NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Steve Erdman

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47

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 serdman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Steve Erdman

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 15th, 2021

 

This week I will introduce a bill to move the headquarters of the Game and Parks Department to the City of Sidney. Currently, state law mandates that the headquarters for the Game and Parks Department be in the City of Lincoln. I would like to change that. So today I would like to explain why I believe this move is good for Nebraska.

First, there are no state parks located in the City of Lincoln, just as there are no state parks located in the City of Sidney. So, proximity to state parks has never been nor should it ever be used as a criteria for deciding where to locate the headquarters for the Game and Parks Department.

Second, the Game and Parks Department does a lot more than manage our state parks. Most importantly, they are responsible for managing the wildlife in Nebraska. As many of my readers know, wildlife in Western Nebraska has become a major problem. Antelope, deer, and elk herds have grown too large and are wreaking havoc on crops, fences, and even land. Many of the noxious weeds we see spreading across Western Nebraska are attributable to large and unmanaged herds of antelope.

Because those who head the Game and Parks Department live and work in Lincoln, they often seem oblivious to the problems of Western Nebraska, especially the problem of unmanaged wildlife which has been brewing for many years now. Because those who lead the Game and Parks Department never encounter uncountable antelope herds, or see the widespread damage caused by an out-of-control elk population, or get Canadian thistle growing in their yards, the old maxim rings true: “Out of sight, Out of Mind.” So, in order to bring greater awareness of what is happening to landowners in Western Nebraska, I am proposing to move those who are most responsible for managing our wildlife closer to where the problems actually exist.

Third, state parks in Western Nebraska do not get the same attention that state parks in Eastern Nebraska get. There is a huge disparity between our state parks and those in the eastern part of the state. Consider Mahoney State Park for example. Mahoney State Park has an aquatic center, an indoor playground, a treetops ropes course, an observation tower, and even an indoor rock climbing wall. In addition, the Peter Kiewit Lodge offers 40 guest rooms, many of which have balconies offering stunning views of the Platte River. None of the parks in Western Nebraska have these kinds of attractions.

The fourth reason for moving the headquarters of the Game and Parks Department to Sidney relates to money. Whenever you drive to Lincoln on I-80 and you get near Lincoln, if you roll down your window you can smell taxes. The Game and Parks Department is no different. The Game and Parks Department collects thousands of dollars in fees every year. These fees range from campsite fees to hunting and fishing license fees to park entrance fees. When these fees are collected in Western Nebraska they go straight to Lincoln. Very seldom do we ever see any of it come back our way.

When those employed by the Game and Parks Department go home at night or for the weekend, they spend their money in the City of Lincoln, not Sidney. Whenever they go to the store, go to the movies, or go out to dinner, they put their money into Lincoln’s economy, yet the City of Lincoln has very little to do with wildlife, state parks, outdoor recreation, or hunting and fishing. Consequently, it seems to me that those responsible for managing our game and parks ought to spend their hard earned dollars where Nebraska’s game and parks actually exist.

Finally, the City of Sidney still has plenty of unused office space for rent at very affordable prices. Ever since Cabela’s got bought out by Bass Pro Shops back in October 2016, many of their offices have sat empty. I can’t think of a better use of these facilities than to house personnel working for the Game and Parks Department.

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 8th, 2021

The 107th Legislative Session has now begun. I will continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee, and strive to bring common sense to how we spend your money. This year I will be introducing a total of 12 bills, and today I would like to tell you about a few of them that I consider to be very important for our state.

Ever since I came to Lincoln four years ago to serve as a State Senator my number one priority has been to lower property taxes. Since this time very little has been done to deliver significant and meaningful property tax relief to the citizens of Nebraska, and the problem has only grown worse. Today Nebraska ranks as the seventh worst state for property taxes, second in the nation for farm and ranch bankruptcies, and worst in the nation for inheritance taxes.

In order to solve our tax problem I introduced two pieces of legislation on the opening day of the 107th Legislative Session. The first piece of legislation is a resolution for a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot for the year 2022, allowing the voters of Nebraska to amend the State Constitution for the consumption tax. The second piece of legislation I introduced was a companion bill which explains how to implement the consumption tax.

The consumption tax legislation that I introduced is called the EPIC Consumption Tax Act, where the word EPIC is an acronym which stands for the Elimination of Property, Income, and Corporate taxes. The bill will repeal Nebraska’s income tax, property tax, sales tax, and inheritance tax and replace them all with a consumption tax. The consumption tax would apply to the purchasing of services and new goods, but used goods would be exempt.

By repealing these four taxes, and replacing them with a consumption tax, Nebraska will become the most attractive state to live in. The consumption tax just might cause Tesla to reconsider moving to Texas!

Another bill that I introduced last week is a bill to put our national motto, “In God We Trust” back into our public schools. Children need to know our national motto. Without this common sense legislation it won’t happen. School boards, administrators, principals and teachers have all become afraid to talk about our national motto due to numerous lawsuits from atheist groups who want to remove every semblance of God from our schools. This legislation would promote our godly heritage and remove the threat of these petty lawsuits.

The bill is LB 36, and all it requires is that K-12 public schools display a legible poster of our national motto somewhere in the school where students will see it on a daily basis. When you stop and consider all that our students see, read and learn about today in our public schools, teaching about our national motto becomes one of the most positive things we can do for our students.

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 30th, 2020

The 2021 legislative session begins this week. Beginning January 6 State Senators will have ten working days to introduce bills. Among the many hot topics that will surface in the Legislature this year, three of them will be sure to get a lot of attention. So, this week I would like to share what I believe will be the three most controversial issues that the Legislature will have to wrestle with this year.

The hottest topic could be police reform. Proponents of police reform will most certainly assert their agendas through willing accomplices in the State Legislature, and their agendas will range from defunding the State Patrol to forming citizen oversight committees for police officers. While no one I know condones police brutality, I believe our men and women in blue need to be supported by State lawmakers. We are a nation of laws, and those laws need to be upheld by our law enforcement officers with the backing of the State.

Another hot topic will be prison reform. The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which has been controlled by Democrats for several years now, has failed to reform Nebraska’s corrections system. One of the biggest problems is recidivism or repeat offenders. Last week Scott Frakes, who is the Nebraska Department of Corrections Director, stated on KLIN radio in Lincoln that Nebraska needs to build another correctional facility. Building prisons costs money – a lot of money. Some Senators believe the solution to our corrections system is to reduce the lengths of prison sentences, enact more house arrests, or refrain from sentencing altogether. However, simple common sense says that if you don’t break the law, you will never go to prison.

The third hot topic of the year will be COVID-19. While COVID-19 presents a valid threat to the health and well-being of our citizens, living in undue fear of the disease has also wreaked havoc on our society. The first COVID-19 related issue that will surface in the Legislature will be whether or not to recess after we start and restart the legislative session later in the year when the number of infections has subsided, more people have been vaccinated, and our hospitals have more bed space. For instance, the hearing rooms at the State Capitol Building, where public hearings on bills take place will be limited to 25 percent of their room’s capacity until the mayor of Lincoln decides to loosen her directive health measures. Regardless of the mayor’s directive health measures, I believe it is in the best interest of the State for the legislative session to proceed as scheduled.

Nebraskans can no longer afford to continue living in a constant state of fear of COVID-19. The directive health measures instituted in Nebraska have already caused one out of every six small businesses in our state to fail. Moreover, there is nothing in the Nebraska State Constitution nor is there anything in the Nebraska State Statutes which defines who our essential workers are. Consequently, a cogent argument can be made that all workers are essential until otherwise defined in our Constitution or by law. As I read the Declaration of Independence, all men are endowed by their Creator with a fundamental right to pursue happiness. In 1905 the U.S. Supreme Court said in the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts that governments may only “reasonably restrict” these rights during times of a health crisis. After 10 months of lockdowns and the recent availability of vaccines, I believe that period of reasonable restriction has come to an end.

Finally, regardless of these three hot topics for the 2021 legislative session, my number one priority will continue to be property tax relief. Many Nebraskans are beginning to figure out by now that last year’s property tax relief bill, LB 1107, failed to deliver significant and meaningful property tax relief. It was nothing more than a decrease in the increase of each taxpayer’s tax burden. Therefore, I will continue to fight for real property tax relief for all Nebraskans.

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 18th, 2020

 

Christmas is our nation’s first federal holiday. Christmas was first declared as a national holiday back in 1789. Since this time there has been an unbroken history of official acknowledgement of the holiday by all three branches of our federal government. So, when the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was sued for displaying a nativity scene, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Lynch v. Donelly (1985) that the Constitution does not require a complete separation of church and state. Instead, the high court ruled that “It affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility towards any.”

That nativity scene displayed by the city of Pawtucket retold the biblical story of how Joseph and Mary made the trek down from Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem in Judea for a census declared by Caesar Augustus. Finding no room in any of the inns, the couple accepted the offer of a stable. When Jesus was born, Mary wrapped the baby in cloths and laid him in a feeding trough, known as a manger.

While Jesus was born into a nuclear family, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, could hardly be regarded as a wealthy man. This is evidenced by Luke’s report that Joseph offered the poor man’s sacrifice of two turtle doves or two young pigeons at the time of Jesus’s dedication at the temple in Jerusalem. Although he had little money, Joseph was careful to follow all of the stipulations in the Law of Moses regarding the birth of Jesus.

For many American families today Christmastime represents a similar time of hardship. Many American workers found themselves unemployed once the COVID-19 outbreak hit our country during the spring and summer months. Many small businesses have had to close their doors, while others have been living off of government subsidies and loans. Consequently, paying taxes to the county or to the state is hardly something we associate with the wish of a merry Christmas. But, like Joseph in the Christmas story most of us obediently pay the tax and move on with the rest of our lives. Nevertheless, many families need relief now.

If God has sustained you financially through this difficult year, consider what you might do for others this Christmas. Remember those who are out of work or who may be struggling to make ends meet. Pray for them. Then consider inviting them over for Christmas dinner or anonymously leaving a care package on their doorstep. Leave them a gift card or pay for their gas or their groceries without getting recognized for your gift of charity, and give gifts of toys to children who may not otherwise get any. These are just a few simple ways we can love our neighbors this year at Christmastime.

My prayer is that you will have a blessed and merry Christmas this year, and that God will provide for you and your family. May 2021 be the year of recovery for everyone who is struggling. Finally, in spite of whatever financial situation you may find yourself in this year, remember that the reason Jesus was born was to go to the cross, to make atonement for our sins, and to offer us the free gift of eternal life.

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 14th, 2020

We are finally getting some good news about the coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations in Nebraska declined last week and both Moderna and Pfizer are beginning to send out vaccinations. Because those working in the medical field, those in nursing homes, and high risk individuals will be the first to receive these vaccinations, the rest of us will have to wait. So now is a good time to remind the public about what can be done at home to treat the symptoms of the coronavirus.

The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons has released to the public A Guide to Home-Based COVID Treatment: A Step-By-Step Doctor’s Plan That Could Save Your Life. A link to the full guide can be found below. For now, though, I would like to share some of the practical advice that these physicians and surgeons are urging the general public to follow in order to treat the disease at home.

Taking a “wait and see” approach to the coronavirus is dangerous, especially if you are over the age of 50 or have a medical condition which puts you into the high risk category. Countries with the lowest death rates are urging citizens to take preventative measures, treating patients early and offering home remedies. Because results for a COVID-19 test could take several days, there some home remedies that you may begin immediately.

he guide provided by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons recommends taking certain vitamins and minerals. Among these vitamins and minerals, zinc in perhaps the most important. The guide suggests taking a recommended dose of zinc sulfate 220 mg. Zinc is critical because “It helps block the virus from multiplying.” If you contract the coronavirus a prescription for the drug hydroxychloroquine can help, because it is “the carrier taking zinc INTO the cells to do its job.”

Other vitamins recommended by The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons are 5000 IU of vitamin D3 in oil capsule form for 5-30 days. Vitamin D3 provides a significant antiviral benefit. They also recommend 1000 mg of Vitamin C once or twice per day. Vitamin C provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Some physicians are even recommending quercetin as a natural transporter for zinc, although it is not as potent as hydroxychloroquine. Quercetin should be taken in low doses. Quercetin does not get into “lung tissue unless you take massive doses (3-5 grams a day), which cause significant GI side effects such as diarrhea.”

Finally, another home remedy for those with coronavirus symptoms is aspirin. The guide provided by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons recommends taking one adult aspirin (325 mg) per day. Aspirin works as a blood thinner. The risk of experiencing a heart attack or a stroke increases as the disease worsens. So, taking a baby aspirin every day will help stave off a heart attack and a stroke as your body develops the necessary antibodies it needs to fight the disease.

These home remedies represent some simple things you can do at home to help keep the coronavirus at bay, but they are not intended to replace the directions or advice of your own physician. I am not a physician. Everyone reacts to the coronavirus differently, so following the directions and advice of your own physician is absolutely paramount to overcoming COVID-19.

Here is a link to access “A Guide to Home-Based COVID Treatment”:  www.aapsonline.org

 

The springtime severe weather season is quickly approaching and that means it’s time for the annual 2021 Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest. The contest is sponsored by the Nebraska Association of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, the Nebraska National Guard, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and is part of the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week promoted by the Emergency Management Directors and Coordinators across Nebraska.

This year the poster contest is open to all third grade students in Nebraska’s public and private schools as well as home-schooled third grade students. Teachers are encouraged to have students participate while teaching them about hazards of severe weather in Nebraska. Tornadoes, lightning, and flooding are common themes for the posters because they represent the kind of severe weather most experienced in Nebraska.

To view the rules for the poster contest, please click on the link provided below.  

2021 Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest Rules

 

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 3rd, 2020

As you may know, for the past several weeks I have been delineating the ten rights of the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which I plan to include in legislation for the consumption tax in January. Today I will complete the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by explaining the tenth right.

The tenth right in the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights says, “The State of Nebraska shall live within its revenue means in the same way that a citizen lives within his or her revenue means.”

This final right in the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights may actually be the most important right of all. Nebraska needs to switch to the consumption tax precisely because this right of the taxpayer has never been acknowledged or regarded by lawmakers in our state.

One of the main reasons that property taxes have run out of control in our state is because lawmakers have given tax asking authority over to local units of government, such as K-12 public school districts, community colleges, and natural resource districts (NRDs). Each of these local units of government may increase their budgets and raise the mill levy, regardless of the taxpayer’s ability to pay for the increase.

Seldom do local units of government ever decrease the size of their budgets. Consequently, local units of government never feel the pain that the taxpayer feels when household incomes go down. Because they never feel the pain of less household income, there is no reason for them to ever tighten their belts. Each year they can ask for more money without any regard whatsoever for the plight of the taxpayer.

Whenever a family’s household income decreases, so does the family’s budget. A family must live within their means. So, the new truck dad was saving up to buy gets sacrificed in order to pay the mortgage and to put food on the table. This is how family budgets work. Shouldn’t it be the same for local units of government? Why do local units of government get a free pass to spend more money when the income of the average taxpayer has decreased?

A similar problem exists at the state level. State agencies, such as the Game and Parks Division, the University of Nebraska, and the Department of Health and Human Services never feel the pain of the average taxpayer. Consequently, every year they can ask the state for more money. The only difference between state agencies and local units of government is that the Legislature has some control over how much money state agencies can spend, because their budgets must be approved by the Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member.

The consumption tax is the remedy for out of control spending. The consumption tax would force all local units of government and state agencies to finally live within the means of the state in the same way that a family must live within their means. Once the income tax, the property tax, the state sales tax, and the inheritance tax are all repealed and all that is left is the consumption tax, state spending would suddenly become tied to consumer spending. In other words, the state would not be able to go shopping until the taxpayer goes shopping first.

Under the consumption tax the State of Nebraska would have a lot more money to spend, not less. The consumption tax would make Nebraska the most desirable state in the union to move to. Both citizens and businesses would want to move here in order to take advantage of our unique tax structure, and as they come, Nebraska will have a lot more money in its coffers, not less. So, the notion that schools or community colleges would have to reduce their budgets or lay off teachers under the consumption tax ignores the fact that the consumption tax will grow our state exponentially, not shrink it the way our current tax structure does.

Straight Talk From Steve…
November 30th, 2020

As you may know, for the past several weeks I have been telling my readers about the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights will be included in legislation for the consumption tax that I plan to introduce in the Nebraska Legislature in January. This week I will highlight the ninth right contained in the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

The ninth right says, “The State of Nebraska shall never impose or collect a tax on services or materials used to manufacture products, including agricultural products, for sale to the general public or to enhance services for sale to the general public.” This ninth right is necessary because it eliminates double taxation.

The ninth right will also make Nebraska more competitive than other states who do not use the consumption tax model. By eliminating taxes on business to business transactions, services and new goods sold to the general public in Nebraska will end up being cheaper than those sold in other states. Let me explain.

For the sake of argument, imagine a can of motor oil with a current price tag of $1.00 at the auto parts store. The current state sales tax means that the consumer would buy that can of motor oil for $1.06. Moreover, buried within that price tag of the can of motor oil are several other taxes. Both the manufacturer as well as the store owner have included within the price tag of the can of motor oil revenues to pay for their corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and even taxes on their utilities. This means that the true cost of the can of motor oil without all of these other taxes might fall somewhere around 90 cents per can.

Under the consumption tax there would be no taxes imposed on business to business transactions and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and inheritance taxes would all be repealed. This means that the store owner would not have to include within his price for the can of motor oil revenues to pay for his and the manufacturer’s corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and even utility taxes. Consequently, he would be able to sell that same can of motor oil with a retail price tag of only 90 cents, instead of $1.00. However, once the consumer pays the consumption tax on the can of motor oil, the final cost to the consumer would end up being about $1.00, which is still six cents cheaper without the current state sales tax.

One of the complaints that I often here about the consumption tax is that people would do their shopping in other states in order to avoid paying Nebraska’s consumption tax. But, why would you spend the time and gas to drive to Cheyenne when the merchandise costs less in Nebraska? Once all of these hidden taxes are removed from the price, services and new goods will actually be cheaper in Nebraska than in other states.

Not only will services and new goods be cheaper in Nebraska than in other states, but Nebraskans would never again be burdened with having to pay personal income taxes, property taxes, state sales taxes, and inheritance taxes. This is no small matter, because the consumption tax is the one tax that is fair and it is the only tax that the consumer can control.

The consumption tax is also known as the fair tax precisely because it is the one tax that the consumer can control. As Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Paper #21 about the consumption tax, “The amount to be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at his own option, and can be regulated by an attention to his resources.” By way of contrast, Hamilton viewed the property tax as the most unfair tax of all due to the arbitrariness of valuing land. For instance, in that same essay Hamilton said, “In every country it is a herculean task to obtain a valuation of the land,” and “…the difficulties [of valuating land] are increased almost to impracticability.” By implementing the consumption tax and exempting business to business transactions, I believe we can make Nebraska great again.

Straight Talk From Steve…
November 13th, 2020

As you may know, for the past several weeks I have been delineating the ten rights of the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which I will include in a bill for the consumption tax in January. So, today I would like to talk about the eighth right in the Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

The eighth right says, “Those citizens and legal residents of the State of Nebraska living at or below the federal poverty rate shall be absolved of making any positive net contributions (pay no taxes) to the consumption tax revenues of this State.”

It is an essential component of the consumption tax that those living at or below the federal poverty rate should never have to pay taxes. For this reason, the consumption tax bill that I will introduce in January will come with a monthly allowance for every individual or family living in Nebraska, which covers the consumption tax up to the federal poverty rate. The monthly allowance will ensure that no one living at or below the federal poverty rate in Nebraska will ever have to pay taxes.

As a general rule, the most preferable tax system is the one which frees the lowest wage earners in society from ever having to pay taxes. While those living at or below the federal poverty rate in Nebraska will still be required to pay the consumption tax on services and new goods, they will do so with the State’s dime. In other words, the State of Nebraska will only keep those consumption taxes paid out by an individual or a family on services and new goods above the federal poverty rate.

Some people may be wondering why every person and every family in Nebraska should receive the monthly allowance. One reason for this is a matter of fairness. For instance, when the Harvard University political philosopher, John Rawls, wrote about his theory of justice, he said, “…inequalities of wealth and authority are just only if they result in competing benefits for everyone, and in particular for the least advantaged members of society.” By giving the monthly allowance to each individual or every family, we will ensure that the system remains fair for everyone.

Another reason for giving the monthly allowance to everyone living in Nebraska is that it protects the privacy of the citizens of our State. The Nebraska Department of Revenue does not need to know how much money anyone makes, period. By giving the monthly allowance to everyone, it removes any burden the State may have of knowing how much income any particular person or any family makes in a given month or in a given year.

The monthly allowance will help us put an end to poverty in our state. The monthly allowance will help to ensure that those entering into the workforce for the first time will do so from a level playing field. Those individuals who leave the family nest but who are employed in a low wage job won’t have to carry the burden of paying taxes to the State. This is because the State won’t begin keeping the consumption taxes of low wage earners until they begin spending at a level above the federal poverty rate.

The consumption tax is the most ideal tax system for low wage earners. Because the consumption tax will spare our lowest wage earners from making any positive net contributions to the State’s coffers, Nebraska will become the envy of all other states in the Union.

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47
Room 1124
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2616
Email: serdman@leg.ne.gov
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