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