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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 45th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Rita Sanders
Happy April! My colleagues and I have been hard at work in Lincoln with multiple late-night
debates and early mornings. I want to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude for those that
have been keeping in touch with my office this year as your calls and emails have made an
impact on how I work through legislation.
Currently, we are completing our work on the budget, such as taxation and spending measures.
Every even-numbered year, the Nebraska Legislature is tasked with amending the biennial
budget passed the year prior. On Tuesday, the Legislature passed LB’s 1011, 1012 and 1013 from
However, my colleagues and I have a unique task this year: allocating the federal American
Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. ARPA funding was passed by Congress in March of 2021,
and its purpose is to create programs for businesses, residents and local governments. Nebraska
is projected to receive about $6 billion of ARPA funds. However, many of these additional funds
already flow directly through pre-existing programs or funding mechanisms that would already
dictate the allocation of these funds. The Legislature has been given over $1 billion to designate
for COVID-19 recovery efforts. ARPA funding requests must meet the following criteria in order
to be eligible: Responsive to a Public Health Emergency, Replaces Public Sector Revenue,
Premium Pay for Essential Workers, and/or Infrastructure (including water, sewer and
Unlike any other session in recent memory, the body is under severe time constraints. Because of
big issues like the budget, the Perkins County Canal proposal, and ARPA funding, we have more
to debate than our 60 legislative days allow. Unfortunately this means that not all priority bills
will have a chance to be heard by the Legislature. Because of that, senators are seeking other
ways to get their bills passed.
This year, I introduced nine bills. Of those, six are “in play;” meaning, they have been, or still
could be, passed into law. Because of the time limits I mentioned above, some of these bills are
attached to other priorities that have a better chance of passing. This is similar to hopping onto a
bus to get to the other end of Dodge Street on time, instead of walking – and that is why we
sometimes call it “hitching a ride.” For example, my LB 928 (Closed Captions for Political Ads)
will (hopefully) “hitch a ride” on LB 843 with AM 2075.
Some of my bills are still traveling the traditional route. LB 1165 (a bonding and levy
clarification) made it on the consent calendar which means it was placed on the schedule early
on. The consent calendar is composed of bills that did not have any opposition in committee
hearings, and advanced out of committee unanimously. LB 1165 has been placed on Select File
(Round two of three).
Other bills of mine that may still be advanced include LB 1080 (making homestead applications
easier for 100% disabled veterans), LB 1171 (bringing Sarpy County in sync with other counties’
jury commissioner process), and LB 1233 (investing in Offutt Air Force Base to grow its
economic impact and support our service members).
Offutt Air Force Base
As it so happens, LB 1233 was included in the budget package that was passed on Final
Reading! Once signed by the Governor, the state will have shown Offutt Air Force Base an
unrivaled and historic commitment to our United States Armed Forces. Thanks to Bellevue,
Sarpy County and all of Nebraska, no state places more value in its military neighbors and
residents as we do.
“As a former Commander of Offutt Air Force Base I know how tough it can be on our Airmen
when living on base and far from home,” says Congressman Don Bacon about this piece of
legislation. “ I greatly appreciate the work of Senator Sanders, the Nebraska Legislature, and
Governor Ricketts to approve funding that will enhance the accommodations and support on
base for our military members and their families.”
LB 1233 creates a public-private partnership, investing $25 million into caring for our service
members and their families. That money is matched, fully, to repair or replace several aging
amenities on base. LB 1233 also creates new projects that vastly increase the base’s visibility and
attractiveness for brand-new missions. More missions equals more people, and more people
equal economic impact. I thank my colleagues for recognizing what we in Bellevue have known
for years: Offutt Air Force Base is a Nebraskan gem that provides immense benefits to not only
the state of Nebraska or the United States… but the entire world.
The Nebraska Legislature has officially hit the halfway mark of the 2022 Legislative Session! This month has been a busy time for my office and I; my colleagues and I’s days have been filled with floor debates in the mornings and committee hearings in the afternoons.
We are completing our last round of committee hearings before beginning all-day debate on March 8th. My time in the Education Committee and the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee has been time well spent as I have learned a lot about the needs, wants, and policies within the retrospective committees. I am particularly excited to begin all-day floor debates as it allows me to support and learn more about other areas, such as tax reform, agriculture, etc.
I have 9 bills that have had hearings and have either advanced out of their retrospective committee, or are waiting to be voted out of committee. Here is a look at some of the notable pieces of legislation I have introduced:
– LB 928 requires closed captioning or transcripts of certain campaign advertisements. This bill is designed to make political advertisements more accessible and transparent, especially to those who may be deaf or hard of hearing.
– LB 1080 supports 100% disabled Veterans by reducing burdensome application requirements when applying for a homestead exemption.
– LB 1158 modernizes our academic transparency policy AND makes learning materials more accessible to parents and guardians.
You can see the full list of bills I have introduced, as well as details on each proposal here.
I have designated LB 1158 as my priority bill for the 2022 Legislative Session. LB 1158 updates a 30-year-old statute regarding parental involvement and academic transparency. This bill is meant to address and recognize the role that technology plays in our classrooms. In essence, LB 1158 asks districts to address digital materials, and other materials, in their policies. This bill also mandates that any public hearing must include an opportunity for public comment.
Another significant priority of mine is LB 1233. As you know, Offutt Air Force Base is one of Nebraska’s crowning jewels. Yes, it provides an economic impact of $2.9 billion annually, but it’s more than just that: the service members and their families enrich our community with their time and talent. This is why it’s important to grow Offutt whenever we can. Some rough estimates of Offutt Air Force Base’s potential economic impact suggest numbers above $6 billion, which helps put that potential into perspective.
Last year, the Appropriations Committee (led by Senator Stinner) set aside $50 million to help construct a Space Command headquarters if Offutt Air Force Base was chosen for the location. Unfortunately, we were not chosen – but, the favorable financial situation for Nebraska this year gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to keep the state’s commitment to the community. My bill, along with Senator McDonnell’s LB 1232, repurposes that $50 million so that it still helps grow the Offutt community. Here’s the key part: every state dollar is matched at 100% or more, and the economic impact of Offutt will climb to possibilities we haven’t even imagined before.
Happy New Year! This month has been an exciting, eventful and valuable time for my office as we start the 2022 Legislative Session. I would like to express that it is an honor to represent District 45 here in Lincoln. I will be sure to keep you informed on current legislation, news, and events happening here at the State Capitol.
The Nebraska Legislature has two regular sessions in every biennium. As we have the same membership in our body as we did during last session, we call this the Second Session of the 107th Legislature.
The process remains the same – bills must still be introduced and heard at a public committee hearing before potentially advancing to the entire Legislature for debate on General File, Select File, and Final Reading. If passed on Final Reading, the bill must be signed by the Governor, OR, the body must override the Governor’s veto, for a bill to become law.
This year brings a unique challenge that the Legislature has never faced: how to spend over 1 billion dollars from the federal government – also referred to as ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. The Appropriations Committee sat through a hearing for eight hours listening to billions of dollars of proposals for the funds.
This year, I have introduced 9 legislative bills, 2 more bills than last year! To view the full list of the legislation introduced, you can find it here. However, I would like to highlight a few of the bills I am introducing in this newsletter! These specific bills have been introduced for the floor and are awaiting hearing dates, but when those hearing dates are scheduled, I will be sure to inform you.
Senators can support their colleagues’ bills by co-sponsoring them. This means that I support the language, intent and function of that bill. Oftentimes, I like to co-sponsor legislation that I know will directly benefit District 45.
I am a co-sponsor to bills that will benefit District 45 and the entire state of Nebraska. I am co-sponsoring more visible bills that tend to catch more news headlines, these are examples of the more functional and less-reported-on bills that the Legislature discusses every year that makes our state better. With this being said, I would like to highlight some of my colleagues’ legislation that I am proudly co-sponsoring:
Thank you for taking the time to follow my work in your Legislature! If you would like to contact my office, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 471-2615.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay interested in your government!
After many late nights and long days, the plans for redistricting have been established. The Congressional, Legislative, Public Service Commission, Nebraska Supreme Court, Board of Education, and the NU Board of Regents maps ( LB 1, LB 3, LB 5, LB 6, LB 7, and LB 8 ) have passed final reading and have been signed by the Governor. You may view these maps here: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/red/adopted-plan/.
This completes the first Redistricting Special Session in the history of Nebraska. I am proud of my colleagues and staff throughout the capitol building as we were able to work together and get this done in a very short time frame. I want to give a large thank you to the redistricting committee: Senators Linehan, Blood, Briese, Brewer, Geist, Lathrop, Lowe, Morfeld and Wayne. This committee worked day and day to try to negotiate a bipartisan compromise plan for redistricting. This was not an easy task as every district has their own special and unique needs, demographics and interests. These needs would not have been as clear without those that came to testify in Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha. I am also grateful for those constituents who have called and emailed my office with their concerns or needs. This entire process was a group effort and I am proud of everyone involved.
Legislative District 45
How do the new maps affect District 45? The Southwest corner of the district will now fall into District 36. The City of Bellevue has seen extraordinary growth, forcing the boundaries of LD 45 to move inward. This instance has affected many districts in the Eastern part of Nebraska due to population growth. Many Senators in Eastern Nebraska have had to give up a part of their districts and while I am saddened to lose that part of the district, it will be left in good hands with Senator Matt Williams. If you are in the affected area, here is a link to Senator Williams’ website.
Congressional District 1
Not only did the legislature have the task of redrawing the lines for the legislative map, my colleagues and I reworked the congressional map as well. The conversation around the congressional maps revolved around a simple question: do we split Douglas County or Sarpy County in half between two different congressional districts? Splitting up any county is not an ideal scenario, however, due to the population growth in both counties, it was an inevitable next step, however, Congressional District 1 still encompasses all of legislative district 45. We remain in good hands with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry as he continues to be a great representative of Nebraska’s 1st district. If you wish to contact his office, here is a link to the Congressman’s website.
Happy end of August! My staff and I have been taking our time during the interim either to take a breath after a busy session, spend our time in-district to reconnect or attend various educational conferences both out-of-state and in-state. I would love to share some information about some of the conferences I have attended.
Nebraska State Senator Delegation – Strategic Air Command Tour
My office, Lt. Governor Foley, a representative from the University of Nebraska, and other Senators and staff had the opportunity to spend a day at Offutt Air Force base and the STRATCOM headquarters to learn about the structure, operations, and strategic deterrence threats America (and its allies) face now and in the future. This visit reminded my colleagues and me of the importance of both Offutt Air Force and STRATCOM to not only our state and country but the entire world. I am thankful to the Vice Commander of the 55th Wing and Admiral Richards of STRATCOM for the briefings on past and future goals.
48th Annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
I traveled to Salt Lake City shortly thereafter to attend the 48th Annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Conference. The American Legislative Exchange Council is one of the country’s premier state policy organizations. At this conference, I learned about many different things not only important to the United States, but also to Bellevue. An example of this is attending the Task Force on Homeland Security meeting where I learned about things from surveillance technology to protecting critical infrastructure. It is important to me as an elected official to keep learning so that my colleagues and I can use our knowledge to collectively make every piece of legislation better.
Self-education has been a priority of mine over the interim. State lawmakers bring their own experience, intelligence, and specialty to the Legislature; however, we do not all have expertise in every issue. My goal is to learn as much as I can so that I can serve my district to the best of my ability.
So far, my staff and I have visited two dairy farms to learn about the impact of dairy on the state economy. On Wednesday, we also visited Butler Public Power District to learn more about energy efficiency and reliability. My staff are joining others in the Legislature to tour the four University of Nebraska campuses by the end of November. I also attended Governor Ricketts’ Economic Development Summit in Kearney this summer, where the Governor stressed the importance of a healthy economy to our state.
My colleagues and I are looking forward to tentatively starting our special session on redistricting on Monday, September 13. I want to stress that this date is tentative because of delayed data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The responsibilities of my colleagues and I include redrawing districts for the Legislature, the Supreme Court, the University Board of Regents, the Public Service Commission, the Board of Education, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Nebraska’s demographics continue to shift. That is why we must be successful and productive in the coming month so that the will of Nebraskans are fairly represented in not just our legislative body, but in every statewide body. As Nebraska, and those that reside in it, are continuously changing and growing, it is important to have this process in order to ensure districts are represented equally.
Finally, our home base has moved up to the 11th floor as the Nebraska State Capitol undergoes HVAC renovations. Though we have a beautiful view of Lincoln from the tower, we are now not as easily accessible to the public. If you would like to visit, please call or email us to schedule a time. Our office phone number is (402) 471-2615, and my email address is email@example.com.
We have reached the end of the First Session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature! It has been a seemingly long session that included all-day hearings and intense floor debate. I want to thank all of you, my constituents, for keeping in touch with my office during the year – your calls and emails made an impact on how I worked through my first session in the Unicameral.
Just today, senators finished their year’s work and adjourned Sine Die – this means that we are finished until our special session in the fall for redistricting. Redistricting is the process in which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn to accommodate for the growth in Nebraska every 10 years.
Over the past two weeks, we discussed and debated dozens of bills brought by colleagues – on many occasions, we worked until the wee hours. As you may know, each bill goes through three stages – General File, Select File and Final Reading. We spent much of our time in the past months focusing on General File bills. Our final weeks consisted of following those bills through Select File and Final Reading to send to the Governor’s Desk, and our final day focused on veto override motions.
Last month, we listened to eight hours of debate on Senator Anna Wishart’s LB 474, calling to adopt the Medicinal Cannabis Act. This topic of discussion allowed for great debate on both sides. This is an issue that a federal government should handle, and Congress should take a long look at removing marijuana from the Class 1 schedule classification. LB 474 failed to get the 33 votes needed for cloture in order to advance to the next round of debate. I commend Senator Anna Wishart for the hard work and dedication she put into this bill. LB 474 failed to gain cloture, and it will not advance to Select File.
This session was very unique, and we faced many special challenges. COVID-19 made for a very different session, such as plexiglass between Senators on the floor and other accommodations for COVID-19 restrictions for the senators, staff, and the public. However, I am happy to say that as the first session winds down, the body was able to continue serving the State of Nebraska, without interruption.
I am pleased with the progress my office and I have made over the last months. Five out of my seven bills have been passed and signed into law this session, including my priority bill, LB 389. My legislation stretched across many topics, from government transparency and privacy rights to flexibility for homestead exemption applications and cemetery association membership. Despite the hostility and harshness that can become so common in politics, I am proud of how much our office has accomplished.
Thanks to Senator Tom Brewer’s leadership, I am thrilled to say that LB 387, a bill I proudly cosponsor, has been signed by the Governor! This bill exempts 100% of military retirement pay from Nebraska income tax. This is nothing short of amazing. This is one of the bills that will directly benefit Bellevue-Offutt and surrounding communities and will have a positive economic impact. Our state has lagged behind on efforts like these until today. This bill is a great way to recruit and retain veterans to make a home in our wonderful state, add to the qualified workforce and also thank them for years of dedicated service to our country.
Here is legislation that I co-sponsored/introduced that affect Bellevue:
– LB 389, which I introduced on behalf of the Governor, that will give temporary permits to military spouse teachers seeking reciprocity certification, and will speed up the certification process;
– LB 5 by Senator Blood encourages schools to become military-friendly and seek Purple Star status;
– LB 9 by Senator Blood will grow Bellevue by changing annexation requirements.
In these upcoming weeks, my staff and I will be assessing our priorities for the next legislative session. Additionally, Senators will be involved in interim studies to look at specific issues or data collection. These studies are done by legislative committees following adjournment. I have signed onto Senator Joh Arch’s LR 239, an interim study that examines the effectiveness of Medicaid waivers in Nebraska overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. Nebraska’s waiting list for citizens for developmental disabilities has been discussed for many hours this year, and I support Chairman Arch and the HHS Committee’s efforts to discuss solutions and improvements. Additionally, I am serving on the LR 29 Special Committee.
Have a wonderful summer!
I hope your spring has been joyous! While the season definitely has its downsides (my entire office has suffered with allergies for the past month), it brings some wonderful things – like baseball! In the coming weekend, baseball teams from Bellevue East and Bellevue West will compete in district tournaments for a chance to make the state playoffs, those games begin on Friday! I wish the best of luck to these teams.
Meanwhile, the Legislature hit a fastball to the fence with its budget bills. Governor Ricketts signed the new biennium budget into law last Monday! I’d like to congratulate the Fiscal Office, the Appropriations Committee and Appropriations Chair John Stinner for their excellent work. Now, our attention turns to a more daunting pitch…
We have reached the final month of the 107th Legislature’s first session! This year has been unlike any other session in many ways (at least that is what my colleagues tell me). But some things are just like other years. One example is property taxes.
For years, Nebraskans have asked for property tax reform. That has been a key focus of the Legislature this year, and it remains a key focus of mine. For the past four weeks, we have taken many of our debates well into the night. We have discussed proposals such as Senator Briese’s LB 408 that would limit property tax growth to 3% per year, Senator Briese’s LB 2 that would lower the property tax value of agricultural land for bond purposes, Senator Friesen’s LB 454 that would give state dollars to schools too reliant on property taxes, and Senator Ben Hansen’s LB 644 that would require any political body to notify voters of potential levy increases by postcard. This illustrates the fact that many senators have brought forward suggestions to fix the problem.
Some of these suggestions have advanced, and some have not. All of them are only band-aids on an issue that has been likened to an amputation. I enjoyed listening to the debate on Senator Erdman’s LR 11 CA yesterday because it was the kind of outside-the-box thinking that we need, and it is comprehensive tax reform. While I continue to consider my stance on LR 11 CA, what I appreciate most is that we finally discussed a comprehensive fix to our tax issues.
Last Monday, my bill LB 313 advanced on to Select File! LB 313 would allow for late applications for a homestead exemption for those whose spouses have passed away that year. Currently, a property owner may file a late application for a homestead exemption if they provide documentation that a medical condition caused an inability to file on time. This bill would allow that same ability for those whose spouse passed away in the relevant taxable year. Many times, when someone passes away, their spouse is left to pick up the pieces. This includes family finances. This can be extremely difficult for someone who has never handled family budgeting and taxes, and it takes time to not only grieve a loved one, but become proficient in finances.
Current Status of Bills:
LB 312, Passed
LB 313, Select File
LB 368, Passed
LB 369, Passed
LB 370, Referral
LB 389, Passed
LB 619, Referral
Yesterday, Senator Blood’s LB 9 was signed into law and I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation. LB 9 allows for the growth and expansion of Bellevue as it changes annexation requirements and property tax special valuation provisions. Previously, annexation had to include adjacent land, making it impossible for cities landlocked by federal property (such as Offutt Air Force Base) or Natural Resources District land in the middle of a potential annexation area. Without this bill, Bellevue would only be able to expand to the south of the base, making it difficult to grow as quickly as surrounding areas such as Papillion or La Vista. This is a sound bill that will help Bellevue grow.
COVID – 19
All statistics as of 7:20 AM on 5/06/2021
Confirmed cases in Sarpy County: 22,002
Active cases in Sarpy County: 207
Deaths in Sarpy County: 124
For more information regarding COVID-19, visit:
Thank you for reading!
Stay safe, and stay healthy!
The Rita Record
Before I talk about the Legislature, I want to wish the Bellevue East Chieftains and the Bellevue West Thunderbirds the best of luck as they begin the Metro Conference Baseball Tournament today! It has been a hard year for high school athletes – especially those involved in spring sports who didn’t get the opportunity to play in 2020. Now, both these teams are returning to the diamond with the same goal they had before the pandemic: winning state. Best of luck, Chieftains and Thunderbirds!
Today (Thursday) is the 62nd day of the 107th Session, meaning that we only have one third of the Session to go! The Legislature’s current mission is the biennial budget. Every odd-numbered year, the Appropriations Committee crafts a budget for a two year period – this is known as the biennial budget. The budget happens to be one of the Legislature’s only Constitutional obligations. Last Thursday we began debate on the budget bills on General File, and we began debate on Select File this last Tuesday. The body’s budget process doesn’t end there: in even-numbered years, the Committee revisits the budget and revises it based on the revenue we receive. In both cases, the entire Legislature has the opportunity to debate on the budget before it passes.
On Monday, my bill LB 312 advanced out of Select File onto Final Reading! This is my fourth bill to make it to Final Reading. Previously, cemetery boards of public cemeteries could only seat members that lived in the same county as the cemetery. This meant that families of those buried in those cemeteries might be left out, and those are arguably the people who are invested the most in a cemetery’s health. Under LB 312, two things change. First, lot owners and immediate family members of those interred in the cemetery are allowed to serve on a public cemetery board. Second, LB 312 makes a minor change in reporting the minutes of cemetery board meetings. Under my bill, those minutes would be delivered to the resident county of the cemetery, instead of the county in which the meeting was held. This bill is a great example of how effective you can be as a constituent. The President of the Fairview Cemetery Board in Papillion, Gene Stoltenberg, suggested this change, and we were glad to help him.
On Monday, Senator Blood’s LB 5 was signed by the President and will become law 3 months after Sine Die. Along with Senator Gragert, Senator Brandt, Senator Lindstrom, Senator Day, Senator Murman and I are proud co-sponsors of this legislation. This legislation is great for Bellevue and passed the Legislature unanimously. LB 5 allows for public, private, or parochial schools to apply for an annual “purple star school” designation. In order to qualify for this designation, a school must have a designated staff member to be the military liaison between military students and their families. Additionally, this bill promotes the addition of online resources for military families, such as a program that helps children transition into a specific school.
COVID – 19
All statistics as of 5:30 PM on 4/14/2021
Confirmed cases in Sarpy County: 21,200
Active cases in Sarpy County: 529
Deaths in Sarpy County: 118
For more information regarding COVID-19, visit:
Thank you for reading!
Should you be interested in receiving this newsletter in your email every two weeks, please fill out this form to request to be added to our list. You are also welcome to reach out with any questions, concerns, comments, or ideas. Our office in the Capitol is #1406 on the first floor, just across from the information desk. Our phone number is (402) 471-2615.
Stay safe, and stay healthy!
The Rita Record Special – Senator Sanders’ Priority Bill Signed by the Governor
Yesterday was a remarkable day for my office. My priority bill, LB 389, was signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts yesterday morning!
I have told you a little bit about this bill in my previous newsletters, but let me give you a recap: LB 389 does three things. First, it makes it easier for military spouses to get a teaching license in Nebraska if they hold another license in another state. Second, while an application for that license is processing, the bill lets the applicant get right to work with a preliminary permit – as long as they pass a background check first, and pay the application fee. Finally, the bill requires the State Board of Education to make this application process as fast as possible.
Why is this so important? For years, military families have moved in and out of Nebraska because they have been stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. These deployments usually last three or four years. Meanwhile, a spouse may want to earn extra income for that family. Many of these spouses teach – but the tedious and lengthy process of getting a license to teach in a Nebraska school discouraged many from trying. Now, the process is quicker – but still thorough.
This benefits us in many other ways. Many schools in Nebraska face a teacher shortage – now, these districts have access to more qualified teachers to fill those spots. Additionally, the Department of Defense named spouse reciprocity licensure one of their top issues when considering where to place additional missions. Now, we check all three of their boxes in this category. Before LB 389, we only checked one.
This is my first bill in the Legislature to be signed by the Governor. I think that’s fitting, because Offutt Air Force Base provides $2.7 billion in economic impact every year. A lot of that goes to District 45. Offutt will always be one of my top priorities in the Legislature because of its irreplaceable benefit to our economy, our citizens and our country.
I owe a big thank you to Governor Pete Ricketts for bringing this bill to me. He has been a positive voice at the forefront of this issue for many years, and his work has been instrumental in advancing this legislation. I also want to thank all of my cosponsors – Senators Gragert, Murman, Brewer and Blood – for their help in bringing this bill to the finish line.