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Good News for the Offutt AFB Runway
I was extremely pleased to learn that the Air Force will be investing in a much-needed upgrade to Offutt’s runway. The project, which will extend the runway’s life by at least 20 years, is in part a recognition of Nebraska’s investment in Offutt’s physical infrastructure, as well as the state’s dedication to the airmen, veterans, and military families that call the Bellevue area home. The state provided critical funding for the Missouri River levee project to protect the base, and my colleagues and I have worked to implement a wide variety of initiatives to make Nebraska more friendly to military families. Offutt and the 55th Wing are a vital part of our community, and I am pleased to work with the Air Force to ensure their continued success.
NCSL Family Opportunity Forum
I was honored to be invited to participate in the NCSL Family Opportunity Forum in Denver several weeks ago. The Family Opportunity Forum brings together working teams from selected states to identify ways to improve opportunities for working families in our states. Nebraska has been a regular attendee to these forums over the years. Our “Save to Win” program in the state, which encourages families to put money in savings accounts instead of lottery tickets, is one program that has come out of our participation in these forums.
On the way to Colorado Senator Pansing Brooks and I visited the village of Venango,which is the hometown of my friend and fellow Urban Affairs committee member Senator Dan Hughes. Venango sits only half a mile from the Colorado border. I always enjoy getting to see new communities across Nebraska.
UNMC Launches CBD Pilot Study
On Wednesday, I participated in a press conference organized by UNMC to announce the launch of a pilot study for cannabidiol, or CBD oil, to treat treatment resistant epilepsy. Two years ago, I sponsored LB 390 which provided the underlying authority and funding for the project. GW Pharmaceuticals will provide the plant-based pharmaceutical grade product for free. Those interested in enrolling in the study must work with their providers to have their records sent in for review. For information about the study, call 402-559-4335 or see the Omaha World-Herald article about the project.
Left to right: Dr. Chris Kratochvil (Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UNMC),myself, Mike Bartenhagen, and Broc Bartenhagen
Urban Affairs Interim Study Work Underway
This month, my office began holding initial stakeholder meetings for a number of interim studies being heard by the Urban Affairs Committee this interim. Among the interim studies being undertaken this summer is LR 489, an interim study that I introduced to examine issues relating to housing authorities.
Housing authorities are local governmental entities established with a mission to provide affordable housing to area residents. There are just over 100 housing authorities in Nebraska, ranging from the larger agencies in Omaha and Lincoln which oversee a wide variety of housing programs and projects, to smaller agencies in rural Nebraska that primarily provide senior housing. A map of housing authorities in Nebraska is shown below.
Nebraska’s main housing authority statutes, the Nebraska Housing Agency Act, were adopted in 1999, but have not been updated since that time. The primary goal of LR 489 is to update and modernize the Nebraska Housing Agency Act, and committee staff and I will be meeting with representatives of various housing authorities over the summer and fall to identify any necessary updates. This month we met with leaders from our own Bellevue Housing Authority to hear about their work in the community and any concerns that they have for us to consider as we move forward.
Meet My Staff: Christina Mayer
This week I would like to introduce you to the newest member of my staff, Christina Mayer. Christina works as my Committee Clerk and Administrative Assistant, and joined my office at the beginning of June. Christina is a Nebraska native who grew up in Lincoln, and still lives there with her husband Jacob and two cats.
Christina has been around the legislature for several years now. She received her bachelor’s in political science and Russian from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2013; while pursuing her degree, she worked as a Legislative Page for two sessions. Upon graduating she joined the office of my colleague Senator Tanya Cook, where she worked for three years as an Administrative Assistant and staff coordinator for the Legislature’s Planning Committee.
Outside the Legislature, Christina spends her time reading, watching international soccer matches, and attempting to keep her potted plants alive.
Christina’s responsibilities include helping us communicate with constituents, and helping constituents with any problems they might have with the state. She would be happy to talk with you by phone, email, or mail. She is always available to answer any questions you may have at (402) 471-2615 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events in the District
Washington Park continues to host the Bellevue Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning over the summer. As always, the market will feature a wide variety of fresh produce, crafts, baked goods, and live entertainment. I will have a table at the market from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm on July 23, and look forward to seeing you there.
The 2016 Music in the Park series has seen several talented artists and musical groups come to Washington Park to perform. The final concert, on Thursday July 7, starts at 7:00 pm and will feature local group Pam and the Pearls.
Bellevue’s annual summer festival, Riverfest, will also take place July 15-16 at Haworth Park. The festival will feature live music Friday night and all day Saturday, the Nebraska State BBQ Competition, and a “Fireworks Extravaganza” on Saturday night. Riverfest 2016 will take place Friday July 15 from 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, and Saturday July 16 from 10:00 am-1:00 am.
The Offutt Air Force Base Defenders of Freedom airshow and open house will take place July 30-31. This year is particularly special, as the unit celebrates 25 years deployed, 50 years in Nebraska, and 75 years as a Wing unit. The celebrations run from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm each day. The airshow will feature multiple generations of aircraft, with a special appearance from the USAF Thunderbirds planned. There will also be lots to do and see — and eat — on the ground, with interactive booths, a kid’s zone, simulators, and plenty of food vendors throughout the open house area. The airshow and open house are a wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate the brave men and women of the 55th Wing, and I hope you will join me there. Admission is free, and more information can be found here.
I wish you all a happy and safe 4th of July!