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Fall has been in full swing for a month now. The weather has started to turn and some areas in Western Nebraska even seemed to briefly skip towards winter with their first snowfall. With the snow and cold weather comes the holiday season, and just around the corner- next year’s legislative session. Things have already been getting busier at the Capitol over the past few weeks. Legislative hearings, meetings, and discussions on legislative policy are taking place on a weekly basis, with many finishing the “final mile” of interim.
Before session starts, I have been using the last few months of interim as an opportunity to go on tours throughout the district. During that time, I have had the opportunity to connect with constituents and stakeholders. Last month I had the pleasure of touring the Panhandle Health Group’s facility in Scottsbluff to learn about the healthcare services they provide. Panhandle Health Group is a behavioral and mental health provider which delivers a variety of services including primary care, community support, outpatient mental health, outpatient substance abuse treatment, intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment, and medication management services. I was pleased to see all the great things they do for the community and am proud to represent them as a State Senator of District 48.
I also had the chance to tour Integrated Life Choices’ (ILC) facility in Scottsbluff. ILC, headquartered in Lincoln, provides a number of vocational and residential behavioral health services at its Scottsbluff location. Vocational services can include job placement, career guidance & counseling, and skills’ assessment. Residential services include social and pre-vocational skills, personal communication, and household management skills. ILC does fantastic work providing behavioral health services for individuals in Scotts Bluff County and I am more than happy to look for ways of improving behavioral health and vocational outcomes for the district.
This month, I attended the Panhandle Partnership for Health and Human Services’ annual meeting in Gering, where they discussed a range of issues including mental & behavioral health, education, medical healthcare issues, and youth healthcare issues. The Panhandle Partnership is a membership-based organization which acts as the liaison between healthcare providers to communities in the Panhandle. Counties serviced include Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Banner, Sioux, Box Butte, Kimball, Dawes, Cheyenne, Sheridan, Garden, and Deuel.
One of the many benefits the Panhandle Partnership provides is its use as a resource database of healthcare providers available in the area. The resources available can be searched by keyword, service category, area, and age group. The Panhandle Partnership makes it easy to contact service providers who can be of assistance based on search results. Using the resource database is free for anyone to use and comes at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
At the Panhandle Partnership’s annual meeting, I had the chance to weigh in on some of the biggest issues facing Nebraska and constituents of District 48. One of the most important issues that will face the Legislature next session include the looming budget crunch, which will affect virtually all areas of state government. As of right now, the state is currently facing a $113.7 million budget shortfall. Coming from a background as a Certified Public Accountant, I understand the importance of handling Nebraska’s financial affairs in a responsible manner so that critical services are maintained.
Just as the state is facing financial constraints, so too are the families and individuals in Western Nebraska. I’ve had many constituents ask me when the Legislature will finally achieve some form of sustainable tax relief. As an entrepreneur, I understand the concerns many have when it comes to personal taxes, regulations on small businesses, and the costs that affect the everyday lives of Nebraskans. Lower taxes lift the burden off individuals who struggle to make ends meet and it drives more capital investment to our state. Ultimately, this results in more and better paying jobs. I am looking forward to working with the Legislature this coming session to make our state friendlier to the taxpayer and businesses alike.
One of the key issues I have championed is the importance entrepreneurs play in a healthy and vital economy. The companies they start create jobs and provide a stable income to Nebraska families. Without them, our economy is left stagnant and opportunities remain few for individuals to improve their lives. As part of my advocacy for creating a more vibrant economy in Nebraska, I have been working on economic and workforce development issues through the Venture Development & Innovation Task Force at the Legislature. I am excited to present some of the Task Force’s findings to the public as the year comes to an end.
As always, I remain open to your feedback on how I may address the issues that mean most to you. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions you may have over the interim. Thank you to those who have taken the time to express their views on various issues. My contact information is located on the right hand side of this webpage.