Sen. Erdman invites students to attend the Unicameral Youth Legislature. High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature June 11-14, 2017. At the Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral legislature.
The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.
Senator Erdman believes students should familiarize themselves with both the United States Constitution and the Nebraska Constitution. The Unicameral Youth Legislature provides an excellent forum to foster this kind of knowledge in an experiential way.
Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay to compete for the award. In addition, several $100.00 scholarships are available to participants.
The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program. To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15th.
This week the Nebraska Legislature ended public hearings on bills. Starting on Tuesday the Senators will spend the whole day engaged in floor debates. Due to the shortness of the session, almost all of the bills which will get debated on the floor will be priority bills. Those bills without a priority status and which get voted out of committee will likely become carry-over bills for next year’s legislative session.
One of the last bills to get a public hearing this year was Sen. Friesen’s bill, LB 389. This bill would modernize Nebraska’s telecommunications laws, allowing for greater investments and more improvements by wireless telecommunications providers. The bill would allow newer technologies to move into the State, especially the kind known as small cells, which would expand coverage to the level of fifth generation (5G) wireless capabilities. LB 389 also ensures that local governments would maintain control over the permitting process, giving them authority to approve or deny an application and to be adequately compensated through application fees and other cost-based fees for small wireless facility attachments.
Although LB 389 received a late hearing, the bill stands a good chance of getting voted out of the Transportation & Telecommunications Committee and advancing through floor debate. Because Speaker Scheer has included LB 389 as one of his 25 Speaker priority bills, the bill stands a good chance of becoming a law. I support LB 389 because I believe it will provide better wireless services for our families, it will enable our schools to better educate our students in an age of technology, and it will help our local businesses to better compete in the global marketplace.
Finally, Sen. Brewer’s bill, LB 502, received its public hearing last Thursday, the last day for public hearings. This bill is meant to restore the constitutional rights of Nebraskans to be able to carry a firearm, concealed or open, without being forced to take a State-mandated test and pay a fee. This bill keeps Nebraska’s current concealed carry permit system, thus retaining the option of issuing permits that would allow state residents to carry while traveling to other parts of the country that honor Nebraska’s current concealed carry permit. This bill does not change the law concerning people currently prohibited from carrying a handgun.
The right to bear arms carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Besides the Constitution, the next best protectorate of gun ownership rights is self-discipline. Discipline is a virtue which every gun owner ought to possess in abundance and exhibit often. As President George Washington said in his first State of the Union Address on January 8, 1790, “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined.” May we never forget that lesson our first President taught us.
Good News! My priority bill, LB 432, has made it out of committee and is now in General File. LB 432 is the bill I introduced readers to last week, which will remove budgeting for delinquent taxes. This bill will give property owners some property tax relief.
Last week we also had a public hearing on my bill LB 568. LB 568 is a bill which creates a new temporary substitute teacher certificate. This idea came to me and was supported by 20 superintendents in the Panhandle, including Travis Miller of the Bayard Public School District who traveled all the way to Lincoln to testify in favor of the bill at the Capitol. Bayard Public Schools should be very proud of the commitment of Mr. Miller.
Many of the schools in western Nebraska are hard pressed to find enough substitute teachers to adequately staff their schools throughout the year. As a result, principals and even superintendents sometimes find themselves teaching classes. I was asked by our superintendents to do two things: lower the educational requirements and extend the length of time that a substitute teacher may teach.
After looking at the requirements for substitute teachers in some of our neighboring states, I decided that Wyoming’s certificate provided the best model for my bill. South Dakota has no educational requirements for substitute teachers, while Colorado requires a bachelor’s degree. Wyoming, on the other hand, requires the minimum of a high school diploma. Although my bill lowers the educational requirements for substitute teachers to the minimum of a high school diploma, individual school districts are not obligated to abide by these minimum standards.
LB 568 extends the number of days that a substitute teacher may teach in a school district from 45 days to 90 days. After I introduced LB 568, the Department of Education decided to extend the old certificate out from 45 days of teaching within a school district out to 90 days as well. So, even if LB 568 never becomes a law, our western schools will find some relief next year.
I also included Wyoming’s requirement of passing two constitutional exams. LB 568 requires applicants to take a course and pass an exam on both the United States Constitution and the Nebraska Constitution. I am happy to report that these two requirements were never challenged during the public hearing on the bill.
Additional requirements for my new Temporary Substitute Teacher Certificate include that an applicant must: Be 21 years of age or older, complete 24 hours of in-service training, complete 30 hours of classroom observation, submit to fingerprinting for a background check, complete the application and pay the required fee of $80.00.
Finally, Don Stenberg, the Nebraska State Treasurer, is holding $170 million for 350,000 Nebraskans in unclaimed property. In order to get your unclaimed property you will have to submit a claim. To check to see if your name is on the list, please visit www.treasurer.nebraska.gov and click on the unclaimed property tab, or you may call my office at (402) 471-2616 and my staff will check to see if your name is on the list.
This week I finally declared my priority bill for the year. Before I disclose my priority bill, let me first express my grave regret and sincere disappointment for not prioritizing LB 602, my agricultural land valuation bill. It has been my intention from the beginning of the legislative session to make LB 602 my priority bill. While the verdict is still out on LB 602, I realized that I had to change my strategy. I changed my mind when I had only 30 minutes to spare.
I have declared LB 432 as my priority bill. LB 432 will remove authority from tax asking entities to add delinquent taxes to their tax asking ability. LB 432 will remove that portion of Nebraska’s State Statute 13-508 which provides tax asking entities with the option of adding delinquent taxes to their tax asking ability.
There really is no such thing as a delinquent tax in the State of Nebraska. When we surveyed Nebraska’s counties, we discovered from those that responded to us that none of them could report more than 0.05 percent in delinquent property taxes per year. However, many tax asking entities in our State add an allowance for delinquent taxes into their budgets. I believe this is wrong. Whenever delinquent property taxes do occur, they get sold on the first Monday in March. So, there really is no such thing as a delinquent tax in our State.
Because there really are no delinquent taxes in Nebraska, I introduced LB 432 as a way to save our State some sorely needed revenue in property taxes. Whenever I talk to my constituents across district 47, they almost always ask me for some property tax relief. Consequently, property tax relief, as well as agricultural land valuation reform, have been my two highest priorities as the State Senator of Legislative District 47.
On April 6, 1931 Robert Quillen quipped in The Lincoln Star newspaper that, “Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time the legislature meets.“ May this proverb never be uttered again in our State!
Straight Talk from Steve…
Last week we celebrated the sesquicentennial of our great state. On Wednesday afternoon State Senators in Lincoln celebrated our heritage with a ceremony filled with singing, speeches and poetry. Ironically, after 150 years of being a state I believe there is one saying from Crazy Horse which now applies equally to all Nebraskans: “We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.”
Last week two important resolutions advanced in the Legislature. LR1CA overcame a motion to indefinitely postpone it and had a public hearing this week. This bill was introduced by Sen. John Murante of Gretna, Nebraska. This constitutional amendment would require voters to show valid identification when voting at a polling place. Voter fraud has been documented in our state, and there are currently two cases pending in our courts. In 2014 Kenric Ward of watchdog.org reported almost 7 million people who were registered to vote in more than one state. Even if half of his numbers are wrong, we have a serious problem of voter fraud in America. Far be it that any case of voter fraud should ever cancel out the vote of a single American citizen! I will support LR1CA.
The second important resolution to advance in the Legislature last week was LR6 introduced by Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, Nebraska. LR6 advanced to General File. LR6 calls for an Article V Convention of the States. In the event that a Convention of the States were to convene the only subjects to be considered for Constitutional amendments would be: Limiting the size and scope of the federal government, fiscal restraints, and term limits. Because I have received more e-mails supporting this issue than any other issue, and because I believe an Article V Convention of the States would be good for America, I will vote in favor of LR6.
Finally, on Friday a public hearing was held on a bill which would directly affect all those living in the Panhandle. Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, Nebraska introduced LB 309, which would eliminate Daylight Savings Time. LB 309 would exempt Nebraska from participating in Daylight Savings Time. In effect, we would stay on winter time, and we would not spring forward one hour in the springtime. I would like to hear from my constituents regarding this bill. Please send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Straight Talk from Steve…
This week at the Capitol was filled with passion, excitement and controversy.
Speaking of controversy, or the lack of it, Speaker Sheer’s bill, LB 62, passed on to Select File by a vote of 36-1. This bill reverses an old law from 1919 prohibiting public school teachers from wearing religious garb. Back in 1919 the Klu Klux Klan had put pressure on legislators to create a law in order to prevent Catholic nuns from teaching in our public schools.
Once LB 62 becomes law, however, public school teachers will be free to wear their religious garb freely in our public schools. The lone hold-out on the vote for this bill was Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. LB 62 has two more rounds of voting before it goes to the Governor’s desk.
The most controversial bill of the week was Sen. Morfeld’s bill, LB 173. This bill would prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was heard in the Judiciary Committee with an abundance of testimony lasting until 8:30 p.m. If this bill makes it out of committee, I will oppose it on the floor.
Public hearings were held on three of my bills this week in the Revenue Committee. The first bill was LB 236, which would permit combining undeveloped vacant lots into a single parcel for taxation purposes, provided that there are no taxes due on the land. Only one person showed up to oppose the bill.
My second bill heard by the Revenue Committee this week was LB 238. When certifying taxable values, LB 238 would permit county assessors to notify taxing entities either electronically or by mail. The primary point of controversy with this bill came in how to describe an e-mail in legal terminology.
Finally, my signature bill, LB 602, was heard on Friday in the Revenue Committee. LB 602 will fundamentally change the way agricultural land is valuated in our state. My bill will change agricultural land valuations from a market based system to a productivity based system.
Once this bill becomes law, agricultural land will be valued on the basis of its productive capability, instead of its projected market value. Currently, 99% of agricultural land in each county is valued by the 1% of real-estate sales in that County, and this is wrong. Because so many of you have complained to me about the way your agricultural land is being valued by the government, I knew I had to act immediately. Therefore, once this bill makes it out of committee, I will make it my priority bill for the year.
Straight Talk From Steve…
It has been a pleasure to represent everyone living in district 47 in the Nebraska Legislature. The first 30 days has been very busy; I introduced ten bills within the first ten days of the legislative session. As I’ve listened to the people of district 47, I have set as my highest priorities property tax relief and reforming how agricultural land is valuated. LB431, LB432 and LB601 are all aimed at property tax relief, while LB602 will fundamentally change the way agricultural land is valuated.
This week public hearings were held on three of my bills. The first bill heard was LB342, which is the Nurse Licensure Compact bill. This bill streamlines the licensure process for military spouses, and it ensures that Nebraska remains in the Nurse Licensure Compact. The compact allows nurses to move across state lines without paying unnecessary fees and without having to duplicate regulatory processes. LB342 will encourage more nurses to move into our state.
LB237 is a clean-up bill. The bill changes the location where school district treasury bonds are kept. Currently these bonds are filed in the County Treasurer’s office. LB237 will move them to the school district office. The intent is to move the bonds closer to the officials who are bonded.
LB382 is another clean-up bill. This bill removes highway allocation funds and incentive payments from the restricted funds category in county budgets. The reason for removing these funds from the restricted funds category is that whenever highway allocation funds and incentive payments go up, they decrease the funds available to counties for other functions.
LB601 is a property tax relief bill. This bill is contingent upon either LB44 or LB564 becoming law. These two bills, introduced by other Senators, would tax Internet sales. My bill, however, would redirect the revenue collected from an Internet sales tax to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, therefore lowering property taxes for everyone.
The Legislature has been in a standoff over the rules for the past 30 days. The standoff centers on the number of votes it takes to override a filibuster. Last year certain progressives in the legislature filibustered two dozen bills introduced by conservatives. Consequently, this year the conservatives would like to lower the number of votes it takes to override a filibuster. This is necessary so we can get on with the business of the state.
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. Steve Erdman