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 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.

Week of January 4th
January 12th, 2021

Last Wednesday, the 107th Nebraska Legislature convened for its first session. Every senator was eager to get started and begin the process of bill introduction.

Among my first bills introduced in this session is LR3CA. This is a constitutional amendment that would allow Nebraskans vote on whether photo identification should be required to vote. Standing alone, this provision does not require voter ID. Rather, it leaves the decision up to you, the voters of Nebraska. 

We live in a time where a person must produce identification to buy cold medicine or spray paint. It simply does not make sense that we do not ask the same of a person exercising their most important duty to their country. The Secretary of State estimates that 25,000 registered voters in Nebraska do not already have some acceptable form of photo identification. We could provide identification to these people, for voting purposes only, for free at a total cost of $50,000. This seems like a very reasonable cost to add a necessary layer of security to our elections.

Voter ID is not a novel idea. Thirty-five states already have some sort of voter ID laws in place. This includes our neighboring states of South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. These states have realized the importance of a secure and fair election, and have taken this positive step to protect their voters from fraud. Our own Legislature has also considered the measure as recently as last year in Senator La Grone’s LR292CA.

Voter ID is a common-sense approach to securing our elections from fraud. Our proposed system would not disenfranchise any voter in Nebraska. Rather, it would add a reasonable layer of added security to our elections. My hope is that this amendment will increase voter confidence in our election system, and protect our elections from fraudulent votes. I am eager to work with my colleagues to get this measure passed.

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 December 28
January 12th, 2021

This column is the second in a two-part series to preview the upcoming session, which begins on January 6. Last week, we discussed the start-of-session schedule. This week, we’ll cover Nebraska’s unique process of how a bill becomes a law.

Ideas for legislation are sent from a senator to the bill drafting office before session begins. Bill drafters put the idea into a comprehensive bill that achieves the senator’s goal. Senators introduce bills during the first ten days of session. Each bill is then assigned to one of the standing committees for a public hearing.

These hearings begin in late January and continue through late March or early April. During this time, the Legislature convenes at 9:00 AM and adjourns around noon. Committee hearings start at 1:30 PM, sometimes extending until it’s almost midnight. Each bill introduced receives a hearing with public testimony. Anyone wishing to make themselves heard on issues can submit their public testimony online or can appear in-person to the hearing to testify. Public hearings are a great way to let your voice be heard, as it is your chance to have your opinion on bills and issues be entered into the public record for consideration by every state senator. After the hearing, the committee votes on whether or not to advance the bill to a floor debate.

Each bill that is passed through committee goes through three levels of debate in the full Legislature before it can be presented to the governor to sign or veto. These levels are called General File, Select File, and Final Reading. During floor debates, senators can propose different amendments and motions to modify the bill. At the start of session, these floor debates begin in the mornings, while committee hearings are held in the afternoon.

Full-day debate begins after committee hearings are finished. The Legislature normally convenes at 9 AM, and adjourns around 5 PM, though sometimes work is completed a little earlier or later. In the last few weeks of session, we also have late-night debates that can dismiss as early as 6:00 PM or as late as 11:59 PM. 

When a bill passes through the three rounds of debate with a majority vote in the Legislature or receives 33 votes to break a filibuster, it is sent to the governor to sign into law or veto. If the governor vetoes a bill, the Legislature can override it with a vote of 30 senators.

As in previous years, NET will be streaming the session, along with committee hearings, live on TV and on their website. This is the most in-depth way for Nebraskans to watch coverage of the Capitol as it happens live. You can also follow along on the Nebraska Legislature’s website. The daily agenda is usually posted the night before and will highlight which bill is currently being discussed on the floor. I’d encourage everyone to stay up-to-date on the session, and to reach out to my office if you have any questions or would like to express your position on bills.

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 December 21
January 12th, 2021

Happy New Year, District 1! 2019 brought the costliest natural disaster in Nebraska’s history, while 2020 brought an unprecedented pandemic. Let’s pray that 2021 provides reprieve and recovery for our region.

This column will be the first in a two-part series to preview the upcoming legislative session, which begins on January 6. We are at the start of a new Legislature, which means that, this year, we are in a long session that will last for 90 legislative days beginning in January and ending in June. 

The first day of every two-year session has a very busy schedule. New members are sworn in after the presentation of colors. Then, the Legislature must vote to adopt temporary rules for the session, which are the rules that the previous Legislature followed. These are the rules of the Legislature until new ones for 2021-2022 are debated and adopted after the first few days of floor debate.

Elections for permanent officers follow, such as the Clerk of the Legislature and the Chief Sergeant at Arms, and election for the Speaker of the Legislature. These officers will take an oath of office administered by the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court. 

The Legislature then elects Chairpersons and members of both the Committee on Committees and the Executive Board. The Committee on Committees appoints senators to the remaining vacancies in the standing committees, while the Executive Board supervises all legislative services and employees.

After electing the Executive Board, the Legislature elects the chairmen for each of the Legislature’s eleven standing committees. Finally, the Legislature elects the chairmen of Special and Select Committees, which includes the Rules, and Enrollment and Review Committees.

The first 10 days of session are focused primarily on bill introduction. During this time, senators submit their proposed bills, which will then be referenced to an applicable committee for a public hearing. After these 10 days, no new bills can be introduced.

This year is unique because it is a redistricting session. At the start of the new decade, the Executive Board appoints the members of the Redistricting Committee. This committee’s primary goal is to help the Legislature update their districts in response to the federal census numbers. The committee will adopt guidelines, and present them for the Legislature’s approval. They also will formulate redistricting plans for congressional and other districts. In layman’s terms, redistricting means that we re-draw the statewide political boundaries based on the new census population counts.

Next week, we will review how a bill becomes a law in the State of Nebraska.

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 December 14
January 12th, 2021

Merry Christmas, District 1! Although 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, the holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate in-person or virtually with family and friends. 

For those in the military, first responders, or essential workers and are unable to be with family and friends during this season, thank you for your service. This year, we have had the opportunity to gain a better appreciation of our essential workers, and we are thankful for your work.

There are those in Southeast Nebraska that are spending the holiday with an empty seat at their table, mourning the loss of a loved one. Our hearts go out to those that are struggling during this time. Last weekend, our state participated in a Weekend of Remembrance and Honor for Nebraskans lost to COVID-19. You can still visit a virtual memorial wall at www.neimpact.org to pay homage to loved ones that have been lost.  

The difficulties of this year might make it challenging to have holiday cheer, but there is still reason for celebration. We all have drawn closer to one another with the trials of 2020, and learned about ourselves in the process. When we have not been able to be together physically, we have found creative ways to interact over the phone or through video chats and social media. The true joy of Christmastime has never been the gifts around the tree, but rather, something far more valuable.  

“…[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.

Week of December 7
January 12th, 2021

For this week’s column, we are going to take some time to introduce the staff in our office. A Senator’s office generally consists of three people: the senator, a legislative aide, and an administrative assistant. The friendly staffers in our office are always happy to help with whatever issues you may be facing, or help you get access to the resources you need.

Heidi Borg is our Administrative Assistant and is from northeast Nebraska. She is the sixth generation on her family’s farm and is very active on it. Heidi recently graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with an Agriculture Economics Public Policy degree. On her diversified family farm, they feed cattle, grow row crops, and raise chickens for the Costco project that came to Nebraska. Heidi has a strong passion for agriculture policy whether its advocating for the industry or at home working. She has also recently officially entered the cattle feeding industry and bought her first load of calves. Heidi understands how important the agriculture industry is to Nebraska and to District 1. She is generally the first person you hear when you call our office and is always willing to help with whatever you need. 

Kacy Meyer is our Legislative Aide. She was born and raised in Jenks, Oklahoma, and moved to Nebraska to attend Concordia University in Seward. There, she studied History and Communication Studies. She fell in love with Nebraska during college, and knew she wanted to stay and work here. After graduating in December 2019, Kacy worked as a policy analyst for the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). She had worked there part time during the summer before she graduated and her last semester at Concordia. While there, she assisted DAS’ Legislative Liaison by conducting research into different legislative proposals along with other research projects. She joined our team in September, and is very excited for session to start in January. Kacy is a very hard worker and will do her best to help us pass legislation that will help our district. She is also willing to help our district however she can, so don’t hesitate to give her a call if you need help with anything!

As you can see, our office is fully equipped with a qualified staff who are eager to help our district and communities. Feel free to contact our office with any questions, comments, or concerns that you may have. You will always have an ear to listen.

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 November 30
January 12th, 2021

Nearly everyone has been affected by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Whether it was having to work from home, having to quickly learn how to homeschool your children, or missing out on large gatherings with family and friends, we all have had to carry the burden of restrictions to help keep our neighbors safe and healthy.

Recently, Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, was seen attending a party at an upscale restaurant in Napa Valley. Newsom was not practicing social distancing, nor was he wearing a mask. While apologizing for his hypocrisy, the California governor went so far as to lie about the restaurant being outside. Newsom’s apology came a day after he announced further restrictions due to the increase of community spread COVID-19 cases in California.

In another example of COVID-related hypocrisy, Mayor Bowser of Washington D.C. attended Joe Biden’s political rally in Delaware on the Saturday after the election. A week before, Bowser ordered all people traveling from high-risk areas to quarantine for fourteen days after their arrival in Washington D.C. However, Bowser did not quarantine when she returned to her city, stating that going to a political rally was “essential travel.” 

Families all across the country are being forced to pick only ten people to attend weddings and funerals because of restrictions, while the politicians who implemented them endorse, and sometimes join thousands of people gathered in crowds to protest. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined in with a massive crowd of people celebrating Biden winning the presidency. When asked about the hypocrisy, Lightfoot stated “That crowd was gathered whether I was there or not.”

Even more recently, the mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, visited his daughter in Mississippi over Thanksgiving, boarding a flight to Houston a day before the holiday. Thirty minutes before his flight took off, Hancock tweeted a reminder to the people of Colorado to stay home, and host virtual gatherings instead of meeting in person.

The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality among politicians who have implemented tougher COVID restrictions, then refused to follow the orders themselves, is sickening. This level of hypocrisy from politicians should concern everyone, regardless of your thoughts on the current pandemic. Please, expect better from your representatives. Hold them accountable for their actions at the ballot box.

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 November 23
January 12th, 2021

There are 49 state senators in Nebraska, representing districts with an average population of 37,000 people each. Though the population numbers for each district are similar, each district has its own set of unique interests and legislative solutions. Many pundits focus on partisan divides in the Legislature, but little time is spent on what is often a far greater hurdle to progress: the urban-rural divide. With current district boundaries, 25 senators represent urban areas, while 24 senators represent rural areas. Those 24 senators representing rural Nebraska compose about 80% of the state’s square mileage.  As is true with any entity, our state has a limited amount of resources. Rural senators often advocate for those resources to be invested in rural Nebraska, while urban senators support investing the resources in our cities and suburbs.

Of course, this does not mean that urban senators are in direct opposition to legislation for rural areas or vice versa. Senators from urban and rural areas work hard to promote solutions to issues in their districts. It just happens that many of their solutions do not directly benefit our rural communities, and many of the solutions to our problems in rural areas do not directly benefit their urban districts. 

To break a filibuster in the Legislature, there needs to be 33 votes to stop debate and move forward. A 25-24 vote divide means legislation must draw support from both urban and rural senators to pass. 

The clearest example of the urban-rural divide and its impact on policy making is property tax relief debate of the 2020 session. Rural senators, including me, have stood firmly in support of property tax relief, while urban senators have leaned in favor of business incentives. Those two issues came to a head in 2020, when business incentives were set to expire and property taxes pushed rural communities to a breaking point.  

The stars aligned this year between urban and rural interests. LB1107 was passed, creating over $1 billion in new property tax relief over the next several years and initiating a new business incentives program. This session, I will continue to lead the charge with our rural senators to continue to work with our urban colleagues to achieve structural property tax relief.

I remain hopeful that we can come together and pass continued relief for Nebraskans whose bottom lines suffer due to high property taxes. Our homeowners, farmers, and small business owners are facing the most uncertain times in a generation. There is little that the Legislature can do to steady the ship of our national economy, but we can take a solid step in the right direction in Nebraska by focusing on property tax relief in the 2021 Legislature. I will continue to lead with rural senators to keep fighting to help our small communities thrive!

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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