NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov

Weekly Column – February 19th
February 19th, 2021

As you may know, I have served on the Retirement Committee for six years and have served as Chair of the committee for five. Since I have been with the Committee, I have been working with OPS on various issues related to the investments and management of the Omaha School Employees Retirement System or OSERS for short. Before going into the legislation I introduced on OSERS this year, I want to give you some background on the work the Retirement Committee has done on the OSERS retirement system.

In 2016, at the request of OPS, we passed legislation to move the investment authority of the OSERS retirement assets to the Nebraska Investment Council – which also invests all the state-administered retirement system assets. As part of that legislation, the governance of the OSERS plan was shifted from the OPS Board of Education to the OSERS Board of Trustees.

In 2019, OPS expressed interest in exploring transferring the management of the OSERS plan to the Public Employees Retirement Board (PERB), which already administers 6 retirement systems for the State. I introduced legislation for the PERB to produce a Work Plan, which was completed in June of last year.  It examined management transfer tasks, projected a 3-year timeline for the transition to occur, and estimated transfer costs which ranged from $3.8 million to $6.1 million, with the most likely cost tagged at $4.2 million.

The OPS Board of Education reviewed the Work Plan and last August voted to move forward with the management transfer, with the understanding that OPS is solely responsible for all transfer costs and that OPS would continue to retain all financial obligation and liability for the OSERS plan.

I agreed to introduce legislation to move forward with the understanding that the State will not assume any liability for any costs related to this plan, nor will it assume the near $1 billion unfunded liability for the OSERS plan. I also made it clear that the management transfer is not a merger of the OSERS plan with the School retirement plan – they remain separate retirement systems.

On Tuesday, February 23, the Retirement Committee will hold hearings on a package of bills I have introduced to carry out the transfer of OSERS management to the PERB.  Here is a summary of the bills.

LB 144 was introduced as merely a placeholder bill. Under our legislative rules, retirement bills can only be introduced in the 90-day session, so this bill will carry over until next session and serve as a vehicle for any follow-up legislation needed on the management transfer.

Since the Work Plan was completed last summer, additional study and tasks have been identified that need to be completed before the transfer occurs. LB 145 requires an IRS Legal Compliance Audit to be conducted in 2021 to determine if the plan is in compliance with all IRS requirements. Any audit issues identified in the compliance audit that require statutory changes will be amended into the placeholder bill and taken up in the 2022 session. It also requires the State Auditor to begin auditing the OSERS plan in 2022 to examine any operational issues that may need to be addressed prior to the transfer and requires the PERB to continue to advise the Retirement Committee of any additional issues that need to be addressed prior to management transfer. To accommodate these additional examinations to ensure compliance audit and operational issues can be resolved, the date of transfer will be delayed one year until September 1, 2024.

LB 146 allows school retirees and school employees who have terminated employment with any school district in the state, including Omaha, to provide substitute service 8 days in every calendar month during the 6 months following termination or retirement. This new policy makes it possible for former teachers to sub more frequently during this 6-month time period which will help address the tremendous need for substitutes teachers in all school districts throughout the state.

LB 147 is the main management transfer bill that makes necessary changes for a transfer to occur on September 1, 2024. It clarifies that this is not a merger of the Class V retirement plan with the School plan and contains extensive liability provisions to ensure that the OPS Board of Education retains all financial responsibilities and obligations for the Class V retirement plan and indemnifies and holds harmless the State of Nebraska, the PERB and the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System from any financial responsibility or funding obligations of the Class V retirement system.

The fifth bill in the package is LB 582, which once again vests retirement administration authority in the OPS Board of Education until the OSERS plan is transferred to the PERB effective September 1, 2024. It also grants the OPS Board of Education the authority to appoint a new Board of Trustees and adds a duty to the Board of Trustees to facilitate the transition and transfer of the plan management to the PERB. Vesting administrative authority with the OPS Board of Education which is seeking this transfer will ensure a smoother transition.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – February 12th
February 16th, 2021

Since being elected as your State Senator, I have heard from many of our locally owned pharmacies and their issues with Pharmacy Benefit Managers, also known as PBM’s.  As a retired insurance agent, I have introduced and successfully guided legislation across the finish line to help address the issues raised, whether it has to deal with price transparency, claw back provisions in contracts, or gag clauses prohibiting pharmacies from telling the consumer how much the drug actually costs.

While we have made some progress, there is still much work to be done because it is such a complex issue for all stakeholders.  Knowing this is an ongoing issue, this year, I introduced LB 375, a bill that would adopt the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Regulation and Transparency Act.  Before its introduction, I assured all stakeholders I would be willing to meet with them and listen to their concerns about the legislation.  With this in mind, on Friday, February 12, I, along with Chairman of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee Matt Williams, and Senator Adam Morfeld, hosted a roundtable discussion with pharmacists from across the state, representatives from the insurance industry, and representatives from the PBM industry.

We heard from all attendees about issues ranging from auditing requirements, maximum allowable costs, spread pricing, specialty pharmacies and drugs, drug coupons and rebates, and what is known as 340B programs, which is a topic I’d like to explain further.  As a former insurance agent, I had not heard of this program before recently because it is an agreement between hospitals and other health care facilities and the pharmaceutical industry, but I believe it is something that deserves a lot more recognition.

The 340B program requires any pharmaceutical manufacturer that participates in Medicaid to sell outpatient drugs at a discounted price to healthcare organizations that care for uninsured or low-income patients, such as community health centers, children’s hospitals, critical access hospitals, and public and nonprofit disproportionate share hospitals that serve low-income and indigent populations.

These savings to the hospitals through the 340B program are then reallocated to provide healthcare-related services that may not otherwise be available.  These savings allow hospitals to provide uncompensated care, additional patient care services such as chemotherapy in our more rural areas of the state, and provides them the ability to provide discounted and/or free drugs to patients in need.  According to data I was provided, there are 64 hospitals from across the state that are not just eligible, but participate in this program.

I realize there is still much more work to be done on LB 375. While we did not come to an agreement today on how the bill should look moving forward, I believe we moved the needle.  Pharmacists, pharmacy benefit managers, and the insurance industry all want to do what is best for their consumers while keeping costs of drugs low to allow for greater access.  I believe with greater dialogue between all the stakeholders, and their commitment to this issue, it will be just a matter of time before we come to an agreement on how to move forward on this important topic.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – February 5th
February 5th, 2021

As most of you know, one of the unique characteristics of the Nebraska Legislature is that every bill introduced by a senator receives a public hearing.  This week, I would like to discuss two of the bills I introduced that had their committee hearing this week.  LB 337 – Adopt the Step-Therapy Reform Act was heard on Monday in the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and LB 143 – Require notice to school districts regarding changes in child placement was heard in the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

LB 337 establishes the Step Therapy Reform Act which enshrines into state statute common sense guard rails for the practice of step therapy. Step therapy, also known as Fail First, is a program commonly used by insurers to control the order in which a patient takes certain therapies approved for a given condition. Under step therapy, a patient may be required to try one or more alternative prescription drugs chosen by their insurer before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by that patient’s health care provider. Because of this, a patient may have delayed access to the best therapy for their condition.

The Committee heard from four testifiers in support, 8 testifiers who submitted written testimony, and 38 people and groups who submitted letters in support of the bill and there was no opposition to the bill.  This level of support told me, and the Committee, that this is an issue we as the Nebraska Legislature needs to address.  The Committee advanced the bill with no dissenting votes and the bill was placed on General File on February 4.

LB 143 requires that if a determination is made by the Department of Health and Human Services that it is in the best interest of the child who is in the care of the department to not remain in the same school district after a placement change is made, the notice of placement change that is filed with the Court shall also be provided to the new school where the child will be enrolled.

Currently, the Department provides what is known as a “superintendent’s letter” to the new school if a child is to be placed in the school district, but there is no statutory requirement as to when this letter is delivered, which can lead to a disruption for the child if the new school is unable to provide needed services right away.  By providing a deadline to the Department to notify the new school, our students who are in foster care or wards of the state will be more successful because the schools will be made aware of the needs of the student.

During the hearing, the Health and Human Services Committee heard from area superintendents, school advocacy groups, and child advocacy groups and there was no opposition during the hearing.  As of this column, the Health and Human Services Committee has not taken action on the bill, but I believe the bill will advance as this communication is needed in order to allow our schools to set the students in the foster care system for success.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – January 29th
January 29th, 2021

As you may have heard, I, along with the other members of the Appropriations Committee, are in quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure.  I have tested negative and I am symptom free, but it is important we all adhere to public health guidelines to fight this pandemic.  This year, I introduced LB 19 on behalf of the Board of Cosmetology, Electrology, Esthetics, Nail Technology and Body Art.  LB 19 is an extension of the effort the Health and Human Services Committee and the Legislature has taken over the past few years in updating the statutes that govern these professions.

LB 19 updates the definition of manicuring to include the practice of performing on the natural fingernails of a person and provides a clear cut definition of the practice of pedicuring.  Before LB 19, the act of pedicuring fell under the definition of manicuring, but the practice was never defined itself.

LB 19 also updates statutes regarding tattooing to align the definition with current industry standards and puts into statute language that will allow for temporary body art facilities and temporary body artists.  This is important as it will allow for the State to host body art conventions at locations such as the Pinnacle Bank Arena or the CHI Health Center in Omaha.  The temporary body art facility will be licensed and inspected by the department and the license is only valid for up to seventy-two hours and shall expire at the conclusion of the event.  The temporary body artist license could allow the artist to offer services at the temporary body art facility or to be hosted in by a facility licensed as a traditional body art facility.  An individual must be registered by the State before they can practice as a temporary body artist and the registration should only last for fourteen consecutive days which can be renewed up to two times per calendar year.

During the hearing on LB 19, the Health and Human Services Committee heard from multiple industry professionals who expressed the need for this legislation, particularly the need for statutes that would license natural nail procedures.  Since individuals do not have to be licensed to perform these services, it means these individuals providing these services do not have to have minimum competency, do not have to adhere to disinfectant regulations, equipment regulations, and general safety regulations as that licensed nail technicians must meet.

Since these individuals providing unlicensed services do not have to meet minimum competency standards and disinfectant standards, this puts our citizens at risk.  By using tools that could be unclean, our citizens are at risk of contracting mycobacterium fortuitum or even MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph infection that can lead to severe scarring, amputation, and even death.

Unfortunately, there have been multiple lawsuits that have been brought to my attention relating to incidents due to unlicensed individuals providing these types of services that have resulted in harm to the customer.  Similar legislation I introduced in 2019 was vetoed last year by the Governor after 30 of my colleagues supported this effort to update our statutes.  Because this bill improves public health, while lessening barriers to enter the profession, I am willing and able to work with opponents of the bill and the members of the Health and Human Services Committee to move this important legislation forward.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – January 13th
January 13th, 2021

Greetings!  I hope you and your family enjoyed the holiday season and I pray you have stayed healthy during this deadly pandemic.

The 107th Legislative Session kicked off on Wednesday, January 6.  This year we will conduct a 90-day session, also known as the long session, with the expected adjournment date in early June.  There are notable changes to the makeup of the legislative body.  We welcome back Senator Ray Aguilar, Senator Mike Flood and Senator Rich Pahls, who previously served in this body, and welcome five new freshmen senators to the body.

This year, Senator Mike Hilgers of Lincoln was elected by unanimous consent as Speaker of the Legislature.  Senator Dan Hughes of Venango replaces Senator Hilgers as Chair of the Executive Board of the Legislative Council.  The first contested leadership race was that of Vice Chair of the Executive Board.

In a close vote, Senator Tony Vargas of Omaha defeated Senator Julie Slama of Peru on a vote of 26 to 23 to retain the position.  Senator Ben Hansen of Blair defeated Senator Matt Hansen of Lincoln to become the next Chair of the Business and Labor Committee on a vote of 26-23.  Senator Lynne Walz of Fremont defeated Senator Mike Groene of North Platte to be the next Chair of the Education Committee in the closest contested race of the day.  On the first round of votes, Senator Walz and Senator Groene were tied with 24 votes each.  On the second round of votes, Senator Walz triumphed with 25 votes to 23 votes.  The last contested race was that of the Natural Resources Chair, which Senator Bruce Bostelman of Brainard defeated Senator Tim Gragert of Creighton on a vote of 33-14.

I was unanimously re-elected as chairman of the Retirement Committee.   During this upcoming session, I intend for the Retirement Committee to continue its work in protecting our state retirement plans assets, responsibly managing taxpayer dollars via the State’s contribution to the plans to provide economic security to our retirees.

In addition to serving as Chair of the Retirement Systems Committee, I have been selected by my colleagues to serve on the Appropriations committee.  I will also serve on the Committee on Committees which is a committee that assigns senators to committees.

As you may know, the first ten days of session is the only time Senators are allowed to introduce legislation.  Given that each Senator has their own priorities, bills are introduced on a multitude of issues, but based upon bills that have already been introduced, I believe the major issues facing this legislative session relate to the COVID pandemic, corrections reform, additional measures for property tax reform, school spending, and law enforcement reform.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – August 14th
August 14th, 2020

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – March 27th
March 30th, 2020

As you may have heard, the Nebraska Legislature has recessed for the foreseeable future, due to the global Coronavirus outbreak.  With a majority of members in the body being in the high risk category, Speaker Scheer and Executive Board Chairman Hilgers believe it to be in the best interest to distance ourselves to prevent possible spread.  

 After we recessed, it was determined we needed to resume the session momentarily to pass an emergency appropriations bill in response to the pandemic.  On Monday, a vast majority of members came together to adopt a proposed amendment that would appropriate close to $84 million dollars of state funds to assist with response efforts.  This legislation unanimously passed the final round of debate on Wednesday and was immediately signed into law by the Governor.   

As of today, we have appropriated $38,156,700 dollars to local response efforts which provides additional funding to local jurisdictions to allow them to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies, and to support the local health departments for staffing, PPE, call centers, IT needs, and other expenditures.

$4,004,000 has been appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health to cover costs for overtime and additional staff.  The areas this touches are providing for sustained staffing for epidemiologists, support services, and interpreters to meet the higher demand. An additional $13,000,000 million dollars is being appropriated to cover additional staffing needs at our Veterans Hospitals and other DHHS care facilities.

We have decided to appropriate $3,458,900 dollars to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to provide for additional lab testing, laboratory personnel, and equipment to provide testing for the state.  Included in this appropriation is $100,000 to purchase UV lights that will be used to disinfect personal protective equipment that was once considered “single-use”, thus allowing for less demand on the supply chain. The university will also be creating a Knowledge Center system which will be used by coalitions and stakeholders across the state to create a platform for communications, bed tracking, and resource sharing that will be used across the state.

Finally, we have created an additional reserve of $25,000,000 million dollars of unobligated funds if any additional funding is needed.  If not utilized, this money will return to the rainy day fund.

Given this is an ever changing pandemic, we don’t know when the Legislature will reconvene to conduct normal business.  You can help us achieve this by slowing, and ultimately, ending the spread by practicing precautionary measures such as washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and staying home when you are sick.  While there are no known cases in Legislative District 24, we all must remain vigilant because it only takes one person to spread a case in a community.  

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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. 

Weekly Column – March 13th
March 13th, 2020

In this week’s column, I would like to share important information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  This is a major public health issue that is affecting every corner of the globe.

As you may know, COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes from someone who is afflicted by the disease.  While it may be possible to become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus, this is not the primary source of transmission.  Therefore, it is imperative that if you are feeling ill, stay home.

As of March 10, there were more than 700 confirmed cases in the United States and in just two days, that number almost doubled to 1,323 confirmed cases, with 10 confirmed cases in Nebraska.  COVID-19 has symptoms of a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing that will show 2 to 14 days after exposure. It is all but certain the number of confirmed cases will spike at an alarming rate, given that people who have been exposed may not be showing any symptoms yet.  According to Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an untold amount of people in the United States will be exposed to the virus in the coming months.

At least 80% of the cases globally have been mild, but if the death rate continues to hover around two percent, that could lead to tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States alone.  It is important that everybody reading this column take proactive steps for slowing the spread of the disease. Measures being adopted today such as the closing of schools, the cancelling of mass gatherings, self-quarantining, and avoiding crowds is designed to help alleviate this concern.  People will continue to get sick, but at a slower rate as to not overwhelm our medical system.

The two most vulnerable populations at risk for COVID-19 are those who are over age 60 and/or those with chronic medical conditions.  Even if you are young and healthy, it is important to remain diligent and to follow social distancing measures to avoid spreading the disease to others.   While most healthy individuals who become infected will only have mild symptoms, they can spread it to those at risk who can become very sick, very easily.

Thanks to coordination with our excellent professionals at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who specialize in infectious diseases, Nebraska is one of the most prepared states for this outbreak.  Our state government is working closely with experts and are listening to their guidance, but that can only do so much. Your help is needed as well. My call to action is for you to take the appropriate steps to help mitigate this outbreak – wash your hands frequently, sneeze into your elbow, consider avoiding events with large crowds, and stay home if you’re feeling ill.  Things will continue to get worse before they get better, but we all can make sure this outbreak doesn’t get as bad as it could.

If you would like more information on COVID-19, more information can be found at www.unmc.edu/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov or call Four Corners Health Department at 402-362-2621 or the United Way Resource Hotline at 211 or 402-444-6666.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – March 6th
March 6th, 2020

In this weeks column, I would like to discuss a couple of bills that are advancing through the legislative process which will make positive changes for Nebraskansthat I am proud to support: LB 43 – Adopt the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights Act, introduced by Senator Bolz and LB 997 – Adopt the Out-of-Network Emergency Medical Care Act which was introduced by Senator Morfeld.

LB 43 provides for victims of sexual assault certain rights related to physical examinations, interviews, and/or depositions arising out of the assault.  Those who are victims of sexual assault would have the right to have an advocate of their choosing during a physical examination and have the right to a free forensic medical examination regardless of whether or not charges are pressed.  For those victims between three years of age and eighteen years of age, they would have a right to a forensic interview at established child advocacy centers by professionals who are specifically trained to handle these cases.

If a victim arrives at a hospital and reports they have been sexually assaulted, the health care provider will notify the most appropriate law enforcement agency of the assault and shall submit the related evidence of the assault to law enforcement Law enforcement shall then retain the evidence for a time longer than the statute of limitations.  The victim would then have access to any reports regarding the sexual assault, including results of analysis of the evidence and whether or not the evidence matches anybody in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System.

LB 43 advanced from General File on March 5 on a vote of 41 to 0, with 8 not voting.

LB 997 allows for consumers to avoid “surprise billing” in emergency situations by out-of-network providers or facilities.  During a vast majority of emergency medical situations, an individual does not have the ability to check whether or not all of the medical professionals that will be treating them are in-network.  The Kaiser Foundation published a report in December, 2019, that heart-attack victims have a 50% risk of higher out-of-network charges than other diagnoses.  This is because while the facility or the initial emergency room doctor is in network, the cardiologist on duty may not be in-network.  When more medical professionals are added to the treatment of the condition, the risk for out-of-network charges increases.

LB 997 seeks to remedy this issue by providing that if a covered person receives emergency services at any health care facility, the facility or provider shall not bill the individual at a rate in excess of any deductible, copayment, or coinsurance amount applicable to the in-network services pursuant to the individual’s health plan.  During an emergency, the only thing a person cares about should be getting timely treatment, not if a provider is in-network or out-of-network.  Therefore, I was proud to support LB 997 on all stages of debate.  LB 997 advanced from Select File to Final Reading on March 6.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Weekly Column – February 28th
February 28th, 2020

As most of you know, one of the unique characteristics of the Nebraska Legislature is that every bill introduced by a senator receives a public hearing. On Thursday, February 27th, we concluded committee hearings for the 482 legislative bills and 16 legislative resolutions introduced this year. The legislature began full day debate on bills on Tuesday, March 3rd. With 27 days remaining in this short legislative session, we still have a lot of important legislation to tackle, including rebalancing the two-year biennial budget.

We have also reached the deadline for designating priority bills. As many of you know, the Rules of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature allow each senator to designate one bill each year as their priority bill. Senators may prioritize a bill they introduced or legislation introduced by another Member or Committee. In addition to individual Senator priority bills, each standing Committee may prioritize two bills that it advances. The Speaker of the Legislature is permitted to prioritize 25 bills.

Prioritized bills that have been advanced out of a committee will be heard by the Legislature before the bills that have not been prioritized. During this short 60-day session, it is unlikely that a bill advanced out of a committee will make it to floor debate without being prioritized. With 49 Senator priority bills, 31 Committee priority bills, and 25 Speaker Priority Bills, we are looking at the possibility of 105 total prioritized bills. Since we have already debated a handful of prioritized bills, the remaining bills will be debated over the course of the next 27 legislative days.

One of the bills that has received a speaker priority is a bill I introduced, LB 760 which would require health carriers to provide coverage for asynchronous review by a dermatologist by way of telehealth.   LB 760 ensures that Nebraskans, regardless of where they live, have the ability to access quality healthcare via telemedicine by a dermatologist, if the service is provided by asynchronous review, otherwise known as store-and-forward.

For example, if you were a patient in Gothenburg, and you visit your family physician who notices a suspicious area of skin on your forehead, that physician can take a photo and submit it to a dermatologist whose specialized knowledge allows them to assess, diagnose and treat the suspicious area. What was found, however, is that if the photo is sent to a dermatologist who is not participating in the live conversation, that service is not being covered by all insurers.

LB 760 advanced from the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee on February 11 on a vote of 7 ayes and 1 nay.  While there was one dissenting voice in advancing the bill from Committee, as technology expands access to quality care, it is vital that payment systems keep up in a changing world. With a growing trend in skin cancer occurrences in this state, it is imperative that we ensure Nebraskans, no matter where they live, the ability to access quality healthcare via telemedicine, even if the consulting dermatologist is not able to attend the live visit.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room 2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
Search Senator Page:
Topics

You are currently browsing the archives for the Column category.

Committee Assignments
    Appropriations
    Committee On Committees
    Nebraska Retirement Systems
Search Current Bills
Search Laws
Live Video Streaming
Find Your Senator