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The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA) along with the Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC) hosted the Sovereign Native Youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Leadership Academy in Lincoln this week. I was part of a tour with these Middle and High School students of the Capitol and later a tour of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum near Ashland. I really enjoyed working with these exceptional young people, who came from all over Nebraska. I was honored to escort this group.
This week also included a radio interview with the Chadron radio. So I could be in two places at once, my Legislative Aide did a radio interview with KRVN in Lexington where the Right to Repair legislation was discussed. I co-sponsored this bill (LB 67) that would restore ownership, or what I consider to be just basic property rights, to owners of Agriculture equipment. Information technology has advanced to the point everything has an on-board computer which owners of ag equipment cannot repair themselves because they cannot access software operating systems. Ag equipment owners should have the same rights of ownership an automobile owner has. If you have a car with a problem, you can plug in a little hand-held diagnostic computer and read a fault code and find out what part is bad and replace it yourself. If you own a shiny new half-a-million dollar piece of ag equipment with a problem, you can’t even start the engine without paying a technician to come out and access the operating software. I hope folks contact the members of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to support this bill and vote it out to General File so we can debate it and pass this legislation.
My staff also attended a hearing about the 911 emergency system this week. There are a lot of challenges making sure everyone in the state has access to basic cell phone/wireless coverage so no matter where you are, you can dial 911 and call for help. That’s the goal in the law and getting there, especially in places like the Sandhills, is a considerable challenge. This infrastructure is taken for granted in the urban areas of our state, so not everyone realizes the urgent need we face in the Western Nebraska. I am a strong supporter of efforts to expand wireless coverage and we have to do everything we can in the Legislature to promote this. Unless they’ve been out-West recently, “No Service” is not something a lot of people in Nebraska have seen on their phone in a long time. Like everything else, this capability costs money so funding is also a serious concern.
The staff and I continue to discuss the property tax issue with many citizen groups and a number of Senators. I think a ballot initiative is going to happen this summer, along with a legislative resolution a number of senators support early next session. I am excited and very hopeful we will see something soon, and I will be supporting it.
The Nebraska constitution says “…the legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools.” What has happened instead is the legislature “provided” laws that ended up forcing 70% of the State’s school districts (175 of 249) to operate without financial support from the State. In those school districts, 100% of the costs are being paid for entirely by local property tax payers. This is a very divisive situation where most urban schools end up with State dollars supporting them, and most rural schools do not.
The bottom line is the Legislature has to find a way for the State of Nebraska to pay a lot more for K-12 education than it does right now. Too much of that bill is on the backs of property tax payers. “….the legislature shall provide” needs to really mean “provide.”
I’ll be at the Middle Niobrara Natural Resource Districts Conservation Field Day in Ainsworth 26th of the July. Later that day I’ll be at the ribbon cutting for the new Mid-Plains Community College in Valentine. I’ll also be at the Sheridan County Parade in Gordon next Saturday for the on the the 29th of July as well as the County Fair and Rodeo. I look forward to seeing everyone and talking with you. Please join me.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 471-2628.