NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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06-29-2018 Weekly Update

June 29th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
06-29-2018

I read in the paper where the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) and an Omaha Attorney, feel the property tax crisis in Nebraska should be solved through a lawsuit or a constitutional convention.

The lawsuit would argue the way we fund schools through local property taxes is unconstitutional as locally collected property taxes cannot be used for a “state purpose.” Article VII of the Nebraska constitution mandates “the legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools.” The argument is using 60-70% locally collected property taxes to fund a state purpose (K-12 schools) is unconstitutional because you are doing it with local property taxes instead of state revenues.

There have been Nebraska Supreme Court cases that have established a “precedent” on exactly what the words “shall provide for the free instruction” actually mean. In plain English the court says they mean; “the legislature shall provide a bunch of laws that create local units of government, such as school districts, and then give them the power to levy and collect property taxes.” The court has held that the Legislature has more than “provided” that. Of course ordinary people think “shall provide” means shall “pay for” or shall “appropriate monies for,” etc. Sadly, that’s not what those words mean in the eyes of the law. Any lawsuit therefore would have to overturn this long-held court precedent. People have sued the State over this issue multiple times in the past and lost. To my knowledge this lawsuit hasn’t been filed, so I look forward to seeing how this new legal theory of property tax money being spent for a “state purpose” would fare in the court.

The Constitutional Convention they call for would first have to be a question put to the people on the ballot, either by the voters through the initiative and referendum process, or by the legislature. Once on the ballot, the voters would then have to decide if Nebraska should have a constitutional convention, or not. Nebraska has had Constitutional Conventions before. The legislature of 1917 passed such a measure and it was put on the ballot. The voters approved it in November of 1918 and the constitutional convention met in Lincoln in December of 1919 until March of 1920. In this convention, 41 new amendments to the constitution of 1875 were passed and all were ratified by the voters in a special election in September of that year. Given the recent failure of the Property Tax Ballot Initiative, I am curious to see what the organization is behind this effort. Clearly there isn’t enough time left to get this question on the 2018 ballot, so this idea will have to wait for the 2020 election at the earliest.

I’ve devoted my entire time in the legislature to the study of the property tax crisis in Nebraska. It is my #1 priority. I’ve brought a bill each session and initiated a call for a Special Session for “just” the property tax issue. Besides the scourge of Wind Energy in the Sandhills, and Public Power running roughshod over landowners in the district, I have spent little time on anything else. I will bring a bill to address it every session I am here until the problem is solved. I believe the root-cause of the problem must be addressed. I’ve seen numerous ideas that nibble at the edges of the problem, but don’t really solve it permanently. These aren’t bad ideas – I support everything that can lower property taxes – but the political reality is you can have all of nothing, or part of something. These ideas are not big, comprehensive things because they reflect the small, limited approaches senators think may be “likely” to pass in our very divided political environment.

Property taxes are too high in Nebraska because the Legislature doesn’t appropriate enough sales and income tax revenue to support K-12 schools. 48 other States spend more “state revenue” than we do. Nationally, about 40% of funding for K-12 is paid for with property taxes. Nebraska is 60%. In my district, there are schools that are over 70% funded with property taxes.

I think we need a solution that is as big as the problem. I will bring a bill next session that will be a proposed constitutional amendment that changes the language of Article VII and clarifies what “the legislature shall provide” actually means. Exclusive of bonded indebtedness that voters in a district may decide they want, I believe no more than 33% of the funding for K-12 education in Nebraska should be borne by property tax payers. The legislature has to pass this to get it on the ballot for the people to decide in an election. With this language in the constitution, the legislature will be forced to finally address the problem. In the meantime, I will continue working with other Senators, legislative working groups and citizen groups I am a part of to seek other paths to a solution.

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.

06-22-2018 Weekly Update

June 22nd, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
06-22-2018

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court ruled it was okay for States to collect sales tax from internet sales. I have mixed feelings about this.

To start with, I strongly believe that we are all much better off as a society when the money earned by the people who get out of bed every day and go work for it are able to keep it. After all, it belongs to them. They earned it. The essential expression of liberty is private property rights, and there is no better example of private property than the money people earn when they work. I think individual citizens are much better at deciding how to spend it than the government is.

Yes, I know we need government services and those cost money, so to a degree, taxation is the dues people pay for the privilege of living in a civilized society. I understand this. That said, government creates zero wealth. It has no money it didn’t first take from someone who had to earn it. I therefore believe the bias should always tilt in favor of the person who earned the money in the first place.

There have been bills in the last two sessions that would have applied the Nebraska Sales Tax to on-line sales. They were shelved because the opposition argued we needed to wait for this Supreme Court decision before we passed such a law. The wait is over. The court gave the States a green light to apply sales tax to things you buy on the internet, and you can bet the States will waste no time doing it. I’ve already been asked if I thought there would be a special session so we could hurry up and pass the law needed to do this. I do not share other’s enthusiasm to do this.

The only aspect of this idea I agree with is rooted in “fairness.” Our main street brick-and-mortar businesses in Nebraska are struggling. They are forced to collect sales tax and operate at a huge disadvantage to their internet competitors because they don’t have to. It levels the playing field. In that narrow context, I agree with the idea in principal. In practice however, let me state for the record:

Any bill that applies Nebraska sales tax to internet purchases must direct 100% of the new revenue raised by the measure to just property tax relief. I will vote against any bill that doesn’t, and it’s my sincere hope the Governor would veto it if it managed to pass. The $30-40 million in new revenue this is likely to create must not be treated like a windfall by the legislature.

The agriculture producers in our State are being crushed. $1 in $4 dollars in Nebraska’s economy comes from agriculture, yet we have the highest agriculture property taxes in the country and the commodity prices today are the worst they’ve been in decades. Take just the month of June for example. Since the beginning of the month, Nebraska cash corn prices are down roughly 11% and cash soybean prices are down 14%. Wheat and sorghum prices have also dropped. It’s not like prices were great to begin the month. Several factors are pushing prices lower. Ongoing trade tensions with our largest trading partners, but also good growing conditions and an increase in the value of the dollar are also pressuring prices.

To put the drop in prices in context in terms of what it means for Nebraska farmers and Nebraska’s economy, the drop in corn and soybean prices since the beginning of the month has resulted in just over $1 billion in potential lost receipts to corn and soybean producers based on 2017 production ($589 million-corn receipts; $437 million-soybean receipts). These two crops combined typically account for 90% of the state’s total crop receipts which makes them major drivers in determining net farm income for the state. This represents a loss of farm income to something close to $60 million for Nebraska in just the month of June.

Cattle prices have fared a little better. They haven’t crashed in June like crop prices have. They are lower for the year compared to last year at this time, but they have stabilized a bit in recent weeks. Hopefully some of the pressures in the other commodity markets in recent weeks will not bleed over into the cattle market.

Regardless, it is unconscionable to think of spending new sales tax revenue on anything other than reducing property taxes, most especially for the agriculture sector. Property taxes are the only tax people have to pay that has no regard for their ability to pay it. As it stands today, our Ag producers can’t even cover the cost of producing a crop, let alone pay the property tax bill.

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.

06-15-2018 Weekly Update

June 15th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
06-15-2018

My two top priorities for the next legislative session continue to be immorally high property taxes and big wind energy companies trampling the property rights of their neighbors. I’ll be working with constituents and introducing bills in the next session that continue to address these and other issues. The success or failure of a bill depends a great deal on how much is done with it right now, over the interim between sessions. The property tax solution is just too big and too complicated to wait until the session has started to begin working with Senators and building support. I am a member of Sen. Groene’s working group of 10 senators to start this process this summer.

As I pondered the issues we’ll take up next session, another nagging concern of mine kept popping up in my thoughts. I see examples of it every day and it saddens and worries me. I’m talking about the gradual but relentless destruction of the American Civil Society. I think most folks would agree that the generation of Americans who grew up during the Depression and fought World War II were far more involved in community life than the generations that have followed them. There are exceptions of course and I don’t want to tar everyone with this broad brush, but the passing of this generation sure appears to me to be an important factor in the decline of our civic life today.

I read a study called the General Social Survey (GSS) which has been done every year for the past twenty years. The GSS said that regardless of education or gender there was a drop of over 25% in membership in clubs and civic organizations like the PTA or the Eagles Club or the VFW. Since 1974 the report also showed a drop of roughly 30% in “social trust” of political authorities and many social institutions. The local bowling league, company-sponsored softball teams, hobby clubs all declined. Church attendance has fell over 40% since I was growing up. Sen. Mike Lee from Utah said, “The destruction of community life is a spiritual crisis for millions of our fellow citizens.”

Why is this? Lee argues that at least in part, American communities are growing weaker because the federal government has grown so much. It has expanded into offering programs that used to be ran by churches or charitable civic organizations. As we’ve all seen countless times, big government programs are no substitute for civic involvement, and in the process the foundations of our communities have begun to crumble, but there is more to this.

Nowadays, we’re confronted all the time with the “Social Justice Warriors” who are often a breed of radical leftists that are intolerant and hate-filled angry people bent on dismantling the American social compact and the civil society. They promote “progressive” ideologies taught at universities as we’ve seen. Where they see “different” they see “injustice” whether there actually is any or not. There doesn’t have to be any “actual” discrimination; all that matters is how they “feel.” A man holding the door for a woman, for example, is a “micro aggression” implying you think she is weak and helpless. Asking someone where they are from implies you’re xenophobic. Using the personal pronoun “he or him” when addressing a biological male who wants to be known as a female is actually against the law in California now. They control speech and dialog in our society through the media and popular culture’s use of “political correctness.” They don’t want equality under the law (Nebraska’s Motto) they want special treatment and special privileges for their favorite groups often at the expense of other people’s rights, and if you resist them, you’re called a Nazi or some other disparaging label. What was once considered disgusting and shameful is now normal and accepted, and if you dare to reject it you’re called a bigot for your trouble.

Our dialog has coarsened so much. People are losing the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. The hypocrisy on public display is breathtaking. Celebrities routinely use profanity on live television directed at our President. Had a tiny fraction of the open, public hatred of President Trump happened to President Obama, there would have been riots in the streets.

I don’t know how to write a bill that fixes this alarming trend. I’m just thankful much of the damage to American civil society has not reached the Nebraska Sandhills. The people in my district are decent, upright citizens who vote in record numbers and were taught manners and morals growing up. Yet again, I’m reminded how lucky I am to represent 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 #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

06-08-2018 Weekly Update

June 8th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
06-08-2018

The 6th of June marks the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. I wanted to dedicate this weekly update to the Nebraskans of the 134th Infantry Regiment who came ashore at Normandy about a month later. The 134th Infantry Regiment was part of the 35th Infantry Division during World War II, and it still is. My legislative Aide and I both began our military careers in the 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry Regiment. My son in law serves in the regiment today.

I want to thank the Coulthart family who maintains a webpage from which much of this history was found. The Nebraska State Historical Society’s General Butler B. Miltonberger special collection is a rich compilation of some amazing historical records as well. Lastly, I want to promote the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward, Nebraska. It is an amazing facility I strongly encourage folks to visit. They have done a fantastic job of capturing the World War II experience from a Nebraska perspective.

The beginning of the 134th pre-dates the State of Nebraska. It was first organized December 23, 1854 and fought in the Indian Wars. In 1898 it was mobilized and deployed to fight in Philippine Insurrection. It was deployed once again in 1913 for the War with Mexico and in 1918 was sent to France for combat in WWI. The regiment resumed the role of citizen soldiers until in 1940 when preparations for WWII began.

After the Regiment landed at Omaha Beach on July 5 and 6th, until they sailed for the United States aboard the Queen Mary after the war’s end on September 5, 1945, they liberated or captured 124 towns. In the process the 134th suffered more than 10,200 casualties including over 1,200 soldiers who were killed in action. Over 200 of those killed in action were Nebraskans who were part of the original regiment that first mobilized and left Nebraska. The Regiment captured nearly 9,000 German prisoners of war and advanced in the face of enemy fire over 1500 combat miles.

On the “regimental colors” (each Army unit has a distinctive flag) there are 26 campaign streamers from the Indian Wars, the Civil War, the War with Spain, the Philippine Insurrection, WWI, WWII, and The War on Terror. The regiment has two Presidential Unit Citations, four distinguished unit citations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation from Afghanistan, an Army Superior Unit Award, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, from the battle of St. Lo in World War II, and an Army Meritorious Unit Commendation. Most Army units would be lucky to have half of the honors listed here.

From just WWII, soldiers in the regiment received 1Medal of Honor, 8 Distinguished Service Cross Medals, 159 Silver Star Medals, 738 Bronze Star Medals and over 10,200 Purple Heart medals.

Reading the history of Nebraska’s 134th Infantry Regiment makes me smile inside. It’s yet another example of the outstanding people that make up our great State.

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.

06-01-2018 Weekly Update

June 1st, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
06-01-2018

“The Interim” (that time between legislative sessions). For most Senators, it’s time to go back to work. Most have jobs, farms, ranches and businesses to attend to. It’s time to go home and reconnect with family too. It’s important to remember we have a part-time citizen legislature. Each of the 49 Senators are ordinary citizens with families, lives and professions. Many have re-election campaigns to run as well.

The interim is also the time to work on big ideas and re-connect with the people in the district.

Big issues are won or lost in the interim. Property Tax Reform, for example, is something that we need to work out during the interim because by the time the session rolls around, it is too late to do big things. I’m slowly working on building a coalition of 33 senators who all agree on an idea to fix property taxes. Compromises are built one senator at a time. You need the time over the interim to do that. At the end of the day, any idea to lower property taxes that can’t receive 33 votes is just a waste of time. I believe there has to be a way to reduce property taxes that can get 33 votes. We need the time over the interim to make that effort.

This is also the time when senators get to go back to their districts and work on issues their constituents bring them. The diversity of issues runs the gamut. Here is a small sample.

A constituent bought a surplus 2 ½ ton Army truck (a deuce and a half) in another state and is trying to get a title for it. The Department of Motor Vehicles says Nebraska law is so vague and ambiguous, they believe military trucks are not “motor vehicles” as defined by current Nebraska law. A new bill is definitely needed to properly fix this. In the meantime I’m hopeful we can work something out with DMV.

The State built a highway in the 1970s which acts as a dam for a hay meadow creating a large lake where 1,500 round bales used to be harvested from. For decades, the land owner has tried to get the State to install a culvert to naturally drain the meadow (which should have been done when the road was built). Turns out the Department of Roads engineer would love to install a culvert but the Federal Army Corps of Engineers considers the man-made flooded hay meadow a federally-protected wetland which we need a permit for. Fixing the Corps of Engineers issue will take some help from our congressional delegation. In the meantime, the State Department of Transportation, and the County and I are working to resolve this issue.

A constituent moved into the district from another State and brought his “bird abatement” business with him. He keeps trained falcons and is hired by airports around the country, for example, to scare away flocks of birds which pose a hazard. Turns out, Nebraska has no law which addresses this subject. I’m working with the Game and Parks Commission to resolve this until we can get a bill passed so we have the law we need. I think it’s important we do all we can to support people who move to Nebraska and want to start a business.

These problems got me thinking. When you hear someone say, “We live in a free country” what does that actually mean? In defending the new constitution in the Federalist Papers, one of the framers of the constitution said it was written with “the presumption of liberty” in mind using a style of legal writing called “the positive grant.” Only government powers that had been “enumerated” (specifically listed) by the people in the constitution, were the only powers the government had. In plain English, if the power had not been specifically written down in the constitution, then the government didn’t have that power. They couldn’t assume, or imply they had the power. It had to be “positively granted” to the government by the people.

I believe people are free to do whatever they want UNLESS there is a law that specifically prohibits them from doing it. The reverse is not true. People do not need a law to be on the books that gives them permission to do something before they can do it. American’s have “unalienable” rights. These are rights that cannot be given away or taken away. By virtue of being born a human being on planet Earth, we have these rights. When the law is silent on something, then the “assumption of liberty” kicks in and I think people should have the right to do whatever that something is.

In other news, the Game and Parks Commission is having their next meeting on 22 June in Ogallala. One of the items on the agenda is whether or not to have a mountain lion hunting season in Nebraska. Like other big game hunting is now, I believe it is important land owners be given a preference when it comes to mountain lion hunting. The staff or I will attend this meeting.

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.

05-23-2018 Weekly Update

May 23rd, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
05-23-2018

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. This day we honor those who died wearing the uniform of our country. 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 every day of the year. To the family and friends of loved ones who died in the line of duty serving their country I say, may God bless you. These are the “Gold Star” families. Memorial Day is the special day we remember your sacrifice.

A “gold star” refers to a small “service flag” that was invented and approved by the Department of Defense during World War 1. The rectangular flag with a white field and a red border with up to five blue stars in the field signifies family members in the military. I have one with two blue stars for my son and daughter in the military, so does my legislative aide Tony for his two sons that are serving. When a “gold star” is displayed instead of a blue one, that signifies family members who died in the line of duty.

Regardless of branch or component. Whether active-duty or reservist. Whether a 30-year career or were drafted. These are the Americans who gave all of themselves in service to our nation. As the old saying goes, all gave some; some gave all. For those we lost, we honor you this weekend.

I encourage you to participate in a Memorial Day ceremony somewhere. I hope we all take a moment this weekend and quietly reflect how lucky we all are to live in a place surrounded by fellow countryman of this incredibly selfless stature. We are truly blessed. I’ll be speaking at the Arnold Cemetery this Memorial Day, and then attend a ceremony at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell.

Every Memorial Day I re-read a letter sent during the Civil War by President Lincoln to a Mrs. Bixby of Boston. In the spirit of Memorial Day, I thought I would close this weekly update with this letter.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

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.

05-18-2018 Weekly Update

May 18th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
05-18-2018

The primary election is behind us. Once again I was impressed by the people in our district. The percentage of registered voters who turned-out for the election was 24% for the State-wide average. Turn-out in the 13 counties that make up the 43rd Legislative District was 34%. Three of our counties (Blaine, Grant and Logan) were in the top 10 of all 93 counties of the State, with Blaine County having the #1 highest voter turn-out in Nebraska at 74.3%!

2/3 of the population of Nebraska live in just 3 counties (Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy). The average turn-out in those three counties was just 21.6%. The highest percentage of people may live in the Eastern end of the State, but the highest percentage of voters live in the Western end.

Because of our historically high voter turn-out, Western Nebraska is most definitely not taken for granted on Election Day. Candidates know the deciding votes for a lot of elected offices are far away from Lincoln and Omaha. Close races for State-wide or Federal office are often not decided until after the polls close in the Mountain Time Zone part of our State. Western Nebraska decides a lot of elections because WE VOTE. I think that is something Western Nebraska can and should be proud of.

Once of the most important aspects of government in Nebraska is called “local control.” The idea is city councils, town or village boards, county commissioners, the county sheriff, school boards, natural resource districts, the board members of our public power organizations, the board of regents who run our University – all represent local control. The more local government is, the closer to the people government is; the better it is. Local units of government impact the lives of ordinary Nebraskans in a far-more direct and daily way. They are much better able to be responsive and react to the needs of a community than any agency of the State or Federal government ever could.

I think the farther down the ballot you go, the more important the elected officials become. The people who decide to give of themselves, to sacrifice time away from family and career, often for little or no compensation, are the ones who belong at the top of the ballot. They’re your neighbors and friends. They’re on the NRD board or the town council. They’re who the parents go to on the school board. They’re the ones helping make the county the place you want to live in. They work to make our university something you can be proud of, or our public power organizations something that put the people of Nebraska first. Their place on the ballot doesn’t do justice to their importance.

Between now and November I urge everyone to take some time and learn about all the folks “at the bottom of the ballot.” They deserve just as much recognition – and scrutiny – as everybody else.

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.

05-11-2018 Weekly Update

May 11th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
05-11-2018

Over the course of the two sessions of the 105th Legislature, I introduced 20 bills, prioritized two others, and co-sponsored many others, especially property tax bills. Along the way, the people (The 2nd House) play a vitally important role in this process. Many of my colleagues comment how much they admire how involved and dedicated the people of my district are. No other Senator enjoys the incredible devotion my constituents bring to an issue. I am so blessed in that regard.

Here is a brief summary of my 22 bills;

LB 121 would have un-taxed military retired pay so military retiree veterans would choose to live in Nebraska when they leave the service. Every state we share a border with either doesn’t tax military retirement or does so at a rate much lower than we do. This died in the Revenue Committee.

LB 165 would have implemented the eVerify system to keep illegal aliens from working in Nebraska. Like every other bill of mine that went before the Judiciary Committee, this died.

LB 340 was a bill I prioritized to put the Veteran Homes in Nebraska under the Veterans Department and take it out of the Health and Human Services department. This passed into law.

LB 497 was a bill to keep up with technology. It makes an important record for veterans (DD Form 214) available in electronic form. We’re one of the first States to do this. It passed into law.

LB 498 would have made a small change to the Homestead Exemption Act for veterans, assigning the benefit to a person instead of a physical address. This died in the Revenue Committee.

LB 499 was a very simple bill designed to protect Nebraska bee keepers. Though very popular with the Agriculture Committee, we just couldn’t find language that the Department of Agriculture could live with and it died in committee.

LB 500 would have exempted law enforcement professionals from the requirement of going through concealed carry classes to privately carry a handgun. This died in the Judiciary Committee.

LB 501 would have made a law that required businesses to post a sign if they didn’t want customers carrying concealed weapons. This died in the Judiciary Committee.

LB 502 would have implemented “Constitutional Carry” in Nebraska. Kansas and many other States have this. The idea is the 2nd Amendment is the only “concealed carry permit” you need. The opposition by the hoplophobes to this idea in the Judiciary Committee was expected. This bill died in committee.

LB 503 would have done away with the State collecting union dues on the behalf of a government employees union. This didn’t have the votes to get out of the Business and Labor Committee.

LB 504 was my bill to put a moratorium on wind energy development in the Sandhills of Nebraska. This died in the Natural Resources Committee on a 4-4 vote.

LB 505 was a bill that would have required certain information about refugees being resettled in Nebraska to be made public. This died in the Judiciary Committee.

LB 576 would have put a 4-year cap on property taxes while we worked on solving that problem. Like a lot of good ideas to address the property tax problem, this died in the Revenue Committee.

LB 752 would have taken the right of eminent domain away from private wind energy developers. The Judiciary Committee killed this as well.

LB 753 would have made tuition assistance for National Guard members a little easier process. This didn’t make it out of the Government and Military Affairs Committee because we had some issues with some of the language.

LB 754 was a bill to cut the price of a Nebraska Park Permit in half when you register your vehicle. Kansas did this a few years ago. The Natural Resource committee loved the idea, but State computer systems between Game and Parks and DMV are not compatible so we have to sort this out.

LB 755 was a bill to let towns pass ordinances to allow licensed ATVs to drive at night if they were correctly equipped. We needed some adjustments before we could get this bill voted out of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. Because of the short session, there was no time left for it to be put on the agenda. I want to thank the town of Mullen for bringing me this idea.

LB 807 was the State Tribal Relations Committee priority bill that changes Nebraska’s statues in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Willa Cather and Chief Standing Bear will be Nebraska’s new statues. This bill passed into law.

LB 825 was a simple bill I carried for the State Auditor to clean up and harmonize some language in the law. The State Auditor and the Counties are going to work together to perfect the wording in the bill. It will probably be re-introduced next session.

LB 929 codifies in the law certain rights for National Guard members. It was voted out of the Government Committee. Due the short session, there was no time left for floor debate.

LB 1054 was my priority bill to require counties have ordinances or planning resolutions in place before wind energy could be developed. This bill tried to make good neighbors out of wind energy. It died on a 4-4 vote in the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 1070 saves small school districts the cost of a yearly special election to keep their school open. Now the question only has to go on the ballot once every five years. This came to me from the Loup County Schools. This bill was passed into law.

Immorally high property taxes, stopping wind energy from hurting their neighbors, and holding public power accountable to the people remain my top priorities for next session.

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.

05-04-2018 Weekly Update

May 4th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
05-04-2018

“Operation Mongoose,” which was our request for a special session to address property taxes, failed. Then can you imagine how disappointed everyone was when we found out through the newspaper that the ballot initiative to lower property taxes was stopped? The organization running it announced they were unable to raise the needed money. They also questioned whether or not the “method” being used would actually work. The announcement was sudden and unexpected. The many senators, staff and other citizen and industry groups that had all worked on property tax reform for over a year were not forewarned of the announcement. This is unacceptable. I am forced to wonder if there was a political reason for killing the petition in the no-notice, abrupt way it happened.

For some reason the potential donors that were identified early in the process all dried up. Something changed their minds. A number of people and organizations were publicly opposed to the ballot initiative from the start. I’ll leave it to others to speculate.

In addition to the money drying up, they also questioned the “method” of the ballot initiative. I am at a loss because the people of Nebraska have the constitutional right to use three different tools. (1) A ballot “initiative” that enacts a new statute (the people pass a law). This was the method chosen for the property tax ballot initiative. (2) A ballot “initiative” that enacts a new constitutional amendment. (3) A ballot “referendum” which is the people vetoing a law that the legislature had passed. This happened with the death penalty a few years ago.

Some say that even if the people passed the ballot initiative to lower property taxes, it would deadlock the legislature. This means they would not be able to pass the laws needed to implement it. Another theory is 33 votes (2/3 of the body) could modify what the people just passed. With 33 votes, it could be dramatically changed and watered-down to some fraction of the people’s original intent. Any vote to change what Nebraskans’ just passed on the ballot would be on that Senator’s record. I certainly wouldn’t want such a vote on my record.

Should these concerns stop the people from performing their role as the 2nd House of government in our State? I think these theories are a ceramic vessel of fecal matter, and in no way justify frustrating the people’s constitutional right to address the most serious problem in Nebraska.

So where does that leave us? Stay tuned. I’m not done yet.

On another note, please be patient with us for the next month or so. Renovations in the Capitol are forcing a number of senators to move their offices into tower. We will soon be on the 11th floor.

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.

04-27-2018 Weekly Update

April 27th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
04-27-2018

I was embarrassed to learn this week that our University’s faculty is once again embroiled in scandal. Patricia Hill, a UNL Sociology Research Professor, was charged by police in Alexandria, Virginia for vandalizing the home of a National Rifle Association lobbyist. Amanda Gailey, Associate Professor of English, harassed the family of the lobbyist by demonstrating in front of their home. She carried a sign that read, “NRA Chris Cox profits off dead kids.” As you’ll recall, this is the same Professor Gailey who accosted the young student handing out literature on campus for a conservative organization last August.

During this past session, Mo Neal, a Professor Emeritus of Art from UNL came to my office and handed me a Barbie doll covered in red paint along with a photograph of one of the murder victims from the Florida high school shooting. I was one of several Senators who received a “Bloody Barbie.” The rationale behind this behavior is the idea that supporting our Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, and supporting organizations who defend it, makes you complicit in the murder of school children.

The crime of murder has been illegal since the dawn of human civilization. Trampling the 2nd amendment constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans – the idea these university professors promote – has no effect on murder. I am forced to ask; do they want to prevent murder, or do they want to take away our 2nd Amendment rights? These two ideas are mutually exclusive. Banning guns does not stop murder because the only behavior being controlled is that of law-abiding people. Murderers are criminals. They do not obey the law.

I am very sensitive about the infringement of ANY constitutional right. As a solider and now as a State Senator, I took an oath to support and defend the constitution. UNL’s representative said what these professors are doing is “…on their own time and (they) were expressing their own beliefs.” What they are doing is attacking our constitutional rights. One shouldn’t use 1st Amendment rights to justify attacking the rights afforded by another constitutional amendment.

Our University system has over 16,000 employees. It’s the largest employer in Nebraska. The legislature appropriates nearly $600 million to it every budget. Over 1,000 of these employees make over $100,000 a year in salary paid for by your tax dollars. Is it too much to expect some modicum of professionalism from those teaching Nebraska’s sons and daughters?

After the scandal involving the young sophomore trying to hand out conservative literature on campus last summer, Chancellor Bounds and President Green promised me personally they were going to take steps to correct the lack of standards that govern the conduct of our University’s faculty and staff. Whatever they are doing doesn’t appear to be working. Does academic tenure prevent a professor from being fired for improper conduct?

I urge readers interested in this topic to kindly contact the University Regent who represents our part of Nebraska. This is Mr. Bob Phares. He can be reached at (308) 532-3180, or by email at; bphares@nebraska.edu. The elected Board of Regents are the ultimate authority at our University.

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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