NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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

07-23-2021 Weekly Update
August 9th, 2021

Nebraska had only been a state for seventy years when the very first session of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature was held in January 1937. Every school kid in Nebraska is taught about our one-of-a-kind system of State government. Most of them also tour the capitol building at this time of year. As another mob of school kids trooped past our office door, the inevitable always happens. They see the buffalo head I have displayed in our office. Much to the frustration of their chaperons, they all want to see “Buffy” and our office is suddenly filled with wide-eyed fourth-graders brimming with questions. This has to be the most photographed buffalo mount in the state. They make you forget the often vulgar nature of politics, and remind you that we do things here that are going to out-live us. They inspire me, so I decided to write about them today.

We have a Unicameral Legislature in Nebraska because Nebraska is one of only twenty-six states that have a constitution that grants the power of “initiative and referendum” to the people. The Unicameral idea was a ballot initiative in Nebraska. The first one in 1923 did not collect enough signatures. In 1933 a second ballot initiative was launched. U.S. Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska was instrumental in the initiative’s success. He agreed to promote the idea only after the initiative organizers agreed to ensure the plan created a “non-partisan” Unicameral (not organized around the political party with the most senators in the body).

Three ballot initiatives put questions on the ballot in the 1934 election; changing to a unicameral, ratifying the 21st Amendment (ending prohibition), and a measure to legalize pari-mutuel betting (a style of betting used in horse racing) Nebraska historians have argued that the unicameral question being on the same ballot with questions about alcohol and gambling, in the middle of The Great Depression, was very lucky political timing. It’s worth noting the voters passed the gambling measure along with the Unicameral idea, but Nebraska was one of the eight states that did not ratify the 21st Amendment.

The first Unicameral had forty-three senators and has grown to forty-nine along with the population. Initially the terms for Senators were two years long, changing to four years in 1962. The legislature only met in the odd-numbered years until 1970 when the long (90 days) and short (60 day) sessions constitutional amendment was adopted. This was about the time Senators were given full-time staff as well. I’ll be writing more about our Unicameral in the weeks to come. 

Inspiration for this weekly update, and many facts in this writing are taken from the brilliant work found in “A History of the Nebraska Legislature” by Dr. Michael Dulaney.

09-13-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
9-13-2019

“Some people did something.”

Last April, this is how Rep. Ilhan Omar, Freshman Democrat from Minnesota, referred to the 9/11 attacks which murdered nearly 3,000 Americans.

This remark, and the breathtaking ignorance and disrespect it represents, reminds me to never forget and always remember what happened that day. This is easy for me and millions of other Americans who will never forget where they were and what they were doing when the attacks happened. As for Ms. Omar, she was only 19 on the 9/11, a recent immigrant to the United States, largely ignorant of our country’s culture, history and traditions. I could almost forgive her for taking such a casually flippant attitude toward the 9/11 attacks. After all, her family fled one of the worst hell-holes on the planet. She knew nothing of freedom and liberty in our country. That said, she’s had plenty of time since then to reach a full understanding of what 9/11 meant to America.

In addition to members of the U.S. Congress being terrorist apologists, a lot has changed since September 11, 2001. We now have a whole generation of young people who have grown up since the attacks. In high schools across the country, students born before 9/11 are almost all gone. Those of us who lived through this terrible time have a duty to teach our young Americans what happened and why. I visited the Hyannis High School on 9/11 this year and spoke with the students about it. All but two had been born after 9/11.

Since 9/11, our country has been involved in one armed conflict or another for 18 years now. Young people today have never known their country not to be at war. On 9/11 I was a brand-new Lieutenant Colonel in my 24th year of military service without ever being sent to a shooting war. Most of my life and all of my Army career up to that point, the United States had been at peace.

Today, soldiers who joined the military after 9/11 are nearing the end of a 20 year career that has known nothing but war. One of the most recent casualties in Afghanistan was a soldier who was on his 4th combat deployment to that country. 9/11 has transformed the country I grew up in to something completely different. Islamic Extremists caused this transformation – not “somebody.” They murdered nearly 3,000 innocent civilians in cold blood on 9/11. Over 7,000 American military servicemen have been killed in action fighting this fanatical death cult so far. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered all over the world in the name of this twisted view of Islam. They “did something” alright, and they are still doing it.

If we forget the lessons 9/11 has taught us, we are doomed to repeat them.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

09-06-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
9-6-2019

In a perfect world, every good or service produced anywhere on the planet could be sold anywhere else on the planet free of charge, and free of any government obstacles. Countries wouldn’t manipulate the value of their money. They wouldn’t steal intellectual property. They wouldn’t use slave labor. They wouldn’t sell products at a loss and flood the market with them in order to destroy competition and create monopolies. They wouldn’t heavily subsidize things creating unfair advantages in the world market. They wouldn’t put barriers up that prevent free trade.

I am a big fan of the Austrian School of Economic theory promoted by the Mises Institute. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. We have to deal with the world we do live in. For many decades now, over several different presidential administrations and many different congresses, the United States has not been doing a very good job of dealing with trade in the real world. This incompetence has cost our country dearly.

The Chinese have been on a virtual crime spree over the last couple of decades. Thankfully we now have a President willing to address this situation. Confronting China’s unfair and illegal trade practices that threaten our economy is long overdue. The outright theft or forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property have cost our country at least $50 billion annually. Sophisticated electronics and other high-tech gadgets that used to be made only in the United States are now made in China instead.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, over 3.4 million US jobs have been lost because of their unfair trade practices. Main street Mom & Pop businesses in the United States have been devastated.

It’s important to understand that all Chinese companies are connected to the Chinese government, or owned out-right by it. China has politicized its entire economy to serve the objectives of a totalitarian regime; the Chinese Communist Party. We are not dealing with a “trading partner.” We are dealing with a determined advisory bent on the destruction of our country as we know it.

I know there is a lot of very justified concern about the on-going trade dispute between the US and China. I know how sensitive commodity markets are, and how some small piece of news about a proposed tariff can cause wild swings in prices. I worry about this too and follow it closely, but our country has been ripped off. Our manufacturing jobs, our sensitive technology innovations, and our small family businesses have been gutted because our elected officials in Washington have gave away the farm. It’s not going to be easy to turn this mess around, but it must be addressed. I’m glad we finally have a President who is willing to try and fix it.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-30-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
8-30-2019

My entire staff and I went to the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission meeting at Fort Robinson this week. Thanks to the Commission and its staff for being gracious hosts. I also want to thank the many citizens who took time out of their busy day to fill the conference room and show that Nebraskans care about property rights and responsible stewardship of our land and wildlife.

I requested time on the agenda to speak to the whole Commission on the record. I explained to them why they should withdraw their favorable endorsement of NPPD’s R-Project power-line. Nebraska law requires a favorable endorsement from Game & Parks for projects proposed by our public electrical utilities. The R-Project received this approval from the Commission back in 2014. In that approval letter, the Commission pointed out that the project was subject to further review if there was new information about the project and its impact.

I reported to the Commission that we have discovered a lot of new information since 2014. The data they had at that time was often sparse and badly dated. Today we have mountains of new telemetry data and recent ecological studies that biologists can use to analyze the impact of the R-project will have on endangered species. The commissioners listened with interest and seemed genuinely curious to learn more. After the meeting, Jim Lambly at KSDZ radio kindly interrupted his regularly scheduled programming to let me update the public on this important issue.

Since I first began working on this issue in 2017, it has become very clear to me that the science used to determine the environmental impact of this power line has serious problems. In many cases it is very old and incomplete. In some cases, I believe the evidence has even been intentionally manipulated to support the claim the powerline will not cause “take” (death) of the endangered whooping crane. Federal government employees have had their jobs threatened if they spoke out about their work.

There are only about 600 whooping cranes left. Over 90 percent of them migrate along a route that crosses the R-project. The leading cause of death in migrating whooping cranes is collisions with power lines. I provided the commission with new data and studies that clearly shows there will be “take” of these birds. We owe this information serious study without an NPPD lobbyist putting their thumb on the scale.

Before we ride roughshod over property rights and forever deface the most sensitive and beautiful part of Nebraska’s natural heritage, the very least we can do is properly study the latest and best information science can offer. I had the opportunity this week to get to know the commissioners better; they know Nebraska and love it like I do. I hope they will take this opportunity to withdraw their favorable endorsement of the R-project. We know better now.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-23-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
8-23-2019

Who do you put your faith in: government or people?

My colleagues on the liberal side of politics see a lot of evil in people in the world. They want to use the power of government to combat this evil. They see large businesses, for example, as anti-social profit-seekers who will victimize us all if the government does not clamp down on regulations and take their wealth for the “better” purposes that these politicians define. But the plain truth is that markets and entrepreneurs have done more to improve the condition of the common person more than any other institution in human history. The profit motive has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program ever could.

Many of my colleagues see their role as all-knowing masterminds of the ruling class, uniquely qualified to know “what’s good for us.” Opposing their schemes will get you labeled as someone who wants poor people dying in the streets. This sort of politician thinks greedy, uncaring capitalists need to feel the boot-heel of government across the back of their neck, and they want to be the ones wearing the boot. No one should be forced to navigate the harsh realities of daily life without the helping hand of Big Brother. The idea of helping people help themselves has been lost in our culture.

Forced altruism is not compassion. Government confiscating someone else’s money is not generosity. Believing the government can spend money better than the person who worked for and earned it in the first place is not being big-hearted or charitable. This attitude that anyone who refuses to sacrifice, to serve others at his own cost, is somehow harming those others, is simply wrong.

Americans declared a long time ago that we have an inalienable right to exist for our own sake. We decided that we are not subjects who must sacrifice our lives to the needs of the State. We decided that being free is not selfish. America’s founders called this idea LIBERTY. They believed that liberty would serve the people and their needs better than a society commanded and controlled by the government. We have strayed from this idea, and the sad results speak for themselves.

We need to beware of those who want to use government force to “give” people things. This mentality of dependency is weakening the country and our state. Government power should only be used to protect individual liberty and remove obstacles to the ordinary person’s pursuit of his life. We need to do more to instill a self-reliant mentality in our society. When I explain to my urban colleagues what life on a ranch is like, they are shocked to learn that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Nebraska who do not expect the government to do a single thing for them. All they want the government to do is get out of the way, and leave them alone while they take the initiative and solve their own problems. That used to be what we proudly called the “American way,” and it is what I still believe to be a Nebraska value.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-16-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
8-16-2019

We are in the interim between sessions. This is the time when senators are able to spend time back in their districts, attend events, and work on legislation for the next session. Here are a few of the issues I plan to address in 2020.

First and foremost, I will continue to support efforts in the Legislature to find a way to deliver meaningful property tax relief. My colleagues have been deadlocked on this issue and have been unable to find a solution that attracts the 33 votes needed. But the voters know that this is our number one job. It has been my greatest frustration as a senator that so few of my colleagues understand that. I will have a table at the Willow Tree Festival in Gordon next month to collect signatures for the Property Tax Ballot Initiative. I encourage everyone to get involved in this important effort. To learn more about how you can help, visit truenebraskans.com.

It should come as no surprise that I remain concerned about protecting our legal right to keep and bear arms. I think a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) is nothing more than the government selling our Second Amendment-protected rights back to us. I think Nebraska should be like many other states with “Constitutional Carry” that doesn’t require a special permit. I will be looking for a way to reduce the bureaucratic and financial burden Nebraska law currently places on people trying to exercise this constitutional right.

Nebraska is one of six states that collect income taxes on Social Security benefits. This is wrong in so many ways. It angers me that the government has the audacity to tax a person’s income in the first place. When this benefit we all paid for is received, the government has the nerve to tax it again. Tax and spend senators will push back hard on this idea. I will be told that the legislature “can’t afford the lost revenue” that would happen if we un-tax social security. This is wrong-headed.

If Nebraskans choose — through their elected representatives — to reduce the revenue collected by the State, they are not somehow injuring the government. If the legislature passes a new law that results in you paying $1000 less in taxes next year, have you taken something from the State government that rightfully belongs to it? Or has the government simply taken less from you? You don’t cost the government money — the government costs you money! Two-thirds of Nebraskans receiving social security benefits utterly depend on their Social Security income. At the very least, lower income folks shouldn’t have to pay taxes on this income.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-09-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
8-9-2019

In light of the recent mass shootings, I find it distressing that so many people are looking to politicians and/or the government as the only solution to this terrible problem. It bothers me to think that citizens have become increasingly conditioned to first look to the government for their needs. We should instead look to ourselves as accountable. Society itself is where the solution can be found. Government making another law is not going to stop mass shootings. This is a lot of bull. There’s not a single example of this ever working; just look at Chicago. Assault with a deadly weapon is already illegal. Murder is already illegal. The only people affected by laws are those who are law-abiding in the first place. Government whittling away at the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens does absolutely nothing to stop a bloodthirsty maniac.

I think it’s time we set a course that takes a hard look at our society. I think we need to start being honest with ourselves and come to grips with the fact that many of our problems are of our own making. The real heart of the issue lies with the foundation of our civil society. Parents, families, communities, states, and society as a whole need to help. We have to ask ourselves some tough questions. “How have we screwed up our society and culture?” “How can each and every one of us take responsibility for a piece of this and start fixing what’s wrong? “What can I do?”

We need to realize that the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. I encourage everyone to take the class to get their concealed carry permit. There are dozens of cases where a concealed carry permit holder stopped a tragedy like this, often without firing a shot. Become part of the solution. I will do everything I can to help folks do this. I would like to extend this offer to my fellow senators especially. And if you do not think you would be able to take on the responsibility of armed defense, at least consider signing up for a “stop the bleed” class. We can all find ways to be better prepared to help others and help ourselves in an emergency.

The few things the government can do to address this problem have already been done. The real solution lies with us. Support for and membership in our civic and community groups has been dwindling over the years. Our churches, our civic organizations, our institutions that bring us together in fellowship and common cause for our friends, neighborhoods and communities need your help. Government cannot replace these things. There is no substitute for involved citizens.

It is our responsibility to build and maintain this social framework, to erect these moral guardrails and instill these values for all people to become successful and invested citizens. Instead of pinning all of our hopes on politicians and more failed government programs, let’s work together as free people to help ourselves.

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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

08-02-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
8-2-2019

Last week I attended a Property Tax Town Hall hosted by the Platte Institute in North Platte. A number of other Senators were there. Senators Groene, Linehan and Lowe made up a panel who took questions and discussed the property tax crisis we have in Nebraska. The aim of events like this is to inform citizens around the State, and to help people understand how difficult getting something passed in the legislature really is. Much of the discussion was centered on LB 289 from the last session. This was the best chance we had to finally pass meaningful property tax relief, but it was killed by a filibuster. The senators did a good job at this town hall, and the Platte Institute always puts on a first-class event. I think Senator Lowe summed things up very well when he said;

“We’ve got one more chance…If we can’t get this passed in this next session, it’s up to the people of Nebraska.” I wholeheartedly agree.

I support efforts to resurrect LB 289 next session, and will continue to fight for a legislative solution to this problem. Unfortunately, the ideological composition of the legislature is not going to change between now and next session. Senators who were a “no” vote before will likely be again. We can all “hope” they change their minds, but as General Petraeus said in Iraq, “Hope is a poor course of action.” I think the legislature is stuck in a political log jam. We’re hopelessly deadlocked on this issue. If there was a realistic chance of passing a legislative solution to this problem, it would have happened long ago. It’s time for the people of Nebraska to take matters into their own hands and finally fix this terrible problem.

In 1912, Nebraska became one of 12 states that have in their constitutions the right of the people to introduce constitutional amendments, introduce laws, and repeal laws. This is commonly referred to as a “ballot initiative or referendum.” After collecting a specified amount of signatures from registered voters around the State, a question is then put on the general election ballot. If it receives a majority of votes, the measure becomes law without any action by the legislature or the governor. “The People” can pass laws in Nebraska, and it’s high time they did. The ballot initiative is the only realistic way this problem is ever going to be addressed.

I strongly encourage Nebraskans to sign the petition and visit: truenebraskans.com and get involved. The idea is very simple. 35% of your property tax bill will be refunded to you by the State if this ballot initiative passes. About 120,000 signatures need to be turned in to the Secretary of State on 3 July 2020. TrueNebraskans are off to a great start, but they could really use your help.

In other news, I am looking for a new Administrative Assistant. This is a full-time position with state-employee benefits. Interested parties should send me a resume.
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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

07-26-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
7-26-2019

I was invited to speak this past week in Ireland at the 32nd Annual Gerald Manley Hopkins Festival in Dublin. It is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly.

While there I was disappointed to learn that the private ownership of firearms is illegal. It’s very difficult for a citizen to even possess a gun to just go to the range. When the government decides there should be hunting of wildlife, their agents do the hunting. Consequently, only the criminals and the police have guns. The Irish people do not have the basic human right of self-defense. A person cannot even own a knife longer than three inches. I thought “democratic” countries who are our close friends and allies had similar protections for their citizens in their constitutions. The “western democracies” of Europe are not as similar to the United States as I first thought.

In 1916 the Irish revolted against the King of England. They threw off over 700 years of English tyranny. If the current rules were in effect, they wouldn’t be enjoying the freedom they have now. I’m glad I don’t live in Ireland.

Our Constitution/our Government does not bestow rights upon American citizens. Our right to keep and bear arms isn’t “given” to us by the 2nd Amendment any more than the 1st Amendment gives us a right to free speech. These rights are ours by birth. They are “natural” rights. All our Constitution does is attempt to “protect” them from ever being infringed upon by government.

There are about 195 countries in the world today. Only three of them afford their citizens a constitutionally-protected right to own a gun: USA, Mexico, and Guatemala. I was stunned to learn that not even our Canadian neighbor guarantees a citizen’s right to own a gun. Our country is the only one with (almost) no restrictions on our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I had no idea it was so rare. Almost half of all citizen-owned guns in the world are in the United States.

My trip reminded me why elected officials in the United States take an oath to “protect and defend” our Constitution and all the rights it safeguards. I will always fight any effort to “infringe” upon our 2nd Amendment rights. It’s the one right that protects 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 #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

07-19-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
7-19-2019

This week I attended a hearing in the District court in O’Neill concerning the Cherry County Commissioners. They are being sued by “Preserve the Sandhills,” a group of citizens who oppose wind energy development in the Sandhills.

I’m happy to report the judge ruled in “Preserve the Sandhills” favor.

Judge Mark Kozisek’s order temporarily stops board members Tanya Storer and Martin DeNaeyer from “hearing, discussing, considering, influencing or voting” on a conditional use permit for a planned wind energy facility near Kilgore. The arguments I listened to in court alleged these board members have a conflict of interest and should not be allowed to vote on this matter. Evidence to support this argument was presented and now it’s up to the judge to decide.

There are laws in Nebraska that deal with elected officials who have conflicts of interest. This sort of thing is handled by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC). Elected officials who “think” they may have a conflict of interest have a duty under the law to report that to the NADC. The NADC issues rulings indicating whether or not they believe the elected official has a conflict of interest. If they do, NADC will direct actions they need to take, such as not voting on issues they have a conflict with.

It’s important to remember that the NADC cannot technically stop a politician from doing their job, but they can levy fines for failing to do what NADC directs them to do. LB 411 was a bill we were able to pass last session which substantially increased these fines.

My bill, LB 373, would go a long way in resolving the on-going conflict about wind energy in Cherry County and elsewhere. The bill requires counties that wish to host wind energy facility to have zoning regulations that address wind energy. Right now, the choice to have this zoning is left up to the county. I don’t think this should be an option for counties that want wind energy and Cherry County provides an excellent example of why I feel this way.

The county’s repeated failure to adopt zoning regulations for wind energy causes the citizens that are concerned about wind energy to feel like they don’t have a voice. Ignored people quickly become angry people. They are forced to file lawsuits so they can finally be heard. LB 373 makes wind energy zoning mandatory. Creating a new county zoning regulation is a very public process that provides numerous opportunities for everyone to participate regardless of their position on the subject. No one can say their voice wasn’t heard.
I hope this lawsuit provides the wake-up call the county commissioners need to finally address this issue and start healing the terrible rift wind energy is causing all over rural Nebraska.

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 #1423, 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
Email: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
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