB 504. This bill directs the creation of a task force to study the impact commercial wind energy projects are having on the Sandhills, and places a two-year moratorium on the new construction of these projects while the task force studies the issues, and compiles a report for the legislature. Senator Brewer urges citizens interested in the subject to consider attending the hearing, or sending letters to the committee voicing their opinion on this important issue.

02/20/17 Weekly Update

February 23rd, 2017

This week we extended the temporary rules for the 3rd time this session. The debate will resume on Monday, the 20th of March. Hopefully between now and then, we can debate and pass some bills as we have spent a third of the session fighting over the rules and little else has gotten done.
Friday the 17th was a recess day at the Capitol, and that night I met with the Niobrara Council at the Peppermill in Valentine. It was very informative and I appreciated the chance to meet those on the Board.
This past Saturday the 18th, was my first townhall meeting as a Senator of District 43 at the American Legion in Gordon, NE. Many are very involved and asked great questions. It is important to keep the lines of communication open and I look forward to the next townhall meeting in the district.
Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet informally with several who have concerns about LB 504 which addresses the commercial wind energy in the Sandhills. It was a good discussion and a very emotional issue for all involved. I look forward to hearing from everybody from all sides of this issue.
Wednesday, February 22nd, is the day I testify in front of the Judiciary Committee on LB165 E-Verify. This bill implements the E-Verify system for private employers in Nebraska. It is already in use for state and federal government hiring.
Friday, February 24th, my bill LB 498 Homestead Exemption will be heard in the Revenue Committee. Currently the Homestead Exemption stays with the property, my bill will change the language of the Homestead Exemption Act so this important benefit is connected with a person instead of a piece of real estate.
Again, I appreciate all of your input and concerns. Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in our current legislature.

February 10th Weekly Update

February 15th, 2017

On Friday, February 10th, I introduced my very first bill, LB 121, in front of the Revenue Committee. Implemented over the next five years, this bill ultimately exempts $50,000 in military retired pay from Nebraska individual income tax. We had the support of various military groups. Eight people testified in support of the bill including a retired general officer. Over fifty veterans filled the room. I was so honored by this experience. All Nebraskan’s need a tax cut, and there are a lot of bills that will do that this session. I have my eye on several and will keep you posted on their progress as they move through the committees, but we need to fix this. All of our neighboring states have reduced or no state income tax on military retirement pay. We make it hard for Veterans to retire in Nebraska. We’re losing a very important part of our community when we force them to leave with outdated tax laws. I think LB 121 is a good first step.

On Tuesday, February 14th, I will testify in front of the Agriculture Committee for LB 499. I introduced this bill to require out-of-state bee keepers to site their hives temporarily transported to Nebraska at least three miles away from a registered Nebraska bee keepers hive. The intent is to help prevent Nebraska bee keepers from being forced to compete with out of state hives and seriously impacting their honey crop. Our neighboring states all have laws that do this, so the problem has moved to Nebraska because we do not. Out of state bee hives are welcome in Nebraska, but they need to be respectful of our bee keepers when they come.

Wednesday, February 15th, I will testify in front of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for LB 497. I introduced this bill to update and harmonize current law in order to make the necessary provisions for Nebraska to utilize a new Department of Defense program that allows the official record Department of Defense Form 214 (DD Form 214) to be accessed and shared by veterans electronically. As it is, the official artifact veterans currently use is the paper form with a raised seal and original ink signature. This bill brings the law up to date in order to give veterans the opportunity to leverage new information technology. Nebraska will be the third state to use this new capability if this passes.

On the floor of the Legislature this past week, we continued to debate and amend the permanent rules. The last election changed the political ideology of the legislature, so it’s no surprise this has been a very contentious issue that has taken up the majority of the time on the floor with little or no progress. This controversy has forced the temporary rules to be extended twice, which is unprecedented. They expire Tuesday. Hopefully after that, we will adopt permanent rules and be able to move past this phase and move forward with the work that the people sent us here to do.

This Saturday, February 18th, I will be having my first townhall meeting since the election. Please join me at the American Legion in Gordon, NE from 3:00-5:00 p.m. I’ve been keeping abreast of the amount of snowfall we’ve received in the district, and the affect it has had on the cattle and calving. I’ve checked in with the Governor’s office and they are also monitoring the situation. I want to hear from you about this and other important issues, and fill you in on what’s been happening here at the Capitol. Thanks to all for your help in keeping me updated, and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday. As always, please feel free to contact my office with your concerns.

February 03, 2017 Weekly Update

February 9th, 2017

This past 30 days has been a whirlwind of activity. The 105th Legislature convened on Wednesday, January 4th. A lot has happened. The Lincoln paper referred to the 4th of January as a “political earthquake.” I have been appointed to be the Vice-Chairman of the Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee. I am also serving on the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee. I have also been appointed to serve as Chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee. The legislature is in session all morning and I’m in committees all afternoon every day of the week.

My office is in Room 1202, which is located in the hallway to the right of the South entrance of the Capitol. My email address is: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov and the office phone number is: (402) 471-2628 / 2606. My office staff consists of my Administrative Assistant, Julie Condon, and my Legislative Aide, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Tony Baker. Please contact Julie for scheduling appointments and Tony for legislative issues. Their email addresses are: jcondon@leg.ne.gov and tbaker@leg.ne.gov. I have a Legislative page on the State of Nebraska Legislative’s website and will be posting regular updates. You may find my website by going to www.nebraskalegislature.gov. This website is a great place to follow the Legislature and find information on the bills you are interested in.

I’ve introduced twelve bills during this session. I’ve introduced three different bills related to Veterans. I’ve also introduced three bills related to gun rights, and four other bills concerning a variety of topics. Thus far I’ve also co-sponsored another eighteen bills. Let me know if there is something you would like to discuss.

I made sure I was able to introduce two very important bills that address serious problems I have heard from one end of the district to the other. LB 576 is a very simple bill that cap’s 2017 and 2018 property taxes at the 2016 level to give the people the promise their property taxes will not go up while the legislature works on finally solving this difficult problem. I also introduced LB 504 which puts a two-year moratorium on the construction of commercial wind energy projects in the Sand Hills while a Task Force studies the impact this has on this important region in our State.

If you follow the legislature, you’ll see that there is considerable gridlock going on right now. The last election brought significant change to the political ideology of the body. Though we are technically a non-partisan body, there are those who now find themselves in the minority of political opinion and they are not happy about it. Sadly, this results in not much else getting done. I’m confident the will of the Nebraska voters will ultimately break this gridlock and we will be able to move forward on the State’s business.

Thank you for all of your calls, emails and letters we’ve received from the 43rd District. I really appreciate how eager people in my district are to get involved in our State Government. Please stop by the office to say hi if you are in town. I am working on a couple of opportunities to have some Town Hall meetings in the 43rd District in the near future. Please watch for more information concerning this.

Senator Tom Brewer
District 43
State Capitol
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509

402-471-2628

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room #1202
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
Email: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
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