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Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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05-06-2022 Weekly Update
July 25th, 2022

Abortion is an important issue for a clear majority of Nebraskans. The recent leak of a Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) draft opinion concerning an abortion case before the court is shocking. My lawyer friends tell me something like this is unprecedented in history, and represents a huge betrayal of the integrity of the court and all the dedicated Americans who work there. The person responsible will likely be disbarred and will never practice law in the United States again. It’s possible they could even be charged with serious federal crimes. 

The argument laid out in the leaked draft opinion by Justice Alito is about power, not abortion, and who should control that power. Should it be the choice of the people and their state legislatures, or should it be the federal creature lording over the people with pronouncements from on high? 

Justice Alito said: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

I am very pleased to see a justice on the supreme court defend a God-given right of the people, through their elected legislatures, to choose the sort of laws they want for their state. Roe v. Wade made abortion an exception to this reasoning by conjuring a “right” to an abortion not found anywhere in the text in the constitution. Overturning this flawed decision and returning the power to the people to decide for themselves is the very essence of our democratically-elected constitutional republic, and Justice Alito articulated this beautifully.    

Abortion supporters are upset because they know they do not have the votes to pass a pro-abortion law in most state legislatures. Abortion proponents depend on a ruling from the court to force the practice of abortion on the states. They know the United States Constitution does not provide or protect a “right” to an abortion. That is what the “Roe vs. Wade” decision has been these last forty-nine years; a federal pronouncement making abortion legal nation-wide and not something the states have the ability to broadly regulate. The left knows that if this issue is ever left up to the states to decide, a majority will pass laws to outlaw or severely restrict abortion.

It bothers me to see riot fencing now installed around our nation’s highest court. I’ve read reporting where conservative justices and their homes and families are being threatened in an attempt to intimidate them. All of this is happening because a small but loud group of extremists do not want the question of abortion to ever be a question answered by the people. 

Speaker Mike Hilgers has said that if the SCOTUS does eventually overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, the Nebraska Legislature will likely be called into Special Session by the Governor to address Nebraska’s laws on the subject. I look forward to restoring the people’s voice to this issue. I have no doubt our local chapter of abortion proponents will make their presence known in the Capitol should a special session occur. I sincerely hope they bring some dignity with them this time.

04-29-2022 Weekly Update
July 25th, 2022

One of the bills I was able to pass this past session was LB 843. It was an election law bill that had pieces of seven different bills amended into it. Any bill that deals with this subject is one of the hardest things to pass in the Nebraska Legislature. I don’t believe I have ever passed a bill that had this many authors. 

The bill does a number of things. It prohibits electioneering within 200 feet of a ballot drop box. It establishes a deadline of 8 p.m. Central time or 7 p.m. Mountain time on Election Day for receipt of mail-in ballots. It requires non-governmental organizations distributing voter registration forms or early ballot application forms to use those prescribed by the Nebraska secretary of state. It expands the definition of voting system to include software or service used in the process of creating, casting and counting ballots. The bill allows an election commissioner or county clerk to remove a voter from the voter registry if they receive information from the state Department of Motor Vehicles that the voter has moved out of state. It also establishes procedures for removing a voter from a county’s early ballot request list.

LB 843 ended up with pieces of LB 733 from Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, which prohibits foreign nationals from contributing to ballot question campaigns. Another one of my bills, LB 841, allows emergency responders, including the National Guard who are responding to an emergency declaration by the president or governor to simultaneously register to vote and request ballots for all elections in a calendar year. LB 849 was a bill introduced by Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar, which makes election officials who neglect their duties or willfully engage in conduct prohibited under the state Election Act subject to a Class I misdemeanor. Sen. Clements brought LB 858 which prohibits the funding of elections by any source other than appropriations from the federal government, the state of Nebraska and Nebraska political subdivisions. County clerks are prohibited from soliciting or accepting grants or donations from private parties.. LB 861, introduced by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, provides an optional field on candidate filing forms for the candidate’s email address. LB 928, introduced by Sen. Rita Sanders of Bellevue, requires televised political ads for certain statewide offices to be closed captioned and for a transcript of radio ads to be posted on a candidate’s campaign website. 

I feel one of the most important features of the bill was provided by Senator Clements. LB 1263 establishes statewide standards for ballot drop boxes. Drop boxes must be securely anchored, locked, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and opened only by a county election commissioner, county clerk or election official designated by the commissioner or clerk. 

More can be done to improve the integrity of Nebraska’s elections, but passing LB 843 was a great big step in the right direction. It passed on a 45-0 vote.

04-22-2022 Weekly Update
April 22nd, 2022

Every week I check two things at the same time; the cattle markets and the national weather service’s drought monitor. As my uncle Pat once said, “when cattle prices get higher, the sand hills get dryer.” Senator Halloran is from near Hastings. Many of his constituents are row-crop farmers. He told me, “you’ll finally get rain when it doesn’t make any difference.” Just when cattle prices look like they may improve, ranchers are forced to sell because they don’t have the grass to support their herd. Agriculture is Nebraska’s #1 industry and it is struggling. Having a serious drought on top of the highest inflation in over forty-years will be the one-two punch that bankrupts and destroys many family farms and ranches. I pray the rain comes and the hills green up soon. The flood three years ago seems like a long time ago.

I’ve been thinking about the last two years I have in the legislature. Myself and the rest of my class from 2017 are now “senior” senators. I want to continue to focus on the issues that I ran my first campaign on. We made some historic progress this session lowering our out-of-control property taxes that are killing our state, but more must be done. Even with the reductions we passed this year, Nebraska remains in the top ten worst property tax states. More than anything else, this is depopulating our state because fewer people can afford to live here.

We have to find a better way to pay for our K-12 public schools. The formula created in the 1990s we use to fund schools is broken. It picks winners and losers. Of our 244 school districts about 25% of them actually get money from the state. All the rest survive on just property taxes. Some of the districts in western Nebraska receive over 70% of their funding from just property taxes. 

The climate change scam brought us wind turbines and public power boards that think fossil fuel is evil and is destroying the planet. In truth, black sunshine (coal) is clean, safe, reliable, and above all affordable. It doesn’t tear apart rural communities and it doesn’t leave counties holding the bag for the removal of obsolete wind turbines. Without coal-fired electricity in Nebraska, several large towns in the western part of the state would die. I believe the next administration will end the wasteful federal subsidy for wind energy and you won’t see another one built. In the meantime, we have to make sure the tons of industrial waste created by the “renewable” energy scam doesn’t end up buried somewhere in Nebraska.

I hope everyone is registered and participates in our coming elections. Nebraska’s primary election is May 10th. Every two years the people get a chance for their voice to be heard. The people’s only strength is in their number. High turn-out elections always favor the people who decided to show up. Please get out and vote!

04-15-2022 Weekly Update
April 20th, 2022

My priority bill this session was LB 773. This would have passed a “constitutional carry” law in Nebraska. Law-abiding citizens would no longer have to apply for a permit and pay money to exercise a constitutionally-protected right to carry a concealed weapon. We would have become the twenty-sixth state to pass this law. Over 120 million Americans live under this law today including every state we share a border with except Colorado. It failed the cloture motion on a 31-6 vote. 33 votes were needed to end the filibuster. Six senators were present not voting. Three senators were excused.  

Citizens can see the vote here: 

I would like to thank my staff and the thousands of freedom-loving Nebraskans citizens who poured so much of their heart and soul into this effort. All the volunteers and the many gun rights groups are the reason we came within two votes of passing this. No bill like this one has ever made it this far in the unicameral. We knew it was going to be close and hoped to have the 33 votes to bring it over the finish line but that didn’t happen.  I will re-introduce this legislation again next year. It will again be my priority bill.  We have new group of senators coming in and hopefully we can get this done.   

LB 773 was a bill about people, not guns. And it’s not just about any people. It’s about law-abiding people. LB 773 had nothing to do with criminals, or those citizens who have made serious mistakes in their life and lost their gun rights. “Prohibited persons” cannot lawfully own or possess a firearm. This bill has nothing to do with these issues.  We already have stacks of laws that carry severe penalties for people who do unlawful things with guns.

The bill was about the constitutionally-protected rights of law-abiding citizens. It said that if you are a law-abiding citizen you do not have to ask permission from the government and pay money in order to use your constitutionally-protected Second Amendment rights. I would like the  reader to stop and think of any other constitutionally-protected right you have to ask permission from the government to use. Did I need a First Amendment permit to write this newspaper article? 

The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution and Article One of the Nebraska Constitution both say this right shall not be infringed. I took an oath to protect and defend this right. and will continue to do so.

04-08-2022 Weekly Update
April 14th, 2022

LB 873 passed and was sent to the Governor this week. As far as tax relief in Nebraska goes, this is the biggest tax cut I have seen since I first came to the legislature in 2017. LB 873 passed because the senators in the revenue committee reached a compromise. There are a lot of different pieces to this bill from Senators Linehan, Friesen, Briese and Lindstrom.

The bill cuts the top income tax rate from 6.84% to 5.84%. It also cuts the corporate income tax rate from 7.81% to 5.84%. Both of these cuts will be phased-in over five years. Nebraska has the highest income and corporate taxes of any state in the central time zone.

This legislation phases out income taxes on Social Security payments by 2025. Nebraska is one of only a handful of states that collect income taxes on social security checks. 

For citizens who pay property taxes, please make sure you claim your refundable income tax credit on your 2021 tax return this month. Last year LB 1107 created this credit to pay for 25% of the property taxes citizens pay to schools. 

Visit: and look up your place and see how much you qualify for. Senators are being told there is unclaimed money in this fund because it is new and citizens don’t know about it. Please contact your County Assessor for more details. 

LB 873 creates another new refundable income tax credit for that portion of property taxes paid to community colleges. This is a credit you’ll have to claim starting next year on your state income taxes. After that, the credit fund can increase no more than 5% each year. The bill also has a provision which fixes a glitch in the property tax reductions that were in last year’s LB 1107. That income tax credit fund was going to drop $200 million in 2024. LB 873 restores that money to the property tax credit relief fund.

In other tax news, LR 264 CA is Senator Erdman’s proposed constitutional amendment to replace income, sales and property taxes in Nebraska with a single consumption tax. It received seventeen votes during General File debate. It needed 25 to advance. I’m confident he will re-introduce it next session. I strongly support this proposal and firmly believe that if this question is ever put on the ballot for the people to decide, it will pass by a sizable majority. 

I am not surprised this is difficult to pass. This is a transformational idea. This will take a people’s campaign across the entire state, much like George Norris did for the unicameral idea in 1934. 

I think the best thing about the consumption tax idea is transparency and fairness. 

Right now labor is heavily taxed relative to capital, but that isn’t saying the way we tax capital is great either. Taxes should be laid bare, nothing hidden or obscured. No more legislative levers to pull or knobs to dial in the existing tax code. It takes away a special interest’s ability to reward friends and pick winners and losers by lobbying a senator to run a bill through the legislature, hence the huge opposition from virtually every lobbyist in Nebraska.

04-01-2022 Weekly Update
April 5th, 2022

Today we completed day fifty-two of our sixty day session. With time growing shorter, so are tempers. I do not think I have ever seen this many filibusters used in a session. Because of all the time spent doing this, quite a few bills will never get a chance to be placed on the agenda and heard. Senators are upset by this and I don’t blame them.

Every session I have been here I have watched scores of good bills to lower property taxes die. By “lowering property taxes” I do not mean some accounting trick a politician can claim is property tax relief. I mean actual relief where next year your property tax bill will be lower than it was this year. I have watched a number of bills die this session for want of just a few votes to end a filibuster. 

I am happy to report that a grand compromise might have been reached. LB 853 is a priority bill from Senator Curt Friesen. Language from a number of different bills has been amended into it. Senator Linehan’s bill to lower income and corporate taxes is in it. Senator Lindstrom’s bill to eliminate income tax on social security is included. Provisions from Senator Briese’s property tax reduction bill is in it. Also, Senator Clements has passed LB 310 which will phase-out Nebraska’s inheritance tax. All and all, almost $1 billion in property, income, and corporate tax reductions are in the bill. If this passes, it will be the most tax relief I have ever seen in the six years I have served in the legislature.

In other news, our federal congress has introduced a bill to require the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative to reinstate mandatory country of original labeling (MCOOL) for beef raised and slaughtered in the USA. This is a great idea I strongly support. This bill joins a companion bill already introduced in the Senate, the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021, S. 2716. 

Our U.S. Senator Deb Fischer announced the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act bill introduced in the senate. The bill would facilitate price discovery and address the lack of transparency in cattle markets. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined Fischer in announcing the compromise legislation.

Closer to home, LB 1014, one of the bills to spend the federal ARPA funding, includes $20 million to expand beef processing capacity, $10 million for small and medium processors through the Independent Processors Assistance Program, $4 million for water quality programming, $75 million for workforce housing grants, and $60 million to be divided equally among Nebraska’s six community college areas for capital or programs that support workforce development. Nebraska’s “rural” senators have done a good job making sure greater Nebraska was considered when sorting out how to spend this money.

03-25-2022 Weekly Update
March 29th, 2022

As of this date, we are on day forty-seven of a sixty day session. We have thirteen legislative days left. Of the 593 bills introduced this session, there are 106 priority bills. If a priority bill is advanced by the committee, it is normally guaranteed to make it on the agenda. There has been a lot of filibustering going on this session, more than I have ever seen. This has wasted a great deal of time. For the first time in my six years in the Legislature there will be quite a few bills that will not make it to the agenda before we adjourn Sine Die. This will hurt bills on both ends of the political spectrum. With no end in sight to the ongoing filibusters, the speaker has a very tough job trying to sort out the agenda. 

I’m hoping my bill LB 777 will make it to the agenda in the time we have left. It would require the creation of an indexed video archive of all committee hearings and floor debate. Forty-six other states, and our federal congress, already do this. One of the very unique aspects of our unicameral system is every single bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature receives a public hearing. Nebraska is one of just a few state legislatures that do this. 

George Norris, the father of our unicameral system, said; “To get good government and to retain it, it is necessary that a liberty-loving, educated, intelligent people should be ever watchful, to carefully guard and protect their rights and liberties.” I don’t think waiting four to six months for a copy of the written transcript is what Senator Norris had in mind.

It is really hard for the people to be “ever watchful” if you are at work all day and you don’t have a chance to watch the legislature in session. Senators have to leave their committee hearings to testify on bills they introduce in other committees. When they do this they miss everything that happened in their absence with no way to go back and watch the testimony. People in western Nebraska often cannot get the Nebraska Public Media (public television) channel because the local channels in their television package are from either Rapid City or Denver.

Shareable on-line video is everywhere today. Nebraska has had the technology to make these recordings available to the public for a very long time. When I introduced this bill I was stunned to learn nearly every state in the country already provides this service to the public. I can watch virtually anything I want on the internet – except our legislative sessions. Norris said, “Every act of the legislature and every act of each individual must be transacted in the spotlight of publicity.” It’s time to fulfill his promise to the people and pass LB 777.

03-18-2022 Weekly Update
March 22nd, 2022

We have completed all of our committee hearings and we’ve begun full-day debate on the floor. The speaker is focusing the agenda on priority bills from senators, committees and speaker priority bills. We are also working on consent calendar legislation. These are bills that had no opposition in their committee hearing, and were advanced out of committee on a unanimous vote. The process for these bills is accelerated and debate is limited.

We have begun debating the budget, including taxation and spending measures, and bills that appropriate federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. Our rules require we take up the budget debate on the 40th day of the session. The budget bills need to be sent to the Governor by the 50th day. So far, two of the four budget bills have passed the first round of debates. Many senators have important questions about the priority of state spending projects, and they will continue the debate into the next round.  

The Nebraska Legislature passes the biannual budget every odd-numbered year in a long session. During the short session in even numbered years like this year, the budget debate is ordinarily a minor affair. The main budget is passed using assumptions about revenue. In the short-session year, we typically adjust the budget to fit the revenue the state actually received versus the forecast that was used to build the budget. This year is very different. We have slightly more than $1 billion in extra federal dollars to appropriate and spend. 

New fiscal projections would push the “Rainy Day Fund” (the state’s cash reserve) to a record $1.7 billion by the end of the two-year budget period. Senator Stinner, the appropriations committee chairman, has said that a $1.3 billion or $1.4 billion balance would give the state security against the next economic downturn. 

The state forecasting board has boosted its projections of state tax collections for the current fiscal year to $5.725 billion, or $370 million more than its previous number. By law, that money will automatically go into the rainy day fund.  

Next year, the board added $405 million to its estimate, bringing the total to $5.96 billion. That leaves $392.7 million more revenue available for the two-year budget cycle.  

The forecasting board sets the revenue figures used by both the legislature and the governor in building the state’s budget. I’m glad they are projecting economic and revenue growth for Nebraska, but there is a lot of uncertainty in the world today.

The historic skyrocketing inflation we are now experiencing has been caused by historic levels of money-printing that the federal government has engaged in. Nearly eighty percent of all the US dollars in circulation today have been created out of thin air in the last two years. This concerns me very much. I think Nebraska should have a strong cash reserve. With all that’s going on in the world right now, I think having plenty in our savings account is a very good idea. We will be glad later if we save now.

03-11-2022 Weekly Update
March 16th, 2022

March 11 we advanced my “constitutional carry” bill, LB 773, to the next round of debate. The opposition to the bill conducted an eight-hour filibuster. We needed thirty three votes for the cloture motion to be successful and we received exactly that. After the roll-call vote was tallied, three senators changed their vote to a “yes” for a total of thirty-six yes, nine no, three present not voting, one excused.

I cannot thank my fellow senators enough for their patience and support, and for standing with me through a robust eight-hour filibuster. I also want to say how humbled and honored I am for the overwhelming support I’ve received from thousands of Nebraskans whose advocacy and efforts to promote gun rights in Nebraska made this vote today possible. The help we received from the 2nd House was decisive.

At the end of the day, LB 773 is about rights. They are endowed by our creator and made unalienable and protected by our state and federal constitutions. Law abiding Nebraskans should not have to pay money and jump through government hoops to exercise a constitutionally-protected right they already have. Twenty-two other states have already passed this law, and Nebraska shares a border with five of them. Thankfully we had thirty-three senators willing to stand up for our gun rights, and trust our citizens to lawfully exercise them.

I believe this vote was a referendum on gun rights in Nebraska. The senators know the voters are watching. They know how much support this issue has with the public. Second amendment voters are some of the most politically active citizens there are.   

Today was the first round of debate, and we still have two more rounds to go. Both of these could also be filibustered, so the fight on behalf of the people’s rights will continue. But today was a big victory because we’ve moved this bill much closer to the governor’s desk. The Governor supports LB 773 and is ready to sign it into law.

03-02-2022 Weekly Update
March 16th, 2022

Coal-burning power plants are very important to Nebraska. Coal-fired power is the engine of our economy in Nebraska, powering industry and creating good paying jobs in our state. During extreme weather, coal has literally saved lives. Time and time again, coal-fired power plants have kept the lights on when other forms energy could not. I am very concerned about the plans public power organizations have to “de-carbonize” our electricity generation in Nebraska. We simply cannot ignore the fact that Nebraskans will continue to rely on coal. Wind and solar energy cannot replace coal.  

The cost of electricity is greatly influenced by the cost of fuel. Coal is a low-cost fuel that produces low-cost electricity, which acts as a stimulus to the economy, providing more disposable income to consumers and creating a competitive edge for U.S. manufacturers. The average price of electricity in the US is a fraction of what it is elsewhere in the world. We are very fortunate to have affordable electricity and we need to protect the power plants that deliver it.

LB 1058 is a bill I introduced to help incentivize our public power organizations to keep our base-load power plants (coal burning) up and running. Public power in Nebraska is bound by the law to deliver reliable and affordable electricity to Nebraskans. Coal passes this reliability test with flying colors. It is abundant. It is widely available. It is a stable and secure source of supply.  It is inexpensive and price-stable. It is versatile. Coal is reliable energy. 

The cities of North Platte and Alliance are railroad towns. Imagine what would happen to these communities if the coal trains serving Nebraska’s coal power plants ever stopped rolling. Covering the state in wind turbines and solar panels wouldn’t come close to replacing the economic impact that would be lost in Western Nebraska.

LB 788 is my bill to ensure funding is available in the Rural Projects Act to help expand industrial access to rail service in western Nebraska. The act was created last year and quickly ran out of money as communities applied for grant funding. LB 788 will top-up this fund with $50 million dollars that is needed for grant applications to build  new and expanded rail parks in our railroad communities. I’m hopeful the appropriations committee will share my view on this important bill. The budget debate will begin in the legislature in a few days.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room 1423
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2628
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