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Senator Tom Brewer
“The Interim” (that time between legislative sessions). For most Senators, it’s time to go back to work. Most have jobs, farms, ranches and businesses to attend to. It’s time to go home and reconnect with family too. It’s important to remember we have a part-time citizen legislature. Each of the 49 Senators are ordinary citizens with families, lives and professions. Many have re-election campaigns to run as well.
The interim is also the time to work on big ideas and re-connect with the people in the district.
Big issues are won or lost in the interim. Property Tax Reform, for example, is something that we need to work out during the interim because by the time the session rolls around, it is too late to do big things. I’m slowly working on building a coalition of 33 senators who all agree on an idea to fix property taxes. Compromises are built one senator at a time. You need the time over the interim to do that. At the end of the day, any idea to lower property taxes that can’t receive 33 votes is just a waste of time. I believe there has to be a way to reduce property taxes that can get 33 votes. We need the time over the interim to make that effort.
This is also the time when senators get to go back to their districts and work on issues their constituents bring them. The diversity of issues runs the gamut. Here is a small sample.
A constituent bought a surplus 2 ½ ton Army truck (a deuce and a half) in another state and is trying to get a title for it. The Department of Motor Vehicles says Nebraska law is so vague and ambiguous, they believe military trucks are not “motor vehicles” as defined by current Nebraska law. A new bill is definitely needed to properly fix this. In the meantime I’m hopeful we can work something out with DMV.
The State built a highway in the 1970s which acts as a dam for a hay meadow creating a large lake where 1,500 round bales used to be harvested from. For decades, the land owner has tried to get the State to install a culvert to naturally drain the meadow (which should have been done when the road was built). Turns out the Department of Roads engineer would love to install a culvert but the Federal Army Corps of Engineers considers the man-made flooded hay meadow a federally-protected wetland which we need a permit for. Fixing the Corps of Engineers issue will take some help from our congressional delegation. In the meantime, the State Department of Transportation, and the County and I are working to resolve this issue.
A constituent moved into the district from another State and brought his “bird abatement” business with him. He keeps trained falcons and is hired by airports around the country, for example, to scare away flocks of birds which pose a hazard. Turns out, Nebraska has no law which addresses this subject. I’m working with the Game and Parks Commission to resolve this until we can get a bill passed so we have the law we need. I think it’s important we do all we can to support people who move to Nebraska and want to start a business.
These problems got me thinking. When you hear someone say, “We live in a free country” what does that actually mean? In defending the new constitution in the Federalist Papers, one of the framers of the constitution said it was written with “the presumption of liberty” in mind using a style of legal writing called “the positive grant.” Only government powers that had been “enumerated” (specifically listed) by the people in the constitution, were the only powers the government had. In plain English, if the power had not been specifically written down in the constitution, then the government didn’t have that power. They couldn’t assume, or imply they had the power. It had to be “positively granted” to the government by the people.
I believe people are free to do whatever they want UNLESS there is a law that specifically prohibits them from doing it. The reverse is not true. People do not need a law to be on the books that gives them permission to do something before they can do it. American’s have “unalienable” rights. These are rights that cannot be given away or taken away. By virtue of being born a human being on planet Earth, we have these rights. When the law is silent on something, then the “assumption of liberty” kicks in and I think people should have the right to do whatever that something is.
In other news, the Game and Parks Commission is having their next meeting on 22 June in Ogallala. One of the items on the agenda is whether or not to have a mountain lion hunting season in Nebraska. Like other big game hunting is now, I believe it is important land owners be given a preference when it comes to mountain lion hunting. The staff or I will attend this meeting.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.