NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Julie Slama

Sen. Julie Slama

District 1

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 jslama@leg.ne.gov

Week of April 5
April 15th, 2021

This week, the Legislature has been debating on the budget for the next biennium. The Appropriations Committee has worked hard to introduce a fiscally-responsible budget that benefits the entire state, including our own District 1.

First, our state colleges will benefit greatly from this budget. The Appropriations Committee has proposed a nearly $3 million dollar increase in funding to our Nebraska State Colleges for FY2021-22. This increases again by $3 million in FY2022-23. Peru State College is a fantastic asset to Southeast Nebraska, and I’m thrilled to see the state college system receive the support it needs to continue to thrive and provide quality education. 

The budget from the Appropriations Committee also addresses property tax relief. The proposal increased the transfer to the Property Tax Credit Fund by $25 million in FY21-22 and $38 million in FY22-23. The total estimated funding in the Property Tax Credit Fund would be over $300 million annually, in addition to the over $1 billion in relief passed in 2020’s LB 1107. Through this fund, we will be able to provide relief to Nebraskans across the state that are burdened with sky-high property taxes. 

The proposed budget by the Appropriations Committee found that, after the expenditures in the main budget, it would leave $211 million for the Legislature to allocate to other items. Senator Friesen introduced LB 388 that would create the Broadband Bridge Act. Over the next two years, the Legislature would appropriate over $40 million with the purpose of facilitating and funding the development of broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas of Nebraska. Broadband access is of utmost importance in keeping young people in our state along with modernizing our systems. $40 million dollars will go a long way to address this dire issue. There’s also funding available for additional tax cuts, better funding for our rural schools, and rural economic development.

The budget will be a direct benefit, not only to our state, but to our district. By funding additional property tax relief, broadband connectivity, and state colleges, we can create positive change in our state. I look forward to seeing these dollars in action for our area

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of March 29
April 6th, 2021

Happy Easter, District 1! This week’s column will cover recent bills that have passed or advanced in the Legislature

LB 22 was introduced by Senator Williams on behalf of the Department of Insurance. The legislation proposes to adopt the latest National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) amendments to the Nebraska Protection in Annuity Transactions Act. The NAIC is the United States’ standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by chief insurance regulators and works for the best interest of consumers. The revisions in LB 22 would allow states to continue protecting consumers by requiring insurance producers to act in the best interest of the consumer when making a recommendation of an annuity and through requiring that insurers maintain a system of supervision so that the insurance needs and financial objectives of consumers are addressed. LB 22 passed on Final Reading with a vote of 41-0. It will now be presented to the Governor to sign into law.

LB 338 was introduced by Senator Bostelman and is intended to grow rural broadband access. It passed through General File on a unanimous vote of 40-0. The Public Service Commission adopted rules in 2018 to withhold support from telecommunications carriers that do not offer broadband services. Instead, they redirected that funding to eligible carriers who could provide broadband in the same exchange area. LB 338 would authorize a second method to redirect funds known as a rural-based plan. LB 338 would allow the Public Service Commission to consider a rural-based plan that has been created with the input of local residents. This way, local communities can decide which provider would be best for their needs. LB 338 is a great step towards providing our rural communities with the broadband networking they need.

Senator Gragert’s LB 78 passed General File on a unanimous vote of 45-0. This bill would create new requirements for individuals seeking certain armed services license plates. LB 78 would require an individual to register first with the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs before being issued a license plate designating a Gold Star Family, Ex-Prisoner of War, Disabled American Veteran, or Purple Heart/Combat Wounded. This is an important bill because the Nebraska Veteran’s Council has received complaints that individuals have received military honor license plates when they were not qualified to receive. We should only be issuing this honor to those that deserve it, and LB 78 would ensure that happens.

Finally, my bill, LB 152 passed through General File this week. This bill would change our fireworks definitions to match federal definitions and would broaden the definition of consumer fireworks. We see, especially in our district, thousands of Nebraska residents drive to Missouri to buy their fireworks since there is a greater selection across the border. In fact, in 2019, the state of Missouri made $51 million in revenue due to fireworks sales, while our state only made $6.6 million. By changing the definition of consumer fireworks, we can make Nebraska more competitive in this industry.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of March 22
April 6th, 2021

As we sped past the halfway point of session this week, several bills were debated that are relevant to District 1. These topics range from education standards and access to higher education to helping military families with finding employment in our state. This column will highlight a few of the bills that would be a great benefit to our state.

 

Senator Albrecht introduced LB 281, which would require schools to adopt a child sexual abuse prevention program beginning with the 2022-23 school year for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The goal of this bill is to curb child sexual abuse by providing students with the knowledge and tools necessary to communicate incidents of potential and actual sexual abuse. There was an amendment from the Education Committee that would extend the program through twelfth grade and specify that the curriculum be evidence-based. LB 281 advanced to Select File on a vote of 32-1.

 

Senator Clements’s LB 92 addresses higher education and in-state tuition for home school students. Currently, students are considered residents for tuition purposes if they reside with their parent or guardian while attending a public or private high school in Nebraska and graduate from a public or private Nebraska high school. LB 92 would allow students to be considered residents if they complete the program of instruction offered by a home school. It would also prohibit publicly funded colleges or universities from discriminating against students on the basis of having been homeschooled. This bill also advanced from General File with a vote of 35-0.

 

LB 389 was introduced by Senator Sanders and was passed on Final Reading with a vote of 46-0. This bill would help Nebraska welcome and support military families by establishing a streamlined path for military spouses to receive a teaching certificate or permit in Nebraska if the applicant holds a valid certificate or permit in another state. Our state ranks behind several other states that have enacted more military-friendly reciprocity statutes related to teacher certification. LB 389 will now allow Nebraska to grant teaching permits to our military families and welcome them to our state.

 

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of March 15
March 22nd, 2021

The Nebraska Department of Education released its proposed health education standards earlier this month, and to say that I’m concerned is an understatement. Here are some of the standards that the board proposed for consideration, which would be taught statewide if adopted:

  • 4th Grade: “Differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity.” (HE.4.7.2.d)
  • For fifth grade: “Explain that gender expression and gender identity exist along a spectrum.” (HE.5.7.2.f)
  • 6th Grade: “Define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive, and gender identity.” (HE.6.7.2.b) AND “Define sexual identity and explain a range of identities related to sexual orientation (e.g. heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, two-spirit, asexual, pansexual).” (HE.6.7.2.c.)
  • High School:  “Differentiate between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression.” (HE.HS.1.19.b.)

Simply put, these overly-politicized standards are not age-appropriate for the children in this state and should not be implemented in our schools. Nebraska’s health education standards should focus on what the name suggests– health. Our state’s children should be learning about how to eat healthy, exercise, and foster strong relationships. Although the proposed plan addresses these issues as well, much of it focuses on a political agenda that is being forced onto Nebraskans who may disagree.

Thankfully for concerned citizens, the Department of Education is now accepting public comment on these proposed changes. There are a few ways you can make yourself heard. First, you can email nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov to give your input and comments on the proposed measures. Second, you can mail the Department of Education at P.O. Box 94987 Lincoln, NE 68509-4987. There is also a Public Input Survey that can be found at this link: https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R 

In the Public Input Survey, you can choose which grade levels that you want to give input on. After answering a couple of questions about how well the standards reflect the needs of students, there are boxes in which you can write out your comments on the standards. Regardless of how you choose to make yourself heard on these proposed standards, I would encourage you to voice your opinion to the Department of Education. Our students deserve to learn about mental, physical, and emotional health in Health Class- not to be pawns in a political agenda.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of March 8
March 22nd, 2021

This session, senators have introduced many bills to better serve our veterans. They range from cutting red tape to obtain teaching certificates for military spouses to ensuring proper markers on the graves of National Guard members. This week, the Legislature passed three veteran-friendly bills that address specific issues that veterans are facing in our state. 

LB 4, introduced by Senator Briese, would raise the tuition assistance for undergraduate education under the Reserve Tuition Credit from 50% to 75%. It also would remove a provision in statute preventing anyone with more than 10 years of military service from using the tuition credit. LB 4 is an important bill because it provides incentive to study in Nebraska while serving in the reserves. Twenty states provide free college tuition for veterans, including our neighboring states of Wyoming and South Dakota. This bill is a step in the right direction for providing those who serve our country with affordable, quality education. LB 4 passed the final round of debate on March 11 and was signed into law.

Senator Gragert’s bill, LB 77, will prohibit insurance companies from adding a surcharge or increasing premiums for members of the armed forces for discontinuing their motor vehicle insurance coverage while deployed abroad. Generally speaking, military members do not need to keep insurance on their vehicles while they are abroad, since they are not being used. Some insurance companies penalize military members for discontinuing their service while being deployed. This leads to our active-duty military members and veterans paying disproportionately high premiums. LB 77 will protect our deployed service members from paying a high insurance premium simply for being deployed. LB 77 passed the final round of debate on March 11 and was signed into law.

Finally, LB 387 passed the first round of debate on March 10. This bill was introduced by Senator Brewer and would exempt 100% of military retired pay from Nebraska’s income taxes. The purpose of this bill is to attract retiring military veterans eligible for a military pension to settle in Nebraska after they are discharged from the service. Nebraska is losing the opportunity to have these heroes as citizens since they are moving to states that have a friendlier tax policy. By exempting this military retirement pay from paying Nebraska’s income tax, we are actively inviting veterans to be a part of our communities. Before 2020, Nebraska was the only state in the country that fully taxed both military retirement pay and Social Security income, driving retirees from our state. LB 387 eliminates the tax on military retirement pay, and I support the legislation introduced this year to also eliminate the tax on Social Security income.

Supporting our military and veterans will always be one of my highest priorities. Our nation’s heroes should be treated with honor and respect, both in practice and in policy. I am excited to work with my colleagues to make Nebraska the most veteran-friendly state, and these three bills are a fantastic start.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

 

Week of March 1
March 22nd, 2021

District 1, your Nebraska Legislature is over one-third through the 2021 session. This week is the final week of committee hearings before we transition to full-day floor debate for the rest of the session. 

Before our state’s biennial budget is debated on the floor, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board provides revenue projections so we can better balance our budget. This board was created to assist both the Governor in developing estimates of revenue and the Legislature in setting the rates of income and sales taxes. 

Every year, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board provides an advisory forecast of general fund receipts. These receipts are what the Legislature uses to craft the state’s budget. Basically, this board gives the Legislature a good idea of how much money the state can spend during session.

In its final meeting before the debate begins on the state budget, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board raised revenue projections. It is now estimated that state revenue will come in roughly 4% higher than previous projections. Total projected revenue receipts for the next fiscal year were raised to $5.08 billion, an increase of $165 million. The 2022-23 fiscal year projections increased by $93 million. 

Nebraska is a very financially stable state; because of that, we are in one of the best positions nationwide for a strong economic recovery. An influx of federal recovery money- meant to offset losses that we would have suffered had we not been in a more stable position- means there are funds to provide tax relief across Nebraska.

The Governor’s proposed budget already worked to control state spending, but the projected increase in revenue will save the state of Nebraska even more money. Too many of our residents are still struggling to pay their property taxes, and it only makes sense that we give any excess funding back to our taxpayers through substantial, sweeping property tax relief. Other relief ideas on the table that I support are Senator Lindstrom’s bill to eliminate taxes on Social Security income and Senator Brewer’s bill to eliminate taxes on military retirement income. Our Legislature is faced with a unique opportunity in this session to make some long-overdue changes to our tax code, and I’m excited for that debate.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 22
March 1st, 2021

Happy (belated) FFA Week, District 1! Our approach to planting season is a wonderful time to highlight FFA’s positive impact across the state and country by providing programs for aspiring farmers and ag leaders. 

FFA is an organization for junior high and high school students who are challenged through career and leadership development events to develop critical thinking skills, enhance communication, and promote teamwork. FFA prepares youth for personal growth and success through agricultural education. The future of agriculture is in good hands with FFA members at the forefront.  

In honor of FFA Week, this week’s column will highlight Senator Brandt’s LB 396. This bill would allow farms across the state to provide schools with fresh and local ag products to include in their school meals and snacks and provide opportunities for students to learn more about the agriculture industry. 

By providing schools with locally-grown food, both farmers and schools will reap the benefits. Farmers will be able to expand their reach into consumer markets, which will increase their income. Schools will benefit through the expansion of Nebraska-produced food in their cafeterias. By providing local vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy to their students, schools will be able to increase the quantity and quality of their food. Also, through the increase of locally-sourced food, children will be encouraged to develop healthy eating habits.

The Farm-to-School program also may include hands-on learning opportunities for students, potentially in partnership with existing educational programs offered through 4-H Extension Programs. Some examples of these activities include farm visits, cooking demonstrations, and school gardening and composting programs. The program will also integrate nutrition and agriculture education into school curricula. Through these learning activities, students will better understand the significance of agriculture in our state and might be encouraged to consider a future career in agriculture. 

Nebraska’s economy depends on agriculture. Our current and future farmers deserve a state and system of laws to promote economic growth. There’s been plenty of talk of what the next round of economic stimulus will bring on a federal level, but I remain adamant that the single most impactful economic stimulus Nebraska could have is additional property tax relief. LB 396 is another tool to encourage agriculture to prosper in our state.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 15
March 1st, 2021

Adding the cherry on top of a winter that seems full of superlatives, Nebraska endured one of the most severe statewide cold snaps in our history. The same polar vortex that brought our temperatures to -30° led to snow cover extending from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Rolling blackouts timed during the most extreme low temperatures put lives and livelihoods at risk. These outages were implemented by power districts based on an emergency order from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and would generally last for anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. 

The SPP, not local public power districts, dictated the rolling blackouts. For those who may not have the background on the hierarchy of public power, the SPP was founded in 1941, and oversees the bulk of the electrical grid and wholesale power market in the central United States. North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, parts of Texas, and Nebraska are a few of the fourteen states in this pool. The SPP’s main purpose is to ensure the reliable supply of power and adequate transmission infrastructure across its region, a goal that was obviously not achieved last week.

The SPP has the authority to order local public power districts to implement rolling blackouts to protect the integrity of the region’s grid during emergency situations. During the blistering cold temperatures of last week, demand skyrocketed for power across SPP’s service area. The high demand for power, paired with a lack of supply, caused the SPP to order rolling outages from Texas all the way to North Dakota to prevent the entire region from losing power. Over 80,000 customers of the Omaha Public Power District lost power at some point from Monday to Wednesday morning, with many more losing power in other power districts. It’s easy to quantify the impact of these outages in residential areas, but those negative impacts were compounded for our farmers and livestock producers if emergency generators were unavailable.

There’s been a wide-ranging debate on why energy supply dropped off when it was needed most, but frozen wind turbines, solar panels, and natural gas lines were each culprits to some degree. Our region’s power grid was left vulnerable due to the gradual elimination of reliable “baseload” generation, such as coal and nuclear, across the SPP.  

We are blessed to have two plants that provide consistent energy generation in District 1. The Nebraska City Station and Cooper Nuclear Station contributed to keeping our lights on while other means of energy production failed. Teammates at these facilities worked tirelessly to keep our families warm during these frigid days, and I’m grateful for their efforts. Moving forward, we should all demand that if Nebraska is to remain a member of the SPP, that further investments are made in baseload generation to ensure that a threat to our power grid of this level never happens again.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 8
March 1st, 2021

High property taxes are the single biggest hurdle to economic development in Nebraska. Last year, our Legislature passed LB 1107. This bill achieved over $1 billion in new relief, but structural reform is still needed to address the root of the issue. Substantial, sustainable property tax relief is still my top goal while in office, and this week’s column will explore the broad range of different ideas for property tax relief legislation in 2021.

LB 189, introduced by Senator Halloran, would require political subdivisions to include property tax refunds in their budgets. It also requires political subdivisions to pay refunds in full at an interest rate of 9 percent.

LB 454, introduced by Senator Friesen, would create a School Property Tax Stabilization Program. This would direct state aid to school districts who rely heavily on property taxes to fund their basic education standards. Granting more state aid to our public institutions will allow them to shift away from their dependence on our property taxes.

LB 466, introduced by Senator Linehan, clarifies that only current year taxes, not prior year taxes being paid in arrears, are prorated between the buyer and the seller of real property, unless the parties have agreed to a different proration method. The county assessor is to prorate the taxes due for the year in which the sale occurs, based on the number of days the buyer and the seller owned the property during such year.

LR 13CA, introduced by Senator Brewer, is a constitutional amendment that would place a limit on how much property tax revenue can be used to fund public education in Nebraska to 33 percent, forcing the state to cover the expenses for education in rural areas just as they do in the suburbs and cities. If passed, the amendment would be placed on the ballot in the next general election for the people to ratify.

LR 22CA introduced by Senator Linehan is another constitutional amendment that would limit the overall annual increase in local property tax revenue to 3%, unless local voters approve a higher increase. This limit would not apply to bonds or to new growth in property taxing subdivisions, nor would it reduce local property taxes or apply to revenue sources other than property taxes. Just as with LR 13CA, this amendment would need to be ratified by the voters.

You can learn more about these bills, or any other bills introduced in this session, by visiting the Nebraska Legislature’s website. These bills just begin to scratch the surface of the 20+ bills introduced in 2021 that attempt to lower property taxes, and I’m encouraged to see so many of my colleagues focused on this issue.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Week of February 1
March 1st, 2021

The Legislature’s march through committee work continued this week with full-day hearings, allowing us to transition to full-day floor debate in March.

On February 3rd, the Judiciary Committee held hearings on ten different bills related to our law enforcement system. Many of these bills raised concerns for me and many of our law enforcement officers in District 1, and I wanted to highlight one of them in this week’s column.

LB 51, introduced by Senator Lathrop, would make many changes to our law enforcement statutes and is based on extensive consultation on best practices used by the Omaha Police Department. While I certainly appreciate the goal of the bill to offer a better legal framework for our brave men and women in law enforcement, I share the same concerns that many of our local law enforcement officials expressed upon reading this bill. LB 51 changes the basic qualifications of law enforcement officers, requires accreditation of law enforcement agencies, and adds thousands of dollars in unfunded mandates for our local sheriffs’ departments in rural Nebraska.

First, LB 51 requires all law enforcement officers to successfully complete a law enforcement certification course from a training academy before becoming a certified officer. Currently, rural law enforcement agencies, like the ones in our district, allow their law enforcement officers to be conditionally certified. This means that an agency can hire an officer on the condition that the officer receives training as soon as possible after being hired. The wait time for entrance into the statewide law enforcement training facility is around six months. Our law enforcement departments simply wouldn’t have the manpower to operate without conditionally certified officers.  LB 51 also requires agencies to adopt new procedures that would place a huge financial burden on the law enforcement agencies in our district. If this bill passes, each candidate wishing to be a law enforcement officer would have to undergo a psychological evaluation to determine if they are fit for duty, which would come at a cost to the agency. Paired with a near doubling of required training hours for our officers, this would create thousands of dollars in unfunded mandates for our law enforcement agencies. Though the goals of this bill are noble, the current language of LB 51 simply isn’t practical for rural Nebraska.

LB 51 was one of over a dozen bills introduced in 2021 to change our law enforcement statutes. My decisions on each of these bills will be guided by the real-life implications for our law enforcement agencies and minimizing costs to the taxpayers.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Julie Slama

District 1
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2733
Email: jslama@leg.ne.gov
Search Senator Page:
Topics
Archives

You are currently browsing the District 01 blog archives for the year 2021.

Committee Assignments
    Banking, Commerce and Insurance
    Executive Board
    Judiciary
    Nebraska Retirement Systems
    Reference
Search Current Bills
Search Laws
Live Video Streaming
Find Your Senator