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Ladies and gentlemen, we did it. This year has been unlike anything we have ever faced as a legislative body due to the uncertainty our state faced as COVID ravaged the country and widespread protests calling for criminal justice reform spread across the country.
But the Legislature took action. After halting the legislative session on March 12, we came back in session to pass emergency appropriations to provide funding to the State to combat COVID-19.
This emergency funding provided much needed assistance for our local communities. This money was used to purchase needed personal protective equipment and allowed our local public health departments to increase staffing, expand call center operations, and allowed for the purchase of laptops to document the spread of the disease. Additional funding was used to pay for equipment and systems at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, allowing the University to purchase more testing equipment, increase their lab personnel, and other equipment as needed.
In response to the call for criminal justice reform, Senator Steve Lathrop and the rest of the Judiciary Committee held two listening forums in early June in both Omaha and Lincoln. It was a challenge for the Committee to conduct such important sessions during a pandemic, but they conducted these sessions in a safe way. Between the two sessions, the Judiciary Committee heard stories from nearly two hundred people explaining that we, as a Legislature, need to examine what is working in our communities and what can be improved upon.
Even with these unforeseen issues, the Legislature was still able to achieve our major goals this session: the renewal of our State’s business incentives program, significant property tax relief, and legislation that supports the Nebraska Transformational Project, a project that would allow for a significant expansion to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine through a partnership of the federal government, the State of Nebraska, and private partners.
Achieving these three goals in an abbreviated timeframe after we reconvened in late July was a daunting task. I want to thank all of my colleagues who worked as a team nonstop over the last couple of weeks to come to a bipartisan agreement that a vast majority of the Legislature is able to support. LB 1107, a bill that combines the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, the Nebraska Transformational Project Act, and significant property tax, passed Final Reading on a vote of 41-4-4 and was signed into law on August 13.
The past two years have been a whirlwind fighting for these major programs that will benefit the entire State of Nebraska, but I am honored to have been at the table fighting for our community. As the 106th Legislature, 2nd session wraps up, I hope I have made you proud. I look forward to serving you for two more years before I will retire. Even though I am two years away from being term-limited, I promise I will not stop fighting for my district to enact laws and policies that are equitable, fair and just.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.