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Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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01-04-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

The 1st Session of the 106th Legislature will start next Wednesday the 9th of January. Once again my good friend Sen. Steve Halloran will introduce a bill concerning the Convention of States. Once passed, this will be Nebraska’s “application” to the US Congress asking that a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the US Constitution be called. I strongly support this legislation and will co-sponsor Sen. Halloran’s bill again.

2/3s of the States (34) have to make application for this convention to happen. So far 12 States have done this. 10 more States have passed the measure in one chamber of their legislature. Convention of States legislation has been introduced in another 25 States including Nebraska.

The framers of the constitution put two methods in Article 5 of the constitution so the constitution could be amended. Our country has used the first method in Article 5 (2/3 of Congress) thirty three times to create twenty-seven amendments to the constitution. The process clearly works. The second method in Article 5 (2/3 of the States) have a convention to propose amendments to the constitution. Once 34 States have made application, Congress calls the convention (names the time and place). All States may send a delegation whether they applied for the convention or not. Amendments to the constitution are proposed at the convention. Each State has one vote. Amendments voted out of the convention are sent to congress to select a mode of ratification, and then they are sent to all 50 States for ratification. We’ve never done this before, but I think it is high time we do.

Regardless of whether congress proposes the amendment, or the States do, it must be ratified by ¾ or 38 of the States. That amounts to 76 houses of government just like our legislature. They each have to vote to ratify an amendment. This works out to be about 2,500 State legislators like me all have to vote “yes” to ratify an amendment to the US Constitution. This is a very powerful safeguard the framers of the constitution put in place.

This is NOT a constitutional convention. This is a convention for purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution. I urge everyone to read Article 5. There is no authority to re-write the constitution. People have told me this convention could “run away” voting out all kinds of radical changes to the constitution. Repealing our 2nd amendment gun rights, or making abortion a constitutional right. I simply ask them to show me the 38 States and their 76 houses of government that would vote to ratify such a thing.

Instead of raising groundless theoretical worries, I would point folks to our “run away” federal government we can see every day in Washington, D.C. This is real. The looming disaster of our national debt and the harm it is going to cause our children and grandchildren is real. The States got together in Philadelphia in 1787 and created our Federal Government. I think it is past time for the States to get together and rein it in.

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

12-28-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I would like to use this weekly update to share a “good news” story about government. It does my heart good to share something positive and hopeful. All things considered this is a small victory, but for me personally, my staff, and the family involved in this story— it matters a lot.

In the 1970’s, a county in my district built a North-South blacktop road through the Sandhill’s. The road spans many hills and valleys for over 60 miles. Along the path of this road are many wet meadows with culverts. This valley in particular was not built with a culvert to drain the valley. With the new roadbed acting as a dam across this particular valley, the seasonally wet meadow turned into a large permanent lake. What used to be a hay meadow yielding about 1,500 round bales a year was now under water. By 1983, the road became a state highway and was put under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT).

The family who owns the land complained to their elected officials for the next 50 years or so. Property Tax Assessors, County Board members, NDOT officials, Governors, US Senators, Members of Congress, and Nebraska State Senators including several of my predecessors. The family contacted me about this problem shortly after I took office two years ago.

My staff and I began trying to figure out how we would get a culvert installed under an existing state highway so the lake in the valley can drain. We discovered that the problem began because of the deliberate omission of the culvert. The reason for this was caused by an old feud between a rancher and a hired man from an adjoining ranch. We learned the US Corps of Engineers may be involved because the man-made lake created by the road could potentially be considered a protected wetland. The local NDOT district engineer needed to be consulted to engineer a solution. We were also informed that the NDOT has a construction plan going decades into the future, and how funding and priority are determined for different projects across the State. We quickly realized this is not as simple as just getting a length of culvert, a backhoe, closing the road, and getting to work. There are “a lot of cooks in the kitchen” when it comes to a project like this. We have talked and met with every one of them to address this issue.

Kyle Schneweis is the Director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation. After visiting with him he actually drove out to the Sandhill’s, stood on the road and saw the lake, and visited with the ranch family. The culvert will be installed in 2020. Better 50 years late than never. Thank you Director Schneweis. The Governor couldn’t have chosen a better person for this important job.

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

12-21-2019 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I was invited to the White House this week to be present for the President’s signing of the Farm Bill. It was an amazing opportunity to meet the President and see the White House, and be a part of a bill-signing ceremony. I’ve never done anything like this and was very honored to get such an invitation. In addition to the President, there were quite a few dignitaries in attendance. The Vice President, the Secretary of Agriculture and numerous members of Congress. Spending any time at all in Washington, D.C. reminds me of how blessed we are to live in this country.

I sat next to our Congressman, Representative Adrian Smith, and we watched the ceremony from the second row of the audience. He shared with me all the challenges he was dealing with in Congress, and the all political maneuvering going on in anticipation of the new Congress that will be sworn in this January. He also shared some of his experiences from the time he was a state senator in the Nebraska legislature which I found invaluable.

The Farm Bill does a number of good things. Getting enough elected officials to all agree on something is extremely difficult and only happens when there is a little something for everyone in the bill, so there are a lot of things in the Farm Bill.

The crop insurance portion of the bill as well as the funds to provide relief to farmers impacted by hurricanes is good. The bill reauthorizes the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which is very important right now because of our terribly low commodity prices.

The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by our country’s struggle to correct the unfair trade practices that have been going on a very long time. Part of the bill addresses the on-going opioid addiction problem we see in many rural areas. It also takes steps to help bring broad-band internet to rural areas.

The bill reverses a very old law and now makes industrial hemp legal. This crop was grown by the millions of acres during World War II, a lot of that was in Nebraska. Hemp doesn’t require a lot of water and you can get two crops a year from this plant. There is no infrastructure in place for this crop, and the market for it in the US is in its infancy so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

President Trump signed it the Farm Bill into law even though it lacked the administration’s much-sought-after changes to the food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program (Food Stamps). In a move that would sidestep Congress, the Agriculture Department unveiled a regulatory proposal to expand work requirements for those in receiving food assistance. USDA officials predict the rule change will save taxpayers $15 billion dollars over a decade.

From all of us here in my office, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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

12-14-2018 Weekly Update
January 4th, 2019

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

My staff attended another in a long list of meetings we’ve attended about property taxes the other day. Represented at the meeting were over a dozen different industry groups. All of them are keenly aware of the impact any “solution” the legislature may come up with to the property tax crisis may have on their particular organization. I realize it’s their job, but I am still put off by how these groups focus on and jealously guard their piece of the pie. They are all looking out for their “special interest.” It’s sad to see people so near-sighted. A rising tide lifts all boats. If Nebraska does well, they will too. Instead they see the struggle to fix our immoral property tax problem though the lens of “winners and losers.”

So who’s looking out for the ordinary everyday Nebraska farmer or rancher? Right now, they are the biggest losers and have been for decades. One of the industry groups representing Agriculture said 60% of Nebraska’s farms and ranches will survive the terrible Ag economy we’re in. 30% are on the brink of bankruptcy and 10% will go under this year. Political people at the meeting groaned about the persistent “revenue problem” faced by the legislature year after year. Sales and income tax revenues are down again. The legislature will begin next month with a $95 million revenue shortfall requiring cuts in the State budget (again). This is not rocket surgery folks. The reason why revenues are down is very easy to understand.

1 in 4 jobs in Nebraska and 1 in 5 dollars in our State’s economy come from agriculture. The economy in Nebraska is driven by agriculture yet we have the HIGHEST agriculture property taxes in the country. Property taxes on agricultural property often exceed the amount of income a farmer or rancher could expect to make from the land. People are losing their homes, farms and ranches that have been in the family for generations. People are moving out of our state. There is a “brain-drain” of young college graduates who leave before the ink is dry on their diploma. People and businesses flee our state or don’t locate here to begin with because of property taxes. Tax revenues are down and the legislature is forced to cut the budget year after year because we are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Tax revenues can rebound and our State’s economy can grow when Nebraska’s agriculture economy has recovered.

To be clear, I think everyone should have property tax relief, but for our State’s economy to turn around we must lift the yoke of property taxes off the neck of the farmers, ranchers and agri-business who are responsible for the lion’s share of it. Commodity prices certainly aren’t helping, and our country’s long-overdue struggle for a fair deal with America’s trading partners is making things tough as well. But how can we be surprised Nebraska’s economy is struggling when we ask the #1 economic engine of our State to run a marathon wearing lead boots?
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; 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 1423
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2628
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