NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

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

09-14-2018 Weekly Update

September 19th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-14-2018

The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit against the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative this week. The petition collected enough signatures, so the “question” will go on this November’s ballot. Over 104,000 signatures were collected overall. In the 13 counties of my Legislative District very few signatures were part of this number. Obviously, this kind of math makes my decision to not support the measure pretty simple.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is a very bad idea for Nebraska. It is unfair, unsustainable and un-affordable. It will hurt people, and wreck the State’s budget.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is unfair. It hurts our most vulnerable by crowding them out of the market of available doctors. The federal government reimburses doctors for patients on the “old” version of Medicaid 53%. The remainder is made up by the State. The federal government reimburses doctors for patients on the new “expanded” Medicaid 90%. The number of doctors who take Medicaid at all is rapidly falling. Medicaid patients cost doctors more because the program pays less than traditional health insurance. Of those who do accept Medicaid patients right now, many will stop rather than face a new wave of Medicaid patients. Having a Medicaid card in your wallet does not mean you’ll be able to actually receive any healthcare.

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is unsustainable. Our country has a $21 trillion fiscal operating debt. We’re adding about $1 trillion to that every year. One day, and I pray that’s soon, the Feds are going to wake up and finally put a halt to this suicidal fiscal insanity. The argument you’ll hear that we’re “missing out” and leaving federal dollars we could have just sitting there is laughable. It’s like bribing you with your own money. The federal tax dollars are paid by ALL of us. When the federal money dries up, where does that leave Nebraska, now addicted to hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for a program the feds no longer support?

Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is un-affordable. The annual cost of Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare) is estimated to be $45 million on the low end. In every state that has implemented this, the growth in spending for this program has been at least 50% higher than originally estimated meaning the truth will probably be closer to $90 million just to start with. Put aside for a moment the fact this massive new spending program will put 1 in 5 Nebraskans on welfare, where will this money come from?

We are under a federal court order to correct serious problems in our prisons or start turning inmates lose. We have K-12 schools, colleges, and university to pay for. We need roads and bridges. Almost $2 out of every $3 in our $4.5 billion state budget already goes to a very long list of social programs and the agencies who administer them. Our citizens are being crushed by punishing property taxes. Which one of these items do we cut to pay for Obamacare? Which tax do we raise to pay for this? How many citizens and businesses will flee our high-tax state as a result?

The success of a government welfare program should be measured by the number of people who no longer need it, not by how many more people we can get signed up for it. Medicaid is already spread too thin. Adding a whole new population of able-bodied adults to this program makes it much worse and hurts the very people who really need it. Ronald Reagan said the best social program in the world is a job. Instead of more taxes and more welfare programs, we need to lower taxes, attract business and create good paying jobs in Nebraska that come with healthcare benefits.

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

09-07-2018 Weekly Update

September 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
09-07-2018

The interim has been busy and the summer has flown by. Property Taxes continue to dominate discussions with citizens and senators. In looking for ideas for legislation, I heard a rural senator ask his constituents what they thought “the best bill for farmers and ranchers” might be. The unanimous response was Property Tax Reform!

I am working with Sen. Groene’s study group to analyze how changes to the State’s Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) could help improve the property tax crisis. Few people in the State of Nebraska understand TEEOSA better than Mike Groene. We’re very fortunate to have him spearhead this important work. LB 1059 was a controversial bill that created TEEOSA in 1990. It survived a governor’s veto, and a ballot initiative referendum seeking its repeal. It created TEEOSA. It apportions money the legislature spends to help fund K-12 education. Unfortunately, of the State’s 288 school districts, only about 60 receive aid through this formula. As I’ve written about before, property taxes in Nebraska are too high because the legislature doesn’t appropriate enough money for K-12 education. We are working on how we can meet the needs of the schools and students and give property tax relief at the same time.

I am also on the Nebraska Justice System Special Oversight Committee. This committee meets to address the many pressing issues facing our Department of Corrections. Since it began about 18 months ago, I have been impressed by how much progress Director Scott Frakes has managed to accomplish. Much remains to be done, but we’re definitely making progress. A legal quarrel has developed over the Judiciary Committee’s desire to subpoena Mr. Frakes, and the Attorney General’s subsequent lawsuit to quash the subpoena. I hope this is resolved soon.

We’re waiting on a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the MEDICAID Expansion ballot petition (aka Obama Care). This initiative has gathered the necessary signatures to be put on the ballot this November, but there is a question about whether or not the process was done properly. Every one of the 8 States that have implemented this species of Obama Care has regretted it. The rosy projections about the costs have all been wrong. The actual bill is way more than the estimate, plus we’d be adding able-bodied adults to a government welfare program. If this passes, people can forget about property tax relief. The money just isn’t there.

I continue to meet with NPPD about their plan to build a huge power line called the R-Project. This is going through the heart of the Sandhills. It will spoil a singularly unique place in the world so a handful of people can make money off of tax credit generators (industrial wind turbines). New data about the impact this will have on endangered Whooping Cranes has been brought up during a public comment period. I’m asking NPPD to re-open this part of the Environmental Impact Study and consider the new data. More to follow.

Constituent and group-issues are on-going throughout the summer and into the fall trying to work on problems for them. Currently, I have at least two bills to fix some of these issues in the next session. It grinds my gears to think we need to pass a small change in the wording of an existing law so ordinary citizens can pursue life, liberty and happiness. The old saying “we live in a free country” takes on a different meaning here in the legislature. I have also been speaking to Veterans and various groups and will continue to advocate for them. I’m working with other Senators to form a veteran’s coalition to bring key leaders from all veterans group together to help bring veterans issues into sharper focus in the legislature.

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

08-31-2018 Weekly Update

September 6th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-31-2018

I recently learned that NPPD has retained outside legal counsel in Denver and Washington, D.C., for the purpose of “Government Services” – also known as a lobbyist. The aim of this lobbyist is to try to influence the USFWS Office in Denver to ensure a favorable outcome for the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to NPPD’s R-Project. I have very serious concerns about this. I want to make sure there isn’t any undue influence being applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service by a public utility that is owned by the citizens of Nebraska. Those citizens, many of whom I represent, do not want their public utility doing this.

Last week, I mailed a letter to the Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Denver with copies to Governor Ricketts, Senator Deb Fischer, Senator Ben Sasse Congressman Adrian Smith and the Director of the USFWS. The Denver office has supervisory authority over the USFWS office in Nebraska that is preparing the EIS for Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) R-Project. This is the 225-mile high-voltage power-line that is about to tear through the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. It is going to do irreparable harm to a treasure unique to the world so a handful of people can make money off of a terribly flawed government program. I have written about this many times.

The portion of the EIS that concerns me deals with threatened and endangered species. The data NPPD used to address the threat the powerline poses to severely endangered Whooping Cranes was very old and limited. Studies based on this old data estimated a mortality of only 0.022 Whooping Crane deaths by wire strikes over the entire 50 year life of the R-Project. Consequently NPPD wasn’t required to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the Whooping Crane because the “take” was less than one bird a year.

Recently, a new study from 2015 was submitted to the USFWS during a public comment period. This study was based on telemetry data collected from individual birds that had been tagged with GPS trackers. Compared to the old data currently used in the EIS, this data set is very large and very detailed. In looking this over myself, I’m certain far better conclusions could be drawn from this new data set. I believe if proper analysis is done on this data, it is likely to demonstrate that far more than 0.022 Whooping Cranes will be killed by the R-Project. Going back and re-opening this part of the process so analysis of this new data can be done would further delay the project, something I know NPPD is opposed to. Nonetheless, the right thing to do is make sure the decisions that are ultimately made about the endangered Whooping Crane are supported by the best available information.

Only one wild migrating flock of the endangered Whooping Cranes is left. About 430 birds fly to Canada each year directly through the route of the R-Project. When you look at the map that plots all the GPS coordinates recorded from migrating Whopping Cranes, the route of the powerline is covered with dots. The #1 leading cause of death in migrating birds is collisions with power lines. It is important to consider the combined impact of the R-Project along with the 5 planned wind energy projects (that we are aware of). If the Whooping Cranes somehow survive the R-Project, they still have to navigate the danger posed by the industrial wind turbines the R-Project is being built for.

The fact NPPD (owned by the citizens of Nebraska) has spent rate-payer dollars to employ a “government services” attorney (who function as a lobbyist) to try and grease the skids with the US Fish and Wildlife Service so they can turn a blind eye to this new data is wrong. NPPD can re-route this power-line project, and avoid this, and many other serious problems the current route poses. Sadly, they stubbornly refuse to consider any concern the public has raised over the route of this R-Project. The very least the citizen-owners should be able to expect is the federal law and process to be followed to the letter without any inappropriate arm-twisting.

The chapter of the Environmental Impact Study for the R-Project on endangered species needs to be re-opened. The new data needs to be analyzed and considered so the best informed decisions can be made. Supplemental studies and reports should be done. Ways to try and mitigate the impact of this enormous power line on endangered Whooping Cranes need further consideration. It’s the right thing to do, but will NPPD do it? Stay tuned.

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.

08-10-2018 Weekly Update

August 20th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-10-2018

“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?” Last words of Sophie Scholl before being executed by the Nazi Gestapo, 22 February 1943.

The topic I write about today has been bothering me for a long time. I am afraid for my country, so I am going to speak out. There is a big lie being spread in the United States and Americans need to know about it. The violent hate group known as “Antifa” (an-tee-fah) proclaims itself to be “anti-fascist.” This is fake news. The truth is THEY ARE FASCISTS. They are not fighting against fascism in the United States. They are fighting to destroy our civil society, our constitutional republic, and replace it with a fascist dictatorship. They are a modern incarnation of Mussolini’s Black Shirts in Italy in the 1920’s, and Hitler’s Brown Shirts in Germany in the 1930’s. Antifa is following the exact same tactics using riots, assault, and the destruction of property. To put it in modern terms, they are a domestic terror organization. Antifa and their affiliated groups should be designated as such by our federal and state governments, and prosecuted by law enforcement.

I began by quoting Sophie Scholl because she is an example of a “real” anti-fascist. She fought against real fascism. She was guillotined by the Nazis because she spoke out against them. She tried to exercise political “free speech” by printing and distributing pamphlets that criticized Nazi fascism. Like the true fascists they are, Antifa doesn’t want free speech for Americans. If you disagree with them, you’ll end up beaten and bloodied, maybe even dead. Examples of this abound all over public media.

Here is how the lie works: If you support President Trump, this means you are a Nazi, and/or a fascist, and/or a racist white supremacist (the so-called “alt-right”). Antifa and other allied groups are supposedly the noble organizations who are standing-up and “resisting” the Nazis, fascists, racists, etc. Obviously President Trump isn’t any of those things and Antifa is the fascist organization who wants to shut down free speech. This tactic is right out of the “real” fascist play book: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Joseph Goebbels – Hitler’s Propaganda Minister.

For those who support our President, try this little test: Imagine wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat out in public. Do you feel the slightest twinge of hesitation? Does the thought make you just a little anxious? Are there places you wouldn’t wear it? That trepidation you feel is your first amendment rights being taken away from you. THAT is Antifa’s goal. That is the goal of the radical progressive left in the United States: crushing dissenting speech.

Free speech should not be silenced by a masked thug on the street or some coward lurking behind a keyboard. Americans should not be stripped of their constitutional rights. The progressive left (the real fascists) should understand they can’t bully their fellow Americans into submission using a big lie they can’t hide. Hundreds of millions of people see it for exactly what it is and they have been “…awakened and stirred to action.” The spirit of Sophie Scholl is alive and well in America.

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.

08-17-2018 Weekly Update

August 20th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-10-2018

The first session of the 106th legislature will begin about four months from now, Wednesday morning the 9th of January. Odd years are “long” sessions, or 90 legislative days usually ending in early June.

Senators will have the first 10 “legislative days” (about 2 weeks) to introduce bills. Nebraska’s legislature is unique in many ways. There is no limit on the number of bills a Senator can introduce, and every single one of them will receive a public hearing in front of a committee. No other state legislature works like this. Whether or not a member can even introduce a bill, and whether or not it even gets a hearing are all decisions made by the political leadership. There are “some” advantages to being the only unicameral, non-partisan legislature in the country.

Right now we are in the “interim” which is that time between legislative sessions. I’ve heard it said that “sessions are won or lost in the interim” so we are going to get a head start on the bill drafting process. I am strongly considering the following bills.

A bill that deals with laws governing wind energy.

A bill that deals with laws governing eminent domain.

A bill that strengthens the checks and balances in our State government as it applies to public power.

I will reintroduce an old bill from the first session, LB 576. This bill put a 4-year cap on property taxes so at least the citizens don’t have to suffer increases while the legislature struggles to solve this massive problem.

A bill that addresses Nebraska’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund K-12 education.

I will reintroduce an old bill from the second session of the last legislature, LB 929. This bill guarantees certain rights for members of the National Guard.

A bill brought by a constituent that makes minor changes in the law as it relates to keeping raptors (like falcons) for a commercial business purpose.

A bill brought by a constituent that makes minor changes to the law that governs the department of motor vehicles as it applies to titles for surplus military vehicles.

This is a full plate as it is, but there are a few other ideas I am considering. I want to devote these next four months to thoroughly researching every one of my bills.

I also want to use this time to hear ideas from my constituents. The best bill ideas I get come from the citizens. If you have something in mind, please let me know and I’ll consider it. Incidentally, I really like ideas that use the power of government to protect and guarantee more rights and liberty for the people – not less.

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.

08-03-2018 Weekly Update

August 3rd, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
08-03-2018

The ballot initiative petition drive for the “Medicaid Expansion” (otherwise known as Obamacare) has collected enough signatures to be put on the ballot. So far, Nebraska is one of only 17 states smart enough not to have implemented this big mistake.

The bottom line is this: Passing Obamacare in Nebraska means there is no chance we will get any property tax relief. That is the choice facing Nebraskans. Do you want Obamacare or do you want Property Tax Relief? Pick one. You can’t have both. There isn’t enough money. My constituents have been overwhelmingly clear on this point. Property Tax relief has been and continues to be the #1 issue in my district.

In every state that has had the misfortune of implementing Obamacare, the enrollment spending has ALWAYS far exceeded estimates. Oregon and Ohio are great examples of this. More people sign-up than the state budgeted for. The legislature ends up holding the bag, scrambling to find ways to pay for it. Nebraska is already a high-tax state, higher than any of our neighbors. We already have a bloated state budget of $4.5 billion. It has almost doubled in just the last ten years. Will we cut a program to pay for Obamacare? I’ve heard rumors that education funding would have to be cut to pay for this.

We will take up a bill early in the session to pass an internet sales tax. I hate the idea of passing any new tax, but this is a matter of fairness to our main street brick and mortar businesses. They have to collect sales tax, so should their competitors who do business on the internet. Estimates range from $30 to $60 million in new sales tax revenue that will be generated by this. Mark my words, there will be Senators who will want to spend this windfall on Obamacare instead of property tax relief.

1 in 5 dollars in a hospital’s budget is devoted to collecting bills. Right now Nebraska healthcare providers are already faced with carrying large sums of money in “accounts receivable” as they struggle to get reimbursed from our State government for Medicaid patients. Obamacare will make provider reimbursement even more difficult – as it has in every other State that has implemented it.

In addition, implementing Obamacare and adding able-bodied adults to the current Medicaid population will crowd out services to the truly needy and disabled – exactly the people Medicaid was designed to help in the first place. Imagine adding a number of people to the current Medicaid roles that results in nearly 20% of Nebraska’s population on Obamacare. How did we get to such a place where one in five Nebraskans are on government assistance? Providing free healthcare to an expanded group of people does not increase the quality of that group’s “health.” There is a lot of very good research on this point. I encourage folks to study The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment and see for themselves. Arguing that we are missing out on the dubious federal funding that comes with this program is like bribing someone with their own money. It’s our federal income tax and massive government borrowing that pays for it.

Government has made healthcare in America a “third-person purchase.” This is a service somebody buys with someone else’s money, to be provided to someone else. This is unlike a first-person purchase (bought by you – used by you) where price and value are the primary considerations in the decision. Third-person purchases couldn’t care less how much something costs or how well it performs. Everything government spends money on is a 3rd person purchase. As long as government continues to interfere with the healthcare market, it will cost way too much and be increasingly hard for people to get.

Is healthcare for poor people REALLY the problem, or is it our State’s economy not producing the good-paying jobs with benefits people need? Do we raise taxes and increase government spending, or do we figure out a way to grow Nebraska’s economy so we can reduce the number of people who need government assistance? Implementing Obamacare is just treating a symptom of the larger problem we should be addressing.

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.

07-26-2018 Weekly Update

July 26th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
07-27-2018

Is it okay to kill an endangered species and destroy a Nebraska treasure unique to the world so a handful of people can make money off of the federal government? We’re about to find out.

According to the Audubon Society, there are about 603 Whooping Cranes left in three different flocks, two of which stay in the Southern United States and do not migrate. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 431 Whooping Cranes are in the one flock that does migrate from south Texas to Canada each year. This flock flies back and forth right through the heart of Nebraska. The #1 cause of death in these migrating Whooping Cranes is wire strikes with power lines. Don’t take my word for it. All of this information is contained in the many studies found in the extensive public comments to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) proposed “R Project.”

The proposed R-Project is a 225-mile-long, 345kv high-voltage power line that is going to tear through the heart of the Nebraska’s Sandhills, the most environmentally sensitive region of our State. The Sandhills are geologically unique. There is not another place like them on Earth. They are very fragile and will not recover from the destruction that is being planned for them. The scar it is going to leave across Nebraska will be visible from space well into the next century. What could be so important that we destroy one of our few beautiful and unique places in Nebraska, and kill endangered species in the process?

The modern world we all want to live in demands we have public infrastructure like power lines, and I know no one wants them in their back yard. NPPD argues the line is necessary for load balancing and to provide redundancy in the event tornadoes and ice storms knock down the power lines, which is sound reasoning. But I will argue the fact that NPPD has several different routes they can chose to accomplish this goal. These routes follow roads and use existing utility corridors where there are already power lines. They don’t destroy our Sandhills and they pose less of a threat to the Whooping Crane.

So why didn’t NPPD save themselves all this grief and choose one of the other routes?

I think the proposed R-Project is being built specifically for wind energy development in the Sandhills. There are meeting minutes from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) that attest to this fact. NPPD met with wind developers in Cherry County three times in 2011 on how to lobby the SPP to build a line into the Sandhills. SPP issued their notice to construct on April 9, 2012. The Cherry County Wind Energy Association, a consortium of land owners in Cherry County, became a for-profit company just ten days later on April 19, 2012.

NPPD told me they knew of only one wind energy company that had made an “interconnect” request to the new proposed R-Line. However, the Southwest Power Pool’s public website records five additional industrial wind facilities with plans to connect to the R-Project, totaling over 1,500 MW, or over 800 turbines planned for the Sandhills, many right in the middle of the Whooping Crane flyway. The destructive route the proposed R-Line follows was chosen because it will allow future wind energy projects an “interconnect” capability, tying their industrial wind facility to the power grid. It financially benefits a handful of people (including elected officials). Load balancing and redundancy are not the main reasons for the R-Line. Money in the hands of a few people is the main reason.

NPPD evaluated the potential for Whooping Crane mortalities caused by the proposed R-Project using old, sparse data. A new, large data set from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available. It is based on GPS trackers used on individual birds. It clearly illustrates the R-Project is routed through several prime Whooping Crane roosting areas. There is a very high probability this gigantic power line is going to kill Whooping Cranes. If NPPD was willing to do the right thing, they would apply for an “incidental take permit” so the accidental killing of an endangered species is at least lawful. In light of the new data, I urge NPPD to do a “supplemental” study for their environmental impact statement to take this new data into consideration and, at the very least, modify their mitigation plan, but they do not want to do this either.

The project is already over two years behind schedule and $5.6 million over budget for just the “pre-construction” phase. There is overwhelming evidence it poses a grave threat to a bird on the brink of extinction, and will do incredible harm to a singularly unique place in the world. Over 1/3 of the 225-mile route will have to be forcibly taken from land owners using eminent domain. In spite of all this, NPPD insists this project must go forward and this terrible route must be followed.

It’s my sincere hope that NPPD will change its mind on the proposed R-Project, but can they? In 2009, Nebraska’s public utilities decided to join the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a consortium of power companies in 14 different states headquartered in Little Rock, AR. This wasn’t a question put to Nebraska voters or even one debated by the legislature – they just up and did it. Who’s calling the shots now? Did Nebraska give up our sovereign power to some board of directors in Arkansas? Nebraska being the only State with 100% public power should mean we’re all paying the cheapest electric bills around. We’re not. Since our public utilities joined SPP, we have fallen from 8th to 17th lowest in the country and getting worse. We may never know the answers to these questions. Despite my filibuster trying to stop it, a bill was passed last session (LB 1008) that allows our public utilities to conceal information from the public. I think we may have given away the “Nebraska Public” in NPPD.

I hope people reading this share their concerns with their State Senator and/or their NPPD board member. We’re about to do serious permanent harm to some very special things in Nebraska that we will lose forever. NPPD is a sub-division of State Government that is supposed to serve the public. It is pursuing the proposed R-Project in spite of opposition by multiple state and federal agencies, state and federal organizations, and the public. Urge them to change the route of the R-Project. As it is, the “R” stands for “refuses” to listen. Please help me make them listen.

Find your senator here: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_find.php Find your NPPD Board Member here: http://www.nppd.com/about-us/board-of-directors/ 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.

07-19-2018 Weekly Update

July 19th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
07-19-2018

I wanted to follow up from last week and complete the update of the adventure on board the submarine USS Nebraska.

As a quick refresher the USS Nebraska is an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN 739). In layman’s terms there are two major classes of submarines: the fast attack submarine, and what is referred to as “Boomers,” the heavy large submarines like the (560 ft) Ohio class that can launch in a car now ballistic missiles look like the Trident I and II. Just so everyone understands, this submarine carries aboard it more destructive power than all of munitions that were used in all of the countries combined in the Second World War!

The opportunity to see the USS Nebraska was made possible by Allen Beermann and the “Nebraska Big Red Sub Club”. Of all the ships that are named after states, Nebraska is the only one that maintains a close relationship between the people of Nebraska and the crew on board that vessel. There are “Go Big Red” stickers and red “N”s all over the inside of the submarine, and every time there is an announcement over the PA system it ends with “Go Big Red”. There is a true love and bond between the crew of that vessel and the people of Nebraska.

The group of Nebraska VIPs arrived at Seattle and were transferred to a holding area where we were briefed on the mission and all electronic devices were taken from us (Because of the security requirements). We were restricted to one small plastic bag large enough for toothbrush and deodorant. The challenge is that you leave port aboard a ship that is referred to as a “blocking ship”. It is manned by the Coast Guard and when out to sea it is to rendezvous with the USS Nebraska somewhere on the high seas. The difficult task was to transfer by a gang plank from one ship to another as they were moving. On the horizon the black hull of the monstrous USS Nebraska was rising out of the sea into view and the full impact of what we were about to do became clear.

I have travelled the world, seen dozens of countries, fought in wars, but at this moment in time this was one of the most impactful and memorable experiences I will ever have. I believe this would be a challenging task even if you are a Navy sailor. They did have a life vest for us and a Navy diver on the submarine to fetch us if necessary, but fortunately no one took a dip in the ocean and we all transferred aboard the submarine with no incidents.

Once on board we were given a safety briefing and divided into small groups that toured the different compartments and we were given general overview information about the capabilities of the submarines and the mission that they had just completed. The Captain welcomed us – and the crew took very good care of the Nebraskans who had come to visit. I think they were glad to see some new faces. Remember, they had been at sea for months, and were in route back to the port in Bremerton to change from the current crew, the “blue crew”, to the new crew who will take the USS Nebraska back out after it’s refit, the “gold crew”.
All of the VIP visitors gathered in the crew’s mess room. A room about 20‘ x 30‘, the mess is the largest space we would see below deck other than the torpedo room. Everywhere else, passageways and workspace are tight. Sailors step between, over and around the masses of equipment that they maintained, including the forest of nuclear missile tubes. I was a little shocked to see that the sailors slept between the nuclear missile launch tubes in bunks that were only 18 inches in height, stacked 4 high (no personnel space). They live a very isolated life.
You must remember that because of the nature of the mission, they cannot communicate regularly. There is no internet service aboard the boat and the Navy relays emails only occasionally. This is a mission security requirements. Their job is to be undetected wherever they are in the world. They keep all of the other people with their new killer weapons honest. They cannot target United States first because they cannot find those nuclear missiles that are aboard the submarines.

For all of the negatives of working and living aboard a submarine, one of the major advantages is the chow. After spending a lifetime of eating Army chow and MRIs, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, quantity, and 24/7 availability of outstanding food aboard this Navy vessel.

It was a blessing to see the passion, professionalism, and dedication from the crew aboard the USS Nebraska. I believe that many Americans do not appreciate the sacrifice that they make in order to provide this umbrella of peace for our nation. They understand that if they ever had to do their mission of launching those missiles, the world as we know it will have changed, they likely will have lost their families. These are young men and women who are 18 to 22 years old for the most part. That is a tremendous burden to put on their shoulders, yet we do that without fully understanding the sacrifice we are asking them to make.

We had numerous briefings on the different portions of the vessel and their capabilities all the way to the torpedo room, and finding out that each torpedo is worth $2 million and the range classified somewhere beyond 30,000 yards (17+ Miles). We had a final opportunity, we were allowed to go onto the uppermost part of the coning tower and watch as a submarine came into Puget Sound. It was absolutely breathtaking, to see the water breaking in front of that giant submarine and to look out to the right and left and see the 10 Coast Guard and Navy escort vehicles bringing it safely back into port to the waiting families.

This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. I cannot thank Commander Wadsley and the crew of the USS Nebraska enough for allowing a few Nebraskans to come and see a snapshot of their lives and mission. The citizens of the United States and Nebraska are blessed to have individuals who are wearing all of the different uniforms of our country, and doing these types of difficult missions all over the world, keeping us safe.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. or mail a letter to: Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.

07-12-2018 Weekly Update

July 12th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
07-12-2018

I have been both blessed and honored to have the opportunity to go aboard the USS Nebraska recently. There have been two USS Nebraskas. I would now like to share a little history on both.

The first ship to carry the name USS Nebraska (BB-14) was a Virginia class pre-dreadnought battleship of the United States Navy. The keel laying was July 1902 and she was launched in October 1904. The USS Nebraska joined Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” after it reach the west coast of the states in 1908 and then continued with it during circumnavigating of the globe. It would see service during the Mexican Revolution 1914 to 1916 and supported World War I starting April 1917 to Nov 1919. It was decommissioned in July of 1920.

The current USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) is the 14th of 18 submarines of the Ohio class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The keel was laid on July 6, 1987, and she was christened on Aug. 15, 1992 by Mrs. Patricia Exon, wife of U.S. Sen. J. James Exon. Nebraska was commissioned on July 10, 1993 at Groton, Connecticut, and was assigned to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

The USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) Ballistic Missile submarine is the largest in the US inventory at 560’ long and 42’ wide. It can reach speeds of 25+ submerged and it has 2 full crews that rotate (Blue and Gold crew). Each crew consist of 155 individuals, 15 officers and 140 enlisted.

While stationed on the East Coast, the USS Nebraska completed her first strategic deterrent patrol in August 1994 and became the first Ohio-class submarine to visit Europe and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1996, Nebraska was honored by U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) as the SSBN recipient of the Omaha Trophy for excellence in strategic deterrence. As part of an effort to balance the nation’s strategic assets, Nebraska shifted her homeport to Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Washington, in October 2008.

The Lethality of the USS Nebraska is its 24 Trident I and II missile tubes and its four 21” torpedo tubes. The mission of the SSBN Force is strategic deterrence by providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Ohio-class submarines serve as the undetectable launch platform for submarine launch ballistic missiles. They are considered the most survivable of the nuclear triad; the other legs being long range bombers of the U S Air Force and the land based intercontinental ballistic missiles. After spending almost 37 years in the Army, this Navy experience was an eye-opener. The Navy has referred to us as Embarkees (A Navy term for people going out to sea that are clueless). I had the chance to experience what it is like to go under the ocean in a submarine, a nuclear powered submarine that has nuclear missiles, (think of it as a very large MRI machine that can blow up a good share of the planet).

Due to the length of this column, next week I will give you a more detailed, unclassified update on this unique experience. It was great spending time with great Americans who wear our nation’s uniform and have a heart to serve their nation.

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.

07-06-2018 Weekly Update

July 6th, 2018

I like to keep the weekly updates to district specific issues, but with what is happening nationally I feel I have no choice but to address this topic. In complete transparency, I worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Afghanistan when I was the Director of the Border Management Task Force. They did the same mission in Afghanistan as they do here. “ICE’s missions are to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety”. The men and women of ICE that I worked with worked in very difficult conditions, they did an exemplary job. They are part of a much bigger security umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and their partners Border Patrol/Protection (BP), and Customs. They were a much needed combat multiplier in our nation building mission in Afghanistan.

There has been over 700 demonstrations against Immigration and Customs Enforcement Federal Law Enforcement Agents (ICE) throughout the nation over the last 3 weeks. The 50 offices of Obama’s “Organization For Action (OFA)” have been coordinating the demonstrations, with the support of their 32,525 members, and with the help of 14 field organizers. The demonstrators are being transported to various locations, and are being paid by George Soros.

The demonstrations are designed to eliminate the force of 6,000 ICE Agents whose primary function is to enforce US Federal Immigration Laws, and to apprehend convicted illegal alien criminals on the interior of the US. Obama’s OFA is lying about what ICE Agents are responsible for, and whipping up hysteria by saying ICE is separating illegal alien children from their illegal alien parents; the left of center liberal media establishment has been promoting that bold faced lie for the last three weeks.

ICE Agents have absolutely nothing to do with separating illegal alien children from the human trafficking illegal alien adults at the border. Those human traffickers are often masquerading as illegal alien parents. Often it not the real illegal alien parent with the illegal alien child, it is a drug cartel “mule”, using an illegal alien child as cover, in order to penetrate the US Southern Border illegally.

It is the Customs and Border Protection Federal Law Enforcement Officers, not ICE Agents, who try to determine if the illegal alien child, is in the custody of their real illegal alien parent.
The only reason an illegal alien child may eventually be separated from an real parent, is because the parent has hazarded their child, by bringing the child on a very long and dangerous journey thru hostile territory, traveling the full length of Mexico, then by finally committing the crime of illegally crossing the US Southern Border, instead of transporting the illegal alien child to an authorized US Port of Entry.

If that illegal alien parent were an American parent, the child would be removed from their custody by Child Protective Services, and placed in a Foster Home, because the child had been placed in a very dangerous situation by the action of the American citizen parent. If an American Citizen parent commits any crime in the United States, requiring incarceration in jail, they are separated from their child. Why should an illegal alien parent who commits a crime be treated any differently from an American citizen parent who commits a crime?

In June the number of illegal aliens, human traffickers, gang members, and drug smugglers that were apprehended entering the US thru the southern border exceeded 42,000. The US Border Patrol generally reports that they are only able to apprehend about half of them.

Everyone should understand that the extremists and the media are using this emotional issue of the children to “abolish ICE”. If we abolish ICE they will simply find a new law enforcement agency to attack and abolish. We will be less safe and our border will be open to illegal aliens, human traffickers, gang members and drug smugglers. Never forget that it was the events of 9/11 that formed DHS and ICE.

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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