NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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

02-14-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
2-14-2020

A bill by Sen. Stinner (LB 1165) would do away with the Brand Committee. The constituents who have contacted me have grave concerns with this idea. We have had brand registration and inspection in Nebraska since before we were even a state.

In response to LB 1165, the Brand Committee drafted a bill (LB 1200) and presented it to Sen. Halloran, who chairs the Agriculture Committee. Since my legislative district is what makes Nebraska “The Beef State,” Sen. Halloran asked me if I would like to introduce the bill, and I am glad he did. This is an incredibly important bill to my district, and Sen. Halloran has also agreed to put a committee priority designation on LB 1200. The committee hearing for this bill will be Tuesday the February 18th. I encourage those with an interest in saving the Brand Committee to testify in support during the hearing, or provide a letter of support to the Agriculture Committee if you cannot make the trip.

The Brand Committee has done a good job of updating the law with LB 1200, but there will likely be an amendment to the bill to address some specific details that may need to be changed. I encourage those interested in this to read the bill and give me your feedback. It can be found at:

https://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/106/PDF/Intro/LB1200.pdf

In other news, LB 58 (the gun confiscation “Red Flag” law) has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee and advanced to General File. However, the bill has not been prioritized. In the short session (60 days) we are in, bills that have not been prioritized will essentially be dead. I am closely following this bill and will make sure the word gets out if this bill is ever prioritized and put on the agenda. I want to thank the hundreds of people who have contacted me and my staff about this bill. The outpouring of support pledging to fight this bill is simply amazing. Let your voice be heard!

Sen. McCollister’s LB 816 will be heard in the Judiciary Committee Friday, February 21st. I am also strongly opposed to this bill, which would restrict our ability to buy and sell many common rifles and shotguns. I encourage folks who oppose this bill to contact the Senators of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote NO on LB 816. I have been told by many gun owners are planning to make the trip to Lincoln for the hearing on this bad bill. It has also not been prioritized as of this writing. I will keep a close eye on this one as well and be sure to inform the public if this is ever up for debate before the full Legislature.

The plain truth of all this is so simple: these two bills violate the oath senators took to “support and defend” the Constitution. I cannot understand how a person could swear such an oath and then turn around and vote for either of these bills. They are a direct assault on a number of our constitutional rights. On top of this, these bills don’t work. Restricting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens doesn’t stop or reduce gun-related violence.

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

02-07-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
2-7-2020

My priority bill to take stolen guns out of the hands of criminals and off the street (LB 582) was sent to the Governor this week. It should be signed into law very soon.

In other news, I recently introduced a resolution in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. LR283CA is a proposed constitutional amendment to change one word in our state constitution.

Article VI, section 1 currently says: “EVERY citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years on or before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November and has resided within the state and the county and voting precinct for the terms provided by law shall, except as provided in section 2 of this article, be an elector for the calendar year in which such citizen has attained the age of eighteen years and for all succeeding calendar years.”

My resolution changes the word EVERY to read “ONLY A.”

Several states have language in their constitutions that either read word-for-word the same as Nebraska, or have language that is very similar. In some of these states, similar language has been interpreted as not excluding those who are not citizens of the United States. Non-citizens, even some who are present in the country unlawfully, are voting in elections in the United States. So far it is only legal in places like California and Maryland, but non-citizen voting has been proposed in state legislatures in more than a dozen states. I do not want to see this same interpretation of this constitutional language creep into Nebraska.

Unfortunately, some of my colleagues on the Government Committee do not share my feelings on this. There are eight senators on the committee. A bill or resolution like this needs at least five votes to advance out of committee. The vote failed.

Along with Senators La Grone, Hilgers, and Lowe, I voted “yes” to advance the bill. Senator Hunt was a “no” vote, and Senators Blood, Hansen, and Kolowski were “present, not voting” which caused the bill to fail to advance.

My resolution is very simple. It only changes a single word in the constitution. It protects what is already the legal standard in Nebraska. Right now today you must be 18 years old on Election Day, be a resident of Nebraska, and be a lawful citizen of the United States in order to vote. My resolution does not change any of those requirements. It simply tries to protect them from the impassioned mischief that may be brought by future legislators, or city councils, or county boards who, for example, may decide 16 year olds should have the right to vote, let alone illegal aliens.

I was surprised and disappointed my colleagues didn’t join me in trying to safeguard the integrity of our elections in Nebraska.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

01-31-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
1-31-2020

My bills to take stolen guns off the street and reduce income taxes on military retired pay advanced from select file to final reading this week. This happened without any debate followed by a voice vote. I’ve never had a bill advance like that. It is incredibly rare to see virtually unanimous support for a bill as it moves through the three stages of floor debate. Nebraskans should take pride in their Legislature for moving so decisively on these important issues.

Cattle prices continue to worry me. Many family ranches cannot even break even with the current price. A number of ranches aren’t accessible because of flooded or damaged roads and bridges across the district. Many county governments face road repair costs that far exceed their budget. I’ve heard talk of bond issues or even possibly raising county tax levies to address the problem. A lot of cattle have to be trailed for miles to load a semi. Based on my unofficial survey of ranches around the district, it appears we only put up about 1/3 of the hay crop ranchers normally have. A lot of hay was put up wet this year. I’ve been told that feeding this lower quality “washy” hay has even affected conception rates in bred cows. All and all, the ranching community across the Sandhills continues to face serious challenges.

With all that in mind, I wonder how in the world a rancher can afford to pay $150-175 per cow just to cover the property tax bill. When I hear different proposals to lower property taxes, I often hear “how are you going to pay for it?” The “you” in this sentence means “the legislature.” This really bothers me. How the legislature figures out how to fund something is what we were elected to do. This thinking is wrong-headed. It puts the emphasis and focus on the wrong group.

I’m not saying the question is wrong, I’m saying the question is directed at the wrong person. Instead of worrying about how the legislature will fund a program to lower property taxes, we need to worry about how much longer we can expect the citizens of Nebraska to pay these crushing taxes. Instead of worrying about the TAX SPENDERS, we need to worry more about the TAX PAYERS.

LB 974 is “the” property tax bill for this session. I support the bill, but I have a number of concerns about it. I know the big Omaha and Lincoln schools don’t like it and will probably try to kill it. It hasn’t been voted out of the committee yet. As soon as it is, the Speaker has indicated he will put it at the top of the agenda. He may also make it a “Speaker Major Proposal” which changes some rules to help expedite the bill. If it fails to advance, I fear this will create a lot of hard feelings in the body. If the good will among senators is gone, a number of other important bills that will be debated after LB 974 may face stiff opposition. I urge people to follow the debate on LB 974. It’s the most important one we will have this 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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

01-24-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
1-24-2020

This week my good friend Sen. Steve Erdman introduced LR 300 CA. It is a proposed constitutional amendment that would completely change the tax system in Nebraska. Along with several of my colleagues I co-sponsored it immediately.

Imagine living in a state that had no form of income tax, no state sales tax, and no property tax. The only form of tax the state would have is a “consumption” tax. This is not a sales tax because a sales tax is applied to everything that is “sold.” Organizations who can afford to hire lobbyists have managed to get quite a few things exempt from our state sales tax over the years. A consumption tax removes this political favoritism because it would be applied to “all” new goods and all services. Only the first owner of a new good pays the consumption tax. Used goods are not taxed.

Nothing is exempt from the consumption tax except “business inputs.” A farmer’s seed and fertilizer are not taxed. A new tractor is not taxed. The metal a manufacturing business purchased to make a rail car or an irrigation system isn’t taxed, only the purchase of the final product is subject to the tax.

This consumption tax proposal would completely un-tax low income people. The amount of tax that would be paid on all spending up to the poverty level would be received by every adult citizen of the State in the form of a “prebate” check. This ensures no one would pay any form of tax on the basic necessities of life.

If we replaced our current tax system with this consumption tax, and we wanted to remain “revenue neutral” (collect the same total amount of tax revenue) the consumption tax rate would be set at about 10% on all new goods and services. Citizens would decide how much they would like to pay in taxes based on their personal spending decisions. The less they spend, the less tax they pay.

Sen. Erdman said we would have to build a wall around Nebraska to keep people and businesses from flocking into our State. Instead of steadily losing population in all but three of our counties, Nebraska would grow. Instead of our young people leaving after college, opportunities would abound. How does any state in the nation, let alone our neighbors, compete with “zero income, zero sales, and zero property tax?” Nebraska would take off like a rocket.

A growing number of senators are really excited about this idea, there is even talk of holding a special session of the legislature to make this a reality. This is one of the best ideas I have seen since I came to the legislature. It takes 25 votes in the legislature to get this on the ballot for the people to decide next November. I hope people call and encourage their State senator to support LR 300 CA.

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

01-17-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
1-17-2020

The second week of the 2020 legislative session was one of the most successful I have ever had as a Nebraska State Senator.

Early in the week, a very important effort I have been working on since I arrived in the Legislature was up for debate. I introduced Legislative Bill 153 at the request of Governor Pete Ricketts. It was made a priority bill by Senator Lowe of Kearney. It exempts 50 percent of a military retiree’s pension from Nebraska income tax. Every state we share a border with either exempts some portion of military retirement income from tax or does not tax income at all. Consequently, Nebraska has been losing these military veterans to other states for years, because those other states let them keep more of what they have earned. Senators have been trying to get a bill like this done for decades. Nebraska’s outstanding veteran groups showed up in force, and my fellow senators got the message loud and clear. The bill advanced 46-0.

Later in the week, my priority bill, LB 582, was briefly debated on general file and it advanced on a vote of 43-0. This bill will make it easier for prosecutors to obtain felony convictions for criminals trafficking in stolen guns. Stolen guns are used in many violent crimes. In particular, this will give the gang units in the more urban police departments a badly needed tool.

Speaking of gun legislation, we will debate some other gun-related bills this session. Senator John McCollister’s LB 816 would implement what I believe are unconstitutional restrictions on so-called “assault weapons,” a category defined mostly by cosmetic or ergonomic features like barrel shrouds, pistol grips, and adjustable stocks. My office has attempted to provide evidence to Senator McCollister about why his bill will actually make Nebraskans less secure. Unfortunately, he is still dead-set on more restrictions on responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

Senator Morfeld’s LB 58, a carryover bill from 2019, would create a “Red Flag Law” in Nebraska. This would result in sending law enforcement out to confiscate guns from people who have been convicted of no crime, do not suffer from dangerous mental illness, and who won’t even have a chance to defend their rights in court until after they have been taken away.

To say the least, these gun control proposals are wrong-headed. I think both of these bills are grave betrayals of our federal and state constitutional rights. I will work hard with other senators to defend our rights and to stop both of these bills. It is foolish and counter-productive to place more legal burdens on gun owners. Giving up our God-given rights will not make us any safer.

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

01-10-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
1-10-2020

Wednesday, January 8th was the first day of the second session of the 106th Legislature. Nine of my bills from last year carried over to this session. The following is a brief overview of the new legislation I am working on so far this year:

LB 818 proposes updating the nameplate capacity tax for industrial wind turbines. This tax is paid in lieu of property taxes, and it has not been updated since it was introduced ten years ago. This bill would adjust the tax by the consumer price index each year so the amount paid in taxes by the wind companies keeps up with inflation. Right now, inflation of the dollar means the real cost of the tax is reduced every year, while people paying property taxes keep paying more and more.

LB 819 is my bill to un-tax Social Security benefits. Nebraska is one of only a handful of States that apply income taxes to Social Security. This is wrong. I think this money will do far more good for Nebraska if it stays in the hands of the people who earned it.

I introduced LB 821 at the request of the city of Rushville to update the law concerning city planning and zoning commission meetings. Now the law requires them to meet quarterly. If there is no business before the commission, they shouldn’t have to meet just to immediately adjourn. That burns out volunteers and doesn’t accomplish anything for the people. My bill changes the law so they only have to meet once a year unless there is new business to be dealt with.

LB 823 adds a safeguard to public power’s use of eminent domain. Projects would use eminent domain because an out-of-state organization requested the project, then voters in the affected counties would decide in a special election if eminent domain should be authorized.

LR283CA is my proposed constitutional amendment to change one word in the constitution. Instead of “every” citizen can vote, this would read “only” citizens can vote in our elections. This would make clear in our state constitution that non-citizens are not authorized to vote in public elections.

LR284CA is a constitutional amendment I am proposing to eliminate the state income tax. Business incentive bills with the label “economic development” slapped on them will be heavily debated this session. I just can’t see how letting government bureaucrats pick winners and losers in Nebraska’s economy is a good idea. Instead, lets become the tenth state in the union that doesn’t have an income tax. Let the rising tide lift all the boats. Lowering taxes is the best economic development program there is.

LR285CA is a proposed constitutional amendment to redirect a portion of the $45 million in annual revenue the state collects from the lottery to a fund that is designed to address the on-going staffing and overcrowding problems in Nebraska’s Department of Correctional Services. Once the problems are fixed, the money reverts back to its current distribution.

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

01-03-2020 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
1-3-2020

The US Airforce commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB has instituted a new policy on the base. Beginning January 2, 2020, the commander has directed that the transportation of privately owned firearms on Offutt Air Force Base, with few exceptions, will be prohibited. This means personnel with lawful concealed handgun permits will no longer be able to carry a personal firearm on the base.

Our armed forces on the base are now un-armed forces.

I disagree with the commander’s policy change. In it he states, “…the commander’s intent for this change is that firearms will be effectively controlled and safely handled on Offutt AFB and is reflective of the full confidence in the 55th Security Forces Squadron’s ability to defend the installation and its personnel.”

Apparently our warfighters can only be trusted to “effectively control and safely handle” a firearm when they are deployed to a combat zone. People on the base need to know that when seconds count, the military police are only minutes away.

Infringing upon the constitutionally-protected rights of any American is alarming. In light of recent events where lawfully armed citizens prevented horrific tragedies, such as the recent church shooting in Texas, this policy change is simply astonishing. I hope he re-considers this decision and restores these rights immediately. It is well within his authority to do so.

It’s my hope he could take a lesson from the US Marine Corps. Recently, Lieutenant General George Smith, Deputy Commandant, for Plans, Policies, and Operations, announced that the Marines were changing their policy following the December shootings at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola and at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii. He said, “These tragic events prompted Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) to accelerate existing efforts to develop concealed carry policies.”

Nearly every day there is another example of how restricting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans does absolutely nothing to reduce or stop gun violence. Instead, we see example after example of a lawfully armed citizen preventing or stopping a mass shooting. Perhaps I am wrong and there are in fact good reasons not to trust military personnel on Offutt AFB to responsibly carry a gun. If that is true, then I fear there are problems far deeper than just this policy. Let’s not forget, the military personnel at Offutt AFB are in charge of America’s nuclear weapons. One would think they could be trusted to carry a pistol.

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

Note to Editor: Senator Brewer is a retired Army Colonel. He is a decorated, combat-wounded veteran of multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, and was once stationed at Offutt AFB serving the Secretary of Defense aboard the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP) aircraft based there.

12-20-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
12-20-2019

The Nebraska Constitution only requires the Legislature to do two things: It must meet on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January, and every two years it has to pass a balanced budget. The next legislative session is almost upon us.

In even numbered years, the session is “short” with 60 legislative days. We will pick up where we left off last session with a number of bills that are ready to be debated on the floor. Three of my bills from last session will be up early in the session. LB 153 is a bill to un-tax a portion of a person’s military retired pay, like all the states around Nebraska already do. I want to attract retiring military personnel to settle in Nebraska after they leave the service. LB 582 is a bill to make it a crime to possess a gun a person knows is probably stolen. This will help the police gang units in Nebraska’s bigger cities take stolen guns off the street and out of the hands of criminals who have no right to possess them in the first place. LB 157 is a bill we’ve been working on for three years. It helps protect Nebraska beekeepers.

Since it is a short session, I’ll be introducing a small number of bills. I want a bill to end the practice of taxing Social Security as income. Nebraska is one of only a handful of states that do this. I think this is wrong for a number of reasons. The money has already been subjected to income tax when it was paid into Social Security in the first place. Social Security is the only source of income for over two-thirds of people drawing it. I think the people of Nebraska would be way better off if the $120 million in income tax revenue the state collects was left in the hands of our seniors on a fixed income.

I’m also looking at a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with the income tax in Nebraska. Nine States do not have an income tax, including two of Nebraska’s neighbors. There is a way to run our state on just sales taxes that is both fair to low-income people, and good for business. I think Nebraska’s economy would take off like a rocket if we didn’t have an income tax. Instead of people and businesses leaving or never coming to Nebraska, we could reverse that trend. No State in history has ever taxed and spent its way to prosperity for its citizens. We have tried being a “high tax state” for decades now. I think the results of that failed experiment are clear to see. We need to at least start the discussion about changing this.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-13-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
12-13-2019

The next legislative session is coming up fast, Wednesday the 8th of January. It is a short (60 day) session that will be packed-full of important work, but I want to take a break from politics this week. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As families come together this time of year to give thanks and rejoice in the holiday season, Kelli and I would like to offer our very best wishes to all the hard-working families across Nebraska.

With the Christmas season upon us, let us pause for a moment and remember our brave men and women serving our country and protecting our freedom at home and abroad. We thank you and your families for all the sacrifices you make.

We would also like to extend our prayers and wishes to the families across the great State of Nebraska – from the cattle ranches to the row-crop farms, from our family-owned small businesses to the factories creating products sold worldwide. Your hard work makes the Cornhusker State proud.

May your holiday be filled with love and your New Year rich with God’s blessings.

From our families to yours; from Julie, Tony, Dick and Michael, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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 #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

12-06-2019 Weekly Update
May 1st, 2020

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
12-06-2019

“What if?” is an often used question to inquire about contingency plans. In other words, is there a Plan B, if Plan A fails to materialize?

Historically, Nebraska farmers and ranchers have depended upon their Ag groups to lobby the State Legislature and the Governor’s office in order to develop a “Plan A” for substantive property tax relief. For more than 40 years, the property tax relief “can” has been kicked down the road with nothing but hollow promises of “maybe next year.”

You, that is, our Nebraska farmers and ranchers, are currently being told that this next Legislative Session will be “the One” to finally bring property tax relief. The Ag lobbyists and the Legislature’s Revenue Committee have been working overtime in conjunction with our Governor to bring another “Plan A” bill to the floor of the Legislature for debate and passage. But wait! “What if” this Plan A bill is just another empty “can” being kicked down the road? If the bill passes, and it turns out to be just another meaningless token of property tax relief, will we be stuck with it? Will that be all the relief we ever get? Or, is there a Plan B option for the voters?

The answer is: Yes – there is a “Plan B” option for the voters. A petition drive is currently circulating throughout the State to put a ballot initiative for a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for the November 2020 election. This Constitutional Amendment would provide real property owners in Nebraska with the opportunity to receive a refund of 35 percent of their property tax bill in the form of a Nebraska State Income tax credit; however, if the refund is more than the amount of income tax owed, the taxpayer would be issued a check for the balance.

The big challenge, as with all petition drives, is to gather enough signatures to officially place the initiative on the ballot. We have already gathered a significant number of signatures. However, in order to ensure success we need the farm and ranch organizations to step-up, get involved, and to enthusiastically endorse the ballot initiative. We need them to encourage their own membership to help in the effort by gathering signatures.

So, what can you do? First, you can visit the initiative petition website at www.truenebraskans.com to educate yourself on the ballot initiative. Second, you can encourage the adoption of a resolution at your organization’s annual convention requiring your organization to endorse and promote this ballot initiative for a Constitutional Amendment to provide true and meaningful property tax relief for all Nebraskans, be they farm, residential or commercial property owners. Contact your local and state organization’s leadership and encourage them to give you the power at the ballot box. You are the grassroots of your organization. You are in the driver’s seat. Steer your organization to give you the option of a “Plan B” in the event that the Legislature, once again, kicks the “can” down the road regarding property tax relief.

We can make significant property tax relief a reality so long as we all work together!

Submitted by Sen. Steve Erdman, LD47, Sen. Tom Brewer, LD 43, Sen. Steve Halloran, LD33 and Sen. Dave Murman, LD38.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room #1101
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
Email: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
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