NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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11-09-2018 Weekly Update

November 15th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

11-09-2018

 

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; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

11-02-2018 Weekly Update

November 8th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

11-02-2018

 

An old political hand, well versed in Nebraska politics, once told me that “Sessions are won or lost in the interim.” That time is right now. It’s the time that passes between sessions. The implication is the work a senator and their staff do during the interim is key to success during the session. I couldn’t agree more. Other senators have also taken this sage advice to heart.

 

I received a questionnaire from a Senator the other day. This questionnaire is being circulated among all 49 senators, seeking their opinion on a long list of questions. This kind of thing is common and is used to try and “test the water” to see if the votes they will need to pass a particular kind of bill might be found. I think it’s smart from the standpoint you can make an informed decision early whether or not to expend a lot of effort on something. It’s also a really good way to inform all 49 senators you are seriously considering introducing a bill on that issue.

 

In this particular case, the subject deals with guns. As you might imagine, this immediately got my attention. The questionnaire asks my opinion on the same old list of issues, such as making sure people who shouldn’t have a gun actually don’t, banning “assault” weapons, banning so-called high capacity magazines, putting mental health professionals in our schools, encouraging people not to donate to the NRA, funding gun “buy-back” programs, etc.

 

I’m baffled by the predictable regularity with which folks on the left insist on promoting more failed government policies with respect to guns. If this questionnaire is any indication, I think we’ll see more of this in the upcoming session.

 

If my colleagues would do the research they’d find that guns are used 5 times more often to stop crime than to commit crime – and that doesn’t count police use or the deterrent factor of criminals knowing their intended victims might be armed. Guns are used by private citizens to stop criminal activity some 2.5 million times each year and rarely do they even fire a shot doing it. Recreational shooters fire billions of rounds each year, but firearms injury accident numbers keep going down as a percentage of all the guns in circulation and are at record lows. Chicago has the toughest gun control laws in the country yet in 2016, a person was shot about every 2 minutes and one was shot and murdered about every 11 minutes for a total of 722 shot and killed. Statistically, you’d be far safer in Kabul where just about everyone owns an AK-47. Gun control simply doesn’t work.

 

Gun control laws only “control” those people inclined to obey the law in the first place: law-abiding citizens. Murder is ALREADY illegal. Assault with a deadly weapon is ALREADY illegal. More laws don’t stop gun violence. There is no logic – or evidence – to support how further restrictions on law-abiding gun owners is going to make one bit of difference. The 2003 and 2004 studies done by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the National Academy of Science concerning the efficacy of gun control laws on stopping gun-related crime are good resources I encourage people interested in gun control to read.

 

I don’t have a problem with people being anti-gun; everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one is forcing anyone to own a gun. My problem is with those who will not oppose failed government policies with the same enthusiasm they have for attacking the 2nd Amendment. It’s already the only constitutional right we have to ask permission to use. Further restrictions on our constitutional liberties with more failed government policies is wrong.

 

As your Senator you can count on me to continue to support and defend the entire Constitution, most especially the 2nd Amendment. I think it’s the one right we have that guarantees all the others.

 

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

10-26-2018 Weekly Update

October 31st, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
10-26-2018

This week my colleague, Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, accused another of my colleagues, Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, of leaving “…our friends, family and neighbors dying, suffering, and going bankrupt without affordable healthcare.” He made this false accusation in a newspaper editorial simply because she (like many other senators) opposes the Medicaid Expansion initiative. It is sad to be reminded of how course and divisive our political dialog has become.

Nearly $3 million dollars has been raised to promote the Medicaid Expansion initiative. About $1.2 million of that amount has come from national organizations outside of Nebraska. The “Insure the Good Life” organization behind Initiative 427 even has sitting State Senators on their payroll. Like me, I’m sure many of you are wondering how a sitting Senator can be paid a salary by a lobbyist organization to promote a particular legislative outcome. I assure you what is being done is completely legal. Nonetheless, I cannot understand how those of us in the public trust responsible for making the laws can be in a quid pro quo arrangement with organizations who are paid to influence the policy-making process. How can we take the word of a paid promoter funded by outside interests? Are they speaking for what’s best for Nebraska? Is this an honest argument about an important public policy issue, one about an idea standing or falling on its own merits in the public arena? It’s hard for people to know who to believe. As proud as we all are of the transparency and openness built into our unique Unicameral system, Nebraska is still one of the few States that doesn’t have a law against this sort of thing.

Anytime we’re faced with something that will put 1 in 5 able-bodied Nebraskans on a welfare program, cut other important programs and guarantee we’ll never be able to afford property tax relief, I think we need full and fair debate. We’re not getting that. According to the 24 October article in Modern Healthcare called “Medicaid expansion on the prairie: Nebraska’s ballot initiative heads to the polls” even Sen. Morfeld admits “it’s too early to determine how the State should pay its share.” The article goes on to say Sen. Morfeld would like to see the measure passed first. Remember when we were told Congress needed to pass Obamacare so we could find out what was in it?

The aforementioned article cites concerns hospitals have about looming cuts to reimbursement rates to help off-set the “State share.” Will they have to pay a provider tax as they do in other states that have Medicaid expansion? Will tobacco taxes be increased? Will cuts to existing Medicaid have to be made? The big money special interests are obscuring the truth like a smoke screen on a battlefield, and they have good reason to do so. When folks find out the truth and understand what is involved with this program and the harm it is about to cause, most people oppose it.

I want Nebraskans to make the best informed decisions they can. I hope people can see through all the smoke and mirrors created by all of the outside money flooding into Nebraska, and make the smart choice on Election Day. Vote NO on initiative 427.

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

10-05-2018 Weekly Update

October 17th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
10-05-2018

Since I began writing about Medicaid Expansion we’ve received a lot of calls and emails about healthcare in general. The common theme is anger. People are upset about what the federal government has done to the healthcare business in the United States, and I don’t blame them.

People also want to know what can be done about it. From a State Senator’s perspective the answer is – not much. States really are at the mercy of the federal government when it comes to this. I often direct people to our federal congressional delegation (Rep. Smith, Sen. Fischer, Sen. Sasse) to help answer that question, but they are just 3 of 435 members of congress. The bottom line is simple; the more the federal government is involved in healthcare, the worse it will be. Obamacare was supposed to be the solution to this mess, but like every other government healthcare program before it, it just made things worse. Why is that?

Because the government is a third-party payer.

When you buy things with your money for yourself, you are a first-party payer. You are very careful about price and quality. You want the highest quality for the lowest possible price. If you buy something for someone else, now you’re a second-party payer. You’re still very careful about price, but quality isn’t quite as important. This also works in reverse. If you are consuming something that someone else pays for, you are really concerned about quality, but couldn’t care less about the price. Any father (like me) who ever got roped into paying for an open bar at a wedding reception understands how this works. Nobody ever orders the cheap stuff when it’s free.

Now when it is not your money paying for something, and you aren’t the end user or consumer of the product or service being purchased, then you are not concerned about either the price or the quality. This is a third-party purchase. By definition, EVERYTHING government buys is a third-party purchase. The government spends our tax money on things it won’t use. It doesn’t care about the price or the quality. This is how we end up with $640 toilet seats and $7600 coffee pots, and any number of other shocking examples of government waste. This is why Abraham Lincoln said “government should do only those things that a man can’t do better for himself.”

I think we should give President Lincoln’s suggestion a try. What if Americans were able to buy health insurance for themselves just like they buy anything else, like home-owners insurance or car insurance? Insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, doctors would all be working night and day to get our business. This is just 8th grade economics. Every single time you introduce competition into a system, whatever that system provides gets better and cheaper. Every time you get the government involved, you get increased costs, reduced or denied medical service, and waste and fraud.
If Medicaid Expansion passes on Election Day, we will all get a fresh new example of this sad mess. In the end, the people the program is supposed to help will be the one’s it hurts. I recommend people vote against Initiative Measure 427. The sooner we can get government out of the healthcare business and make health insurance a first-party purchase again, the sooner we will get the healthcare we all want.

Many ideas for this writing were found at Prager University. (www.prageru.com)

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

09-28-2018 Weekly Update

October 3rd, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-28-2018

You’re driving down Highway 2 in Western Nebraska. Suddenly you find yourself seriously injured in a traffic accident. It’s 70 miles to the nearest town. It’s a Wednesday at 2:00pm in the middle of the workweek. You dial 911. How long will it be before emergency medical personnel arrive to help you?

In rural Nebraska, you could be in for a long wait. If Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crews are already on a call responding somewhere else, who knows how long it will be.

I am part of an “interim study” about the serious challenges that face our volunteer fire departments and volunteer EMS crews. I am so glad Sen. Bruce Bostelman introduced this idea. This work will very likely produce a bill in the coming session that I will happily co-sponsor.

With the exception of the major cities in Nebraska who have full-time “paid” first responders (Fire and EMS), most of this critically important service in Nebraska is provided by volunteers. Finding Nebraskans willing to give of themselves and serve their community in these vitally important roles is becoming harder and harder to do. We’re exploring ideas to try and reduce this burden.

The requirements to be a “volunteer” fireman or EMS first-responder have steadily increased over the years. The number of “hours” of classroom and hands-on training required to get a certification in the first place, and then the continuing education to keep an “Emergency Medical Technician” or “Fireman” certification have steadily grown. The body of State and Federal laws that apply to this have also grown. Should a State standard be adopted, or should we follow the standards required for the Federal Registry? Should volunteers be given some assistance, perhaps through the tax code, with the costs associated with their training and testing? Why is volunteer fire departments and EMS a topic which falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services? Is some other State agency better suited to perform this role? Is the money from the sale of a specialized Fire or EMS license plates something that should go to the Department of Roads, or should it go to the volunteer fire and EMS departments in the counties? Could the medical units and personnel in our National Guard be utilized to help augment and cover-down on the gaps in EMS coverage? These and many other subjects are being carefully considered by this interim study. I look forward to seeing what comes out of this.

Vacancies in county fire and EMS crews exist all over rural Nebraska, and this directly effects response times. It’s hard for me to fathom the idea rural Nebraskans may not have access to the same emergency medical response that is taken for granted in Lincoln and Omaha. We need to do all we can to empower these incredible Nebraskans who give of themselves to support their community and provide this vital service. The vast majority of the State of Nebraska depends on these volunteers. When need to make the incredible gift of someone’s time and devotion to this important work something that is easier for people to do. We need to get the vacancies filled, reform the bureaucracy that’s getting in the way, and help incentivize a person’s desire to volunteer.

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

09-21-2018 Weekly Update

September 26th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-21-2018

I wrote about Medicaid Expansion last week. This is a big subject, so I want to touch on another aspect of it this week. This November 6th, the following question will be on the ballot;

“Shall Nebraska statues be amended to provide that the state shall amend its Medicaid plan to expand eligibility for medical assistance to cover adults ages 19 through 64 whose incomes are one hundred and thirty-eight percent (138%) of the federal poverty level or below as defined by federal law, and to maximize federal financial participation to fund their care.”

If this passes, all of this language will be in Nebraska law. Read this portion carefully: “…and to maximize federal financial participation to fund their care.”

The “devil is in the details” as they say, and I can tell you that this will create one big devil lurking in the language of the law. This wording will act like a blank check. This will obligate Nebraska to sign up for every new federal program that Washington may dream-up in the future. If it can be called “federal financial participation” we will have no choice but to participate in it.

Federal spending in the States always comes with strings attached. For example, programs often require whatever amount the feds may pay to be “matched” dollar-for-dollar by the State. If the congress decides to spend more money, Nebraska is forced to as well. The difference is, the feds simply print or borrow more money and add to our insane national debt. In Nebraska, our constitution requires us to balance our budget.

Lets say the congress decides it wants the States to offer abortions through the Medicaid program and appropriates money to fund it. This wording in this ballot language obligates Nebraska to not only accept the money, but to provide the “healthcare” congress demands. This law would force us to do that because our law would require us to “maximize federal financial participation to fund their (Medicaid recipients) care.”

The more people that enroll in Medicaid Expansion, the more federal funding is provided. This ballot language could be interpreted by a court to mean Nebraska must proactively seek-out and sign-up every possible person. Again, as such an effort would “maximize federal financial participation to fund their care” a court could order such a thing under this law.

Every time the federal government chose to get more involved in healthcare in the future – provided they send some cash along with their demands – Nebraskans will have no legal choice but to obey. This law would force us to comply because we would have to do whatever was necessary to “maximize federal financial participation to fund their care.”

This isn’t about helping poor people get healthcare. This is about abolishing the State Sovereignty of Nebraska and making us the indentured servants of a federal government welfare program. I recommend you vote NO for Medicaid Expansion in November.

Next week, I’ll talk about some solutions to the problems President Obama identified concerning the cost, availability, and quality of healthcare. There are a lot of ways to do this that do not require a massive welfare program to provide. They don’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

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; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

09-14-2018 Weekly Update

September 19th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-14-2018

The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit against the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative this week. The petition collected enough signatures, so the “question” will go on this November’s ballot. Over 104,000 signatures were collected overall. In the 13 counties of my Legislative District very few signatures were part of this number. Obviously, this kind of math makes my decision to not support the measure pretty simple.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is a very bad idea for Nebraska. It is unfair, unsustainable and un-affordable. It will hurt people, and wreck the State’s budget.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is unfair. It hurts our most vulnerable by crowding them out of the market of available doctors. The federal government reimburses doctors for patients on the “old” version of Medicaid 53%. The remainder is made up by the State. The federal government reimburses doctors for patients on the new “expanded” Medicaid 90%. The number of doctors who take Medicaid at all is rapidly falling. Medicaid patients cost doctors more because the program pays less than traditional health insurance. Of those who do accept Medicaid patients right now, many will stop rather than face a new wave of Medicaid patients. Having a Medicaid card in your wallet does not mean you’ll be able to actually receive any healthcare.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is unsustainable. Our country has a $21 trillion fiscal operating debt. We’re adding about $1 trillion to that every year. One day, and I pray that’s soon, the Feds are going to wake up and finally put a halt to this suicidal fiscal insanity. The argument you’ll hear that we’re “missing out” and leaving federal dollars we could have just sitting there is laughable. It’s like bribing you with your own money. The federal tax dollars are paid by ALL of us. When the federal money dries up, where does that leave Nebraska, now addicted to hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for a program the feds no longer support?

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is un-affordable. The annual cost of Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is estimated to be $45 million on the low end. In every state that has implemented this, the growth in spending for this program has been at least 50% higher than originally estimated meaning the truth will probably be closer to $90 million just to start with. Put aside for a moment the fact this massive new spending program will put 1 in 5 Nebraskans on welfare, where will this money come from?

We are under a federal court order to correct serious problems in our prisons or start turning inmates lose. We have K-12 schools, colleges, and university to pay for. We need roads and bridges. Almost $2 out of every $3 in our $4.5 billion state budget already goes to a very long list of social programs and the agencies who administer them. Our citizens are being crushed by punishing property taxes. Which one of these items do we cut to pay for Obamacare? Which tax do we raise to pay for this? How many citizens and businesses will flee our high-tax state as a result?

The success of a government welfare program should be measured by the number of people who no longer need it, not by how many more people we can get signed up for it. Medicaid is already spread too thin. Adding a whole new population of able-bodied adults to this program makes it much worse and hurts the very people who really need it. Ronald Reagan said the best social program in the world is a job. Instead of more taxes and more welfare programs, we need to lower taxes, attract business and create good paying jobs in Nebraska that come with healthcare benefits.

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; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

09-07-2018 Weekly Update

September 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-07-2018

The interim has been busy and the summer has flown by. Property Taxes continue to dominate discussions with citizens and senators. In looking for ideas for legislation, I heard a rural senator ask his constituents what they thought “the best bill for farmers and ranchers” might be. The unanimous response was Property Tax Reform!

I am working with Sen. Groene’s study group to analyze how changes to the State’s Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) could help improve the property tax crisis. Few people in the State of Nebraska understand TEEOSA better than Mike Groene. We’re very fortunate to have him spearhead this important work. LB 1059 was a controversial bill that created TEEOSA in 1990. It survived a governor’s veto, and a ballot initiative referendum seeking its repeal. It created TEEOSA. It apportions money the legislature spends to help fund K-12 education. Unfortunately, of the State’s 288 school districts, only about 60 receive aid through this formula. As I’ve written about before, property taxes in Nebraska are too high because the legislature doesn’t appropriate enough money for K-12 education. We are working on how we can meet the needs of the schools and students and give property tax relief at the same time.

I am also on the Nebraska Justice System Special Oversight Committee. This committee meets to address the many pressing issues facing our Department of Corrections. Since it began about 18 months ago, I have been impressed by how much progress Director Scott Frakes has managed to accomplish. Much remains to be done, but we’re definitely making progress. A legal quarrel has developed over the Judiciary Committee’s desire to subpoena Mr. Frakes, and the Attorney General’s subsequent lawsuit to quash the subpoena. I hope this is resolved soon.

We’re waiting on a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the MEDICAID Expansion ballot petition (aka Obama Care). This initiative has gathered the necessary signatures to be put on the ballot this November, but there is a question about whether or not the process was done properly. Every one of the 8 States that have implemented this species of Obama Care has regretted it. The rosy projections about the costs have all been wrong. The actual bill is way more than the estimate, plus we’d be adding able-bodied adults to a government welfare program. If this passes, people can forget about property tax relief. The money just isn’t there.

I continue to meet with NPPD about their plan to build a huge power line called the R-Project. This is going through the heart of the Sandhills. It will spoil a singularly unique place in the world so a handful of people can make money off of tax credit generators (industrial wind turbines). New data about the impact this will have on endangered Whooping Cranes has been brought up during a public comment period. I’m asking NPPD to re-open this part of the Environmental Impact Study and consider the new data. More to follow.

Constituent and group-issues are on-going throughout the summer and into the fall trying to work on problems for them. Currently, I have at least two bills to fix some of these issues in the next session. It grinds my gears to think we need to pass a small change in the wording of an existing law so ordinary citizens can pursue life, liberty and happiness. The old saying “we live in a free country” takes on a different meaning here in the legislature. I have also been speaking to Veterans and various groups and will continue to advocate for them. I’m working with other Senators to form a veteran’s coalition to bring key leaders from all veterans group together to help bring veterans issues into sharper focus in the legislature.

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; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-31-2018 Weekly Update

September 6th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-31-2018

I recently learned that NPPD has retained outside legal counsel in Denver and Washington, D.C., for the purpose of “Government Services” – also known as a lobbyist. The aim of this lobbyist is to try to influence the USFWS Office in Denver to ensure a favorable outcome for the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to NPPD’s R-Project. I have very serious concerns about this. I want to make sure there isn’t any undue influence being applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service by a public utility that is owned by the citizens of Nebraska. Those citizens, many of whom I represent, do not want their public utility doing this.

Last week, I mailed a letter to the Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Denver with copies to Governor Ricketts, Senator Deb Fischer, Senator Ben Sasse Congressman Adrian Smith and the Director of the USFWS. The Denver office has supervisory authority over the USFWS office in Nebraska that is preparing the EIS for Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) R-Project. This is the 225-mile high-voltage power-line that is about to tear through the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. It is going to do irreparable harm to a treasure unique to the world so a handful of people can make money off of a terribly flawed government program. I have written about this many times.

The portion of the EIS that concerns me deals with threatened and endangered species. The data NPPD used to address the threat the powerline poses to severely endangered Whooping Cranes was very old and limited. Studies based on this old data estimated a mortality of only 0.022 Whooping Crane deaths by wire strikes over the entire 50 year life of the R-Project. Consequently NPPD wasn’t required to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the Whooping Crane because the “take” was less than one bird a year.

Recently, a new study from 2015 was submitted to the USFWS during a public comment period. This study was based on telemetry data collected from individual birds that had been tagged with GPS trackers. Compared to the old data currently used in the EIS, this data set is very large and very detailed. In looking this over myself, I’m certain far better conclusions could be drawn from this new data set. I believe if proper analysis is done on this data, it is likely to demonstrate that far more than 0.022 Whooping Cranes will be killed by the R-Project. Going back and re-opening this part of the process so analysis of this new data can be done would further delay the project, something I know NPPD is opposed to. Nonetheless, the right thing to do is make sure the decisions that are ultimately made about the endangered Whooping Crane are supported by the best available information.

Only one wild migrating flock of the endangered Whooping Cranes is left. About 430 birds fly to Canada each year directly through the route of the R-Project. When you look at the map that plots all the GPS coordinates recorded from migrating Whopping Cranes, the route of the powerline is covered with dots. The #1 leading cause of death in migrating birds is collisions with power lines. It is important to consider the combined impact of the R-Project along with the 5 planned wind energy projects (that we are aware of). If the Whooping Cranes somehow survive the R-Project, they still have to navigate the danger posed by the industrial wind turbines the R-Project is being built for.

The fact NPPD (owned by the citizens of Nebraska) has spent rate-payer dollars to employ a “government services” attorney (who function as a lobbyist) to try and grease the skids with the US Fish and Wildlife Service so they can turn a blind eye to this new data is wrong. NPPD can re-route this power-line project, and avoid this, and many other serious problems the current route poses. Sadly, they stubbornly refuse to consider any concern the public has raised over the route of this R-Project. The very least the citizen-owners should be able to expect is the federal law and process to be followed to the letter without any inappropriate arm-twisting.

The chapter of the Environmental Impact Study for the R-Project on endangered species needs to be re-opened. The new data needs to be analyzed and considered so the best informed decisions can be made. Supplemental studies and reports should be done. Ways to try and mitigate the impact of this enormous power line on endangered Whooping Cranes need further consideration. It’s the right thing to do, but will NPPD do it? Stay tuned.

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; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-10-2018 Weekly Update

August 20th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-10-2018

“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?” Last words of Sophie Scholl before being executed by the Nazi Gestapo, 22 February 1943.

The topic I write about today has been bothering me for a long time. I am afraid for my country, so I am going to speak out. There is a big lie being spread in the United States and Americans need to know about it. The violent hate group known as “Antifa” (an-tee-fah) proclaims itself to be “anti-fascist.” This is fake news. The truth is THEY ARE FASCISTS. They are not fighting against fascism in the United States. They are fighting to destroy our civil society, our constitutional republic, and replace it with a fascist dictatorship. They are a modern incarnation of Mussolini’s Black Shirts in Italy in the 1920’s, and Hitler’s Brown Shirts in Germany in the 1930’s. Antifa is following the exact same tactics using riots, assault, and the destruction of property. To put it in modern terms, they are a domestic terror organization. Antifa and their affiliated groups should be designated as such by our federal and state governments, and prosecuted by law enforcement.

I began by quoting Sophie Scholl because she is an example of a “real” anti-fascist. She fought against real fascism. She was guillotined by the Nazis because she spoke out against them. She tried to exercise political “free speech” by printing and distributing pamphlets that criticized Nazi fascism. Like the true fascists they are, Antifa doesn’t want free speech for Americans. If you disagree with them, you’ll end up beaten and bloodied, maybe even dead. Examples of this abound all over public media.

Here is how the lie works: If you support President Trump, this means you are a Nazi, and/or a fascist, and/or a racist white supremacist (the so-called “alt-right”). Antifa and other allied groups are supposedly the noble organizations who are standing-up and “resisting” the Nazis, fascists, racists, etc. Obviously President Trump isn’t any of those things and Antifa is the fascist organization who wants to shut down free speech. This tactic is right out of the “real” fascist play book: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Joseph Goebbels – Hitler’s Propaganda Minister.

For those who support our President, try this little test: Imagine wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat out in public. Do you feel the slightest twinge of hesitation? Does the thought make you just a little anxious? Are there places you wouldn’t wear it? That trepidation you feel is your first amendment rights being taken away from you. THAT is Antifa’s goal. That is the goal of the radical progressive left in the United States: crushing dissenting speech.

Free speech should not be silenced by a masked thug on the street or some coward lurking behind a keyboard. Americans should not be stripped of their constitutional rights. The progressive left (the real fascists) should understand they can’t bully their fellow Americans into submission using a big lie they can’t hide. Hundreds of millions of people see it for exactly what it is and they have been “…awakened and stirred to action.” The spirit of Sophie Scholl is alive and well in America.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. 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 #11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
Email: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
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