NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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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.

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.

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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