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Julie Slama

Sen. Julie Slama

District 1

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2022 Legislative Session Preview
December 28th, 2021

As I write this, we are officially less than two weeks away from starting our legislative session. Since 2022 is the second session of our 107th Legislature, our session will only be 60 legislative days. We are currently projected to finish this upcoming session on April 20th. This column will highlight what we might expect over the next couple of months. 

Short sessions are traditionally a sprint through the spring. Our short sessions are two-thirds the length of our long ones, and every bill from the first session carries over to the second. Senators can introduce as many bills as they choose during the first ten days, meaning that by the end of our time for introduction, we will likely have over 1,000 bills to consider. 

Some COVID-19 protocols may still be in place at the Capitol in January. Last year, we had all-day hearings as a response to COVID-19, and only switched over to debate after most of our bills had their hearings. We also had more ways for the public to testify, so they would not have to put themselves at risk by coming to the Capitol. We will keep everyone posted on the Legislature’s COVID-19 rules so that everyone will get a chance to make their voices heard on topics important to them.

As far as legislation goes, our state is in a very unique situation. Due to the passing of the American Rescue Plan and a very successful year for Nebraska’s economy, there is a record amount of funds available for tax relief and other projects. We will certainly see many pieces of legislation to spend this money along with our regular budget adjustments. Debates over spending extra funds will take most of the session. Senators must remain mindful that these funds are taxpayer dollars and mostly one-time revenues. We must not throw money at unsustainable plans to increase our long-term spending. I would like to see these funds returned to the taxpayers as tax relief, invest in broadband expansion and rural main streets, and consider one-time investments on projects that will draw additional tourism to Nebraska. 

Personally, I will be introducing bills important to our region and rural Nebraska as a whole, including a bill to make ATVs and UTVs street legal through a statutory framework similar to South Dakota’s, a bill to cut red tape for our rural sheriff’s departments, and a bill to expand advanced degree offerings at Peru State College. I will provide bill numbers once these pieces of legislation are officially introduced in January and look forward to working with my colleagues to get these bills across the finish line.

If you’re so inclined, please pray for wisdom and strength for our senators to stand up for what is right for Nebraska and Nebraskans during this short session. Heaven knows we could all use it.

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

Christmas Reflections
December 28th, 2021

Merry Christmas, District 1! The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, exchange gifts, and eat Christmas treats. For those in the military, first responders, or essential workers who are unable to be with family and friends during this season, thank you for your service. Almost every community in District 1 hosts holiday events throughout the month of December from Christmas pageants to soup suppers, and I’d encourage you to join me in exploring the wide range of offerings throughout our region.

Christmastime also means we are just a couple of short weeks away from the start of the legislative session. You can rest assured that I will work to protect the freedoms of all Nebraskans, promote rural economic development, and push to further cut property taxes. My next column will preview what we might expect from this upcoming session.

Although the challenges of these past three years might make it challenging to have holiday cheer, there is still an amazing reason for celebration. The true joy of Christmastime has never been the gifts around the tree, but rather, something far more valuable– the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  

“…[D]o not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:10-14).

Merry Christmas, District 1.

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

Thanksgiving Message
December 13th, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving, District 1!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to visit our close friends and family, eat a glorious amount of food, and remember the things we are thankful for in our lives.

There is much to be thankful for in the United States, especially Southeast Nebraska. We have more freedoms and opportunities in the United States than any other country in the world, granted through our groundbreaking Constitution and protected by the brave men and women serving our country’s armed forces. In Nebraska, we can be thankful we have the country’s lowest unemployment rate ever at 1.9% (which is the lowest rate for any state nationwide since record-keeping began) and for a booming economy, even amidst the turmoil the nation is facing.

Thanksgiving is not simply a government-proclaimed holiday. Ronald Reagan said in his 1984 Thanksgiving proclamation, “We can be especially thankful that real gratitude to God is inscribed, not in proclamations of government, but in the hearts of all our people who come from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth. And as we pause to give thanks for our many gifts, let us be tempered by humility and by compassion for those in need, and let us reaffirm through prayer and action our determination to share our bounty with those less fortunate.” 

As Reagan’s quote suggests, it is not the government that makes Thanksgiving a special holiday- it is the thankfulness in our hearts. So, as you spend this holiday with your friends and family and fill yourself with turkey, stuffing, and pie, please don’t forget to remember all that you have to be thankful for this year. 

This year, I am thankful for many things- first and foremost being the opportunity to serve you. I’m also grateful for my family, my upcoming wedding in December to Andrew La Grone, and our communities in Southeast Nebraska, who came together in force to support those facing loss this year. Thanksgiving was first officially celebrated in the aftermath of the Civil War. President Lincoln declared the holiday so, even in the face of unimaginable loss, Americans could look towards gratitude to heal the country. That spirit is still alive in our country today. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, District 1!

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.

Veterans Day Message
November 15th, 2021

Happy Veterans Day, District 1! 

As we celebrate another Veterans Day, we take time out of our busy schedules to recognize the sacrifices made by those who answered the call of duty to serve our country. To all the veterans reading this week’s column, thank you for your service. You are true patriots and deserve to be recognized every day of the year, not just on November 11th.

We are blessed in District 1 to be the home of thousands of veterans. Veterans make up 7.9 percent of the population in Johnson County, 9.5 percent in Nemaha, 10.4 percent in Otoe, 11 percent in Pawnee, and 11.9 percent in Richardson. When you include the families of these brave individuals, you will find that the majority of the people in our district have close ties to service members. This is something that we should all be proud of.

However, a mere “thank you” from those able to do more is not enough. Words are always appreciated, but actual actions are much more meaningful. In 2020, the Legislature was able to pass a bill that would exempt 50% of military retirement pay from income taxes, which was then followed up by the passage of LB 387, which completely exempted military retirement pay from our income tax rolls. We also passed LB 64, which benefits all retirees by phasing out income taxes on Social Security payments. I look forward to supporting and introducing more veteran-friendly legislation in sessions to come.

Celebrating Veterans Day provides us with a fresh reminder to be thankful for the freedoms that we have in our country and the courageous men and women who fight for the United States around the world. Make sure to thank a veteran this week for all they have done for our country. God Bless you for your service and sacrifice.

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

The Call for a Special Session
November 1st, 2021

Since President Biden announced his vaccine mandate for all businesses with 100 or more employees, hundreds of people have contacted my office to share their opposition. Governor Ricketts ordered state agencies under his control to not enforce the vaccine mandate, and Attorney General Peterson joined a lawsuit to stop the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and federally contracted employees. These are steps in the right direction, but it is not enough to protect Nebraskans from this federal overreach. 

We need to bring the Legislature together for a special session. Neb. Rev. Stat. 50-125 says that whenever ten or more senators send a request for a special session in writing to the Secretary of State, the Secretary shall notify the rest of the Legislature and ask if they desire to convene for a special session. If 33 senators agree, then the Secretary of State shall relay the information to the Governor, who has agreed to call a special session if 33 senators support it. On October 19th, I joined a bipartisan group of 26 senators in sending a letter to the Nebraska Secretary of State requesting a special session “for the purpose of adopting legislation to prohibit employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines and legislation to prohibit governmental and/or educational entities from mandating COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of receiving services.” At the close of business on November 1, we will find out if 33 senators support a special session to ban vaccine mandates.

Opposing vaccine mandates is not the same as opposing vaccines. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is YOUR choice- it’s not the federal government’s place to decide for you. The federal government, for the first time in history, has created a blanket mandate through an executive order with almost zero exceptions. This sets a precedent that goes far beyond the childhood immunization requirements for school, and opens the door for far more expansive executive orders in the future. Do I believe it is healthy to get the vaccine? Yes. But so is regular exercise, eating vegetables, and drinking eight cups of water per day- yet we don’t pass federal mandates on those behaviors because it clearly infringes on individual freedom.

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.

National Farmers Day
October 18th, 2021

On October 12, our country celebrated National Farmers Day– a day to honor all of the hardworking farmers across our nation.  The holiday is always celebrated in the midst of fall harvest. As Harvest 2021 rolls forward, this week’s column will salute our state’s farmers and ranchers.

Our state’s economy runs on agriculture. For every dollar in agricultural exports, $1.28 is generated in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production. Nebraska’s $5.8 billion in agricultural exports in 2019 translates to an additional $7.4 billion in additional economic activity. Nebraska generated around $21.4 billion in agricultural cash receipts in 2019, which was 8.8% of the state’s GDP.

One out of every four jobs in our state is related to agriculture. Farmers are some of the hardest-working people in our state, and our policymakers should recognize them as such. Over the last two decades, high property taxes have stunted economic growth in agriculture and put our rural schools at a clear disadvantage in funding. 

Rural senators in our Legislature are fighting to provide property tax relief. This past session, we passed a state budget that put a record $1.7 billion towards property tax relief in this biennium. We also saw legislation passed that addressed structural issues in our property tax system.  LB 2, introduced by Senator Briese, changed the valuation of ag land for the purposes of school district taxes levied to pay school bonds. Also, Senator Ben Hansen introduced a “truth in taxation” bill, LB 644, which will require certain political subdivisions to hold a joint public hearing before increasing their property tax requests and notify residents about when these hearings will take place. It’s a good start, but progress can’t stop there. We need sweeping, systemic changes in our property tax system. As harvest draws to a close, take some time to thank a farmer and their families. Policymakers must go beyond words and provide substantive support to those who keep food on our tables.

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

Redistricting Reflections
October 14th, 2021

On September 30th, Nebraska Legislature adjourned until January 2022 after successfully completing the Redistricting Special Session. Our Legislature completed its Constitutional duty of redrawing the boundaries of  79 different districts across 6 maps. Due to COVID-related census delays, a process that normally takes nine months was condensed into three weeks to prevent delays in Nebraska’s May 2022 primary elections. This column will reflect on some of the changes to maps in District 1.

If you live in Pawnee, Richardson, Nemaha, and Johnson Counties- there were no changes made during Redistricting that impact your districts or representatives. Legislative District 1 is still entirely in the 5th District for the University’s Board of Regents (represented by Rob Schafer), the 1st District for the Public Service Commission (represented by Dan Watermeier), the 5th Supreme Court Judicial District, and the 5th District for the Nebraska State Board of Education (represented by Patricia Timm).

The biggest changes for Southeast Nebraska are the additions of Otoe County to Congressional District 3 and Nebraska City to Legislative District 1. Otoe County is a strong fit in Congressional District 3. Its communities of interest fit well with the rest of Southeast Nebraska and the rest of rural Nebraska, which are represented by Rep. Adrian Smith. Personally, I have been very impressed by Congressman Smith’s accessibility and participation in events across his district, which stretches from Chadron to Rulo. I’m confident he will represent Otoe County well.

In the past decade, Otoe County and Nebraska City were split between Legislative Districts 1 and 2. Now, the entirety of the county and city is in Legislative District 1. Therefore, I would like to officially welcome around 4,000 new Otoe County constituents to District 1. Senator Clements and I always considered ourselves as jointly representing Nebraska City and Otoe County, so there won’t be any major changes to your representation in the Legislature. Uniting Nebraska City will be beneficial for District 1, and it’s an honor to continue serving you.

Our Legislature has a full slate for its upcoming January session. We will explore the major issues in more detail in columns throughout the fall, including fighting against government mandates, growing our rural economy, strengthening our pro-life laws, bringing Constitutional Carry to Nebraska, cutting taxes, and further securing our elections. You have my word that I’ll continue to stay true to our values and provide honest, transparent updates. Until then- have a blessed and plentiful harvest.

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.

Redistricting Update
October 14th, 2021

Monday was the start of the Legislature’s First Special Session to address redistricting. It is stacked up to be a lively session, with many contentious debates. This week’s column will discuss the two proposed congressional maps. One was introduced by Senator Linehan, (LB 1) and the other by Senator Wayne (LB 2). Simply put, LB 1 is a better map for our district, since it keeps Otoe County whole, while LB 2 divides Otoe County between two different congressional districts.

Many opponents to LB 1 say that it is unacceptable to split Douglas County between two congressional districts because it would split the City of Omaha. However, Douglas County is not a sacrosanct entity that can’t be divided, while rural counties have to pay the price. Otoe County has never been split between congressional districts in the entire history of Nebraska being a state. Historically, when Otoe County moved to a different congressional district, it moved as a whole, not in pieces. This gives it just as much right as Douglas County to claim that it cannot be split because of historical precedent.

Another significant part of redistricting is keeping together communities of interest, which means keeping people together who share common goals and passions. Unlike Douglas County, Otoe County is a distinct community of interest. It is primarily an agricultural community, and it has agricultural interests that are unique from the rest of the state. From the highest number of vineyards and wineries per capita to apple orchards and sawmills, and with similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, Otoe County’s unique cohesiveness means it should be in one congressional district as a whole under the redistricting guidelines the Legislature passed earlier this year in Legislative Resolution 134.

This is in stark contrast to Douglas County. Douglas County has a large population with many distinct communities of interest within the county. Past legislatures have recognized this in their maps. Our current Public Service Commission maps have Douglas county divided, while Otoe and the rest of our district are not. The same is true for the current State Board of Education maps. These maps are in use right now, and there have not been any complaints about them.

If we want to draw a map that keeps communities of interest intact, it makes the most sense to split Douglas County, not cohesive, rural counties that make up whole communities of interest like Otoe County. That is why I prefer Senator Linehan’s LB 1 map to Senator Wayne’s LB 2 map. I look forward to continuing to fight for the voices in our district, and make sure that everyone here and across the state is fairly and accurately represented. Debate this week will cover all proposed redistricting maps. It promises to be a fiery debate, and I’ll keep you updated along the way.

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.

Redistricting Rundown
October 14th, 2021

On August 27th, Governor Ricketts signed a proclamation calling the Legislature into a special session for the purposes of enacting legislation to redistrict different boundaries across Nebraska. This includes the boundaries for the Supreme Court judicial districts, the Public Service Commission districts, the boundaries for the members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and the State Board of Education, and our Legislative and Congressional districts. 

Thus, the Legislature will convene on September 13th for a very busy special session. This column will outline the redistricting process in Nebraska and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Much of the work done during this special session will be conducted by the Redistricting Committee, and they have already met a few times prior to the special session to adopt their guidelines and analyze data. This committee is made up of nine senators from all across the state and was appointed by the Executive Board of the Legislature. By the time the Legislature convenes on the 13th, the committee will have a redistricting plan for all seven maps ready to introduce.  The maps will be available for the public to view before the start of the special session.

After they are introduced, the maps will have three public hearings, where residents from all across the state will have the opportunity to share their input on the redistricting plan. The first will be at Central Community College in Grand Island on September 14th at 1:30 pm, the second will be at the State Capitol on the 15th at 9 am, and the third will be at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha on the 16th at 10 am. You can find more information about these hearings at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/red/meetings-and-hearings/

Like all legislation, the committee will take a vote on each map and send it back to the Legislature for three rounds of debate (General File, Select File, and Final Reading). The maps have to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor to be implemented for the next election cycle. Redistricting maps are in effect for ten years at a time, and a lot has changed in our state since our last redistricting in 2011. 

Redistricting has traditionally been packed with fierce and heated debates, especially when it comes to legislative and congressional districts.  We are already planning on working many late nights, and going into the weekends. I will work hard to ensure rural Nebraska, especially Southeast Nebraska, continues to be fairly represented in district boundaries.

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.

In the past 17 months, we have faced many challenges to our freedoms as Americans. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the entire United States went on lockdown as governments haphazardly determined which businesses were “essential” and could remain open. Nebraska ended all statewide restrictions early into the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are new trends across the United States that are concerning, and many people are reaching out to the Legislature asking what can be done to keep their freedoms protected.

Vaccine mandates have arrived and spread like wildfire across our country. Many Nebraska businesses and private universities are requiring employees and students to get vaccinated. Healthcare entities, such as CHI Health, are requiring proof of vaccination to continue working at their facilities. During a public health crisis and pre-existing staffing shortage, medical personnel are being forced from their professions and protesting to take a stand for their individual liberties. 

The Department of Defense issued a vaccine mandate impacting military personnel in all branches and President Biden mandated vaccines for nursing home staff, putting Medicaid and Medicare funding at risk for those who do not comply. Biden’s nursing home mandate is especially concerning, as it could lead to more entities receiving federal funds being forced to require vaccines.

There are many issues with vaccine passports. It takes away the individual’s right to make their own healthcare choices. Some people might have valid concerns about the vaccine. Others may have been told by a doctor that it would not be the best option for them. Either way, demanding documentation of this sort sounds like something coming out of a George Orwell novel, not from a nation that is known for protecting our freedoms. President Trump was one of the first Americans to choose to be vaccinated in January, and I chose to be vaccinated in April. I chose to get the vaccine after studying the science, balancing both the risks and benefits.  If the President of the United States and other government officials have the freedom to make their health care decisions, it’s unconscionable for those same government officials to take that freedom away from our citizens.

Vaccine passports are not the only COVID-related facing our state and country. Just a couple of weeks ago, on July 27th, the CDC announced a new recommendation that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with “high COVID transmission levels.” In this announcement, they also recommended that students of all ages require masks when they return to the classroom this fall.

I remain opposed to vaccine and mask mandates. Masks and vaccines should always be a personal choice, not something that the government can require. The Legislature is looking to address this government overreach next session. First, we will work on passing Senator Ben Hansen’s LB 643, which would protect the right to accept or decline a vaccination under a mandatory directive. We will also be looking into other ways the law can reign in mask and vaccine mandates in other areas.

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
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