Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 47th 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. Ken Schilz
The 103rd Legislature, Second Session, convened on Wednesday, January 8th. This is the “short session,” which is set by the Nebraska Constitution. The Constitution requires sixty day sessions in even-numbered years and ninety day sessions in odd-numbered years. Legislative days are working days and not calendar days.
This session I will continue to serve on the Natural Resources Committee and General Affairs Committee, and Chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Committee hearings began on Tuesday, January 21st. This session, 459 bills have been introduced to go along with the 406 carryover bills from last year. Debate began on carryover legislation on Monday, January 13th.
This session I have introduced ten bills in addition to our carryover bills. The bills I have introduced this session include: LB767: Change provisions relating to operator training for underground storage tanks and provide funding, LB768: Change fee provisions of the Livestock Brand Act, LB811: Change provisions and penalties relating to the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, LB844: Extend the termination date of the Nebraska Litter Reduction and Recycling Act, LB845: Provide for regulation of meteorological evaluation towers, LB940: Create the Water Sustainability Fund and transfer cash reserve funds, LB941: Provide for a dairy growth study, LB942: Change provisions relating to packers under the Competitive Livestock Markets Act, LB1012: Change provisions relating to blighted areas under the Community Development Law, LB1044: Provide procedures for abandoned mobile homes.
The Legislature spent three days debating LB403, introduced by Senator Seiler, which would prohibit retail sale of novelty lighters. Though I was opposed to the bill, there were enough votes to pass the bill. In an attempt to keep novelty lighters from being banned for retail sale in our State all together, I introduced an amendment as a compromise. AM1672 required that at the effective date of the bill, all novelty lighters manufactured in Nebraska must have a child-proof safety feature. The amendment was adopted and the bill passed.
Thursday, LB215 was heard on the floor for the first round of debate. This bill clarifies language in the Lodging Tax statutes that allow a portion of the facilities fund to be used for promotion if the counties facilities are adequate. Once this designation is exhausted, then the rest of that fund may only be used for promotion. Under the current law, the language stated that the funds may be used for promotion making it possible for those funds to be used for purposes in the county other than promotion. It was accompanied by the Government, Military, and Veterans’ Affairs Committee amendment, AM156, and an amendment I introduced, AM1631, which was agreed upon by all interests. Both amendments were unanimously adopted and the bill passed 34-0.
January 8th saw the beginning of the short session of the 103rd Nebraska Legislature. This session looks to be very contentious due to some pretty meaty issues out there to be debated.
One item of contention is the tax issue, which will be debated again this year. I am in favor of reducing the burden on the taxpayer. There are truly only two ways to do this. One is through growth. The other would be to make spending cuts to programs and agencies within government. I am in favor of the lowering the ag valuation rate from 75% to 65%. While this will not provide relief to every farmer and rancher, it will provide relief to a vast majority. I also am in favor of lowering the income tax rate and/or adjusting the thresholds.
Water funding is also going to be a huge issue this session. The Water Funding Task Force spent four months discussing and researching the best alternatives for state funding for water issues. There have been a number of recommendations from the group to the legislature for their consideration. Some of the alternatives include carving out a portion of the state sales tax. Other options would require new taxes on various items from bottled water to taxes on fertilizer, sand, gravel, uranium, oil and gas. There is also an appropriation bill to jump start funding to the tune of $50 million. It is vitally important that we start to take water funding and management seriously as a state. Nebraska has jurisdiction over all the waters of the state. As the Legislature, we need to begin to take more of an interest in a coherent water policy for our state to prepare us for the future and to assure that we will have these resources for future generations.
Another big issue this session once again will be medicaid expansion. I have not been in favor of this in the past and once again I will not be supporting any bill that would use a federal program invented to help those most vulnerable to become an insurance program with only an income test.
Funding for Game and Parks is another problem that we will look to solve during this session. The bill will look to take some dollars from the motorboat registration fees. This would give Game and Parks needed revenue to complete deferred maintenance projects that have been on hold for a number of years.
In the Ag committee this year we will be focusing on expansion of the livestock industry within our state. There are many opportunities and we need to be ready to take advantage when they come around. I am introducing a study to look at dairy and the associated industries that could locate here in Nebraska. This study will look to all of the stakeholders to gather information to look at the barriers to expansion of dairy here in the state. We will look at processing, as well, and how we can work to co-locate these businesses with the milk production needed.
This session will be busy and intense. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am honored to be able to represent the people of Nebraska’s 47th District.
This week, the Agriculture Committee heard LB354 introduced by Senator Tyson Larson. LB354 repeals the Corn Resources Act and creates the Nebraska Corn Promotion Board as a public corporation rather than a state agency to carry out a corn development and promotion program. The Board would consist of nine grower members, eight which are selected by district and one at-large member selected by the board as a representative of the state at large.
LB354 allows the Nebraska Corn Promotion Board to implement an industry financed corn development and promotion program called the Nebraska Corn Promotion Act. The purposes and funding mechanisms of the new Act would be similar to those currently carried out under the Nebraska Corn Resources Act. The bill installs a different governing structure and adopts various checkoff program features for direct participation of, and accountability to, producers. The Nebraska Corn Promotion board will not be a state agency.
LB354 keeps the state excise assessment of five-tenths of a cent per bushel collected by the first purchaser from the producer at the time of marketing. The amount of the assessment would be deducted from the proceeds of sale and remitted by first purchasers, quarterly. The amount of the assessment would have a refund provision after the checkoff is assessed
The bill provides for a referendum procedure to approve any subsequent increase in the checkoff rate within a statutory maximum of one cent per bushel. A special referendum on a proposed increase in the checkoff rate would be submitted to producers upon approval of a super-majority of at least seven board members.
LB354 would also provide for funds received as gifts or grants to be placed in the Corn Promotion Fund. The Legislature has not historically allowed checkoff boards to receive gifts or grants to avoid influence by non growers.
This is the same structure that Iowa uses. There were no opponents and the original introducer of the Nebraska Corn Promotion Act, Sen. Loran Schmidt, testified that this was the correct direction for the future of corn promotion in our state. It will be interesting to see if we can move the bill to the floor and get it passed into law.
This week the Legislature started ﬂoor debate. The bills we discussed on the ﬂoor Monday were mostly clean up bills and revisor bills. Revisor bills are bills that harmonize sections and language within sections of law.
LB 1, introduced by the Executive Board, would repeal obsolete sections relating to a report relating to human trafﬁcking.
LB 2, introduced by the Executive Board, would repeal obsolete sections relating to appropriations.
Other General File bills that were discussed so far this week include:
LB 30 (Hadley) would change distribution of motor vehicle certiﬁcate of title fees. This bill is a bill that cleans up where certain funds are directed in the department of motor vehicles.
LB 35 (Hadley) would adopt and update references to certain federal provisions related to motor vehicles. This bill keeps the states laws in line with new federal laws
LB 72 (McCoy) would extend the authorization for interest -bearing trust accounts under the Nebraska Real Estate License Act.
LB 100 (Watermeier) would eliminate a notice requirement with respect to automatic teller machines
It is important for you to look over the bills if you have an interest in them. In the days to come, we will get into bills that have a larger impact on our State.
I now serve on the General Affairs committee. We took up four bills in committee this week:
LB 173 (Coash) Change provisions relating to documentary proof of age under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act.
LB 230 (Karpisek) Change shipping license provisions under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act
LB 259 (Karpisek) Exempt Keno writers from licensure under the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act
LB 273 (Karpisek) Change Keno time limits.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve the 47th district. It is truly a pleasure and an honor.
Wednesday was the last day to introduce bills. Two years ago, the First Session of the 102nd Legislature, there were a total of 679 bills. Last year, there were a total of 701 bills introduced. This year, we have a total of 655 bills.
I introduced five more bills this past week. LB548 would change a length exception for semi trailers transporting baled livestock forage. This bill will be heard before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB549 would change the scrap tire recycling sunset provision and fees. It will go before the Natural Resources Committee. LB550 would adopt the Livestock Growth Act and change provisions of the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act. This bill will go before the Agriculture Committee. LB551 would change recreational liability provisions. It will be heard before the Judiciary Committee. LB587 would change provisions of the Livestock Brand Act. This bill will go before the Agriculture Committee.
I have received a number of phone calls and emails requesting that I bring legislation to protect our gun rights. The legislation I am working on will allow an Advanced Concealed Carry permit, which, for a larger one-time fee and more hours of training, individuals can carry the same places law enforcement can carry. We are continuing to work on the details of this legislation so that we have the best, most sound legislation for a program that will benefit and protect Nebraskans. I am co-sponsoring LB451, introduced by Senator Janssen, which will prohibit federal restrictions on firearms, magazines, and firearm accessories as prescribed. I am also co-sponsoring LB602, introduced by Senator Bloomfield, which will adopt the Nebraska Firearms Freedom Act. These bills are not scheduled for hearing, yet. However, when they do go before the Judiciary Committee, which is stacked with Senators who may not support expanding the Conceal Carry law, it will be crucial for the people of Nebraska to be present in the hearing room for both of the hearings. The Committee can disagree and turn down those of us that are elected officials supporting the bills, but if they turn down hundreds of Nebraskans, that conveys more than words can say.
This week in the natural resources committee we had two days of hearings. We covered LB102 and LB16 on Wednesday. LB102, introduced by Sen. Watermeier, would allow the Department of Natural Resources to stop requiring applicants to give their social security numbers when they apply for water permits. The department is worried that the numbers could be compromised. They do not want to be responsible for keeping the numbers when they have no real use for them. LB16, introduced by Sen Christensen, would change the contract for the title to Champion Mill so that if the county and city of Champion can not afford the upkeep or maintenance, then the title would revert back to the Game and Parks commission. There was some conversation about how this would be triggered and whether or not Game and Parks would be able to turn down the title if they did not want to resume ownership. It is written that they would have no choice but to take the property back.
On Thursday, we covered LB91 and LB203. LB91, introduced by Senator Haar, would change the provisions regarding how geologists are chosen to sit on the board of Geologists. The bill basically updates the language as to the qualifications of an applicant. LB203, introduced by Sen. Scheer, would recognize steel “slag” as a product. Right now, slag is used for roads, making cement, and in other situations where aggregate is needed. There have been attempts in other states to name it as a hazardous material even though there is no evidence to back that up. The bills were relatively simple in nature and all will have a good chance of making it to the floor.
Next week, on Tuesday, we will cover 3 bills in the Ag committee. LB15 (Krist) would change provisions regarding aerial pesticide applicators. LB68 (Schilz) would change provisions of the pesticide act. LB69 (Schilz) would change provisions of the plant pest and plant protection act.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve the 47th district. It is a true honor and I appreciate your support.
This week in the agriculture committee we took up three bills. LB67 was introduced on the behalf of the Ag department. This bill is technical in nature and updates the Nebraska Milk Act. This act sets forth the requirements for milk producers in the state to be able to sell their milk to processors. Every few years this law must be updated to meet the standards on the national level. There were no issues with the bill and I expect this bill to be passed into law. LB60, introduced by Sen. Larson, would take all of Knox county out of the brand area. As it stands, only part of Knox county is in the brand area. The testiﬁers that were in favor of the bill mentioned that the livestock markets would receive more business if they were taken out of the brand area. During the October interim hearing in Knox County, the support for the bill was overwhelming. I believe this bill will get voted out of committee and become law. LB70 would change the Nebraska Dairy Industry Development Board membership. This board is the group that decides how the milk check off dollars are spent to promote and advertise the products. As of now, there are 7 board members. Each board member represents approximately 40 producers. With the decline in the number of dairy producers, the ability to keep 7 board members according to the existing parameters would not be possible. This bill changes how the members are placed and the parameters in how many producers they represent. The bill had no opposition and I expect it to be passed into law, as well.
This was my ﬁrst Agricultural Committee hearing and it went smoothly. It lasted about three hours and the debate was engaging and informative. I will continue to keep you up to date on the bills that are before the Ag committee as well as selected bills from Natural Resources and General Affairs committee. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the 47th district as your state senator.
We have completed the first eight days of the 103rd Legislative session, first session. So far, I have introduced twelve bills and I may drop a couple more next week. Here is a brief summary of my current bills.
LB62 was referenced to the Revenue Committee and it would change levy provisions for rural and suburban fire protection districts.
LB63 was referenced to the Revenue Committee and would change distribution of certain sales and use tax revenue.
LB64 was referenced to the Revenue Committee and would change provisions relating to deductions of refunds from municipal sales tax receipts.
LB65 was referenced to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and would authorize counties to set sheriffs’ fees and commissions.
LB66 was referenced to the Urban Affairs Committee and would authorize cities of the first class to annex certain non contiguous property.
LB67 was referenced to the Agriculture Committee and would change provisions of the Nebraska Milk Act
LB68 was referenced to the Agriculture Committee and would change provisions of the Plant Protection and Plant Pest Act.
LB69 was referenced to the Agriculture Committee and would change provisions of the Pesticide Act.
LB70 was referenced to the Agriculture Committee and would change Nebraska Dairy Industry Development Board membership provisions.
LB166 was referenced to the Agriculture Committee and would change labeling requirements for lawn and turf seed containers.
LB215 was referenced to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee and would change provisions relating to use of the County Visitors Promotion Fund.
LB339 has not been referenced to a Committee at this point but it would change fence dispute provisions.
As the end of bill introduction approaches and Committee hearings begin, I will have more in depth information on how the session is developing.
The 103rd Legislature, First Session, convened on Wednesday, January 9th. This is the “long session,” which is set by the Nebraska Constitution. The Constitution requires sixty day sessions in even-numbered years and ninety day sessions in odd-numbered years. Legislative days are working days and not calendar days.
The first day was interesting to say the least. We voted on committee chairs and vice chairs of standing committees will be elected by the committee members upon their first meeting. I am honored to have been appointed as the Chair of the Agriculture Committee. Here is a listing of the committees and their new makeup:
Executive Board: Wightman (Chair), Krist (Vice Chair), Adams, Avery, Campbell, Chambers, Christensen, Karpisek, Lathrop, and Mello (nonvotin ex officio).
Agriculture Committee: Schilz (Chair), Bloomfield, Chambers, Hansen, B. Harr, Johnson, Lathrop, Wallman.
Appropriations: Mello (Chair), Bolz, Conrad, Harms, Kintner, Larson, Nelson, Nordquist, Wightman.
Banking, Commerce, and Insurance: Gloor (Chair), Campbell, Carlson, Christensen, Crawford, Howard, Pirsch, Schumacher.
Business and Labor: Lathrop (Chair), Ashford, Chambers, Hansen, B. Harr, McGill, Wallman.
Education: Sullivan (Chair), Avery, Cook, Davis, K Haar, Kolowski, Scheer, Seiler.
General Affairs: Karpisek (Chair), Bloomfield, Coash, Johnson, Krist, Lautenbaugh, Murante, Schilz
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs: Avery (Chair), Bloomfield, Karpisek, Lautenbaugh, Murante, Price, Scheer, Wallman.
Health and Human Services: Campbell (Chair) Cook, Crawford, Gloor, Howard, Krist, Watermeier.
Judiciary: Ashford (Chair), Chambers, Christensen, Coash, Davis, Lathrop, McGill, Seiler.
Natural Resources: Carlson (Chair), Brasch, Dubas, K. Haar, Johnson, Kolowski, Schilz, Smith.
Nebraska Retirement Systems: Nordquist (Chair), Conrad, Davis, Karpisek, Kolowski, Mello.
Revenue: Hadley (Chair), Hansen, B. Harr, Janssen, McCoy, Pirsch, Schumacher, Sullivan
Transportation and Telecommunications: Dubas (Chair), Brasch, Hadley, Janssen, McCoy, Price, Smith, Watermeier.
Urban Affairs: McGill (Chair), Ashford, Coash, Karpisek, Krist, Lautenbaugh, Murante.
This session is the first session of my second term in office. This has been a great experience and I am honored to be able to continue serving the people of the 47th district. I look forward to this session and the challenges we will face.