NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at tbrewer@leg.ne.gov

12-07-2018 Weekly Update

December 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

12-07-2018

 

The 1st session of the 106th Legislature of Nebraska begins in a month. Our constitution says the Legislature only has to do two things: It has to meet on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January (the 9th of January this year), and it has to pass a balanced budget. The first day of session we elect the speaker and all the committee chairs and all 49 Senators are assigned to committees.

 

The “Committee on Committees” figures out committee assignments. For a supposedly non-partisan legislature, there sure is a lot of partisan politics involved in this process. It’s difficult but very important work because you live with these assignments for two years.

 

Some time ago I publicly announced my intention to run for the Chair of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. I am humbled by how much support I have received from my fellow senators so far. The election of committee chairs is the very first order of business on the first day of the session, so we will know by close of business on the 9th of January if I am elected.

 

I am trying to change my committee assignment from Banking, Commerce and Insurance to the Education Committee. How we pay for K-12 public schools is an important part of finding a solution to our property tax crisis. Nebraska is 49th in the nation in terms of how much money the legislature appropriates for school funding. Forty-eight other states spend more than we do and this has led to a severe over-reliance on property taxes to fund our schools.

 

Property Tax relief continues to be my top priority. I think we have a slim chance to come together and get something passed this session. To that end, I see three keys to success: (1) We need to elect a chairman of the Revenue Committee who will get property tax bills voted out of that committee. (2) We need to get a lot of bills voted out, and they need to be voted out early in the session. The more Senators with a bill on the floor, the more skin there will be in the game. The more Senators who can claim a little credit for property tax relief, the better. (3) Most importantly, the Speaker (Sen. Jim Scheer) needs to be re-elected and he needs to lead on this issue like he did last session. Unfortunately this wasn’t able to happen until very late in the session, but he was certainly very effective. His leadership early in the session is an essential component to success with this issue.

 

I do believe this session is going to be very hard. There is going to be a big fight over the budget that much is clear. However, the collective personality of this legislature is going to be completely different with the 13 new senators in the mix. New or old I know every senator in the body ran their campaign at least in part on solving the property tax crisis. Therefore I think it’s too early to be a pessimist. I think all 49 senators know in their heart we need to finally solve this problem. I hope we’re not too hard on each other and we have enough good will left over after the budget debate to get this done.

 

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.

 

11-23-2018 Weekly Update

December 5th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

11-23-2018

 

With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to take a break from politics and write about the day itself. Almost 400 years ago, in the Fall of 1621, long before the beginning of the United States, people came together to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth (before Massachusetts). What fascinated me about the American Holiday of Thanksgiving was the role Abraham Lincoln played in this wonderful day.

 

Individual States had “days of giving thanks” sprinkled all over the calendar, but it was Lincoln who made it a day for the entire country. During the absolute bloodiest year of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation, which all President’s since Lincoln have done.

 

It amazes me that he could think of a reason to give thanks in the Fall of 1863. I can’t think of a darker year of American history. Lincoln, always the glass-is-half-full optimist, could find a reason to give thanks. He didn’t use the proclamation for political points and he didn’t bash the Confederacy. He used it to give thanks for the entire country, even though it was divided. I think we should too.

 

We should start by giving thanks to all of those who do not get to have a Thanksgiving; who can’t take this day off.

 

Everyone in uniform, past and present, who are now and have missed countless Thanksgivings with their families being deployed to the four corners of the Earth. We should give thanks for our police and fire and emergency medical services for standing watch while we all enjoy a warm home and a bountiful table. We should give thanks to everyone in the hospitals and the nursing homes who have to labor on this special day. We should stop for a moment and ponder all the people who make our modern life possible from the prison guard, the electrical lineman, to the person who makes the sewer treatment plant run and even the person who fixes the cable so we can enjoy the traditional football games. For everyone we take for granted every day of the year, we give thanks to all of you.

 

Lastly, we need to realize that despite all our differences, it’s not 1863 in America. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot to be glad and optimistic about.

 

Happy Thanksgiving every one!

 

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.

11-30-2018 Weekly Update

December 5th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

11-30-2018

 

Last week, my Legislative Aide and I drove to Denver to visit with the Mountain-Prairie Regional Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). I wanted to ask them questions about NPPD’s ill-conceived R-Project powerline that is planned to tear through the heart of Nebraska’s Sandhills so a handful of people can make money off a terribly flawed government program. I was told by Ms. Noreen Walsh (Regional Director) and her chief biologist that there was “no reasonable expectation of take for Whooping Cranes” for NPPD’s R-Project power line. This is government-speak that means: Probably not going to kill Whooping Cranes. This turned out to be a false statement.

 

The R-Project had to undergo an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) ran by USFWS. Analyzing the impact the project has on threatened and endangered species is one of the things the EIS has to do under federal law. During this process it was determined by USFWS biologists that there was a “reasonable expectation of take” for the North American Burying Beetle, an insect on the endangered species list. Consequently, NPPD had to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) This acts as a license from the Federal Government for someone to accidently kill (take) wildlife that is on the endangered species list.

 

The impact the R-Project has on Whooping Cranes was also part of the EIS. It used very old and sparse data. Using this old data USFWS biologists concluded there was “no reasonable expectation of take for Whooping Cranes.” Several months ago, a “new” study that was partially funded by the USFWS was brought to light. This study involved over 50 individual birds fitted with GPS trackers. The resulting data set was new, large and detailed. The biologists analyzed the data and even obtained an independent review from a wildlife biologist at Oklahoma State University. They concluded the “new” data definitely demonstrated THERE WAS a reasonable expectation of take (would likely kill) migrating Whooping Cranes. There are only about 450 birds left.

 

So the question is why is the Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Regional Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service refusing to use this data? Why is her chief biologist saying the “science was bad” when several other USFWS biologists and an independent review all say this study was the best available science? Why were the two USFWS biologists stationed in Nebraska, who have lead the project from the start, suddenly removed from the project when this new data came to light? Also, why is USFWS in Denver willing to ignore Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by not including the new data in this study? Furthermore, why is NPPD unwilling to use the best available science to protect our endangered species?

 

I made a two-day trip to Denver, and met face-to-face with these government officials to learn answers to these questions. I was not satisfied with their answers, so this week I spoke in a conference call with Ms. Margaret Everson, the Acting Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C. On this call, the Regional Director in the Denver Office (Ms. Walsh) may have been less than honest with Ms. Everson. She said her office was considering the new whooping crane telemetry data WHEN JUST A WEEK AGO she told me to my face in Denver her office was not considering this data and that it was “bad science.” Has she changed her mind?

 

The bottom line is NPPD’s R-Project power line could follow another route that doesn’t pose a threat to endangered species and we could avoid all these problems, but they refuse to change it. I have been misled every step of the way and I am sick of getting the run around. I am forced to continue up the chain of command. I will travel to Washington, D.C. to speak with the Secretary of the Interior before the session starts. At the very least, NPPD could do the right thing and insist the Whooping Crane be made the subject of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study to their project.

 

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.

11-16-2018 Weekly Update

November 21st, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District

11-16-2018

 

Three incumbent Senators seeking re-election were defeated in this past election. All politics are local and each one of Nebraska’s 49 legislative districts are unique in their own way. What mattered in one district may not have been an issue in another.

 

What I want to focus on is what all three of these races had in common: Property Taxes. More to the point, the continuing failure of the Legislature to pass meaningful property tax relief.

 

All kinds of things influenced the voters and contributed to the outcome of these races, but one thing is crystal clear; to one degree or another, the challenger was able to attack the incumbent senator about the legislature’s failure to pass property tax relief.

 

Property tax relief has been the number one priority in the 43rd Legislative District since long before I was sworn in. It is clearly the number one issue in the whole state. Every senator in this body, myself included, ran on fighting for property tax relief. Those of us who ran against and defeated incumbents all made an issue out of our opponent’s inability to get something done on property taxes. Now we’ve seen incumbent senators defeated, at least in some part, because of the legislature’s continuing failure to deliver on property tax relief. The next election is less than two years away. Shouldn’t this issue be the number one most important priority for Senators in the legislature? Doesn’t the prospect of becoming a defeated incumbent “one and done” senator finally provide sufficient motivation for the legislature to solve this problem?

 

It’s easy to find out what is most important to a Senator by the bills they introduce. Each one of the 49 Senators is given a “priority” bill. This is basically an agreement between a senator and the Speaker of the Legislature. The Speaker controls the legislative calendar and gets to decide when bills voted out of committee are put on the calendar and scheduled for debate on the floor.

 

Should all 49 priority bills be about property tax relief? Is that how we show the people of Nebraska that we hear them loud and clear? I don’t think so. I think it’s more important to the show the people of Nebraska that we can WORK TOGETHER to get this done. First, I think we need to elect a chairman of the Revenue Committee who will push hard to get property tax bills voted out of that committee, and not keep good bills stalled without a vote. Then I think we need several good property tax bills, introduced by a variety of different senators. Bills that address all three classes of property; agricultural, commercial and residential. I think we need different ways to pay for bills such as changes to the TEEOSA formula, changes to how we value agriculture ground, changes to tax levy authority, and/or ending certain sales or income tax exemptions. I also think we need to take a hard look at changing article VII of the constitution so we can better define how “the legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools.” Lastly I think we need the senior senators from both sides to step-up and provide the leadership to pull all of these different ideas together. I’m going to do everything in my power to help make this happen.

 

People in my district, and across the state, are losing homes, farms and ranches because they can’t pay the property taxes. I think we owe it to the people of Nebraska to finally solve this problem before we debate bills about prairie dogs or indoor tanning facilities or driver-less cars.

 

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.

11-09-2018 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.

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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