NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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 jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 17th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Joni Albrecht

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 74

It was a delight to have the Winside 4th and 5th graders visit the Legislature this week!

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO 2021 GRADUATES 

Every year, Beverly Neel, my Administrative Assistant reaches out to all of the schools in District 17 so we can send each Graduating Senior a letter of congratulations. This year 607 students will be graduating. To all Graduates, I wish you the best!

NEBRASKA YOUTH PREFER RURAL COMMUNITIES

In January 2020, Nebraska Community Foundation began working with Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to co-create a survey designed to explore young people’s perceptions and perspectives of their Nebraska hometowns. 

While this survey only represents the views of 1,302 Nebraska high school students, the emerging patterns indicate that our hometowns are uniquely positioned to offer precisely the things that Nebraska high schoolers say they want in the places they

choose to live. 

They value safety. Students expressed an affinity for safe, low-crime, family-oriented places. Contrary to popular perceptions of youth, the students indicated a preference for safety and security over entertainment. They are community-oriented. Many students boast a resume filled with school sports, extracurricular activities, community volunteerism, and part-time jobs. Nebraska youth are not only highly involved, they also have a desire to be a part of their community. Out of 1302 youth, when asked, besides the people in your household, do you have other family that live in your community, 940 said they do. When asked if they have a job, including, summer jobs, babysitting, mowing lawns, owning your own business etc. 978 said they do. They favor small communities. Nearly half of responding students shared that their community is the perfect size. Nebraska’s hometowns are uniquely positioned to offer young people the safe, secure, family-oriented communities they desire.

REVENUE INCREASE FOR NEBRASKA

The Nebraska State Government will collect an extra $90 million in tax revenue in the current fiscal year that ends June 30 but will face a less rosy outlook over the following two years, based on new state estimates. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board last Friday lowered its revenue projections by $5 million over the following two budget years, starting on July 1. The new predictions will give lawmakers about $38 million more than expected in the current legislative session, after adjusting for requirements of state law. The projections will also trigger an automatic boost to a new state property tax credit program. (excerpts from AP article)

A YEAR FOR REDISTRICTING

Every 10 years, all 50 states must redraw the district  boundaries for the US House of Representatives and State Legislatures. In Nebraska, we will also draw new district boundaries for the State Board of Education, the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, the Public Service Commission and the Nebraska Supreme Court. Redistricting is a very difficult process and one that must proceed with substantive guidelines. Because of Covid, Census Data will be delayed until mid August. In order to accommodate the delay, a special session of the Legislature will be held for approximately two weeks in the Fall to complete the process.

STATUS OF BILLS I  INTRODUCED:

LB 111 First Responders In Committee

LB 112 Open Meetings In Committee

LB 113 DMV Modernization Approved by the Governor

LB 149 State Patrol Approved by the Governor

LB 280 Insurance Board In Committee

LB 281 Erin’s Law Select File

LB 282 Repeal Obscenity In Committee

LB 325 Art Therapy General File

LB 523 School Bond Authority General File

LB 595 Ethanol Tax Exemption Select File

LB 596 Ethanol Blend Tax Credit In Committee

LB 597 Stillbirth Tax Credit Select File

OFFENSES USING TECHNOLOGY

I also supported Senator Geist’s LB500, which was approved by the Governor this week. LB500 would allow for a person who uses an electronic device to commit an offense to be tried in the county where the communication was initiated or received. 

VALUATION OF AG LAND REDUCED FOR SCHOOL TAX PURPOSES

I gave a green light to LB 2, introduced by Senator Briese, which would reduce the valuation of agricultural land from 75 percent to 50 percent of actual value for the purpose of educational bonds. The bill has been placed on Final Reading.

CONSUMPTION TAX FAILS

Senator Erdman introduced LR11CA, which would have allowed Nebraska voters to choose to replace property, income, sales, inheritance, corporate and estate taxes with a state consumption tax under a proposed constitutional amendment. Though I am in strong support of a consumption tax, it has failed to advance this year. I will continue to work to reduce the tax burdens Nebraskans face.

FINANCIAL RELIEF CAUSED BY FEB STORM

Several communities in Nebraska, including some in District 17,  were left with severe debt incurred as a result of the extreme weather conditions this February.  For that reason, I stood in support of LB549, introduced by Senator Wayne, which would adopt the Municipal Natural Gas Emergency Assistance Act. Under the Act, municipalities which own or operate a natural gas plant or natural gas system could apply to the State Treasurer for emergency grant funding to cover up to ninety percent of extraordinary costs incurred by the municipality as a result of an extreme weather event. LB 549 provides for a one-time transfer of five million dollars from the General Fund to provide emergency grants under the Act. The Act terminates on June 30, 2023 and contains the emergency clause. LB549 has moved to Select File.

PHASE-OUT OF SOCIAL SECURITY TAX 

I voted in support of LB64,  sponsored by Senator Lindstrom, that would eliminate tax on Social Security income over 10 years.  Nebraska has roughly 320,000 residents that rely on some form of Social Security, either as a retirement, disability or survivor benefit. Nebraska is one of 13 states that tax the benefit, although some low-income residents don’t earn enough to be taxed by the state. LB64 has advanced to Select File.

BEEF MONTH

The Governor had declared May Beef Month in Nebraska. Red meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various other nutrients that can have profound effects on health. Nebraska’s cattle industry grows the state by generating over $10 billion in cash receipts each year. Nebraska ranks first in the nation for commercial cattle slaughter, second for beef exports, and second for all cattle on feed.  In 2019, beef was Nebraska’s number two agricultural export behind soybeans.  Nebraska has 22 million acres of rangeland and pastureland, about half of which are in the Sandhills.

NEBRASKA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEALTH STANDARDS

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. 

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods April 30, 2021 to May 7, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +18 (4108)

Thurston County: +12 (1173)

Wayne County: +10 (1157)

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE April 30, 2021
April 29th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 70

MEDAL OF HONOR HIGHWAY CELEBRATION MAY 22

Last year Beverly Neel and I had the privilege of joining other residents of District 17 to celebrate the completion of the newly named Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway (U.S.20). This May 11th, Ken Hanel and Daryl Harrison will join others to walk across the Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway in an event called, Walk the Walk. There will also be a motorcycle convoy participating in the festivities. You are invited to join the motorcycles, Walk the Walk with Ken and Daryl, or you may wish to simply attend the christening of the highway on May 22 at 5:30 pm in Siouxland Freedom Park.  It will be a patriotic day to remember. Medal of Honor Recipient James C. McCloughan of Michigan will sing the National Anthem.  Governor Ricketts has been invited to introduce James McCloughan and Charles Hagemeister, one of only two living Nebraska Medal of Honor Recipients.   Both Medal of Honor Recipients will be speaking and then will christen the Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway. For more information contact Nebraska Medal of Honor Foundation, President Daryl Harrison at (402)922-1329 Pheasant55@harrisonwoc.com.

LEARN WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A SENATOR

The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. Taking place on June 13-16 for grades 9-12 for the 2021-2022 school year, the Unicameral Youth Legislature will give behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators, staff and lobbyists. Bill topics are based on legislation considered during the most recent legislative session. From driving laws to the death penalty, topics selected for the legislature are diverse and engaging.

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available. Contact the Unicameral Information Office for more information at (402) 471-2788 or uio@leg.ne.gov.

Register here through UNL Big Red Summer Academic Camps

PENDER RECEIVES RURAL WORKFORCE HOUSING FUNDS

Created by the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Ricketts in 2017, the RWHF is designed to help communities increase their supply of quality, affordable housing to accommodate a growing workforce. “Our state’s affordability makes Nebraska a great place to raise a family,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “The Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act provides matching funds for our communities working to build high-quality, reasonably priced homes.  The availability of affordable housing grows Nebraska by helping small towns and rural communities attract new businesses and residents.”

RWHF grants are available to eligible non-profit development organizations, who—often in collaboration with local employers and financial institutions—supply a minimum of 1:1 matching dollars to generate Rural Workforce Housing Investment Funds for project financing. Among the recipients was Pender Community Development, Inc. with a local match of $600,000  and a RWHF Award of $600,000

GOVERNOR SIGNS BUDGET INTO LAW 

On Monday Governor Pete Ricketts signed the State of Nebraska’s next two-year budget into law.  The budget controls state spending and delivers significant property tax relief among other key priorities. “The budget I have signed controls state spending and significantly increases direct property tax relief for the people of Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “As the Legislature continues their work, there are additional opportunities to deliver significant tax relief.  I look forward to working with Senators to deliver even more relief for the people of Nebraska.” 

  1.   Controls State Spending: The budget signed into law by the Governor limits the State’s annual budget growth to 1.7 percent.  This is about one-fourth of the yearly budget growth before Gov. Ricketts took office. 
  2.   Property Tax Relief: The budget delivers about $1.45 billion in property tax relief over the biennium.  This includes $613 million in direct property tax relief through the State’s Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, and over $627 million from the newly enacted LB 1107 refundable property tax credit.  The budget also includes $214 million to provide for property tax payments under the current homestead exemption program.
  3.   K-12 School Funding: The budget fully funds the state school aid formula, providing over $1 billion annually in aid to K-12 public schools.
  4.   Educational Opportunities: The budget expands the Career Scholarships program to include private institutions and also includes additional resources for the state’s textbook loan program for K-12 private schools.
  5.   Public Safety: The budget kicks off the process of replacing the decaying Nebraska State Penitentiary with a new, modern correctional facility.  This investment will also increase the operational capacity of Nebraska’s corrections system to meet forecasted needs.

SALES AND USE TAX EXEMPTIONS ADVANCE 

My bill, LB595, which provides a sales and use tax exemption for inputs used in the process of manufacturing ethanol, was the lead bill from a Revenue Committee amendment which included several other bills, including:

Under LB672, agricultural machinery and equipment would be defined as tangible personal property used directly in cultivating or harvesting a crop, raising or caring for animal life, protecting the health and welfare of animal life or collecting or processing an agricultural product on a farm or ranch.

LB182, would exempt from state sales and use tax the gross income received from the lease or use of towers or other structures primarily used in conjunction with the furnishing of internet access service.

Under LB350, the proceeds of sales and use taxes imposed on the sale or lease of motorboats, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles and utility-type vehicles would be credited to the state Game and Parks Commission Capital Maintenance Fund until 2027 rather than 2022.

Finally, LB502 would allow taxpayers who have signed agreements to receive tax incentives under the Nebraska Advantage Act to receive sales and use tax incentives using the process created under the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.

TAX BENEFITS IMPACTING DISTRICT 17

I supported LB682 coming out of the Revenue Committee and I wanted to explain how the New Markets Tax Credit Program has benefited District 17. Blue Ox Manufacturing is the largest employer in Pender, a rural town in my district with a population of 1,200.  A few years ago, Blue Ox secured a $10.4 Million investment from the New Markets program that helped them create 20 new jobs in Pender, and keep their existing 160 jobs in Pender, where they have been for over 90 years. Keeping Blue Ox in Pender and helping them grow their business has been critical to the success of this small town in my district, and that was made possible by the New Markets investment.  Blue Ox is one of several examples of New Markets investment in District 17.

Since the New Markets Tax Credit program began in Nebraska, 40% of all investment through the program has been made in rural Nebraska through projects like the Blue Ox project in Pender. It is truly a program that benefits both urban and rural Nebraska.

CORPORATE TAX CUT AND OTHER REVENUE MEASURES ADVANCE

After two days of discussion, lawmakers gave first-round approval to a bill that includes several tax-related proposals, including a cut to Nebraska’s top corporate income tax rate.

One amendment would cut the state’s top corporate income tax rate to 6.84 percent — the same as the state’s top individual income tax rate — beginning Jan. 1, 2022. Corporations currently pay a state income tax rate of 5.58 percent on the first $100,000 of taxable income and 7.81 percent on income in excess of that amount.

A second component of the divided committee amendment contained provisions of LB299, any rural or suburban fire protection district, airport authority, city, village or nonprofit corporation could provide and maintain enhanced cancer benefits for paid and volunteer firefighters, the combined total of which would not exceed $50,000 in the firefighter’s lifetime. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, an individual’s federal adjusted gross income would be reduced by the amount received by or on behalf of a firefighter for cancer benefits under the act. This would ensure that the benefits are not subject to state income tax.

A third amendment, included my bill, LB597, designed to provide parents who have suffered a stillbirth of 20 weeks or more, a refundable tax credit of $2000. Parents of stillborn babies often incur higher medical expenses than a healthy delivery, as well as burial expenses. This credit will help alleviate the financial burden of their loss.

A final amendment included the amended provisions of LB347, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom, which deal with a category of income earned by U.S. multinational corporations. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a provision to tax Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, a certain type of income earned by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. The tax is meant to discourage multinational corporations from shifting profits to jurisdictions with tax rates lower than the 21 percent U.S. corporate rate.

PHASE OUT EXEMPTION ON SOCIAL SECURITY TAX ADVANCES

LB64 would set the exemption on such income, to the extent that it is included in federal adjusted gross income, starting the exemption at 5 percent of AGI for tax year 2022, increasing to 20 percent in 2023 and rising 10 percent per year until reaching 100 percent in 2030. For individuals, the exemption would start at 20 percent for those with an AGI of less than $60,000 in tax year 2022. The proposal would cap eligibility for married couples filing jointly at an AGI of $95,000 and for individuals at $80,000.

NEBRASKA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEALTH STANDARDS

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. 

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods April 15, 2021 to April 23, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +18 (4090)

Thurston County: +0 (1161)

Wayne County: +7 (1147)

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE April 23, 2021
April 23rd, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 66

RODEO WEEK

On Monday, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed Rodeo Week in Nebraska while on horseback in front of the Governor’s Residence in Lincoln. This week, the University of Nebraska Rodeo Association is hosting the 2021 Nebraska Cornhusker College Rodeo on Friday and Saturday (April 23-24) at the Lancaster Event Center.  The Governor encouraged Nebraskans to attend.  He also highlighted other notable rodeos scheduled to take place this summer in Nebraska.  They include:

  •       The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo, June 17-19 in Hastings.
  •       The 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo, July 18-24 in Lincoln.
  •       Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, July 28-31 in Burwell.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, which Nebraska Tourism honored as the state’s “Outstanding In-Person Event” of 2020.

LEGISLATURE APPROVES 2021 BUDGET

The Legislature gave final approval to the state’s $9.7 billion biennium budget package. The package includes a number of appropriations and transfers. The governor has until Monday, to sign, veto or line-item veto appropriations within the budget bills.

BILLS THAT IMPACT LANDOWNERS 

LB2 works toward addressing the tax burden inequity on agricultural landowners for taxes used to service school bond debt. LB2 encourages accountability at the voting booth by more closely linking voters’ decisions with their responsibilities for school bond taxes. Agricultural and horticultural land is valued at 75 percent of its actual value for purposes of property taxation under current law. Under LB2 it would be valued at 50 percent of its actual value for purposes of school district taxes levied to pay the principal and interest on bonds issued on or after Jan. 1, 2022. 

REVENUE BILLS EARLY NEXT WEEK

My bill, LB595 will be the lead Revenue Committee Priority Bill. It will come up early next week. The purpose of LB595 is to provide a sales and use tax exemption for certain products used in the process of manufacturing ethanol, to harmonize provisions with other states and industries. As it is, ethanol producers are paying a tax that is not consistent with other industries and state regulations for inputs.

Ethanol production is vital to our agricultural economy as the 25 plants throughout the State of Nebraska process nearly 500 million bushels of corn every year. Let me put this in perspective for you: 500 million bushels is the equivalent of one out of every four rows of corn grown in every cornfield in Nebraska. Combined, these plants produce more than 2.2 billion gallons of Ethanol every year, the second most per state in the country, behind Iowa. This bill simply exempts sales taxes on inputs used in the production or “manufacturing” of Ethanol.

The other bills being carried under LB595 include:

LB182- would clarify the tax treatment of tower leases for purposes of providing internet

access to make clear such leases are exempt from sales and use tax. 

LB672- creates a new definition for agricultural machinery and equipment to clarify the sales tax exemption on such equipment.

LB502- allows taxpayers with existing agreements, or who have filed applications under the Nebraska Advantage Act prior to the sunset of the Act, the same sales and use tax exemptions that are now provided to taxpayers under the ImagiNE Act.

LB350- would extend the sunset date from October 1, 2022, to October 1, 2027, for the distribution of sales and use tax to the Game and Parks Commission Capital Maintenance Fund from the state of motor boats, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles and utility-type vehicles.

NEBRASKA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEALTH STANDARDS

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. 

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods April 15, 2021 to April 23, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +22 (4072)

Thurston County: +3 (1161)

Wayne County: +20 (1140)

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE April 15, 2021
April 15th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 62

MEDAL OF HONOR HIGHWAY

Last year Beverly Neel and I had the privilege of joining other residents of District 17 to celebrate the completion of the newly named Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway (U.S.20). On May 11th, Ken Hanel and Daryl Harrison will join others to walk across the Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway in an event called, Walk the Walk. There will also be a motorcycle convoy participating in the festivities. You are invited to join the motorcycles, Walk the Walk with Ken and Daryl, or you may wish to simply attend the christening of the highway on May 22 at 5:30 pm in Siouxland Freedom Park.  It will be a patriotic day to remember. Medal of Honor Recipient James C. McCloughan of Michigan will sing the National Anthem.  Governor Ricketts has been invited to introduce James McCloughan and Charles Hagemeister, one of only two living Nebraska Medal of Honor Recipients.   Both Medal of Honor Recipients will be speaking and then will christen the Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway. For more information contact Nebraska Medal of Honor Foundation, President Daryl Harrison at (402)922-1329 Pheasant55@harrisonwoc.com.

IMPROVEMENT ON US HIGHWAY 77 

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is planning to improve approximately 5.57 miles of US-Highway 77 (US-77) located in Thurston County. The proposed project,  identified as N-94- Winnebago, would be constructed primarily under traffic with lane closures controlled by appropriate traffic control devices; however, a detour would be required for the construction of two bridge-size culverts. 

The proposed project would begin approximately 0.18 miles north of the junction of US-77 and Nebraska Highway 94 (N-94) at about mile marker (MM) 163.91, and extend north to MM 169.48, approximately 0.06 miles south of the junction of US-77 and US-75. 

Proposed improvements on US-77 would consist of milling and resurfacing the roadway and surfaced shoulders with asphalt, bridge repairs and removing and replacing guardrail. Improvements to the bridge-size box culverts over unnamed streams at MM 165.41, 166.71 and 169.45 would consist of replacing the existing structure with a concrete box culvert, removing existing guardrail, grading, and full-depth pavement as needed where the existing structure is removed. 

Construction could begin as early as Spring of 2023 and could be completed by Winter of 2024. Any questions or comments or further information regarding the project may also be found by visiting the4 NDOT website at http:dot.nebraska.gov/projects/future-projects/ and clicking on the “N-94-Winnebago”.

NEBRASKA-  A “SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY STATE”

On April 14th, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he had signed a proclamation designating Nebraska as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State.”  The proclamation is symbolic, and reaffirms Nebraska’s support for the right to bear arms. “The White House and U.S. Congress have announced their intention to pursue measures that would infringe on the right to keep and bear arms,” says Governor Ricketts’ proclamation.  “Nebraska will stand up against federal overreach and attempts to regulate gun ownership and use in the Good Life.” 

 Governor Ricketts’ proclamation comes as over 50 Nebraska counties have passed resolutions of support for the Second Amendment that declare themselves as Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties. Dakota County currently has it on their agenda to discuss. More information can be found at https://www.nebraskafirearms.org/.

SCHOOL BONDING AUTHORITY

This week the Revenue Committee sent my bill, LB523, School Bonding Authority, to the Floor. We continue to be “inundated” as elected officials by citizens concerned over high property taxes. One way this body can assist taxpayers is to assure, when possible, they are directly included in decisions of major spending when tax increases are necessary. Historically in Nebraska, when a necessity was deemed by a local school board to build new school structure or expand existing structures, we have held elections to fund those projects. When I vote for a local school board member, I have always believed I was giving that person the authority to make policy, hire staff, purchase supplies, pay utilities through the general fund, and maintain the existing school structure through use of depreciation funds included in their reserves. I have never believed that I was giving that individual the authority to build new school structures without my approval through an election. The intent in bringing this LB523 was simple. I wanted to give the citizens a vote on major local tax decisions.

RURAL-BASED BROADBAND FUNDING ADVANCED

LB338, which would give rural customers more input on their broadband carriers, was advanced from Select File this week. To qualify for consideration by the Public Service Commission (PSC), a rural-based plan must include an eligible telecommunications company. The plan would be judged on the company’s history and service capability in the area, as well as local support, partnerships with local public power and wireless internet service providers and cooperation by the incumbent local exchange carrier that has lost support from the commission.

A plan approved under the provisions of LB338 by the PSC would include a deployment timeline to include periodic milestones and reporting requirements from the telecommunications company. The bill would require any recipient of ongoing high-cost financial support from the universal service fund to submit to broadband service speed tests by the PSC. Any universal service funds distributed for new broadband infrastructure construction would be directed to projects that provide service scalable to 100 Mbps or greater of upload speed. Additionally, any political subdivision that receives federal funding for broadband service enhancement would be required to provide service scalable to 100 Mbps or greater for both upload and download speed.

The bill would ensure no federal funding could be used to expand broadband service in locations already capable of 100 Mbps or greater for both upload and download speed. Following the 36-0 adoption, Senators advanced the bill to Final Reading on a voice vote.

NEBRASKA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEALTH STANDARDS

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. 

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods April 8, 2021 to April 15, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +19 (4017) 

Thurston County: +1 (1158) 

Wayne County: +5 (1120) 

I want to thank several of our District 17 Constituents who either contacted my office, or took the time to answer important questions that enabled me to bring accurate information to the floor debate this week. Your input and perspective helps shape legislation in this state and I really appreciate each of you. As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE April 9, 2021
April 9th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 58

I greatly appreciate Chairman John Sinner and the Appropriations Committee for creating a biennium budget that I, and many of my colleagues, believe will help us to steward Nebraska well over the next two years. I am proud of how the State of Nebraska has always placed a high value on maintaining a Rainy Day Fund that is sufficiently funded. This has given Nebraska the financial strength to be able to handle unforeseen situations like the flooding in recent years, until the Federal funding reached our communities. 

BUDGET FOCUS ON THE FLOOR

Over the past three months the Appropriations Committee has held numerous hearings, briefings and executive sessions to develop their proposed budget. The main focus of the proposal is:

Replenish the Cash Reserve Fund – In the committee proposal the Cash Reserve Fund (CRF) balance would increase from $412 million to $763 million, a total of $351 million. Automatic transfers per current law accounts for $301 million of this increase but the committee proposal allows for this to replenish the balance by only using the CRF for reserving funds as an incentive to attract the US Spacecom project ($50 million) offset by a $100 million transfer from the General Fund. 

Service Provider rate increases – The single largest increase in the budget was to provide a 2% per year increase in Department of Health and Human Services and juvenile service providers amounting to an $83.5 million increase over the two years.

Property tax relief – With a very small increase in TEEOSA funding under the current law formula, the committee included an increase in the Property Tax Credit amounting to $63 million over the two year period. Although not accounted for as a General Fund expenditure, this would be the second largest increase item in the budget.

Job training and economic development – The committee proposal includes a total of $32 million over the two year period for Nebraska Career Scholarships ($17 million) and the Business Innovation Act ($15 million).

Available for Legislation – After the items listed above, the Committee proposal results in a budget that is $211 million above the minimum reserve. In other words this leaves a maximum of $211 million available for legislation pending before the Legislature.

You can see the proposed budget in its entirety on the Nebraska Legislature website homepage, under Appropriations Committee Proposed Budget (4/1/2021).

A CHANCE TO WEIGH IN ON YOUR TAXES

Senator Ben Hansen introduced a bill on the Floor this week that I wholeheartedly stand behind because it will keep all of us more informed about what is happening with our personal property taxes. LB 644 will adopt the Property Tax Request Act for the purpose of increased transparency for impacted political subdivisions to raise their property tax levies. LB644 recommends public notifications and hearings for the public whenever the need for justification is necessary to raise the property tax over the previous years. It also requires a postcard be mailed to all constituents in relation to the political subdivisions request for higher levy rates than cannot exceed the previous year’s request. To put it simply, you will receive a postcard in the mail informing you of what local boards, i.e. school, city, county, ESU, NRD, etc., taxes may be raised and why, and giving us a chance to weigh in. 

A LETTER FROM THE LEGISLATURE TO THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

My office has received numerous phone calls and emails from Constituents who are concerned about the content of the new Health Standard Standards that the Nebraska Department of Education introduced last month. That is why I spearheaded a letter from the Nebraska Legislature to the Department of Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt and the State Board of Education asking that all sex education and other ideologically motivated content be removed from the Nebraska Health Standards. My colleagues who joined me in signing the letter  included Senator Julia Slama (LD 1), Senator Robert Clements (LD 2), Senator Robert Hilkemann (LD 4), Senator Mike McDonnell (LD 5) Senator John Arch (LO 14), Senator Ben Hansen (LD 16), Senator Brett Lindstrom (LD 18), Speaker Mike Hilgers (LD 21), Senator Mike Moser (LD 22), Senator Bruce Bostelman (LD 23), Senator Suzanne Geist (LO 25), Senator Myron Dorn (LD 30), Senator Tom Brandt (LD 32), Senator Steve Halloran (LD 33), Senator Curt Friesen (LD 34), Senator Ray Aguilar (LD 35), Senator John Lowe (LD 37), Senator Dave Murman (LO 38), Senator Lou Ann Linehan (LD 39), Senator Tim Gragert (LD 40), Senator Tom Briese (LD 41), Senator Mike Groene (LD 42), Senator Tom Brewer (LD 43), Senator Dan Hughes (LD 44), Senator Rita Sanders (LD 45), Senator Steve Erdman (LD 47), and Senator John Stinner (LD 48). 

NEBRASKA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEALTH STANDARDS

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. 

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods April 2, 2021, and April 9, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +19 (4017) 

Thurston County: +5 (1157) 

Wayne County: +12 (1115) 

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE March 31, 2021
March 31st, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 54

Happy Easter! I enjoy spending time with my family hunting Easter eggs with my grandchildren, seeing trees and flowers beginning to bloom and the hope of new life brings the sweetest things of life together. I hope that you experience a new joy and hope this Easter Season!

RURAL NEBRASKA IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE

Having resided in both urban and rural communities in Nebraska, one of the factors that I enjoy the most about living in a rural area is the familiarity and camaraderie that is shared among its people. It makes it a great place to come home to. That is why when I came across this survey of how rural citizens of Nebraska feel about their communities, I thought it would be valuable to share with you. According to Nebraska Institute of Agricultural and Natural Resources, more than six in ten Nebraskans who responded to the Rural Poll, which was sent to 7,000 rural households across the state in April 2020, said they agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements: People in my community help each other (82%); I believe in the ability of my community to overcome an emergency situation (76%); people in my community work together to improve the community (69%); I can depend on people in my community to come to my assistance in a crisis (68%); my community keeps people informed about issues that are relevant to them (65%); and there is trust among the residents of my community (63%). (Segments from an article by Becky Vogt)

POTENTIAL RELIEF FROM THE STORM OF 2021

I have been keeping in close contact with community officials in District 17 whose communities suffered enormous financial loss due to severe weather February 15-20th. My first hand understanding of their situations causes me to strongly support  LB 549. This bill would set aside $10M in the State budget for municipalities who own natural gas systems to be eligible to apply for a State grant which may be used to cover up to 90% of the extraordinary costs incurred from extreme weather. I want to thank those of you who have reached out to my office with concerns for your community, or people you know who are struggling in response to the unexpected financial stress. It is so important that we stand together to get through tough times like this. LB 549 has not come to the floor as of yet, I will keep you informed to its status as the Session proceeds.

SCHOOL FUNDING AND PROPERTY TAXES AID

Last year LB1107 was introduced which should have provided approximately $12M in additional  funding to District 17’s schools. Because it failed,  I am standing in strong support of LB 454, which would create a School Property Tax Stabilization Program which would direct State aid to School Districts whose property taxes and formula needs ratio qualify them for aid. . It also reduces the assessed value of agricultural land for purposes of funding schools over a two-year period. This bill would provide from $1.4M to $3.8M in property tax relief to District 17. For those reasons I will be giving LB 454 a green light.

ADVANCING BROADBAND

There are more than 80,000 households in Nebraska who lack adequate internet speed, most of them in rural areas. LB 388 is one of the broadband bills this year that looks to bridge the gap in Nebraska. LB 388 creates the “Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act” which provides $20 million in each of the next two years to increase broadband across Nebraska. That could help 30,000 households get better access to the internet. It is evident that we are not going to be able to get the coverage we eventually hope to see in every Nebraska home this year, but we will be able to launch some important endeavors that will aid new business and bring in commerce, which in turn helps all Nebraskans. 

Another important bill playing a part in expansion of broadband this Session is LB 338, which allows a community to have more input on who will be providing them broadband services after NUSF funding has been withheld from the old carrier due to not providing the minimum speeds of 25/3. Together, the broadband bills introduced this year will help ensure available funds are properly used to develop broadband at speeds that will serve Nebraskans into the future.

STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROPOSED FOR K-12

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. Keep in mind State Standards are simply a guideline that individual School Districts can follow. The number one step is for the parents to weigh in. What is being taught in our districts is ultimately up to our local administrators.

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 27, 2021, and March 31, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +21 (3998) 

Thurston County: +7 (1152) 

Wayne County: +5 (1103) 

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE March 26, 2021
March 26th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 50

April showers bring May flowers! Spring is my favorite season of the year. I love seeing the flowers bloom and new baby calves entering the world. The rain brings the blessing of moisture as we anticipate planting our crops soon. There is so much to be thankful for. 

HAPPY AG WEEK

In celebration of National AG Week, March 21-27, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced the winners of this year’s annual poster contest. More than 1,700 students in grades 1-6 from all over the state entered NDA’s annual contest by highlighting Nebraska agriculture, our state’s number one industry. The NDA announced the winners of its annual poster contest during National AG Week to highlight the diversity of agriculture and celebrate the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers provide every day. The winning posters and the names of the schools submitting entries are on NDA’s website at nda.nebraska.gov/kids. The posters, depicting this year’s theme of “Nebraska Agriculture: Straight from the Good Life.”We are so proud of our granddaughter, Kylie Fischer, a 3rd grader at St. Paul Lutheran School in West Point, who has placed for the second time in this contest. This year she won 3rd place in her division. I love to see the value and appreciation for agriculture instilled in our children, what a great way to do it. 

BILLS THAT ADVANCED THIS WEEK

LB281, my Senator Priority Bill, advanced to Select File this week with a vote of 32-0. The purpose of this bill is to require that public schools provide four hours of avoiding child sexual abuse training to students in K-12, and teacher training as a preventative method for helping reduce incidents of child sexual abuse. The State Department of Education will provide a framework for policies and standards which will train teachers, involve parents and teach children through age-appropriate, evidence based curriculum. The goal is that children who are being abused will find a voice, and a place where they can safely learn what to do if they need help.

LB113, was a bill I carried for the Department of Motor Vehicles Bill which will change important provisions relating to motor vehicles titling, licensing, registration, and fees and operators’ licenses and permits and authorize a new motor vehicle carrier services system, passed on Final Reading. One of the reasons this bill is vital is to keep the trucking industry across the state on the road, giving them the required resources, empowering them to deliver goods across Nebraska. LB113 is on its way to the Governor’s desk for a final signature. 

FIRST RESPONDER COMPENSATION

I was a lone “no” vote on LB255 – Adopt the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act. It is not often I stand alone on a vote, and though I am not afraid to do it,  it is important to me that I share with you the reason for my vote. 

I hold First Responders of all kinds in very high regard. This is the fifth time this bill has come to the floor and it has failed to pass. I voted “No” on LB255 because I continue to have some significant unanswered questions. What do paid law enforcement and first responders receive from their Cities, Counties and the State? My staff went to great lengths this week to find answers to those questions, and here is some of what we have found:

                                      Fed Funding                           Life Ins         Other                   Totals

NE State Patrol        $370,376          66-75%       $6000          $10-40,000        $386,376

SSC                               $330,000         50%             $25,000                                     $355,000

Dakota County         $338,000        50%              $4000          $4000                   $346,000

                         *All amounts are estimates based on ages and numbers of family members.

I love and respect our first responders, but many people in numerous professions risk their lives and health for the benefit of others. Consider our soldiers who serve our country, teachers, doctors and nurses, railroad workers and truck drivers who all stood in the gap, some losing their lives during the Covid outbreak. I will continue to research and carefully consider LB255 before I give it my green light.

KENO HEARING

Last week I shared with you my concerns regarding LB561, which expands gaming through KENO and Sports Betting in the State. As I mentioned, I understand that Nebraskans said yes to gaming on the ballot last November, but I believe as Legislators, we need to make certain that things get started off right, and I want to do everything in my power to make sure the letter of the law is followed in this process. Because proper protocol was not followed me must have a hearing on the floor.  There will be a public hearing on the KENO aspect of the bill on  Monday, March 29, 12:00 noon in Room 1510. I welcome anyone who would like an opportunity for their voice to be heard about adding KENO to LB561 before it advances, to come to the Capitol on Monday and testify in the hearing.

STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROPOSED FOR K-12

Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. Keep in mind State Standards are simply a guideline that individual School Districts can follow. The number one step is for the parents to weigh in. What is being taught in our districts is ultimately up to our local administrators.

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 20, 2021, and March 26, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +26 (3977) 

Thurston County: +7 (1145) 

Wayne County: +14 (1098) 

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE March 19, 2021
March 19th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 47

This week marked the final week for Committee Exec Sessions of the 107th Legislature, and all Senator Priority Bills and Speaker Priority Bills have been selected. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the bills advancing to the floor this Session at nebraskalegislature.gov.  It is an excellent website providing all Nebraska’s with the tools to stay informed and involved in the Unicameral. The website also gives you a link to tune in and watch the floor debate. The “Live Video Streaming” button can easily be found on the top right hand side of the homepage.

BILLS I STOOD AGAINST

First of all, I have made a commitment this year to vote on every bill that comes to the floor. It is not a rare occurrence for Senators to vote “Present, not Voting” if they wish not to declare their position. But I personally do not think that is the best method of carrying out the role of a Legislator. My people have voted me in to weigh in on all that is put before me in the Capitol, and I strive to serve you the best way I can every step of the way. That being said,  I was a lone “no” vote on LB255 – Adopt the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act. It is not often I stand alone on a vote, and though I am not afraid to do it,  it is important to me that I share with you the reason for my vote. 

I hold First Responders of all kinds in very high regard. My father was a volunteer firefighter for years, and the men and women who risk their lives to keep our society safe are valuable beyond words to me. But this is the fifth time since I have been in the Legislature that LB255 has come to the floor in this form and it has failed to pass. I voted “No” on LB255 because I continue to have some significant unanswered questions. What do paid law enforcement and first responders receive from their Cities, Counties and the State? I know there is already a double indemnity included in their benefits, but I wonder what a fallen first responder receives from their Worker’s Compensation Benefit package. It is my understanding that their spouse receives 66-75% of their wages for life, or until remarried. I just feel it is very important as State Senators to be very conscious about all of the places we allocate monies, and what is already being spent in each of those realms. I am certain it is much more than the $50,000 they would receive as a result of this legislation.

I want you to know how much I love and respect our first responders, but many people in numerous professions risk their lives and health for the benefit of others. Consider teachers, doctors and nurses, railroad workers and truck drivers who all stood in the gap during the Covid outbreak . I look forward to getting more of my questions answered in Select File before I give LB255 my green light.

I also voted against LB561-which expands gaming through KENO and Sports Betting in the State. I understand that Nebraskans said yes to gaming on the ballot last May, but I believe as Legislators, we need to make certain that things get started off right, and  I want to do everything in my power to make sure the letter of the law is followed in this process. For instance proper protocol was not followed to have a hearing on KENO before the Bill was introduced on the floor. They have now agreed to hold a hearing for KENO between now and when the bill goes to Select File, and I am sure there will be a spirited debate when it comes back to the floor. Overall, I am very concerned that when gaming becomes more accessible, more and more Nebraskans and their families will be hurt. 

Lastly, I gave a red light to LB88, which changes the authority of who decides what can be published in the local school media, from the administration to the students. This bill would essentially create a public forum out of our school media that, I believe, creates an environment for students to be easily coerced by an adult influencer who has a specific agenda. Here is an excerpt from a Lincoln Journal Star article about the floor debate this week. “Sen. Adam Morfeld’s bill preventing Nebraska student journalists from being censored by administrators survived a filibuster before advancing to second-round consideration Thursday. Discussions on the bill (LB88) stretched across three days this week, as opponents used up the full time allotted for first-round debate. Opponents argued that by preventing administrators from having the final say, student publications would become more like a social media website, where freewheeling opinions could be posted without any influence from adults. Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston said many Nebraskans did not want to see their school administrators lose the ability to censor student publications they may disagree with. ‘It means too much to the students in our state to be protected from what they may write today that they may have to explain later in life,’ Albrecht said. Albrecht then introduced an amendment that would strike the ability of students to be responsible for the advertising content of the school publications, which she said would allow organizations such as Planned Parenthood to purchase space in a student newspaper. ‘We’re putting ourselves out there, folks, to have some major problems,’ Albrecht said, but her amendment also failed, on a 25-15 vote.”

STAY INFORMED ABOUT WHAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS PROPOSING

Last week the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. Keep in mind State Standards are simply a guideline that individual School Districts can follow. The number one step is for the parents to weigh in. What is being taught in our districts is ultimately up to our local administrators.

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. 

A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 12, 2021, and March 19, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +51 (3951) 

Thurston County: +7 (1138) 

Wayne County: +8 (1084) 

Every Spring I have a heightened awareness that more farm implements might be on our roads. The beautiful rolling hills in our agricultural area can create a prime environment for danger. It is so common to come up over a hill and meet a tractor. Please take extra precaution to stay safe this season.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly UPDATE March 11, 2021
March 12th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 42

 

NEBRASKA IN U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT “BEST STATES” RANKING

Nebraska is ranked #6, a jump of three spots from Nebraska’s 2019 ranking of #9. “This is Nebraska’s highest ranking in recent years in the ‘Best States’ report,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We are helping to set the bar in key areas such as infrastructure, affordability, and how we conserve our natural resources.” In overall rankings, Nebraska scored highly in education (#9), infrastructure (#6), opportunity (#10), and natural environment rankings (#6). 

PRIORITY BILLS

This week I designated LB281 as my Senator Priority Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to require that public schools provide four hours of body awareness training to students in K-12, and teacher training as a preventative method for helping reduce incidents of child sexual abuse. The State Department of Education will provide a framework for policies which will train teachers, involve parents and teach children through age-appropriate, evidence based curriculum. The goal is that children who are being abused will find a voice, a place where they could safely learn what to do if they need help.

I also requested Speaker Hilgers to consider LB325 as my Speaker Priority Bill. It is designed to provide Nebraskans with the best possible care and protect the welfare of vulnerable populations by certifying they are receiving professional, art-based therapeutic treatment. Also, to delineate the professional title of “Art Therapist” as a distinct and separate mental health and behavioral profession, credentialed by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

DISTRICT 17 HIGHWAY PROJECTS

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided me with a list of highway projects falling within Legislative District 17 beginning in 2021 or that will resume work not completed in 2020 in District 3. District Engineer, Kevin Domogalla let me know that his staff is pleased to assist District 17 Constituents with any highway related concerns they may have. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department of Transportation at dot.nebraska.gov, 402-370-3470 or contactus@nebraska gov. 

Highway            Project No.             Project Location                   Type of Work 

35                        STP-35-4(125)      Hubbard Southwest             Resurface, Structure 

57                        STPD-D3(107)      Norfolk Northeast                Bridges 

75                        NH-75-4(112)       Winnebago                          Reconstruct 

129                      NH-1:                   South Sioux City                   Bridges 

 

NDE SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT ON DRAFT HEALTH EDUCATION STANDARDS

The Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards this week and is seeking input from the public. I feel it is vital to be informed and contribute to the education of our children. The information collected will be used as part of the standards review and revision process.

State law requires updates to the standards for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies every seven years. The NDE is expanding that effort to review and update standards for each subject area, including health education, every seven years. Once approved by the State Board of Education the standards create the framework for health education in Nebraska. Input from health educators, higher education, and community organizations was used to develop the current draft. Approval for the standards is expected in the fall of 2021.

Nebraska content area standards reflect the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn in a given content area. By setting clear benchmarks for learning, content area standards provide guidance to teachers as they develop learning experiences for students. Standards do not prescribe particular curriculum, lessons, teaching techniques, or activities. Decisions about curriculum and instruction are made locally by individual school districts and classroom teachers.

The draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/

You can contribute your feedback at:

https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R

Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov. 

 

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 5, 2021, and March 11, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +17 (3900) 

Thurston County: +26 (1131) 

Wayne County: +8 (1076) 

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

 

Weekly UPDATE March 4, 2021
March 4th, 2021

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 38

What a beautiful week it was to be outside and enjoy the sunshine. My husband Mike, is a farmer who also works cattle. As we look forward to calving season beginning soon, these milder days are sure welcomed.

There was a significant shift in our Legislative time schedule this week as hearings are beginning to wrap up and we spend more in Executive Sessions. I am finding myself deeply appreciative of my colleagues who I see working so hard to make wise, strategic decisions for our great State. We will be setting all of our Priority Bills next week as well as deciding which Bills will come out of Committees.

This is my third year on the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee and expanding broadband internet service in rural areas has become one of the top issues in that Committee this year. Governor Pete Ricketts said he has heard too many stories of families having to drive their kids to libraries in town, parking lots near schools or high hills near their ranch to access adequate internet service to do homework. Businesses won’t locate or expand in rural areas unless they have high-speed internet. “We’ve got to have this infrastructure. It’s basic,” the Governor said. “This investment will allow all of Nebraska to be able to grow.” I am supportive of the Governor’s Legislative Bill 388, Adopt the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act, which is one of 11 bills being considered this year to boost expansion of broadband. It is evident that we are not going to be able to get the coverage we eventually hope to see in every Nebraska home this year, but we will be able to launch some important endeavors that will aid new business and bring in commerce, which in turn helps all Nebraskans. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will exec this week, and broadband will remain a high priority for me. I will keep you up to date with the latest developments.

Another key topic in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this week is railroad safety. The Committee heard a bill raising the question of how many people should be on a crew, and whether one person is sufficient to safely operate the train. Senator Lynne Walz introduced LB539 which would provide for a limit on the length of a train. There are places in Nebraska that have been developed long after railways were well established in the area. Often those residents then find the continual pattern of waiting on trains an inconvenience. Her bill is meant to address that issue.

I greatly appreciate Jeff Davis and the great team at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad that so faithfully provides service in District 17. Their presence significantly helps our commerce and I am proud to have them here. Annually, BNSF moves nearly 170,000 carloads of corn, wheat and other agricultural products from Nebraska to plants around the country for domestic use and to ports for export abroad. They are helping Nebraska farmers reach new markets by providing a vital transportation link for the state’s emerging ethanol industry. If you have any questions or concerns about a rail or the company, the BNSF Emergency Hotline is 1‐800‐832‐5452.

Union Pacific is another significant railway in Nebraska. I visited with Kelli O’Brien, from Union Pacific this week about new legislation being introduced. Kelli told me that for over 150 years, Union Pacific has been committed to Building America, serving as an economic engine and improving the standard of life for millions across the country. Building upon this heritage, they are launching the Union Pacific Community Ties Giving Program. The program is a grand opportunity to build safe, prosperous, and vibrant communities by investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs in the cities and towns in which we operate and our employees live and work. The application submission period is April 1, 2021 – May 31, 2021. If you or someone you know is interested, you can find more information at UP Community Ties Giving Program. To report grade crossing blockages or damage, please call Union Pacific at 1-800-848-8715. 

I began signing on to other Senator’s LBs this week:

LB4 Briese Tuition Credit for Armed Forces

LB40 Groene Adopt the Nebraska Rural Projects Act

LB310 Clements Change Inheritance Tax Rates and Exemption

LB387 Brewer/Gragert Change Taxation of Military Retirement

LB454 Friesen School Property Tax Stabilization Program

LB581 B Hansen Change Motorcycle Helmet Provisions

LR11CA Erdman Enactment of a Consumption Tax 

LR3CA Slama Verification of Voter ID

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19 

The number of positive tests reported for the periods February 26, 2021, and March 4, 2021 in District 17 are as follow: 

Dakota County +16 (3883) 

Thurston County: +6 (1105) 

Wayne County: +19 (1068) 

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 1404
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
Email: jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov
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