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Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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05-01-2020 Weekly Update
May 15th, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I read an article the other day where people were actually talking about euthanizing fat cattle. If we are living in a time where we are having those kinds of discussions, I think it is blindingly obvious we need to be focused on the economy of Western Nebraska.

Some will argue that in the age of the coronavirus we need to be focused on this pandemic. It is important, no doubt. This virus has killed a lot of people, and every one of those deaths is a tragedy. It is also clear this virus is nothing close to as bad as it was first feared to be. I say we should all rejoice and thank God that it turned out that way.

A couple of months ago, the government believed the death rate from this virus would have us digging mass graves right now. Today, hospitals have begun to close and they are laying-off healthcare workers for lack of patients. I think that tells us a lot about how blessed we all are. We seem to have dodged a big bullet.

I believe Nebraskans are quite capable of going back to normal life while protecting the people who are vulnerable to this virus and following the necessary health precautions. We need to get on with the plan to reopen Nebraska. A big part of that recovery has to include our Western Nebraska economy.

We have the world’s best product in Nebraska Beef. In these times of historically low cattle prices and serious problems with the markets, we need the Federal government to get out of the way and help local meat lockers get the USDA inspection they need to open their doors.

Meat shortages are already starting. Grocers cannot keep beef on the shelf. Big packing houses are working with reduced staffing. Tyson is warning wholesale customers to expect delays and shortages. President Trump issued an emergency executive order to prevent meat-packing plants from closing.

Consumers need more beef. Ranchers need a fair cash market to sell cattle. That sounds like a match made in heaven to me. We need to change these obsolete policies and cut some red tape so we can feed the world, starting with ourselves.

A rancher was talking to me about the process for starting a craft brewery in Nebraska, to sell a Nebraska-made food product to the public. It was not always that way. Alcohol is one of the most regulated products in the country. But craft breweries have made some headway against old, obsolete government red tape. They can now sell directly to consumers. This makes for a premium experience for the buyer and a premium price for the seller. We have seen that model working for craft breweries, and it has transformed the industry. I would sure like to see ranchers have the same freedom to try this approach with their beef. I believe Nebraska beef is one of the finest things we produce in this state. Let’s make it easy for the ranchers and the small-town butchers.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

04-24-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I am humbled to report I recently received a call from the National Rifle Association. They have given me their highest rating of “A+” and their endorsement. Protecting the right to keep and bear arms is something that is close to my heart. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the one amendment that guarantees all the others.

This is not some dusty old relic from the past. This right that we recognize in our federal and state constitutions is as important now as it ever was. Nebraska voters spoke loud and clear in 1988 at the ballot box. They overwhelmingly voted to amend our state constitution to clarify that the Second Amendment is considered an individual right in Nebraska, one enjoyed for many different lawful purposes.

Hunting brings generations of families together and puts calories on the supper table. There are lessons available in the field with a parent or grandparent that a kid just cannot find anywhere else. Nebraska has some of the best hunting opportunities in the world, which is why hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching contribute billions of dollars to the state economy every year.

Competitive shooting teaches concentration, discipline, and teamwork. It is a passion of mine, and I have shot in more competitions than I can count and coached teams in a few others. We develop a lot of good shooters here in Nebraska. The Nebraska Cornhuskers rifle team has been in the national tournament more than half a dozen times since the team was formed in 1998, and is coached by a former team member — Rachel Martin — who ought to be headed to the next Olympics herself.

Twenty-three percent of gun owners (and growing) are women. More every day are applying for their concealed handgun permit and taking classes like the NRA’s “Don’t Be A Victim” program. Youth development programs like Project Appleseed, the scouts, and many others teach important character values through shooting sports.

Defense of self and family is an everyday benefit of the Second Amendment. Violent crime is down from highs in the eighties and nineties, but the average American still has about a 1 in 650 chance of being victimized in a violent crime this year. Police are trained to help, and they want to help, but they cannot be everywhere at once. Keeping a firearm for defense is at the core of the constitutional right to arms.

Most importantly, the right to keep and bear arms is there to protect our liberty. We are blessed by liberties not enjoyed by many others around the world. But the price of liberty is constant vigilance. The Declaration of Independence tells us that a government that usurps rights and abuses the people should not be the government for very long. The right to keep and bear arms is what makes that statement more than just ink on the page of a musty old document. We must protect it at all costs.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

04-17-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

Yesterday, the President announced his three-phase plan to “Open Up America Again.” I must say this isn’t a moment too soon. People and business are being rapidly destroyed economically. We need to protect our vulnerable citizens, and re-open our economy as fast as possible.

The President said the States would “lead” this operation. There is a darn good reason for this. It’s a three-way power-sharing arrangement, between the federal, state and local governments called Federalism. This is a distinctly American way of doing things.

Most countries have a “national” executive with absolute power to lord over their country in times of emergency. Political subdivisions like states or provinces or towns are often totally subordinate to this national executive. When the framers of our constitution met in the summer of 1787, they considered having a “national” executive, like every other country on Earth had at the time.

They flatly rejected it. They didn’t want another King. They wanted an “American” system instead.

The framers didn’t trust government. They had just fought an eight-year war to get rid of a tyrannical, oppressive government. That’s why our constitution is so full of checks and balances on government power. That’s why we have three branches of government. Two can always gang up on one and straighten them out. This is where the Federalism power-sharing idea came from.

The “Federal” (not national) government has only specific “enumerated” powers in the federal constitution. The State’s remain sovereign and hold most of the power under both the federal and state constitutions. Lastly the “local” governments hold power delegated to them by the state legislature under their state constitutions.

It’s only when a once-every-hundred-years pandemic disease hits the country do most American’s ever get to see Federalism in action, and it’s often not a pretty sight. Power sharing is always hard. Navigating ancient bureaucracy at multiple levels is frustrating and inefficient. Desperately needed relief is delayed. Legions of government employees at every level are struggling to do the right thing. People are confused by rapidly changing circumstances that bring a new version of reality almost every day. It’s hard to know from one minute to the next if something is federal, state, or a local problem. There are most definitely easier ways to run a country.

But you know what? It’s the only way to run a country founded on the principal that individual human beings are sovereign, with guaranteed rights that the government is bound to acknowledge and protect.

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, a group of 55 patriot geniuses stayed locked in a room under guard in Philadelphia for six months and created the best country the world has ever seen. Have faith in our constitution folks. It’s been tested far worse than this. Every single time we use the system they created, America wins. We have a tough road ahead, but we will win again. I have no doubt.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

04-03-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

The massive and exponentially increasing economic stress placed on the back of citizens in our country by the coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light into many dark corners in our economy. In talking with ranchers around the district, it’s clear the market response to coronavirus has reignited concern and frustration with the beef cattle market.

In recent weeks, several ranchers have told me they don’t need or want a coronavirus bailout from the government, they just need a fair and competitive cash market to sell their cattle. Since taking office four years ago, the average income of our nation’s production ranchers has dropped 20%. Today, the small percentage of cattle sold in the cash market isn’t large enough to allow for robust price discovery on the production side of the cattle industry. This is causing some of the lowest cattle prices we’ve seen in a very long time.

There is a lot of stuff packed into the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill the federal government just passed. I want to be sure some of the programs and funds approved in that bill make it to the folks who need it most – specifically folks in Western Nebraska. People have shared some great ideas on specific programs that could be beneficial for Nebraska’s ranchers, I’m working with the Governor’s office to see if we can get some of those ideas across the finish line.

A few examples of these ideas include:

Granting flexibility for lenders to grant emergency extensions of loan repayment deadlines.
Temporarily suspending the federal capital gains tax on the sale of land, cattle, and equipment.
Reduce job-killing red tape that prevents small meat processors (like Sandhills Beef in Mullen) from opening their doors.
Increase robust price discovery to improve competition for live cattle markets.
Ask the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately investigate beef packing industry margins.

I’m also very worried about the upcoming property tax deadline. The first of two property tax payments are delinquent after May 1st. Nebraskan’s paid about $4.2 billion in property taxes last year. While this money supports thousands of local units of government, like schools and county governments. I’ve said for years we need to worry about the “tax-payers” just as much as the “tax- spenders.” With so many people unemployed and terrible volatility in cattle prices, I don’t know how a lot of our ranchers can afford to keep paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

Just so folks realize this, the primary election will happen as scheduled on the 12th of May. If you were planning on voting by mail, the Secretary of State’s website has a lot of useful information. There are some important dates folks should be aware of. April 6th early voting ballots began being mailed out. May 1st is the last day to request a mail-in ballot to be mailed to you. Make sure your voice is heard.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

03-27-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

The Nebraska Legislature is shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are “in recess at the call of the speaker.” We have seventeen legislative days remaining in this 60-day session that we must complete. Our state constitution specifies when the legislature will start work — the first Monday after the first Wednesday in January — but it is silent on where the legislative days fall after that. We will reconvene and finish the session, but no one knows when. The situation is changing rapidly. I would like to think it will be sooner rather than later.

Most senators’ physical offices are closed, with all their employees working from home. A handful of us have kept our physical offices in the Capitol open, with some staff on-location and the others working from home on a rotating basis.

As I type this, Congress just passed the largest bill (in terms of money) in the history of the country, and they moved the bill on a “voice vote” so no one can ever know where individual members stood on the $2 trillion piece of legislation. This troubles me. There is also a load of pork-spending in the bill that doesn’t have anything to do with the public health emergency. I realize it is essential that we help the millions of Americans hurt by this virus. Elected officials often have to “hold their nose and vote.” But at what point does our country’s massive national debt become an emergency?

The good news is financial assistance will now begin to flow to those in need. Individual taxpayers should receive direct deposits or checks from the federal government in the next several weeks. Adults who made less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 will get paid $1,200 per person. There are a lot of different loans and grants for business in the bill as well.

The President and his team are doing an outstanding job with this crisis. They are walking a tightrope with a global plague on one side and a global economic depression on the other, and they are doing it right before an election. We’re finding out the virus is not as lethal as was first feared. All of the “mitigation” in government advisories — social distancing, closing down business, etc. — appears to be working very well.

American medical science, in partnership with scientists around the world, is producing new life-saving drug therapies and treatments almost daily. I think all of these efforts have dramatically flattened the curve. I am optimistic that Nebraska will continue to be successful in preventing this disease from overwhelming our healthcare system — a system which is the envy of the country by the way. I am hopeful that Nebraska will be one of the first states to be “open for business” again and to return to normal. The sooner we can do that, the better.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

03-20-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I have received several questions recently about fake meat. Folks are asking me whether a state or federal approach is better in regulating and labeling these alternative protein products, i.e. fake meat.

Recently, the Unicameral considered LB 594, legislation introduced by an urban senator. As originally written, this bill would require that advertising, promoting, labeling, or selling plant-based, lab-grown, or insect-based foods as meat would constitute a deceptive trade practice under state law.

While still in the Agriculture Committee, LB 594 was changed to remove the definition of what constitutes “meat.” In the minds of many, this was the only true “meat” of the bill. Instead, the amended bill would merely create a consumer complaint process. Shoppers would have to first notice deceptive labeling on grocery shelves.

Consumer protection is a very worthy public policy goal and one that I support. LB 594 would not offer any protection, because it would rely on the public to be the enforcers. And even if a consumer complaint is filed, there is no guarantee that action will be taken.

Folks want truth in labeling, including making sure that a product that says “beef” actually comes from livestock. Only action from the federal government will be effective in making that happen because in Nebraska all our labeling of products must be overseen and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

My office has reached out to our Washington delegation several times to discuss this problem. Senator Deb Fischer introduced legislation in Congress to better protect consumers and cattle producers. The Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act (the “Real MEAT Act”) would fight deceptive labeling in three ways:

1. Establish a federal definition of beef for food labels; products made to simulate beef (but not derived from cattle) must be labeled “imitation” and require an on package disclaimer.

2. Require the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to notify USDA if an imitation
meat product is determined to be misbranded.

3. If FDA fails to undertake enforcement within 30 days of notifying USDA, then
enforcement authority is shifted to USDA.

It is useful to look at what the dairy industry has been through in recent years. Almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and a whole slew of plant-based products have eroded the market for “real” dairy products. The FDA has laws on the books that require products to be labeled “milk” only if derived from actual lactating mammals. Otherwise, those products are supposed to be pulled from the shelves. Unfortunately, our dairy producers are still waiting for FDA to actually enforce this law.

I strongly support the Real MEAT Act. I encourage Congress to pass it quickly. The tools to protect consumers and defend our state’s largest industry can only come from DC. I have been monitoring this situation in Congress and look forward to reporting good news back to the district soon. I encourage Nebraskans to voice their support for Senator Fischer’s bill to our federal lawmakers.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

03-13-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

Every session, the Nebraska Legislature has budget business to attend to. In the odd-numbered years, the Legislature has a longer session and has to build a two-year budget for state government operations in Nebraska. Inevitably, in the shorter sessions during even-numbered years, we have to go back and make any necessary “mid-biennium” adjustments. Some of these may be necessary because revenue forecasts turned out to be inaccurate. Other adjustments are due to new legislation that has changed funding requirements.

I consider property tax relief to be my number one job as the District 43 senator. Unfortunately, the momentum for property tax relief has seemingly stalled. Most urban senators have dug in their heels. The big school districts are energetically fighting the bill viewed as the best vehicle for property tax relief, Senator Linehan’s LB 974.

To Senator Linehan’s credit, she has been a bulldog on this issue. During debate on the budget adjustment bills, she filed an amendment to set-aside money for property tax relief. Although that particular attempt was unsuccessful, I think that it served a very important purpose. It turned the conversation back to discussion of the property tax crisis and what we are going to do to solve it.

We are hearing a lot about the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are talking about shutting down classes, from kindergarten to college-level. The University of Nebraska has already announced a move to all-remote instruction for the rest of the spring semester. The Speaker of the Legislature announced that he is working with others to plan for modified operations if it becomes necessary to close the Capitol. We can get some legislative business done outside of the building, but every vote to move bills through the three stages of floor debate has to occur in the legislative chamber.

Right now there have been no community-acquired cases diagnosed near Lincoln. If that changes, the Legislature could adjourn until the pandemic runs its course. We are allowed sixty legislative days this year by the Nebraska Constitution. Now that we are down to the last third of the session, it is possible that much of the remaining session could take place later in the year if necessary. I am hopeful that we can stay the course and keep working on the things that voters sent us here to do.

For other governmental bodies, I am pleased to say that a bill I introduced last year makes it easier to conduct official business remotely. That bill, LB 212, should help a number of public bodies to conduct public business meetings even during a quarantine period. I really introduced the bill thinking of the challenges posed by Nebraska winter weather for folks who might have to drive four or five hours to attend a meeting. But that alternate remote meeting procedure should come in handy while we are dealing with the threat of this infectious disease.

There is a lot of economic uncertainty because of this pandemic. Financial markets are volatile. Crude oil is lower than any time in recent memory. People are cancelling work and vacation travel. There is panic-buying of some household goods. And for property tax payers, this is a new crisis piled on top of an old crisis. I am hopeful that my colleagues will recognize the urgency of relieving the property tax burden. Now is the time to act.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

02-28-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

Several of my fellow senators said they were “terrified” by their fellow Nebraskans who open-carried a gun into the Capitol for gun control bill hearings last week
I have found from personal experience most of the senators in Nebraska’s legislature to be intelligent, well-balanced people, regardless of their politics. There have been armed citizens in that building every day since it was built. With just one or two exceptions, I do not believe my fellow senators are personally afraid of guns.
It must be something else that terrifies them.

Screaming people wearing pink hats and delivering bloody Barbie dolls to your office does not scare them. Loud activists dressed up in phallic costumes do not seem to set off any alarm bells. But a stranger with a gun really sends some of them over the deep end.

As far as safety was concerned, capitol security and the State Patrol were informed well in advance of this event that some people might choose to open carry. They provided additional manpower, and they were prepared for far more people to open carry than actually showed up. Only two people at the event chose to bring rifles. Their rights were respected.

Let me acquaint folks with exactly who these strangers with guns actually are. I can tell you, because I am a gun guy myself.

The Second Amendment has been under ever-increasing attack all of my life. Citizens like me who try to defend it are hyper-vigilant to ensure we do absolutely nothing to damage this cause. That’s why the four hundred or more people who came into the Capitol were careful to be respectful, polite, and patient. They didn’t scream obscenities like the other side did. They did not leave so much as an empty coffee cup behind.

These are citizens of our state. And they are people who took the initiative to take time off of work, only to stand in line for several hours for a 90 second opportunity to be heard on a proposed law. That shows a dedication to civic duty that I respect.

Many of these people also happen to be highly trained and skilled with firearms. There were gun store owners and competitive shooters in the crowd. Many of them were veterans. They have a passion for the safe and appropriate use of guns. These people also have a passion for the American way of life. And they stand up for our constitutional rights like few others manage to do.

I hope my colleagues realize that if you have to be around a stranger with a gun, you could not pick a safer group of people than were in the Capitol last week. To say these people make the Capitol unsafe assumes they came to the hearing with criminal intent in their hearts. This is as insulting as it is ignorant.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

02-21-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

As I write this, hundreds and hundreds of citizens are gathering in the hallways of our state capitol. The line wraps all the way around the inside of the building, and more are pouring in. The vast majority are here to testify against LB 816, a bill to more heavily regulate the right of Nebraskans to purchase most semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. I have never seen anything like this in my time as a senator. My heart swells with pride to see so many of my fellow citizens willing to stand up and defend against this assault on our constitutional rights. I am confident LB 816 will be swiftly dispatched into the “bad idea” file. If nothing else, this incredible display by the “second house” of our state legislature will signal to future politicians how serious Nebraskans take their constitutional rights.

In other news, the fight continues over LB 974, a property tax relief bill. It has had its first three hours of debate on General File. A second three hour bloc will be put on the agenda when the bill introducer, Senator Linehan, can show the Speaker she has 33 votes for “cloture.” This is a motion that ends a filibuster and allows a vote to be taken. This vote will be incredibly close without a single senator to spare. I am hopeful Senator Linehan can round up the needed support so we can continue moving this bill forward. Right now, it is too close to call.

Some of the bigger schools and many organizations who lobby on behalf of schools are opposed to this bill. Most school districts dislike the idea of spending limitations on schools, however modest. The bill does provide full funding for schools while lowering property taxes. Depending on the school district you live in, the bill lowers property taxes by 20 to 25 percent. I wish we could do more, but this bill would be a promising start. It is the best chance the Legislature has to address the property tax crisis this session. I think it is the most important thing my colleagues and I can do this year.

Lastly I want to touch on an issue I am helping a constituent with. Sandhills Beef is a small business in Mullen. The owners are trying to grow their business and bring badly needed jobs and economic development to Western Nebraska. They are having a tough time getting the USDA to give them the inspection the government requires. My office is working to find a solution to this problem. I am hopeful that we will get to share a success story about this in the weeks to come.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

02-14-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

A bill by Sen. Stinner (LB 1165) would do away with the Brand Committee. The constituents who have contacted me have grave concerns with this idea. We have had brand registration and inspection in Nebraska since before we were even a state.

In response to LB 1165, the Brand Committee drafted a bill (LB 1200) and presented it to Sen. Halloran, who chairs the Agriculture Committee. Since my legislative district is what makes Nebraska “The Beef State,” Sen. Halloran asked me if I would like to introduce the bill, and I am glad he did. This is an incredibly important bill to my district, and Sen. Halloran has also agreed to put a committee priority designation on LB 1200. The committee hearing for this bill will be Tuesday the February 18th. I encourage those with an interest in saving the Brand Committee to testify in support during the hearing, or provide a letter of support to the Agriculture Committee if you cannot make the trip.

The Brand Committee has done a good job of updating the law with LB 1200, but there will likely be an amendment to the bill to address some specific details that may need to be changed. I encourage those interested in this to read the bill and give me your feedback. It can be found at:

In other news, LB 58 (the gun confiscation “Red Flag” law) has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee and advanced to General File. However, the bill has not been prioritized. In the short session (60 days) we are in, bills that have not been prioritized will essentially be dead. I am closely following this bill and will make sure the word gets out if this bill is ever prioritized and put on the agenda. I want to thank the hundreds of people who have contacted me and my staff about this bill. The outpouring of support pledging to fight this bill is simply amazing. Let your voice be heard!

Sen. McCollister’s LB 816 will be heard in the Judiciary Committee Friday, February 21st. I am also strongly opposed to this bill, which would restrict our ability to buy and sell many common rifles and shotguns. I encourage folks who oppose this bill to contact the Senators of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote NO on LB 816. I have been told by many gun owners are planning to make the trip to Lincoln for the hearing on this bad bill. It has also not been prioritized as of this writing. I will keep a close eye on this one as well and be sure to inform the public if this is ever up for debate before the full Legislature.

The plain truth of all this is so simple: these two bills violate the oath senators took to “support and defend” the Constitution. I cannot understand how a person could swear such an oath and then turn around and vote for either of these bills. They are a direct assault on a number of our constitutional rights. On top of this, these bills don’t work. Restricting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens doesn’t stop or reduce gun-related violence.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, 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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