NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

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 3rd, 2024

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…
February 15th, 2024

Growing number of state laws are passed or introduced focusing on campus  free speech | Fox News

 

One of the bills that I co-signed this year is LB 1064, a bill to eliminate tenure at the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska State College system, and Nebraska’s community colleges. This is a movement which is picking up steam around the country. Several other states have introduced similar legislation including, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas.

While LB 1064 does not strip current faculty members of their tenured status, the bill would prevent future hires from obtaining tenure and it directs the governing boards over our state’s colleges and universities to write and adopt new employment policies which would ultimately promote education and the free expression of ideas. The new employment policies would establish acceptable grounds for the termination of faculty, minimum standards of good practice, standards for discipline, and procedures for dismissal.

It is no secret how some of our nation’s most prestigious universities, such as Harvard University, have had to remove their presidents due the mishandling of antisemitic protests on their campuses and other reasons. Besides allowing unruly antisemitic protests, Harvard University President, Claudine Gay, was accused of 50 counts of plagiarism by the Washington Free Beacon and the New York Post. Most recently, Shirley Greene, an administrator for the Harvard Extension School, has been accused of committing 42 instances of plagiarism in her 2008 dissertation. Why do we allow substandard academic scholars to lead our colleges and universities?

College education in American has been deteriorating. Jonathan Turley, an attorney who teaches at George Washington University Law School, recently posted on X that “The mob has become the measure for righteous rage for many in higher education. Vandalism and attacking art have now become part of what is portrayed as a healthy and productive dialogue.” Unfortunately, this is exactly what higher education in America has so often devolved into, and this kind of behavior has reached Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska has had its own share of problems in recent years with bad behavior. On August 25, 2017 English graduate teaching assistant, Courtney Lawton, harassed Kaitlyn Mullen as she recruited for Turning Point USA near the Student Union at UNL. Then, UNL Sociology Professor, Patricia Wonch Hill, was arrested in Virginia for throwing fake blood on the home of Chris Cox, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. Then, she was cited for painting googly eyes on a campaign sign for Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Finally, the University of Nebraska system was successfully sued last year after the University’s Fee Allocation Committee denied a $1,500 request by Ratio Christi, a Christian organization, to bring back the former UNL philosophy professor, Robert Audi, as a speaker for their group.

Many American colleges and universities have been shutting down dissenting opinions by conservative students. The American Bar Association has recognized this problem, so this month they issued new rules for their associated law schools. The new rules for the law schools will include policies which “protect academic freedom” and “encourage and support the free expression of ideas.”

Besides the looney behavior of activist professors, it is no secret how classes often get taught by student teaching assistants and research assistants. Sen. Loren Lippincott of Central City, the primary sponsor of the bill, stated in his opening remarks during the public hearing on February 13 saying, “…I hear stories of professors who have tenure, brag about how little work they put in or how few hours they show up to teach classes.” No other job in the real world would ever pay an employee to not show up for work or to do no work at all.

Nebraska’s colleges and universities need to be held accountable. The University of Nebraska, for example, is a land grant university. This means that the University of Nebraska System is owned and operated by the citizens of Nebraska. All too often, professors and administrators who are embroiled in university strife believe they are free to do whatever they want. Removing tenure is the first step towards changing the culture of our colleges and universities so that education and the free expression of ideas can once again be restored as the norm at our colleges and universities.

Straight Talk From Steve…
February 9th, 2024

Young detasselers spend summer weeks working the fields

 

This year three important agricultural bills were introduced in the Nebraska Legislature that the public needs to know about. These are three good agricultural bills which I have either introduced myself or co-signed along with the bill’s author. Each of these bills affects the agriculture industry in our state in a different way.

The first bill is LB 1396, and was introduced by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil. The bill would change the requirements for food manufacturers when labeling food products for sale for human consumption when that food product contains insect, worm, or any other bug ingredients. The bill would require the manufacturer to clearly label the food product in at least twelve-point font on the front label whenever the food product contains more than five percent of insect, worm, or bug ingredients. This is a good bill for the simple reason that people need to know what they are putting into their own bodies.

The second bill is LB 1301, and was introduced by Sen. Barry DeKay of Niobrara. This bill is known as the Foreign-owned Real Estate National Security Act. The bill would prohibit nonresident aliens who have engaged in a pattern of behavior adverse to the national security of the United States from acquiring or holding title to agricultural lands in the State of Nebraska. The bill would require the Department of Agriculture to investigate potential violations and report them to the Nebraska State Attorney General.

The third bill that I would like to mention is one of my own. LB 844 is a bill designed to protect Nebraska’s small businesses which hire local laborers for doing the work of roguing and detasseling for the purposes of growing seed corn. Over the years, we have seen all local detasseling companies go out-of-business in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Nebraska is now the last state where teenagers have the opportunity to perform roguing and detasseling work as a summer job.

The problem has been the overuse of H2A migrant workers for doing the work. Federal law already requires seed corn companies to consider first the bids of those Nebraska companies who hire local workers, especially teenagers, but the federal government has lacked the manpower and the resources to enforce the law. Since 2019 nine Nebraska businesses who hire teenagers for doing roguing and detasseling work have already fallen by the wayside.

LB 844 is a bill for transparency. The bill requires the Director of Agriculture to create a directory of Nebraska companies who hire local workers and post the directory to the Department’s website. An amendment that I put on the bill further requires the Director of Agriculture to send the directory each year to every seed corn company operating within the State by way of registered mail. This will ensure that the seed corn companies know who these Nebraska companies are and how to reach them.

At the end of the growing season each seed corn company would then be required to report to the Director of Agriculture which companies they hired and how many acres they contracted with those companies. The Director of Agriculture would then make a report and post it to the Department’s website by the end of September of each year. By disclosing which companies were hired and how many acres they were contracted for, Nebraskans would be able to hold these seed corn companies accountable for contracting with Nebraska companies first before outsourcing these jobs to companies that hire mostly H2A migrant workers.

Although roguing and detasseling work is done mostly in the central and eastern parts of the State, it is important for teaching our youth the meaning of hard work and the value of a dollar. Roguing and detasseling is an important tool for introducing urban teenagers to Nebraska’s agricultural industry. Those who do the work often learn character values that help them succeed later in life. Nebraska needs these jobs, and that is why 136 people from across the state submitted online testimonies in favor of the bill compared to only one lobbyist who opposed it.

Straight Talk From Steve…
February 5th, 2024

February 1, 2024 was a good day for promoting the EPIC Option Consumption Tax. What happened on that day affected the consumption tax movement in a very odd way when the Revenue Committee held public hearings on ten of the Governor’s tax bills. I would like to thank Gov. Pillen for convincing several State Senators to introduce tax bills on his behalf which were all designed to shift the tax burden of Nebraskans onto sales taxes without reducing their overall tax burden. The Governor’s new tax plan has caused many people to start paying attention.

The Governor’s tax bills shift more of the overall tax burden onto the state sales tax without solving the problem of higher taxes. The Governor’s plan adds a full percentage point to the state sales tax, resulting in a higher rate of 6.5 percent. Then, the Governor’s tax plan removes sales tax exemptions for farmers, accountants, lawyers, veterinarians, amusement game distributors, and owners of self-storage facilities, just to name a few. The elimination of these sales tax exemptions would bring in millions of new dollars for the State of Nebraska.

Gov. Pillen has the noble goal of reducing property taxes by 40 percent. However, I don’t believe his plan will work. Nebraskans should not except such a statement from me alone. Instead, listen to the people. Hundreds of Nebraskans turned out to voice their opposition to the Governor’s tax plan last Thursday. For example, one of the Governor’s tax bills received 115 online opponents while only three people testified online in favor of the bill, and when Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, chair of the Revenue Committee, called for proponents to come forward to testify in person for another one of the Governor’s tax bills, no one even bothered to show up. The bottom line is that Nebraskans do not like the Governor’s new tax plan.

Nebraskans are opposed to the Governor’s new tax plan because it is an overall tax increase disguised as property tax relief. For example, Sen. Dungan, who is a member of the Revenue Committee, questioned a member of Gov. Pillen’s 35-member tax committee at the hearing only to discover that the 40 percent threshold for property tax relief was nothing more than an arbitrary number contrived by the committee members in order to better sell the Governor’s new tax plan.

The people are no longer falling for these kinds of government tricks. For example, Unicameral Watch is a popular Facebook group which prides itself on monitoring the activities of the state government for purposes of transparency and accountability. Here is their assessment of what transpired in the Revenue Committee that day: “What happened today is a 1 billion dollar tax increase on Nebraska taxpayers…” They further described the Governor’s tax plan as “MASSIVE tax increases” that would “pulverize the poor and Middle Class, young farmers, small business owners and other Nebraskans.” Well, they are exactly right.

The Governor’s tax plan would result in massive border bleed. Border bleed occurs when people purchase products and services cheaper across the state lines. Unlike the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, which would remove hidden taxes from a product, making them cheaper in Nebraska than in other states, Gov. Pillen’s tax plan would have the opposite effect. Why would anyone buy products in Nebraska with a 6.5 percent sales tax rate when they can hop across the border and pay 4 percent in Wyoming? Gov. Pillen’s tax plan would hurt retails sales in border cities such as Omaha and Scottsbluff.

Personally, I am planning now to take full advantage of the border bleed problem that the Governor’s new tax plan will create. Because the Governor intends to remove the sales tax exemption on farm repair parts, I intend to create a new start-up company with a catchy name like “Farm Dash” whereby the company would transport non-taxed farm repair products from Wyoming to farmers living in Nebraska. Farm Dash would pick up and deliver farm repair parts to folks living in Nebraska.

The Governor has betrayed the good citizens of Nebraska. Nebraskans are now in a heap of trouble as far as our tax system goes. Unicameral Watch hit the nail on the head in their article when they said, “Nebraskans better start noticing the signs of a state under severe distress.” They concluded their article by stating that Nebraskans now have “no choice but to pass EPIC…” I heartily agree.

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 26th, 2024

History Nebraska is out of control. So, one of the bills I introduced this year, LB 1169, is a bill to make History Nebraska a code agency, bringing the Society under the control of the Governor. This bill has become necessary due to the way state revenues have been misused by the agency in the past and how History Nebraska has been organized …or should I say, disorganized.

Last year a Nebraska State Auditor’s report alleged that History Nebraska misused and misappropriated state funds. Trevor Jones, the former director of History Nebraska, was accused of embezzlement, theft, and official misconduct after he deposited a check for $270,000 into a bank account for the History Nebraska Foundation, a competing foundation that he helped create. Because the money had been appropriated as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the check should have been deposited with the State Treasurer.

If any of this sounds confusing – well, it should. The Nebraska State Historical Society is chaotically organized. The Nebraska State Historical Society members changed the name of the agency to History Nebraska in 2019. Although the Society became a state agency back in 1994, the Society’s organization has lacked accountability to the State. The Society is run by a board of trustees consisting of twelve members appointed by History Nebraska members and only three members appointed by the Governor. The members also appoint their own director. Making matters even more convoluted is the fact that each member can accept gifts on behalf of the agency and the History Nebraska Foundation operates independently from the State. So, when monies were deposited into an account for the History Nebraska Foundation, a red flag automatically went up at the State Auditor’s office.

I introduced LB 1169 to fix these many problems with History Nebraska. First, the bill makes History Nebraska a code agency, instead of merely being a state agency with loose ties to the State. This is accomplished by having the Governor appoint the director, at the approval of the Legislature. The director would run the agency’s operations and finances and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The director would be forbidden to serve on the board of any other organization which makes contributions to History Nebraska. Consequently, the director would be held accountable to the Governor for all of the operations and actions taken by the Society.

The bill diminishes the role of the members of the board of trustees. The director would no longer take orders or directions from the board of trustees. Instead, the board of trustees would merely take on an advisory role with the director.

The bill puts strict limitations on how History Nebraska can accept gifts. The bill strips the members of the board of trustees of their authority to accept any gifts on behalf of the agency. Only the director would be allowed to accept gifts, provided that the gift is under $10,000. Gifts of money and real estate valued over $10,000 would require the approval of the Governor.

The bill creates financial transparency for the Society. All deposits would be made through the State Treasurer. Each year the director would hold an annual meeting and prepare an annual report. The director would prepare a financial report of all of the agency’s transactions for the year. The report would include the dissemination of any materials sold or disposed of by the Society.

Finally, the bill reestablishes the Nebraska State Historical Society Collections Trust Fund. However, the fund would be administered by the director and the proceeds from any materials sold by the agency would be deposited by the State Treasurer into the fund. Furthermore, revenues in the fund would be invested as per the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.

I share these things with you today because Nebraskans need to know how their hard-earned money is being spent by the State of Nebraska. The State of Nebraska can no longer afford to spend money frivolously. Corrupt and reckless financial practices by state agencies must be reined in. LB 1169 seeks to accomplish that objective. A public hearing will be held on LB 1169 at the State Capitol on February 1; however; members of the public can write online comments about the bill through the Legislature’s website at: www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 19th, 2024

Last Thursday Gov. Jim Pillen delivered his State of the State address to the Unicameral Legislature. The primary focus of the speech was devoted to tax relief, especially property tax relief. So, I listened closely to hear his plans for tax relief. Although he vows to reduce property taxes by 40 percent, he never offered any kind of substantive plan for doing so. Gov. Pillen’s plan continues several of the same stale practices which have never worked in the past, such as creating more property tax credits for businesses and transferring more revenues into the state’s property tax cash-credit fund. Gov. Pillen is even pinning his hopes for income tax relief on a 3.9 percent income tax rate…coming in the year 2027! The Governor’s tax plan amounts to nothing more than slight of hand tactics to fool the public into believing that meaningful and significant tax relief is on its way.

January 17 was the last day for State Senators to introduce new bills. Sadly, none of the new bills offer meaningful and significant tax relief for Nebraskans. The best legislative proposal was offered by Sen. Brad von Gillern of Elkhorn. His bill, LB 1241, would require political subdivisions to reduce their property tax levies by the same percentage of increase in property valuations. The result would be no increases in property taxes, but no reduction in property taxes, either.

Sen. Lou Anne Linehan also of Elkhorn is chair of the Legislature’s revenue committee. Sen. Linehan introduced LB 1315, a bill for an increase in the state sales tax rate. Sen. Linehan’s legislative plan is to raise the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent with 2.75 percent of the revenues being earmarked for Nebraska’s Good Life districts. Her hope is that by appropriating some $500 million to economic development efforts, we can eventually reduce property taxes.

Several new bills were introduced to raise more sales tax revenues for the State. Several State Senators introduced bills to eliminate various sales tax exemptions. Sen. Fred Meyer of St. Paul introduced LB 1311, which would remove the sales tax exemption for pet, storage, and moving services. Sen. Linehan introduced LB 1319 to eliminate the sales tax exemption for data centers. Sen. Von Gillern introduced LB 1308 to repeal the sales tax exemption for accounting services and ag services, and Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha introduced LB 1345 to remove the sales tax exemption for legal services. What each of these bills have in common is generating more sales tax revenue for the State.

What all of these new tax plans have in common is that none of them cut taxes. The fact of the matter is that the Governor, the chair of the Legislature’s revenue committee, and the other members of the Unicameral Legislature have no viable plans to reduce the overall tax burden of Nebraskans this year. All that has been offered up this year amounts to nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Much like the Wizard of Oz, those behind the curtain are unable to solve Nebraska’s tax problems. Nebraska’s tax system is broken, it cannot be repaired, and all of the new legislation proposed this year only further verifies this fact.

To further show how broken our tax system is, consider Sen. Linehan’s bill LB 1317. The entire text of LB 1317 states succinctly that: “1) Property taxes are too high; and 2) Legislative changes to lower property taxes are needed and desired.” That’s it! LB 1317 is known as a shell bill. Sen. Linehan introduced the bill in this way so that she can hopefully amend it mid-session with some kind of meaningful property tax relief plan. However, if she already knew how to reduce property taxes, she would not need a shell bill to amend later in the session.

I share these things today to show readers how broken our tax system really is and how the Governor and the Unicameral Legislature are unable to fix it. The EPIC Option Consumption Tax bill that I introduced last year with my personal priority designation, continues to be ignored and continues to be the only viable option for meaningful and significant tax relief. The EPIC Option Consumption Tax is the only option currently on the table with a workable model and endorsements by some of our nation’s leading economists, such as Art Laffer, Stephen Moore and Nebraska’s own Ernie Goss.

Without the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, Nebraska will continue to flounder as one of our nation’s worst tax states. According to the Tax Foundation Nebraska is the 38th worst tax state in America for its overall tax burden and is the 40th worst state for property taxes. We are worse than all of our surrounding states, but the EPIC Option Consumption Tax would propel us to the front of the line and make us the most tax friendly state in America. When I ran for office eight years ago, I vowed to offer Nebraskans meaningful and significant tax relief, especially property tax relief. The EPIC Option Consumption Tax remains the best legislative option for accomplishing that goal. Please visit our website at www.epicoption.org.

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 12th, 2024

When I first arrived in the Nebraska Legislature in 2017, Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha stood in front of me on the legislative floor. He turned around and gave me some good advice. He told me to learn the rules. I began to read the rules. Upon doing so, I quickly learned how confusing the Rule Book of the Nebraska Legislature was. So, immediately upon adjournment last year, I turned my attention to re-writing the Rule Book.

The project of re-writing the Rule Book of the Legislature focused primarily on two tasks. The first task was to rearrange the material in the Rule Book so that the rules for each stage of debate could be found in a single rule. The second task was to develop a separate rule for how the Legislature would go about debating and passing proposals for changes to the Rule Book. After working with a committee of eight staffers, what resulted was a much more user-friendly and more complete re-write of the Rule Book of nearly 100 pages. The most important rule change that the Legislature could pass this year is this complete re-write of the whole Rule Book.

I have served on the Rules Committee of the Nebraska Legislature ever since I first arrived back in 2017. I have never seen the rules become more convoluted than what they have been for the last couple of years. Last year we had 57 proposed rule changes presented to the Rules Committee. This year we toned it down to 34 proposed rule changes.

Last week the Legislature began the process of making rule changes. The Rules Committee held a very efficient public hearing on these 34 newly proposed rule changes, then the Rules Committee met in an executive session for five hours to deliberate over the proposed rule changes. The members of the Rules Committee engaged in a full, fair, and robust debate over the rules. We did not always agree, but the spirit in the room was always very congenial, cordial and to the point. I very much appreciated that the members of the Rules Committee could disagree without being disagreeable.

This year the Legislature will allow time up until the twelfth legislative day for deliberating over the rules. Back in 2017 the Legislature spent nearly 40 days debating rule changes, and that was inappropriate. This is why I wrote a separate rule for how to debate the rules. Nevertheless, the Rules Committee combined several rule changes and redacted others in order to present a package of rule changes that will make the legislative process more efficient.

The Legislature cannot duplicate what occurred in 2023. When I am out visiting with constituents, two subjects invariably come up. The first is usually taxes. The second is rule changes. It surprised me to learn how many people across our state watch the Legislature. The people of Nebraska sent their state senators to Lincoln to do the business of the state. That did not happen last year. While some may argue that the Legislature passed a lot of bills last year, that is not my concern. My goal is not to just pass legislation; my goal is to pass the kind of legislation that makes sense. Passing 31 bills through a Christmas tree bill with a single vote is not the right way to make laws.

The Legislature needs to learn how to work more efficiently. Introducing 850 bills in a single year and holding hearings on each bill is not the most efficient way of doing business. So, the day may be coming when state senators will be limited in the number of bills they introduce and not every bill necessarily deserves a public hearing. The bottom line, though, is that unless the Legislature can figure out how to become more efficient, we will continue to get what we have been getting.

Some people wonder why I am so interested in changing the rules during my final year in the Nebraska Legislature. The reason is the same as when I planted a tree at the age of 70. I may never get the chance to enjoy the shade from that tree, but my grandchildren will. Therefore, my intention is to leave the State Legislature in a better place than how I found it when I first arrived. That means that the rules should be changed such that state senators can disagree without becoming disagreeable, and that the majority can continue to rule while respecting the will of the minority.

Straight Talk From Steve…
January 5th, 2024

The 2024 Legislative session has begun. Because the Unicameral Legislature operates in a two-year cycle, this will be the second session of the 108th Legislature. The session began on January 3 and will end on April 18. Since this is only a 60-day session, there will be less time for State Senators to get the business of the State done this year. Today I will share my priorities and goals for making this year’s legislative session a productive one.

I am the chair of the Legislature’s Rules Committee. Because of the chaos of last year’s session, some necessary rule changes need to be made at the beginning of this year’s session. I intend to leave the Legislature better off than the way I found it seven years ago. Because the Legislature’s Rule Book is not very user-friendly, first-year Senators often have a difficult time learning the rules. Therefore, one of the rule changes I have proposed constitutes a complete re-write and re-organization of the Rule Book; otherwise, I have proposed 11 other rules changes which are needed. Altogether State Senators have proposed a total of 34 rule changes.

While rule changes will have to represent my most immediate priority in the Legislature, my highest concern will continue to be for tax relief. The EPIC Option Consumption Tax bill that I introduced last year will carryover for 2024 and will continue to offer the best solution for our State’s broken tax system.

The time has come for Nebraska’s politicians to admit that we need the EPIC Option Consumption Tax. Last week Gov. Jim Pillen contradicted himself when he criticized the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, claiming that it would somehow hurt low-income families. Soon thereafter he announced his desire to raise the state sales tax by two percent, matching the EPIC Option Consumption Tax Rate of 7.5 percent. So, Gov. Pillen’s tax plan would retain the state income tax, the property tax, and the inheritance tax, whereas my plan would eliminate those taxes. Furthermore, Gov. Pillen’s plan would continue to tax used goods, which are important to low-income families, whereas the EPIC Option Consumption Tax would not. So, the EPIC Option Consumption Tax is far more friendly to low-income families than the Governor’s tax plan.

This year I will introduce several new bills. The first one is a detasseling bill. Nebraska is now the only state remaining which utilizes local teenagers for doing rogueing and detasseling work. Those jobs are being threatened by companies that only hire migrant workers. Because these jobs are important for introducing the youth of our state to agriculture, my bill will create transparency for holding seed companies accountable, who are already required by law to hire local workers first.

Another bill that I will introduce is a new school choice bill. This bill is an update to the My Student, My Choice Act that I introduced last year. This bill offers real school choice. The bill would fully fund public school students while providing about $8,000 for each student enrolled in a private school.

I may also introduce a bill to end C02 sequestration in our state. I was the only Senator who voted against LB 650 in 2021. Since that bill passed two years ago, State Senators have been learning about the dangers of pumping carbon dioxide through pipelines and storing it underground. It appears that CO2 travels most efficiently through pipelines with pressure set at 2,600 pounds per square inch (psi), but the pipelines which are designed for natural gas pump it with pressures that never exceed 1,200 psi. Pumping C02 through these pipelines could be very dangerous. Therefore, the Legislature needs to repeal the Nebraska Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide Act.

Finally, I plan to Introduce a bill to make the Nebraska State Historical Society a state agency. This is necessary due to the conflicts of interests that some of the board members have who oversee the organization as well as their need to be able to account for the state monies they receive.

State Senators have until January 17 to introduce new bills. Many of the concerns I have for our state are being addressed by other State Senators, so there is no need to duplicate their efforts. Issues such as election integrity, preventing the sale of Nebraska’s lands to foreign enemies, and enabling capital punishment are all issues that will get addressed this year. Overall, it is my sincere hope, plan, and desire to make this year’s session a very productive one.

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 29th, 2023

The Biden administration continues to enforce failing policies concerning oil and gas which are now beginning to affect the State of Nebraska. The Biden administration’s war against global warming and its war against the use of oil and gas are both misguided and wrong. So, today I would like to explain why this is the case and how it is affecting our state.

President Biden likes to brag how oil production in the U.S. is the same today as it was under Trump. Well, that is not exactly true. At its height under Trump, the U.S. produced 13 million barrels of oil per day which is the same amount that was produced in July 2023, according to the latest U.S. data available. So, Biden is producing as much oil as Trump. However, according to a new study by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, the Biden administration’s anti-energy policies of investing only with ESG companies, escalating business taxes, and new regulations on the oil and gas industry have resulted in an estimated loss of some 2 million barrels of oil per day compared to what it would have been under Trump. This loss in oil production results in an annual reduction in GDP of about $100 billion per year.

The situation gets worse. The anti-oil and gas drilling policies of the Biden administration are actually increasing pollution, not decreasing it. Under Trump, the U.S. had become energy independent. To the contrary, in 2022 under the Biden administration the U.S. imported 8.3 million barrels of oil per day from other countries. One million of those barrels came from the Persian Gulf. According to the Energy Information Administration, an oil tanker’s one-way trip from Saudi Arabia via the Suez Canal can take anywhere between 31-51 days and burn up to 2.5 million gallons of fuel. Burning that much dirty fuel is a major cause of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The situation gets even worse. Making matters exponentially worse is the fact that Houthi militants in Yemen have now choked off the entrance to the Suez Canal. As a result, container ships and oil tankers are now being rerouted around the Horn of Africa and around the African continent through Cape Agulhas, making the trip to America significantly longer. Considering that a single container ship can emit four times more sulfer oxide than 50 million cars and in 2022 alone 214 cruise ships emitted four times more sulfur oxide than one billion cars, I believe we can safely conclude that the Biden administration’s anti-oil and gas policy has failed to achieve its desired goal of reducing pollution and greenhouse gases.

This kind of twisted thinking about global warming has now come to Nebraska. A research team from the University of Nebraska just received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study methane gasses produced by cows. That’s right: cattle belching! The goal of the study is to discover new ways to reduce intestinal methane emissions from ruminant animals in an attempt to curb global warming, and it’s all part of the Biden administration’s 2021 pledge to reduce methane gas emissions.

This kind of study is both misguided as well as a waste of taxpayer monies. Cattle belching plays an insignificant role when it comes to methane gas emissions. When the global warming activists tell you that cattle belching is responsible for 14-18 percent of all methane gas emissions, what they are hiding is the fact that transportation costs are included in their calculations. Exhaust fumes from trucks and machinery, which account for 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are rolled into those numbers. So, cattle belching is not the real culprit.

When Frank Mitloehner, a professor of animal science at the University of California Davis, was asked about bovine belching, he admitted that cows were not the real culprit. Mitloehner said, “For those who say cows contribute the most greenhouse gas emissions, that’s simply not true.” Mitloehner went on to explain that the use of fossil fuels for transportation is a much bigger problem.

So, the bottom line is that researchers at UNL will soon be using your hard-earned tax dollars to study a problem that doesn’t really exist. It seems to me that UNL researchers need to figure out what the real issues are and what they should be working on. I can’t wait to see their recommendation on how we are supposed to prevent methane gas coming from cows. Happy New Year!

Straight Talk From Steve…
December 15th, 2023

The Shepherds Keeping Watch | Renner Ministries

 

One of the words we often hear around Christmas time is the word ‘noel,’ which simply refers to the birth of Christ. One of the songs we sing at Christmas time is called The First Noel. That song tells the story of Christ’s birth and the events that followed it. The birth of Christ is the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.

The lyrics of the First Noel can teach us many things about giving this time of year. For example, the first ones to hear the good news of Christ’s birth were poor shepherds. Please understand that I am not the one calling these shepherds ‘poor’ nor am I making a blanket statement about all people who tend sheep for a living. I was the Sheep Superintendent for 25 years! Instead, the words “poor shepherds” are part of the lyrics of the song. Nevertheless, shepherding in biblical times was hardly a rich man’s job.

That these shepherds were poor is significant because it shows God’s care and concern for all human beings. Christmas is for everyone. Christmas is not about getting rich or flashing one’s wealth or spending a lot of money on gifts; instead, it is a time for recognizing the birth of Christ and including everyone we know in that celebration, especially those who may be less fortunate.

The song goes on to tell the story of the magi who came from the East to worship the Christ child. These men came with great wealth, but the kind of gifts they gave to the baby Jesus may seem a bit odd at first until you understand their true meaning. These three gifts were personalized for who Jesus really was. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is a gift fit for a king; frankincense was something only a priest could use, and myrrh was a burial ointment. So, the magi worshiped the baby Jesus by honoring him as a king, as a priest, and as the Savior of the world who would have to die as an atoning sacrifice for sins.

Like the magi, Christmas is about giving, and personalized gifts are always much more meaningful than extravagance and expense alone. Finding that perfect gift for someone you love can be a challenge, but once you find it, it communicates an intimate kind of love which money alone cannot buy. Giving a personalized gift values the person receiving it for who they really are. God has created each one of us so uniquely that even identical twins, who share the same DNA, have their own identity, their own personality, and their own tastes for what they like and dislike.

Finally, I would like to remind you that every good gift ultimately comes from above. God took the initiative at the first Christmas to send us the man who would become the Savior of the world. So, as we enjoy the spoils of Christmas this year, let us not forget the One who has blessed us, and may we always remember why Christ had to be born. I truly wish for you and your family to have a merry Christmas this year!

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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