NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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 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.

Week of January 25
February 1st, 2021

Last week, Southeast Nebraska received the most snowfall recorded in a single day in decades- exceeding even the still-memorable blizzards of 2009. Most of northern District 1 received over one foot of snow on Monday. Social media christened the storm as “Snowmageddon” while roads became impassable. 

Lincoln officially received 15 inches of snow from the storm, but the Legislature churned on with full-day committee hearings on both Monday and Tuesday. Being stranded in Lincoln for a few days offered me a first-hand view of our hard-working plow crews and the spirit of “Nebraska Nice.”

Our state and county maintenance crews worked around the clock from Monday morning onwards to clear roads. State troopers and local police responded to wrecks and conducted hundreds of motorist assists. For each person grumbling about the snow, there were a dozen others stepping up to help scoop driveways, dig out cars, and push stranded motorists through intersections. 

Your own state senator was a recipient of this kindness. On Tuesday morning, my car became stuck at the corner of 14th and H Streets at the southwest corner of the Capitol. There were no cars or pedestrians around to provide an assist, so I spent ten minutes throwing my car into reverse and drive to break free. Thankfully, Senator Hughes, who serves as chair of the Executive Board, came walking by. When he was unable to push my car free, he called the cavalry by asking any other senators who were available to come help. Within two minutes, seven senators joined the group, with one even toting a snow shovel. 

There’s a few jokes out there about how many politicians it would take to change a lightbulb, but now I know how many politicians it takes to push a car through a snowy intersection. We were quite a sight, but for all their efforts- no one asked me to vote for their bill or support them for a leadership election. Like everyone else, we were just neighbors helping each other get to work.

“Nebraska Nice” isn’t just a slogan- it’s a way of life 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 January 18
February 1st, 2021

On Monday, January 25th, the Legislature will begin public hearings for the year.  These hearings are open to all Nebraskans, and provide fantastic opportunities for you to share your opinions on any bills introduced that are important to you. You can see the schedule of upcoming hearings at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/calendar/hearings_range.php.

Due to COVID-19, the procedures for public hearings have changed. Hearings will run for the full day, beginning at 9:30 in the morning. This schedule will at least go through the month of February. Full day floor debate will begin when committee hearings are complete. The Legislature is offering four options for testifying in public hearings.

As always, if you attend a public hearing in person, you still have that option. Testimonies are generally limited to three to five minutes, depending on the committee. If you choose to testify in person, please note that there will be some changes in the procedures.

First, the Legislature is asking that you only enter the hearing room when it is necessary for you to attend the bill hearing in progress. There will be a list outside of the hearing room that will have the schedule of bills being taken up. We also ask that you wear a face covering in the hearing room. Testifiers may remove their face covering while testifying to assist committee members and transcribers in clearing hearing your testimony. Please limit or  avoid bringing handouts if possible. All in-person testimony will be added to the committee report and will be included on the bill’s official record.

You may also provide a written testimony in place of an in-person testimony, This is to create a substitute for those who are concerned about their safety by testifying in person. In order to take advantage of this option, the following four requirements must be met:

  1. Submission of written testimony will only be accepted the day of the hearing between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in the committee room in which the hearing is scheduled.
  2. Individuals must present their written testimony in person during this time frame and sign the submitted written testimony record at the time of submission on the day of the hearing on the bill.
  3. The testifier must submit 12 copies. Failure to submit the required number of copies will result in the treatment of the submission as a position letter and not written testimony. 
  4. The written testimony must be a written statement that is no longer than 2 single-spaced, typed pages or 4 double-spaced, typed pages in length.
  5. Only the written testimony from the person delivering the testimony will be accepted. No handouts, testimony, or letters from other individuals may be included outside of an individual’s written testimony. 
  6. Written testimony will be handed out to each member of the committee during the hearing and made available as part of the hearing transcript when the transcript is made public. 

If these requirements are not met, the written testimony will still be included in the official hearing record, but the testimony will not be listed on the committee statement.

You may also submit a position letter. These letters may be delivered to the office of the committee chair or emailed to the committee’s email account by 12:00 p.m. CST on the last work day prior to the public hearing. You can find a list of the committee emails at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/committee-emails.php. Your letter should identify which bill or resolution you are testifying on, your position, your name and address, and a request to have your letter included as part of the public hearing record.

Finally, the Legislature has added a new feature to their website for submission of written statements on pending legislation. To access this feature, just search for the bill you would like to comment on, and click the button that says “Submit Written Comment.” You can select your position on the bill and type up to 300 words in a text box explaining your stance.

These submissions are not considered testimony or part of the public hearing record, but the statements will be available for access by senators and staff throughout the session. If you use this database prior to a hearing, committee members will be able to see your input prior to their vote.

Nebraska’s unique Unicameral Legislature relies heavily on the “second house” – the citizens of the State of Nebraska. Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process. 

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 January 11
January 19th, 2021

This legislative session is in full swing, and we are nearly through the bill introduction period.

One of my bills introduced this session is LB 300, which would expand the Castle Doctrine in our state. With this bill, Nebraskans will be able to better protect themselves and others using their Second Amendment rights

Thankfully, this is shaping up to be a strong session for the Second Amendment in Nebraska, as many senators have introduced bills to protect your rights to keep and bear arms. 

Senator Bostleman’s LB 85 would require the Nebraska State Patrol to give a four-month notice before the expiration of a concealed carry permit.

Senator Ben Hansen’s LB 173 would make it lawful to transport a firearm from one location where it is legal to another where it is legal without having to have a concealed carry permit. For example, under current law, a person without a concealed carry permit who takes their weapon from their car to the shooting range in a case would technically be in violation of our current concealed carry laws. LB 173 would resolve this issue.

Senator Halloran’s LB 188 would adopt the Second Amendment Preservation Act. This Act would forbid state employees from enforcing federal laws that infringe the right to bear arms.

Senator Erman’s LB 223 would allow archery hunters to also carry a sidearm for protection.

Senator Brewer’s LB 236 would allow counties to authorize the carrying of concealed weapons for all people that are not already prohibited from possessing weapons under state or federal law.

Senator Clements’s LB 244 would allow Nebraskans to apply for a renewal of their concealed carry permit up to thirty days after its expiration.

Senator Lowe’s LB 404 would increase the length of a concealed carry permit from five years to ten.

You can learn more about these bills, or any other bills introduced in this session, by visiting the Nebraska Legislature’s website. I am excited to work with my colleagues on each of these bills and continue defending our Second Amendment rights. 

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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