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Senator Tom Brewer
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; email@example.com. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.