NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Bruce Bostelman

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

District 23

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 bbostelman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 23rd 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. Bruce Bostelman

Weekly Update 5/20
May 20th, 2021

The Legislature continues to work late into the evening most nights to finish debating priority bills, as we are now in the final days of session, and many important bills and topics continue to be debated on the floor. At the time of this publication, we are in the 81st day of the session, and have five legislative days remaining before adjourning sine die on May 27th.

LB474, introduced by Senator Wishart, was debated on General File. This bill would set up the framework to legalize certain forms of cannabis for medical purposes. LB474 was debated for eight hours before it failed to receive the 33 votes needed to invoke cloture and end the filibuster. The bill will not be brought back up this session.

LB236 is a bill introduced by Senator Brewer which would have originally permitted counties in Nebraska to authorize the concealed carry of firearms without a permit. This original language was removed after the Nebraska Attorney General released an opinion stating it was likely unconstitutional. LB236 was amended and now includes language from my bill, LB85, which requires the Nebraska State Patrol to send a renewal notice to the holder of a concealed handgun permit (CHP) four months prior to the permit’s expiration. LB236 also provides a grace period of 30 days after the expiration of a CHP. The intent of this is to help prevent individuals from unknowingly violating the law. LB236 passed the first round of debate and advanced to Select File.

LB313, introduced by Senator Sanders, is a bill I have co-sponsored that creates an exemption for property owners to file late applications for a homestead exemption. This exemption is for those whose spouses have passed away in that year, and is intended to help those individuals that are grieving the loss of a spouse while they are still adapting to changes in their life with family finances. LB313 was advanced to Final Reading.

During May, graduation ceremonies take place all across the country, and families come together to celebrate the accomplishments of graduating seniors. I want to express my congratulations to these graduates who have worked hard and achieved their goal, whether that be graduating from high school, community college, or a university. The students that graduated this year have adapted to numerous challenges and changes in their education and school activities as a result of COVID-19. They should be commended for their perseverance.

May 9th to May 15th was National Police Week. Each year during this week, we thank the brave men and women who work in law enforcement for their service and sacrifice keeping us all safe in our communities, and we honor those that have fallen in the line of duty. I stand in strong support of law enforcement in Nebraska and across the country.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov

 

Weekly Update 5/12
May 12th, 2021

The National Day of Prayer was observed on May 6th, and I was honored to Sponsor Nebraska’s National Day of Prayer Virtual Service organized by Nebraska Family Alliance. This is an annual event traditionally held in the Warner Chamber at the Capitol; however, it was held virtually this year to include prayer leaders from across the state. During the event, we prayed for forgiveness and restoration in our country.

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

To update you on LB454, a bill that would provide state funds targeted to reduce property taxes in the 160 rural school districts that rely largely on property taxes to fund the education of the children in those districts. This bill would have provided a total of $7.5 million to District 23 schools.  Even though there was significant debate on the floor, this bill failed to advance to Select File by two votes.  What disappoints me is that once again rural Senators whose districts would have benefited from this bill voted against it.

LB396, introduced by Senator Brandt, was advanced to Select File. This bill would adopt the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act, which would connect elementary and secondary schools in Nebraska with Nebraska farms and locally produced food in a way to improve the nutritional quality of food students receive, as well as strengthen local farm economies. There is also an educational aspect to the program created by the bill.

LR11CA, introduced by Senator Erdman, is a proposal that would put the question of implementing a “consumption tax” on the ballot for Nebraskans to vote on. Under this proposed constitutional amendment, taxes such as the personal and corporate income tax, property tax, sales tax, and inheritance tax would all be repealed, and replaced with a consumption tax that would be applied to purchases of services and new goods. This is certainly a unique approach to overhaul the tax structure in Nebraska, however LR11CA did not receive the necessary amount of votes it needed to advance, and ultimately failed.

The last decade has been a decade of growth for Nebraska. Recent census data shows that Nebraska’s population grew 7.4% over the last ten years, which matches the U.S. population growth rate for the same period for the first time in decades. Later this year, the Legislature will redraw district boundaries based on population after more regional specific data is made available.

It’s that time of the year, farmers have been busy planting and that means slow moving machinery is on our roads.  Please slow down, give them time and the distance they need to safely operate.  I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov

Weekly Update 5/6
May 6th, 2021

On Sunday we celebrate a very special day, Mother’s Day.  A day we celebrate all mothers and let them know just how special they are and how much they are loved.  I would like to wish all mothers a very blessed and happy Mother’s Day, and I hope everyone will have the opportunity to be with family and celebrate mothers around Nebraska.

Registration is now open for the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The Youth Legislature is a four day simulation coordinated by the Clerk of the Legislature’s office in which students are given the opportunity to play the role of a state lawmaker. The Youth Legislature is open for all high school students and provides young Nebraskans who have an interest in government, politics, law, public policy, debate, and public speaking an in-depth learning experience with the Legislature’s process, rules, bills, and support from senators and legislative staff.

Student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral legislature. For students wishing to apply, please visit nebraskalegislature.gov/uyl and submit your application before the May 28 deadline. If you have any questions about the program, you can also call (402) 471-2788.

I want to highlight three bills that passed final reading and will now be sent to Governor Ricketts’ desk for his signature. LB507 was a bill I introduced to address environmental concerns with the ethanol plant at Mead. This bill ends the practice of using treated seed in the production of ethanol, if the resulting byproduct is deemed unsafe for animal consumption or land application.

LB338 is my personal priority which makes significant changes to how broadband will be deployed in Nebraska.  It allows the Public Service Commission to redirect Nebraska Universal Service Funds (NUSF) from one eligible telecommunications company (ETC) who is not fulfilling their service duties to another ETC using a rural based plan. It also requires recipients of NUSF funds to provide speed tests as a condition to receive ongoing NUSF support. These two sections of the bill are vitally important as we continue to build out high speed internet statewide.

LB500, introduced by Senator Geist, 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.

LB364 introduced by Senator Linehan, would have created a state income tax credit for donations to organizations that create private-school scholarships for low-income students. This bill was filibustered by opposing senators for 8 hours and ultimately failed to advance.

Earlier this week we will have debated LB454 a property tax relief bill that I support as it will provide state funds to our schools, reducing property taxes.  Since I am writing this prior to the debate I will update you in next week’s article.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Article 4/28
April 28th, 2021

The Legislature completed its constitutional duty to pass a budget for the next two years. Included in the biennial budget is over $40 million to increase high speed broadband across Nebraska, and an additional $500 million for property tax relief. Each of the budget bills were passed on final reading and sent to Governor Ricketts to sign.

Property taxes continue to be one of the most fiercely debated issues in the Legislature year after year. Nebraska continues to rank as one of the highest taxed states with regard to property taxes, especially when compared to neighboring states. I find it very disappointing that Senators, especially rural Senators continue to oppose property tax relief. Last week, two property tax bills were heard on the floor of the legislature on General File.

LB2, introduced by Senator Briese, reduces the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land to 50% of its actual value for school bond purposes. There were other measures of the bill that were filibustered and amended out of the bill in order for the bill to be moved to Select File. I

LB408 creates the Property Tax Request Act, which would put a cap on how much property taxes could be increased by each year to 3% from the year prior. However, this cap could be exceeded with a majority vote at an election, but could not be exceeded for more than two consecutive years. Currently, there is no cap on how much property tax levies can increase from year to year, and local governments continue to collect extra revenue well beyond the natural or actual rise in residential and agricultural property values. This bill was filibustered by opposing senators who did not see the need to reduce property taxes, claiming it was an attack on local control, and ultimately failed to advance.

LR14 is a resolution introduced by Senator Halloran that I have co-sponsored which calls for a Convention of States as outlined in article V of the United States Constitution to propose constitutional amendments. All 27 current amendments to the Constitution have been ratified by two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Convention of States process of amending the Constitution has not yet been utilized.

Currently, 15 states have already passed similar resolutions, and in order for a Convention of States to happen, 34 of the states would be needed. Last Friday, there was a pull motion to pull LR14 out of the Government committee to be placed on General File and debated by the full Legislature. This motion did not receive the amount of votes needed to be successful.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 4/20
April 20th, 2021

It has been another very busy week at the Capitol, the Legislature passed the sixty day mark in this year’s ninety day session.  We have started working later into the evening some nights debating bills.  All the budget bills have advanced past the second round of debate and been placed on Final Reading.

Two of my bills, LB507 and LB338 were advanced to Final Reading. LB507, one of the Natural Resources Committee priority bills.  The bill addresses the environmental concerns at the ethanol plant located near Mead.  It prohibits the use of treated seed in the production of ethanol, if the resulting byproduct is deemed unsafe for animal consumption or land application.

LB338, my personal priority bill, allows the Public Service Commission to redirect Nebraska Universal Service Funds from one eligible telecommunications company (ETC) who is not fulfilling their service duties to another ETC using a rural based plan. This plan could be developed by local businesses, schools, hospitals, Ag producers, and residents who are outside of city or village limits, and will designate who the community thinks will best serve their broadband needs.  It also requires recipients of NUSF funds to provide speed tests as a condition to receive ongoing NUSF support.  These two sections of this bill are very important as we continue to build out high speed internet statewide.

LB92, introduced by Senator Clements, passed on Final Reading. This bill streamlines the process for home-school graduates applying for colleges in Nebraska. Currently, home-school graduates are not automatically assumed to be residents of Nebraska for in-state tuition rate purposes, and must apply separately for in-state tuition. This has led to delays and confusion for some home-school graduates. LB92 addresses this by treating home-school graduates the same as any other high school graduate in the college admission process.

LB88 was debated for four hours on the Select File, and after a few proposed amendments, ultimately failed to advance. This bill would have allowed high school and college students to determine the news, opinions, and advertising content in school-sponsored media, such as school newspapers, and would have made these media “public forums.” This bill would have taken essential oversight away from the school administration and media advisers.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a virtual roundtable with the Nebraska Water Resources Association. Every year, a group of individuals interested in water policy enjoy an update from the chair of the Natural Resources Committee on the bills before the committee and an outlook on the rest of the session.

Nebraska is in phase 2B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which means vaccines are available for everyone aged 16 and up. I encourage everyone who wishes to receive the vaccine to register at vaccinate.ne.gov or with your local public health district. Your local pharmacy may also be scheduling appointments.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Article 4/13
April 13th, 2021

Last week, the legislature debated the biennial budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal years, a process outlined by the Nebraska State Constitution and state statutes and enacted in odd-numbered years. Budget bills are introduced by the speaker of the legislature at the request of the Governor. The Appropriations Committee then holds hearings for these bills, and works with the fiscal office to review information and complete a budget recommendation to the full legislature, which is condensed into a budget book.

At least three budget bills must be introduced; one for Senators’ salaries, one for judges’ and other elected officials’ salaries, and at least one, but generally a few that appropriate funds for everything else. A number of budget bills have passed the first round of debate on General File and were advanced to Select File. This week, legislature continued to discuss the budget and after its adoption, we will move on to taxation and spending measures.

The legislature also continues to debate speaker priority bills, senator priority bills, and consent calendar legislation. I want to highlight a few bills that advanced past the first round of debate to Select File.

LB644, introduced by Senator Ben Hansen would adopt the Property Tax Request Act, which aims to increase transparency with regard to property taxes. LB644 would require joint public hearings be held between major taxing entities whenever a political subdivision sets its property tax request at an amount that exceeds the prior year’s request. LB644 also requires that postcards, stating “Notice of Proposed Tax Increase” be mailed out to notify all property taxpayers affected by the proposed increased property tax levy. These postcards would also be required to state the date, time, and location for the public hearing, as well as contact information for each of the participating political subdivisions, and the amount of their property tax request. This bill is still a work in progress, as they are amendments that are likely to be introduced on Select File.

The needs of rural fire departments, and the need for fire protection services in rural areas of Nebraska are increasing. LB664, introduced by Senator Groene, adds $10,000 payments for each qualifying rural and suburban fire protection district, as well as qualifying villages and cities of the second class that are members of the mutual finance organization. This bill would greatly benefit rural fire departments in District 23, and across Nebraska, and is an important bill to show appreciation for the brave firefighters of this state and the invaluable work they do to keep us all safe.

I would like to thank the 4th graders from David City Elementary School that I had the pleasure of meeting last week. These young students had the opportunity to tour the Capitol and learn about the three branches of government and the history of the Nebraska Legislature.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 3/12
March 12th, 2021

Nebraska ranks as one of the lowest states at providing high speed broadband to its residents, and Rural Nebraska continues to fall behind cities with high speed connectivity as telecommunication providers continue failing to meet the needs of rural communities. This year, I have selected LB338 as my priority bill. LB338 would allow the Public Service Commission to redirect Nebraska Universal Service Funds from one eligible telecommunications company (ETC) who is not fulfilling their service duties to another ETC using a rural based plan. This plan would be developed by local businesses, schools, hospitals, Ag producers, and residents who are outside of city or village limits, and will designate who the community thinks will best serve their broadband needs.

There are two bills I would like to highlight that aim to make Nebraska the friendliest state for veterans and their families that passed the first round of floor debate, and were advanced to Select File.

I’ve cosponsored LB387 introduced by Senator Brewer, which would exempt 100% of military retirement pay from the Nebraska state income tax. This is an expansion of a similar bill passed and signed into law last year, which exempted 50% of military retirement pay from the state income tax.

LB389 introduced by Senator Sanders would cut red tape and establish an alternative path for military spouses to receive teaching certificates or permits in Nebraska if the applicant holds a valid teaching certificate permit in another state. The bill also creates preliminary permits for those waiting for certification. The goal is to expedite the process and reduce burdens faced by military families moving to Nebraska.

One of the Natural Resources Committee’s priority bills is LB507. LB507 is a bill I introduced that would prohibit the use of treated seed corn in the production of ethanol if the resulting byproduct is unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. I introduced this bill to address concerns with at least one ethanol plant in the state that is using this treated seed corn to produce ethanol, which has led to environmental concerns.

LB507 also contains a number of other bills, including LB395 which would authorize special depredation seasons for antelope, elk, and deer when there is evidence that crops or other property is being damaged by wildlife. The bill also allows non-residents of Nebraska to hunt during special depredation seasons.

Governor Ricketts announced that March 20th is “Meat on the Menu Day” In Nebraska. This is to call attention to the importance of a healthy diet, as meat is one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is. On this day, Nebraskans are encouraged to eat beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or any other type of meat to support our state’s farmers and ranchers.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

The 107th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 6 in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. As elected representatives, we believe that it is important that the state’s elected legislators are on the field during this time to represent our constituents.

Families, businesses, and other governmental entities have had to change and adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The Legislature is no different. On January 25, the Legislature will convene public committee hearings. Public committee hearings are one of the most important parts of our legislative process–a critical time in which the “second house” can be heard. To ensure that the committee hearings are safe and we are appropriately responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Legislature has modified its traditional hearing process.

Here are four ways that the process is changing this year:

  1. Morning and afternoon hearings. In order to minimize the chances of having to suspend our session, the Legislature will have both morning and afternoon committee hearings rather than floor debate during January and February.

 

  1. Expanded options to voice your opinion without testifying in person. The Legislature has developed a process for “written submitted testimony.” During the 2021 Session an individual may hand deliver their testimony between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. the morning of the hearing which will be provided to the committee members during the public hearing. This will allow someone who has health concerns to limit their exposure to others by not having to sit in the hearing room for an extended period of time. The option of submitting a position letter for the hearing record via email is still available. In addition, the Legislature has implemented a new feature allowing the online submission of comments on a bill at any stage of debate. The comments will be accessible by all Senators and staff to read. You can learn more about how to take advantage of these public input options at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/public-input.php

 

  1. Limited physical space. To accommodate social distancing, seating in the hearing room is limited. And because of the restricted physical space caused by the ongoing HVAC renovation of the State Capitol, there will be no overflow rooms available.

 

  1. Modified hearing protocols. Hearings will look and feel different. These include a number of procedures, including extra sanitization efforts, masks, and social distancing.

This is a unique year with unique challenges. We look forward to doing you work in the Legislature and appreciate your understanding of these modified procedures.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 1-21
January 15th, 2021

It has been a busy and productive week at the Capitol. On January 20th, the Legislature completed its 10-day process of new bill introduction. As of the time I am writing this, 486 bills have been introduced for the 2021 session. I have introduced several bills that impact broadband deployment outside of cities, towns, and villages, prescription drug monitoring, motor vehicle insurance verification, and veteran vehicle registration.

Next week we will move into committee hearings, these hearings are open to public testimony and enable Senators to become more informed on proposed legislation. With new COVID safeguards in place there will be changes to how we conduct hearings. The new hearing procedures and schedules along with other legislative information may be found on the homepage of the Nebraska Legislature website at  https://nebraskalegislature.gov/calendar/hearings_range.php.

Governor Ricketts presented his State of the State address to the Legislature last Thursday. In his speech he detailed his top priorities for 2021, and addressed his proposed budget for this biennium. One of the Governor’s proposals was to allocate $20 million in each of the next two years to expand broadband access in rural areas of Nebraska where it is needed.

He also highlighted an initiative I have co-sponsored to continue efforts to make Nebraska the most welcoming state for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This initiative (LB 387 introduced by Senator Brewer) would exempt 100% of military retirement income from federal adjusted gross income.

Governor Ricketts also proposed limiting growth of property taxes imposed by local governments to 3% in an effort to control property taxes which have been spiraling out of control over the last decade.

I support all three of these measures. Expanding access to rural broadband, making Nebraska a better place for veterans and their families, and property tax relief will continue to be priorities that I have in the Legislature.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the legislature was in recess to honor his legacy of fighting against racial discrimination. It is imperative that we all strive to continue his work of creating a more just and equal society.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Nebraska. Since 2015, with the creation of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force involving law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, and community partners, the state has made leaps forward in how it combats human trafficking. I meet with the northeast regional task force members.  The Attorney General’s website contains important information and posts annual reports on this issue, which can be found at ago.nebraska.gov/combating-human-trafficking.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Weekly Update 1-14
January 15th, 2021

The 107th Legislature, first session is under way. The first day of the session involved mostly administrative matters and the election of leadership positions for the biennium.  Our first business item was to elect a new Speaker and Senator Mike Hilgers from District 21 in Lincoln was unanimously elected as Speaker.  The remainder of the morning consisted of elections to fill a number of positions and the administering of oaths for new and re-elected Senators and Legislative Officers by Nebraska’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican.

The election of committee chairs also took place during this time.  I was elected Chair of the Natural Resources Committee where I have served as vice-chair for the past four years. The Natural Resources Committee is responsible for processing legislation concerning areas such as irrigation, flood control, public power and natural resources districts, the environment, energy, and recreation.

I will remain on the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee.  The committee is responsible for processing legislation concerning highways, motor vehicles, railroads, common carriers, and aeronautics.  I am pleased to serve on both of these committees as they deal with subject matters that are very important to me and to the constituents of District 23.  I look forward to hearing and working on legislation in these areas that benefits the people of Nebraska.

The second day of session involved starting the introduction of new bills, and there are a couple bills I wish to highlight. I introduced LB 86 which requires active drug prescribers and dispensers to register for a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). This is an electronic database that tracks the prescription of controlled substances, such as opioids in Nebraska. When a controlled substance is dispensed, that prescription is entered into the state PDMP. This data can be utilized to monitor prescription trends, and prevent individuals from receiving the same prescription from different pharmacies.

I also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Briese’s LB 4, a bill that would increase the tuition credit for members of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves at public colleges and universities in Nebraska from 50% to 75%.  All of our service members are very important to our state and I am glad to see Senator Briese bring this bill to support our Reservists.

If you are interested in following the legislative process, or want an in-depth look on what is happening in the Legislature, the Unicameral Update Newsletter provides sections and information for every bill heard on the floor of the legislature each day as well as information on each bill heard in committee. This newsletter is a useful tool to gain additional knowledge about the introducer, sponsors, intent and language of the bills proposed and debated. Should you wish to receive a print edition of the newsletter call 402-471-2788 or email uio@leg.ne.gov. The Unicameral Update is also published online at update.legislature.ne.gov.

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Bruce Bostelman

District 23
Room 1117
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2719
Email: bbostelman@leg.ne.gov
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