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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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12-15-2017 Weekly Update

February 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

As many readers of this weekly update know, I’ve spoken about the property tax crisis in Nebraska many times. Lively debate on the subject continues in op-ed pages of newspapers across the state and social media sites. As we approach the second session of the 105th legislature, this debate will intensify. Two camps seem to be forming; those in favor of the “50/50” property tax idea, and those opposed. I am in favor of the 50/50 idea.

I’ll not recite the list of depressing statistics again. Suffice to say property taxes aren’t just too high in Nebraska. They have reached the point of being immoral. They are hurting people every day. It’s the only tax people and businesses cannot avoid. We’re 5th highest in the country and are getting worse.

If you want to reduce property taxes, there are only two possible courses of action. The legislature can pay for it by raising sales or income taxes and/or shifting existing spending from Peter to pay Paul, like ending a program and using the savings, etc. The other way is to make the Local Units of Governments (LUG) pay for it (like school districts, counties, natural resource districts, etc.) This is done by limiting how much a LUG can levy and/or limiting how much they can assess in property value. There are about six hundred and fifty LUGs in Nebraska that depend entirely on property taxes to function. The 50/50 idea requires the legislature to pay for it. One of the many reasons for this decision is the Nebraska constitution requires “…the legislature to provide for the free instruction in the common schools.”

It is important to remember at this point that government will not reform itself. It must be compelled to act.

The argument against the 50/50 property tax reform idea says its bad idea because no one can explain “how it will be paid for.” When you hear this argument – and you will – consider the flaw in reasoning going on here. By this rational, ANY idea which forces the legislature to appropriate money for something is therefore a bad idea. No idea which forces the legislature to appropriate money comes with a gift-wrapped “how to pay for it” explanation, and there is a good reason for this.

There are actually 49 different ways (Senator’s opinions) to pay for something. This is why we have a Revenue and an Appropriations Committee (and why we should explore creating a Ways and Means Committee like other States have). Figuring out the “how to” pay for something is why we have hearings in these Committees. This is why we have motions and amendments during the three different stages of debate for bills on the floor of the legislature. These are the ways “how to” pay for something are developed and created.

“What” must come before “how.” It’s important to remember that NONE of the aforementioned process will happen unless the legislature is forced to act. You cannot pass an appropriations bill (how) until the legislature first debates a bill to do something (what.) Why on Earth would you have an argument about how to pay for something, unless you first had something to pay for? Expecting the author of an idea to show up with the “how to pay for” accompanying the idea, and then condemning the idea when objections are raised about some aspect of the “how to” concept is a political dodging tactic that provides a great excuse for the legislature not to do anything and let the problem persist.

It’s no surprise we’re in the mess we’re in. This tactic has been used with the property tax problem for fifty years. Look where using that reasoning has got us. It has to stop. I urge readers to reject this tactic when they hear it. I hope my colleagues finally “do” something about the property tax problem and pass the 50/50 idea. I welcome the fight about how to pay for it. I say so what if we have to stay late and have food catered in for midnight sessions. So what if we face gridlock for weeks on end. I don’t care if we’re forced into a special session to solve this. The plain truth is, the people being made to suffer out-of-control property taxes in Nebraska are hurting far more than a handful of politicians being made to argue with one another.

I believe the people will put the 50/50 property tax idea on the ballot in November 2018. The legislature can face this reality in the second session of the 105th legislature in a few weeks. They can listen to the people, avoid the heartache created by a ballot initiative, and pass Sen. Erdman’s 50/50 bill during this session. The other option is to hide behind the flawed “there’s no way to pay for it” argument and wait for the political earthquake. When the people pass the ballot initiative, they can begin the first session of the 106th legislature in January 2019 with a $1.1B hole to fill. From what I’ve seen of this place so far, my money is on the latter.

I’m promised to talk about poverty this week, and then the story broke about the 50/50 plan, so I’ll talk about poverty next week. I want to talk about poverty because we have a moral duty to raise people out of poverty, plus we can dramatically shrink the size of State government if we reduce poverty in Nebraska. Instead of making it less miserable, I think we should focus on making it more escapable.

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

12-01-2017 Weekly Update

February 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

This week I’m going to give the subject of the University behaving poorly a rest. I’m sure in the weeks ahead that topic will generate more news all by itself. I’m not going to talk about Property Taxes this week either because my good friend and colleague Sen. Tom Briese wrote such a great op-ed in the Omaha World Herald on that topic this week. I hope you check that out. You can find it here:

This week I want to talk about something exceptionally rare; something that is good for State government and is also something good for the citizens AT THE SAME TIME.

A few weeks ago I mentioned how my constituents gave me great ideas for new bills. One of our constituents called the office not long ago and said,

“How come it costs a hundred bucks to go fishing in Nebraska?”

That got my attention so I looked into it. A resident fishing license is $29.50. A Park Permit is $30, and the Aquatic Habitat Stamp is $15. Now when you throw in some bait, a tank of fuel, some sandwiches and a cooler full of your favorite beverage, a person can easily spend over a $100 just to go fishing. That’s just nuts.

President Reagan said there was nothing quite so permanent as a Government program, so I know changing the math here is going to be tough. What’s more, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is a lot like many other agencies of State government – they don’t get a penny of money appropriated to them by the Legislature. Their entire budget is derived from licenses, permits and fees they sell. They are 100% self-funded and don’t cost the tax payers any sales or income tax revenue.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said the many States were great “laboratories of democracy” so it didn’t take long to find a good example of one of our neighbors reducing some of these costs. In 2012 Kansas implemented a program to sell park permits for half-price ($15) when a person renews their license plates for their vehicle. They are the same as Nebraska. They sell Park Permits for $30 over-the-counter at a number of different vendors. This idea gives a person the chance to get a small sticker on their license plate indicating they have a Park Permit valid for the same time period their license plates are valid.

My staff has talked to the Kansas version of Game and Parks and they said they dramatically increased the revenue derived from selling park permits at a 50% discount because it gave a much larger audience of people who wouldn’t ordinarily buy a park permit the chance to get one at half-off.

Citizens get a 50% discount on a Park Permit and the self-funded State Agency that survives on just the money it raises from licenses, permits and fees gets a boost in revenue. Talk about a win-win scenario! Now I know better than to make any predictions about the chances of this bill passing, but we have talked to our Game and Parks Department and they are excited about this idea and will likely come testify at the bill’s hearing in support of it. Stand by for news!

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

11/22/17 Weekly Update

November 29th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

Late last Friday afternoon the 17th of November, President Hank Bounds sent a letter to Governor Pete Ricketts and Speaker Jim Scheer and all 49 State Senators which finally recognized that the University has a problem with anti-conservative bias on campus. This effects the freedom of speech of conservative students and faculty. They do not feel comfortable/safe to express their opinions on campus.

Of course this abrupt admission only came on the heels of a freedom of information request which revealed university emails which document their concerns and even a strategy to bury the story using surrogates to write op-ed pieces.

Last Thursday the 16th of November, I met with President Hank Bounds and Chancellor Ron Green along with Senators Halloran and Erdman. At that meeting they continued to deny there was a problem. The date of the emails released Friday clearly show that they were aware of the problem BEFORE our meeting and were taking active steps to bury the story.

It’s unclear what President Bounds knew and when he knew it. That however is not the case for Chancellor Green as he was copied on the aforementioned emails as far back as August. I’ll give President Bounds the benefit of the doubt and assume Chancellor Green did not share his deceptive tactics with him and kept him in the dark.

As a result of his deceitful conduct toward myself and my colleagues, I have lost confidence in Chancellor Green’s ability to lead the University of Nebraska Lincoln Campus. He should be ashamed of himself.

If you or a family member have personally felt that the universities culture was unwelcoming to your beliefs, or you were ever apprehensive about freely expressing your points of views without fear of retribution, I want to hear your story. I also strongly encourage you to contact the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and share your concerns. They are elected to serve you and they need to be made aware of these issues too. For those of you in my district (43), your elected board of regent’s member is Mr. Bob Phares. He can be reached at (308) 532-3180 or If you are unsure as to who your regent is you can contact Carmen Maurer, Corporation Secretary of Nebraska at, 402-472-3906. She is listed as the key contact on the Nebraska Board of Regents website.

The University of Nebraska is your university. Your tax dollars substantially fund the University of Nebraska system. The legislature appropriates over $600 million to the University every year. The university should reflect and respect the beliefs and values of all Nebraskans. It should champion and encourage the free flow of all ideas and perspectives without the slightest hint of apprehension. We all grew up loving our University. We need to get these problems addressed and restore it to it’s former glory. I personally believe we need a change in leadership to do that, but that is up to President Bounds and the Board of Regents.

I want to make a correction to something I wrote in my 17 November update. I said I had a bill about State government collecting Union Dues stuck in the Judiciary Committee. This is incorrect. My bill LB 503 is stuck in the Business and Labor Committee. The bill I meant to say was stuck in the Judiciary Committee was LB 505. This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to make some data concerning refugees the federal government re-settles in Nebraska available on their website so Nebraska taxpayers could see and understand the burden placed on them by this program.

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

11/17/17 Weekly Update

November 29th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

We’re about a month and a half away from the second session of the 105th legislature. Most of the forty-nine senators gathered this week for a meeting to prepare for the next session. Many are talking about “new” bills they will introduce in this next session. 667 bills were introduced in the last session. Some of them were killed in committee (“indefinitely postponed” they call it) Some advanced out of the committee and stalled on the floor during general file debate because there wasn’t 33 votes needed to end a filibuster. Most of the bills ended up in the most common status; “held in committee.” In plain English that means they don’t have enough votes on the committee to be advanced to general file, or “voted out of committee.”

Several hundred more bills will be introduced in this next session starting January 3rd. Senators can introduce new bills only in the first ten legislative days of the session. That deadline is the 18th of January. I have several ideas for a few new bills I would like to introduce that I’ll be talking about in the weeks to come. Suffice to say, the learning curve for me and the staff has been very steep, but we know how this place works now and will avoid a lot of the heartache we faced last session. Lobbyists and special interest groups fill the hallways during the first ten days hawking bills. Some of them do fine work and promote worthy issues so I’ll listen to them, but my constituents give me all the bill ideas I could ever need.

Before everyone sends me new bill ideas, I want you to ask, “Is another law really what we need?” We have a lot of laws right now, and one particularly troubling thing I’ve noticed is the laws that force another entity of government to do something, yet do not provide any resources necessary to do it. They call this “unfunded mandates.” The federal government does this to Nebraska, and the legislature does this to counties, cities, towns, school districts, natural resource districts, etc. For example, lacking prison beds because of our overcrowding problems, counties end up housing more prisoners in their jails. The State directs hospitals to provide healthcare to people on MEDICAID, but do not fully reimburse the hospital. The legislature passed laws that overhauled the State’s 911 emergency system. The counties have old 911 communications equipment that doesn’t interact with the new Internet-based systems. Who pays for all this? We need to systematically identify and reexamine these mandates if we are ever going to have a realistic conversation about reducing property tax because the main source of revenue a county has to address these things is property tax.

Of the thirteen bills I sponsored (some call it “carried”) last session, one was passed into law. One advanced to general file. The remaining eleven bills are “held in committee.” Of these eleven bills, I am becoming more confident we will get LB 499 passed. It helps protect our Nebraska bee keepers. LB 497 should pass easily as well. It makes a small but important administrative change to how Nebraska keeps certain important records for Veterans and makes life easier for them. I have five bills held in the Judiciary Committee. Three deal with gun laws. One is about the eVerify system to stop illegal aliens from taking Nebraska jobs. Another is about our State government collecting union dues on behalf of the unions. These five bills are not going anywhere because the political ideology of the majority of the members of this committee is not supportive of the topics raised by these five bills. Following the next election when the first session of the 106th legislature meets in January 2019, committee membership will be decided and this might change.

Until the composition of the Judiciary Committee changes, I’m not going to waste my time bringing another bill before that committee. I’m going to try and get the committee to meet in Executive Session and at least vote on my five bills. They will all lose, they might even kill them, but at least I’ll have a report from the committee that documents how the Senators voted.

Of my four remaining bills, LB 504 (wind energy moratorium) and LB 576 (freezing property taxes) remain my top priorities. Since the end of the last session, I’ve lobbied the senators of the Revenue and Natural Resources Committee looking for a compromise or amendment language that could get these two measures advanced to general file. Each senator gets a “priority bill” which means if it makes it out of committee, it is guaranteed to be put on the agenda and debated on the floor. If a Senator listens to his constituents, figuring out their priority bill is easy. Many thousands of you have made it very clear the top two issues facing the district are wind energy and property taxes, so one of those two subjects will be my priority bill next session.

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

11/10/17 Weekly Update

November 16th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

Veterans Day weekend is here. I’m out in the district making seven different stops for different Veterans Day events. Me and my Legislative Aide really need to get our pilot’s license up to date. The 43rd District is bigger than Connecticut. In 2021 when we redistrict the State after the census, I’m thinking it will be even bigger. There are ranches in the 43rd bigger than many of my colleague’s districts they can walk around in an afternoon. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s the best part of the State and I am very lucky to represent it.

As a retired US Army Colonel, Veterans Day carries a special meaning for me and all who have served our country in uniform. I have countless friends and acquaintances in this category. Many of my relatives have all served. My Father is a Korean War veteran. Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Baker’s father was in the Navy in the Pacific during WWII. Some confuse Veterans Days with Memorial Day. That day we remember and honor those who died in service to their country. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead. If you’re a veteran, I’d imagine you’re like me. Every day is Veterans Day. To all of you I say;

Thank you very much for your service.

Regardless of branch or component. Whether you have seen combat or volunteered in peacetime, active-duty or reservist, 20-year career or a drafted. These are all Americans who, for a time in their lives, invested a part of themselves in service to our nation. We honor you this weekend.

To all the many organizations who promote veteran issues I want you to know how incredibly important you are to our society. You help veterans in so many ways, from helping with benefits, or a hot meal, to fighting for veterans in the halls of government by navigating bureaucracy to writing legislation. The most important thing organizations like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (and their auxiliaries) do is remind ordinary Americans of something larger than themselves. They help our country turn outwards and upwards and take pause from our busy lives focused on self to be reminded; to be grateful, to be proud of all the countless millions of Americans who put service to their country above all else. We don’t don the uniform of a tribe, or a sect, or of a particular religion. We don’t fight for our family or the local region of place we live in. The calling answered by Americans past and present has no equal in the world. We took an oath to protect an idea bigger than anything anyone has ever been called to put-on a uniform for in the history of the human species.

On the West steps of our Capitol the words of President Lincoln can be found behind his statute. He said;

“…our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

American veterans, from Valley Forge to Gettysburg to Kandahar, saw a “nation so conceived” as something bigger than themselves and answered the call to protect that idea. I have seen a big part of this world and I can tell you there is only one place on this Earth you can find people who think this way; who give of themselves this way, and that’s right here in the United States. I hope we all take a moment this weekend and quietly reflect how lucky we all are to be surrounded by fellow countryman of this selfless stature. We are truly blessed. It’s why the US has “long endured.” I urge you to take a moment and thank one of the 22 million veterans there are in the United States this weekend.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.

11/03/17 Weekly Update

November 16th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

This week there was a bit of a dust-up about a letter Senator Erdman, Senator Halloran and I sent to a number of newspapers across Nebraska. It appeared over the weekend and has since been picked up by other news media. The gist of the letter was a series of questions we three senators have concerning the University of Nebraska. This problem stems from the incident last August where a young sophomore student was accosted and berated and called a vulgar racist name by a member of the University’s faculty. This happened to her because she had set-up a table in a public space and was handing out literature that promoted a conservative organization.

To be fair, the vulgar woman who verbally accosted the young sophomore was also doing graduate coursework, so she was also a student as well as a teaching assistant. The University has assured me this person was disciplined, but cannot describe specifically what action was taken because of State and Federal laws. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what laws prohibit the University from sharing this information.

At any rate, this generated a lot of interest. Social media websites are full of discussion and several newspapers picked up the story. We received many supportive calls. President Bounds and Chancellor Green went on a local Lincoln radio talk show and condemned the letter saying it was full of misinformation. You can go to KLIN website and listen to their interview with Mr. Coby Mach.

Beyond saying I disagree with much of what they said, I’m not going to spend this column debating their comments on the radio. I stand by the letter and I continue to have grave concerns about the campus culture at the university.

The bottom line is the root cause of the incident last August is a totalitarian philosophy called “Social Justice.” This is now firmly embedded as part of the culture at the English Department of University. It is all over the department’s webpage which the university leadership have endorsed. It’s part of the department’s mission statement. Social Justice is simply evil.

There are as many different definitions of this term as there are people you care to ask, but its defining characteristic is tyranny. The aim of this malignant philosophy is silencing dissenting speech. It promotes the suppression of any discussion of an issue the adherents of it believe is insensitive or not in line with their views. If you say something a social justice warrior doesn’t like, they brand you an intolerant bigot and use the kinds of techniques we saw in the August incident to silence you. As much as the University would like to minimize the August incident to one isolated occurrence, I think it is symptomatic of a larger underlying problem that they seem to be avoiding.

I believe there is a pervasive climate of simmering hostility towards all things conservative on the campus, and more importantly, towards all students that are conservative. We are hearing more and more from people who either had first-hand experience from Professors verbally attacking them in class or stories from parents about their children who were afraid to voice their thoughts and opinions for fear of Professors taking it out on them via their grades.

As long as the University of Nebraska continues to embrace the hateful philosophy of “Social Justice” the human and constitutional rights of students and faculty who dare to express conservative views will be threatened. Failing to correct this serious culture problem will result in the sort of incident that prompted this debate to continue, if it hasn’t already. It goes without saying this belief system is incompatible with an institution of higher learning as it suppresses the free and open exchange of ideas, and promotes a toxic culture of fear which destroys the learning environment and silences speech. I urge the University to renounce the evil of Social Justice and embrace a culture where every idea and opinion isn’t just free from attack, but is encouraged without a hint of apprehension. Instead of waiting for the next injustice and shouting “I told you so” I would much rather help UNL take a stand and create an environment where all students, including conservatives, are treated fairly and invited to the table to discuss the issues without the fear of being bullied.

Next week I am going to meet with Mr. Thomas Hoff, Mr. Barry DeKay and Mr. Bill Hoyt. They are directors on the NPPD Board. They represent the sub-divisions on the NPPD map which encompasses the route of the planned “R Line.” This high-voltage transmission line is planned to cut right through the heart of the Sandhills. There are alternate routes for the line that have been recommended by the public, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nebraska Game and Parks. They would avoid most of the concerns that have been raised. I am going to ask these gentlemen why the other routes wouldn’t satisfy the project objectives and try to understand why they voted against them.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.

10/27/17 Weekly Update

November 16th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

This week I attended a “Public Comment Period” meeting in Thedford put on by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. After two previous meetings had been canceled under questionable circumstances, the public finally got a chance to voice their concerns about Nebraska Public Power District’s “R Line” project. This is a 225-mile long, 345kv high-voltage power line. The line is routed right through the heart of the most environmentally sensitive part of our State from the Gerald Gentleman Power Station near Sutherland to a new substation planned for Holt County. Providing connection to wind energy projects is listed as one of the reasons for this project in NPPD documents on their website. I am strongly opposed to wind energy in the Sandhills for a host of reasons.

More than one hundred people attended this meeting which lasted over three hours. Once again I saw the gut-wrenching passion people have for their land, many the fourth or fifth generation of the same family. Once again, I heard a government agency basically tell people “we hear you” but we can’t do anything. To be fair, USFW is east of the rock and west of the hard place on this. All things considered they ran a good meeting, but “hear” people and be neutral on this project is really all they can do. The simple fact is, if NPPD checks all the blocks and legally satisfies all of the USFW requirements, that agency is then obligated to issue NPPD an incidental “take permit” for the threatened species that is jeopardized by the R Project. In this case, the species that needs a “take permit” is the North American Burying Beetle.

At the moment, the only thing holding up the construction of the R Line is not the hundreds of citizens begging a sub-division of State government to reconsider their plans. It’s not a State Senator asking for other routes for the line be given a second look. The only thing holding up the R Line is the federal government giving NPPD permission to accidently kill an endangered bug.

Concerned citizens have until November 7th to submit information to the US Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the R Project, and I strongly encourage them to do so. After that date, further public comment on this issue cannot be considered. I am very concerned about this. If NPPD were to submit plans or documents related to the project AFTER the USFW public comment period has ended, will citizens have an opportunity to review that information and submit comment that rebuts or questions the voracity of the information? Will USFW extend and re-open the public comment period (as they have in the past) in that event? I’m waiting on an answer to this.

There are 11 members of the NPPD board of directors. Mr. Thomas Hoff is the NPPD Board Member that represents Subdivision 5, the area most of the R Line is routed through. I have requested a meeting with him. The only check and balance on the vast power and authority given to public utilities in Nebraska is the fact their board of directors are popularly elected. Concerned citizens, State Senators, the Governor, even the US Fish and Wildlife Service can do nothing to stop or change a public utility project like the R Line – only the board of directors can. I urge people concerned with the R Line to contact Mr. Hoff. 308-872-3352 or email him: Mr. Hoff is 1/11th of the reason why the R Line is where it is. I therefore hope he takes an opportunity to speak to local media, address the many issues being raised and help inform citizens on the project he voted for.

I learned this week Nebraska State Law allows a public utility like NPPD to use it’s power of eminent domain to build feeder lines that connect private wind energy facilities to the power grid. The wind company can build these lines itself but if they face a land owner who refuses to grant them an easement, the wind power company can have NPPD build the feeder line and use it’s power of eminent domain to do it. The idea a private company can use a Nebraska Public Utility to forcibly take land from its neighbor’s shocks me. I’m stunned thug tactics like this are actually legal in Nebraska. I’m drafting legislation that will stop this.

Speaking of travesty in the law, currently Nebraska law does not prohibit an elected official from personally benefiting from something they vote on. If a county official is also personally invested in a Wind Energy company, for example, he can vote on a zoning ordinance that will result in his own financial benefit so long as he publically discloses this fact before the vote. Again, I was astonished our laws allow this. The law should require elected officials to recuse themselves from such votes. I’m drafting legislation that would stop this nonsense as well.

All of this stuff is far from over. I’m going to engage the NPPD board of directors. They have the power to change the route of the R Line. I’m going to find out why a “take permit” for an endangered bug was needed, yet one for the Whooping Crane wasn’t included in the Environmental Impact Study. The R Line goes right through their fly-way. I’m drafting legislation to correct some serious problems with Nebraska law. I’m engaging more and more Senators everyday who share my concerns with these issues. I’m watching the deadline for the USFW Public Comment Period very closely. If NPPD delivers documents to USFW after that date, I will ask USFW to re-open the public comment period so the public can evaluate them. Even though I’m convinced they solved all the easy problems long before I got here, I still count my blessings. I am so grateful for the kind of people I have in my district. They make being their Senator such an honor and privilege. They are well informed. They give of themselves so much. They care. I’m so lucky to represent such incredible people. They truly are the best in Nebraska. They remind me of Ulysses S. Grant. When President Lincoln was asked why he had hired General Grant he replied;

He fights.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.

10/20/17 Weekly Update

October 25th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

I’m a member of the Nebraska Justice System Special Oversight Committee. This committee came about as a result of Legislative Resolution 127 which was passed last session. The mission of this committee is to study the many serious problems facing our Department of Corrections. This is the third legislative committee to do this and it continues the work of the LR 424 Committee (2014) and the LR 34 Committee (2015).

During the course of the summer we toured all ten correctional facilities across Nebraska. We spoke to staff and prisoners alike. Problems common across the board include over-crowding, understaffing, and high staff turn-over. Mandatory overtime because of the understaffing causes moral problems. The parole situation is a vicious circle problem. Prisoners otherwise eligible for parole aren’t qualified and can’t be released on parole because they lack the training required to be considered for parole. The pre-parole programs the prisoners need to complete can’t be staffed and operated because of the understaffing problem. Lack of a competitive pay and compensation program makes fixing the staffing problem more difficult.

Since January 2015, the Department of Corrections has reduced the prison population by 25% and the number of prisoners released on parole has increased 136%. During this same time however, the population in our county jails has increased by 46%. I see this as an unfunded mandate on the counties. Nebraska’s prison problem is also now a county problem. Our county jails shouldn’t be used to help reduce the State’s prison population. This isn’t funded and it’s not what the jails are designed for.

LB 605 was passed in the 104th legislature. It forces Nebraska to reduce the prison population to the designed capacity of the facilities. Presently we’re at about 160% of designed capacity and forecasted to get worse. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil rights lawsuit against Nebraska in August of 2017 due to the overcrowding and lack of adequate healthcare for inmates. By 2020, the law mandates reductions in our prison population which I think could result in a public safety problem if we were ever reach that point. Obviously, this is something the Legislature has to work on in the next session. The same could be said for a number of other very serious problems.

We heard testimony from Director Frakes today. I think it is important to point out the Department of Corrections requested funding for ninety-six fulltime positions in the last budget, and the Legislature only funded twenty-nine of those. As a result efforts to run the needed programs the inmates require so the population could be reduced through parole have been limited.

I’ve heard other ideas like “exporting” prisoners to other States with excess prison capacity or hiring a private company and contracting out our correctional services. I don’t like these ideas. These are Nebraska problems that need a Nebraska solution. I support additional funding for the Department of Corrections. Public safety is the very first and most important function of government. I also believe it is not necessary to raise tax revenue to do this. Spending on other State functions can be prioritized and that money reallocated.

Out-of-control property taxes, the prison problem, and a budget shortfall, which will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, will be that subjects that dominate the next session.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.

10/13/17 Weekly Update

October 19th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer

43rd District



This week we joined Governor Pete Ricketts and Courtney Dentlinger, Director of Economic Development in visiting the Perrin Manufacturing facility in Alliance, NE. Perrin Manufacturing specializes in making auxiliary power units and heating and cooling units for many industrial applications such as what is used in the trucking industry. It is great to see a local business like Perrin grow and thrive.


My staff attended the Community Leader breakfast in Lincoln on Mental Illness Awareness and Suicide Awareness. These are important issues, most especially to veterans and many of the rural communities in the 43rd District who are under-served when it comes to mental health resources.


I attended the McPherson County Farm Bureau meeting in Tryon. I met with a number of citizens from Dawes, Sioux and Sheridan Counties who were all concerned about Property Taxes. This is an all too common event for me and it serves to illustrate the point that this issue continues to be the most important thing in the district, and for the all Nebraskans.  It is one of the top items on my to do list. Citizen-lead efforts to do a ballot initiative to put a property tax measure on the ballot in the next election are on-going, and so are efforts to address this problem in the legislature in the next session. My property tax bill remains stuck in the Revenue Committee (LB 576).


I held a Townhall meeting in Gordon at the American Legion. I’m a big supporter of the Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I’m grateful for their continued support. Senator Erdman from the 47th District joined me.  Again, we discussed the on-going misery of property taxes, along with the harm being done by Wind Energy in the Sandhills, and the continuing serious issues concerning the “R Line” powerline project. We also discussed the Whiteclay situation since the beer stores have closed. There has been a lot of positive developments and progress made, there is a lot that remains to be done, and there are genuine concerns going forward that I am addressing in working with the Department of Road, the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General such as traffic safety along the highways. I’ll keep you updated as we move forward.


My Legislative Aide and I, as well as my daughter attended the Annual Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt in Chadron. Deb Cottier with the Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, along with the many sponsors and organizers of this event did an incredible job.  The many landowners who guided the hunters were the very best ambassadors Western Nebraska could ever ask for.   Senator Justin Wayne from Omaha, Senator Suzanne Geist from Lincoln and Senator Lou Ann Linehan from Elkhorn joined us and we were able to share the incredible beauty of the Sandhills and the Pine Ridge area with them for the first time. My Eastern Nebraska colleagues had never seen this part of Nebraska, and had never participated in a Turkey Hunt before. (One had never used a shotgun.) This was the first time I attended this outstanding event, and I will do my best to have as many Senators as possible, (including the Governor), in joining me next year in showcasing our part of Nebraska to them.


I toured the new Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance. I was very impressed by the dedicated and professional staff, and so happy to see such a state-of-the-art healthcare facility in Western Nebraska. Like many other healthcare providers in Nebraska, they face serious challenges, namely they have a very hard time getting paid. Recent changes in how the State performs MEDICAID reimbursement and the multiple layers of bureaucracy and the confusing labyrinth of procedures and rules often results in claims going unpaid altogether or only partially paid. I’m very glad the CEO Lori Mazanec and her staff took the time to show me their exceptional facility. I appreciated hearing their concerns and I will be talking with the Department of Health and Human Services about this to learn more of the details of this complicated problem and helping to find a solution.


Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.


10/06/17 Weekly Update

October 12th, 2017

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District

This week I visited Valentine and Mullen and learned about all of the incredible developments going on with the internet in the district as part of the Nebraska Telecommunications Association’s tour. High-speed internet is now and will continue to become more and more available in the district, even to our many small towns and distant ranch and rural locations. A combination of companies developing fiber optic cable infrastructure and others delivering internet wirelessly via the cellular telephone network are rapidly expanding their service footprint. We had a great lunch stop in Mullen where I got to visit with quite a few folks from the district. This event was well attended by the public and the local schools. The exciting possibilities that come from high-speed internet access are incredible and I am very glad to see this capability finally coming to Western Nebraska.

I was able to attend the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War at the Hay Springs Community Hall. It was a themed USO show with Miss Nebraska, Allison Tietien as part of the cast. It was very well attended by many in the district. It is good to show our Vietnam Vets that they are not forgotten.

The Logan County Farm Bureau had their annual meeting in Stapleton which I attended and gave a Legislative update. They are a great organization. They are very invested in property tax relief/reform and understandably so. We continue to work on efforts with Senator Erdman to get a bill passed that will lower property taxes for Nebraskans and change how we assess the value of agricultural ground.

As part of the Whiteclay Task Force, we met in Whiteclay this past weekend to continue to build upon the progress that has been made. Continued economic development was discussed. The University of Nebraska Medical Center demonstrated the new “Tele-health” technology which makes delivering primary healthcare to rural Nebraska. I toured the new Family Dollar Store. My office is working with the Sheriff and the Nebraska State Patrol to ensure highway 87 is sufficiently patrolled.

This week I met with a veterans group on LB 121 which I introduced last session and is still stuck in the Revenue Committee. It would exempt some military retired pay from Nebraska income tax. This exemption is a good idea because every state we share a border with does a way better job of this than Nebraska does. We are losing thousands of outstanding, highly educated and qualified people (military retirees) who settle in other states to avoid Nebraska’s confiscatory income tax laws. This same group also supports ending Nebraska’s income tax on Social Security. We are one of only six States who tax Social Security. It’s a dumb idea taxing military retired pay. It’s a dollar chasing a dime. Taxing Social Security is just immoral. The money was already subjected to income tax when the person earned it and had it taken out of their pay check. Taxing it again is just wrong.

A lot of folks have expressed concern to me about the tragedy in Las Vegas. Like everyone else, I am shocked and heartbroken by this senseless crime, but a “crime” is exactly what it is. The shooter broke the law. Murder is already illegal. A “gun control” law would not have prevented it, nor would it stop it from happening again. Laws only govern the behavior of the law-abiding. What really bothers me are those who employ the tired old straw man fallacy which promotes the idea that being against a gun control law somehow means I don’t care about the victims. This is as dishonest as it is false. Someone’s outrage and demand for additional limits on our constitutional rights doesn’t make them the morally superior side of this argument. The number of people slaughtered in Chicago amounts to a Las Vegas tragedy every month, yet that city has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Where’s the outrage for that? We need “common sense criminal control.” The 2nd amendment is already the only constitutional right you have to ask permission to use. Further infringement on something that the constitution says “shall not be infringed” won’t stop criminals from ignoring the law because that is what criminals do.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at or call us at (402) 471-2628.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room #1202
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
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