NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Myron Dorn

Sen. Myron Dorn

District 30

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 mdorn@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 30th 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. Myron Dorn

March 5, 2021 Update
March 4th, 2021

Tax season, calving season, basketball season; whatever keeps you busy at this time of year, I hope you are also following the activity here at the Nebraska Legislature. The workload for the Appropriations Committee reaches its maximum at this point in the session. We finished reviewing state agency and program requests this week. Next week, we will meet in executive session on all the bills heard by our committee, and vote to advance those to the floor for debate, or hold them in committee. 

Last week we received a positive forecast from the Economic Advisory Board, which increased revenue for the next year by about $204 million. This increase in revenue reflects not only state revenue but also the impact CARES act funding and stimulus package dollars flowing into the state have had. I am thankful our economy is as strong as it is, but much goes into creating the budget. Not only do we consider agency requests, direct funding requests in bills, but also other bills that have a cost, and the Governor’s proposals. Appropriation Committee Chairman Stinner is keeping to a firm deadline for having the budget out by March 25th.

Senator Vargas from Omaha introduced LB 637, which provides Local Public Health Departments clear authority over the spread of contagious diseases and other public health related issues and gives those departments the ability to issue necessary Directed Health Measures (DHMs) for their communities. We had laws on the books dealing with emergencies that functioned well, but until you get into an event like the pandemic, you don’t always see how those will work out. That resulted in questions. For example, most Public Health Departments did not have authority to issue mask mandates. It took some time but it was determined that cities such as Beatrice had the ability to issue mask requirements, not Public Health Departments.

Early on in the pandemic, in visiting with Kim Showalter, director of Public Health Solutions for Gage county, I learned the steps they were working through, and how quickly things were changing, sometimes hourly.  Also, a public health dept in western Nebraska could face entirely different situations than Beatrice or Lincoln. Being on the front line, the health departments are aware of the conditions affecting their specific regions. 

Senator Walz introduced LB 539 before the Transportation committee to restrict the length of trains to 8,500 feet. This mirrors what surrounding states have enacted. There have been concerns at times with 15,000 foot trains, blocking crossings for too long of a time period. Both Burlington (BNSF) and Union Pacific were both opposed to this bill. We do need to be mindful about the important role of rail transportation in our state’s economy, moving grain and other products we produce in Nebraska. Efficiencies do come with having unit trains of specific lengths to meet capacities of cargo ships, for example. However, safety is a critical component as well. One thing about any bill that comes before the Legislature, there are proponents and opponents, lobbyists for both sides of an issue, committees, staff and senators who all consider the contents of the bill. So if it does get through the process and becomes a law, it has usually been well vetted for soundness with a consideration of the pros and cons.

With 52 days left in the session, there is plenty of work yet to be done. Please continue to contact me with any questions or concerns. mdorn@leg.ne.gov  402-471-2620

 

If you have not yet filed your state income tax, find information HERE about the School District Property Tax Credit.
If you have already filed, instructions on how file an amended return (1040XN) to obtain the credit can be found HERE.
The form for calaculating your credit can be found HERE.
For complete information go to the Nebraska Department of Revenue website: https://revenue.nebraska.gov/
February 26, 2021 Update
February 26th, 2021

Every Nebraskan knows how quickly our weather changes, and I am grateful for recent days of sunshine and warmer temperatures. The Legislature is also moving quickly, with over one third of the session completed and public hearings on all 684 bills wrapping up in the next two weeks. 

In Appropriations, we have concluded hearing all our bills and reports from state agencies. Now the detailed work begins for our committee as we hammer out the state budget. The goal is to have that ready to present to the full legislative body by mid to late March. 

The Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board met on Friday and raised the revenue forecast by $204 million for the current fiscal year FY2020-21, $165 million for fiscal year FY2021-22, and $93 million for FY2022-23.  We will proceed with as much confidence in the numbers as we can, remembering full well what happened in 2019 and in 2020. The best predictions cannot always account for floods or pandemics.

That said, given this latest report, the state revenue picture continues to be better than one might expect. While individuals, families and businesses have most definitely had their struggles in the past couple of years, the overall economy of Nebraska has been consistently strong. This could allow for some new projects and some enhancement of existing programs, a welcome change to looking for places to cut the budget.

I had three bills heard in committee this week. LB102 provides a local option for consolidation of duties when a vacancy occurs in the Office of an elected Clerk of the District Court or when an incumbent Clerk of the District Court does not seek re-election. The bill gives local control to the county board and permits it to make the decision to either keep or eliminate the office of the elected Clerk of the District Court.

I introduced this bill because it makes sense to me to put the oversight for courts under the judicial branch. It would make services more efficient and it would save counties money, which would help with property tax relief.

LB 462 would provide a 3% rate increase for behavioral health providers for the next two fiscal years in Department of Health and Human Services programs. The Appropriations Committee heard this bill on Thursday. We had support from the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations and several members spoke about the increased demand for their services due to the pandemic. Mental health continues to be an issue across so many segments of our community, and is having a negative effect on our correctional system. I hope we can enhance and support this vital form of assistance. 

My final bill was also heard by the Appropriations Committee. LB 42 appropriates $10,000 from the General Fund to the Hall of Fame Trust Fund each year to help pay for statues and pedestals that are allowed and are on display in the Capital. Induction to the Hall is quite an honor, but it can also be quite the economic burden to the descendants of the honoree. I encourage you to come to the Capitol and see the tributes to those who have contributed so much to the history and growth of our state. Find more information at https://history.nebraska.gov/nebraska-hall-fame.

Senators receive regular reports from the Nebraska Department of Labor about unemployment, claims and CARES Act funds coming into the state. In the past 10 months, between regular unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, federal pandemic unemployment, pandemic emergency compensation, and the lost wages assistance program, $1,269,548,180 has been paid out in Nebraska. This becomes part of the revenue stream for our state. While we would have had more in actual wages without the pandemic and the funds do not make up for all losses, at least we have not lost all these dollars. That is an obvious benefit to both individuals and the state as a whole.

In addition, the Governor recently announced another $200M in program dollars for rental assistance, which will be coordinated by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) . The funds are targeted towards landlords and renters, and represent another source of aid coming to Nebraska. Find the guidelines for the rental assistance program and more information at https://coronavirus.nebraska.gov .

If you have any questions or concerns, I welcome your emails and calls. Contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call my office at 402-471-2620. Stay safe!

 

February 19, 2021 Update
February 19th, 2021

When a temperature above zero feels like a heat wave, you appreciate the strength and tenacity of Nebraska’s people – and livestock. My dad always said that over a long enough period of time, the weather evens out back to average. Here’s hoping that doesn’t have to happen this summer.

The Appropriations Committee is still meeting in both the morning and afternoon. When we have heard from all state agencies and finished hearing the bills sent to our committee, we will work on putting together a budget to present to the full Legislature. At this point, we hope to have that finished up by early to mid March.

Two of my own bills were heard by the Appropriations Committee on Friday. LB 361 would allocate funds to the Department of Education to be used by our state’s Educational Service Units (ESU). ESUs were established by the Legislature in 1965 to provide more cost effective services for school districts through a cooperative effort. There are 17 service units across the state which are funded through grants, contracts for services with schools, and through a 1.5 cent levy of property tax. Ten years ago the budget for the ESUs was about $15.5 million. Due to budget cuts throughout the last decade, the ESU budget was down to $13.3 million in 2020. Like every other entity, the ESUs have seen increases in salaries, the cost of health insurance, and increased operational expenses.  This bill would begin to bring the ESUs back to the level of funding they had ten years ago. 

LB 103 is a short, simple bill that could have a big impact on Gage County. I introduced this bill after several months of discussion with the county board and state government officials. The bill would appropriate $2 million in fiscal year 2021-22, and another $2 million in FY 2022-23, to any county that has a judgment in excess of $25 million rendered against it by a federal court for a violation of federal law, if the total cost of the judgment is equal to 20% or more of the county’s annual budget. The money could only be used in payment of such a judgment.  

Three members of the Gage County Board and one from the Chamber/Tourism testified in support and did an excellent job of presenting the perspective of local government, local businesses, and individual taxpayers. The director of NACO (Nebraska Association of County Officials) also testified in support. There were no opponents.

As I explained to the committee, on January 1st of this year, Gage county had paid around $14.2 million towards the federal judgment in the “Beatrice Six” case. That leaves roughly $16.8 million remaining to be paid, including interest and legal fees. The award of about $5.9 million from insurance really helped accelerate paying off the judgment. The new sales tax, which includes revenue from anyone passing through Gage county and making a purchase, should generate near $1.5 million in the first year. That also helped speed up the process of paying off the judgment. However, property tax collections have dropped a bit due to lower property values, from around $3.8 million to around $3.25 million. While that may sound beneficial, in the long run it slows down completion of the payments, meaning the levy stays at the maximum and the sales tax continues until the judgment is paid off.

In discussions with state officials, it was clear that no additional assistance would be considered until all other avenues of paying the judgement were exhausted. With the insurance claim settled, we have now reached that point. All the legal aspects of the case are over, and only the payment remains. 

As I visit with fellow senators, they are all very aware of the economic burden on Gage county residents. There are senators who believe the state should pay the entire judgment, those who feel the state should help in part, and those who believe the county should be entirely responsible and receive no state funds.

The success of this bill will depend on working with enough senators to support the effort, other budget requests, and on the revenue predictions that will come from the State Economic Advisory Board on February 26th. So far, the state economy and revenues have been strong in spite of the pandemic. I will work diligently to educate my fellow senators on the importance of this bill and the impact it will have on District 30.

Email continues to be the best way to reach me with your concerns and opinions. Your communication is appreciated as it educates and raises awareness on general issues and specific bills. Thank you for contacting me. mdorn@leg.ne.gov  402-471-2620

 

February 12, 2021 Update
February 11th, 2021

If you have visited the State Capitol in the past couple of years, you have seen the construction project to replace the HVAC system and upgrade the windows. There’s nothing like the cold wave of the past week to demonstrate the need for those repairs on our nearly 90 year old building. 

Activity inside the building continues despite the challenges of construction or the weather. Hearings are in full swing for all of the 14 standing committees. The Appropriations Committee has moved from budget reviews to our public hearing phase. In addition to listening to state agency budget reports, we are also hearing bills that specifically propose to spend state funds. 

Among the agencies reporting to us this week were the Departments of Motor Vehicles, Transportation, Labor and Revenue, The Racing Commission, The Tax Equalization and Review Commission, The Workers’ Compensation Court, the State Fire Marshal and the Liquor Control Commission.  This is just a sampling of about 78 agencies, with over 270 programs, that we will review as part of our committee responsibilities. There are also 48 legislative bills to be heard by the Appropriations Committee.

In these hearings, both in-person and submitted testimony is being incorporated into the official record. Both methods are effective ways to present your views on a bill. Consult the Legislature’s website for instructions on how to testify, and to find the link to NET television for live broadcast of hearings and floor debate.  www.nebraskalegislature.gov

I will have five bills of my own to present in public hearings in the next couple of weeks. Of those, one appropriates funds for educational service units to restore past budget cuts. Another increases the funding for behavioral health services, which have become critical in recent months. I also introduced LB 103 in my efforts to continue to find ways to ease the financial burden on Gage county in the “Beatrice 6” case. This bill would allocate $2M in each of the next two fiscal years, to any county that has a judgment in excess of $25M rendered against it by a federal court for a violation of federal law if the total cost of the judgment is equal to twenty percent or more of the county’s annual budget. This bill will be heard on Friday, February 19th by the Appropriations Committee.

Like many of you, I have become a frequent user of virtual meeting platforms. In the past, our legislative calendar would be full of breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings with constituents and organizations.  These days, the schedule is packed with “zoom” meetings. To be honest, this has been a very efficient way to meet with a large number of people, while saving time and expense. Of course, it isn’t always as good as real face to face conversation, but we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to talk, learn, and gather information.

Since the beginning of the session, my staff and I have met virtually with representatives of our state’s universities and state colleges, district superintendents and ESU staff, the extension service, and the children’s commission. We have talked with several agricultural leaders, farm organizations, environmental groups and ag equipment companies.  I am in regular contact with parents and advocates for the developmentally disabled and a number of healthcare providers and associations.  I meet weekly with the chamber of commerce and of course, get frequent updates from our public health departments that serve both Lancaster and Gage counties. 

My office also receives hundreds of emails each week and we work diligently to answer every inquiry as quickly as possible. You can contact me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov or call 402-471-2620.

 

Thank you to all who have contacted my office this week. We have gotten a lot of communication about several bills coming up for public hearings. Remember the new guidelines, which allow you to submit testimony if you are not able, or prefer not to, attend in person. You can find those at: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/committees/public-input.php  Then click on the this tab: Written Testimony In Lieu of In-Person Testimony for Public Hearings during the 2021 Session.

We also had many contacts regarding the vaccine hotlines in both Gage and Lancaster counties, and subsequent overloading of the system. We appreciated hearing about your experiences. Please know that while I want to learn about any situations you encounter, a state senator is not able to help with your spot on the waiting list or help secure an appointment for the vaccine. That responsibility lies with the public health system, and rightly so.

I do get frequent updates from both Public Health Solutions (PHS) which serves Gage county as well as Fillmore, Jefferson, Saline and Thayer counties; and the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). The main problem is the demand for the vaccine far surpasses the supply. Distribution of the vaccine in Nebraska is based on population. For example, PHS, serving Gage county, had been given 700 doses of vaccine per week, and those must be shared among the five counties. Gage county, with the most residents, received 200 of those. PHS did get 900 doses for the first time last week, and we anticipate that number to slowly increase in coming weeks.

Our public health directors have been extremely diligent in making sure every dose is used each week and not wasted, and that the supply is stretched as far as possible. Until the supply of the vaccine can be drastically increased however, distribution will continue to be an issue. As the PHS health director has stated, the only limit to vaccine distribution is the number of doses available, as there are enough providers able to administer the vaccine. Unlike larger population areas like Lincoln and Omaha, not enough doses are available yet in Gage County to warrant a mass vaccination site like those used in our two biggest cities. 

In the meantime, our health departments urge all of us to continue the measures to protect ourselves and others until everyone who wants the vaccine has one. So please, continue to wear a mask, sanitize your hands, keep your distance from others, and stay home with any symptoms of illness.  

As I visit with people in our district, I can count on hearing about a couple of topics – taxes and daylight saving time. Both issues have been addressed in committee this past week.  A couple of innovative approaches to taxation were heard by the Revenue Committee. Senator Briese proposed expanding sales tax to more services, but dropping the overall sales tax rate, to be revenue neutral. He points out that since sales tax was first enacted, we have moved to a much more service oriented economy. His LB 422 would lower the state sales tax from 5.5% to 5% and apply the sales tax to more services.  LB 133, a bill by Senator Erdman, would change the entire tax system in Nebraska to a consumption tax, eliminate sales, income and property taxes; and would require a change in the state’s constitution as well. All consumption tax revenue would flow into the state and be redistributed to counties and local governments. Overall, it would not be an increase in taxes, like LB 422, it would be revenue neutral. A good way to compare tax revenue is to look at the “fiscal note” on a bill. Go to the legislature’s website:  nebraskalegislature.gov, type in the bill number on the top right hand corner, then click on “fiscal note” to see the analysis. 

LB 283 would keep daylight saving time year round. This bill has been introduced previously, and could only go into effect if the federal government allows it, and at least two bordering states also adopt it. We will see if it gets enough votes to get to the floor this year, it will require a lot of work at both the state and federal level; and even if passed, it will have to wait to go into effect for an undetermined amount of time. 

My own bill, LB 41, was heard in committee this past week. I introduced this a year ago, but due to the pandemic, it didn’t get debated on the floor because we ran out of time. This bill would allow county treasurers to distribute tax revenue to townships by automatic deposit, the same as is already done for counties, cities, schools, fire districts, etc. Twenty-two counties in Nebraska have townships and currently they have to come into the courthouse and present a paper warrant in person. This would eliminate that need and is a very straightforward bill. 

You can contact my office at any time through email or voice mail. mdorn@leg.ne.gov  402-471-2620. Stay safe and well!

 

Covid Vaccine Hotline
February 3rd, 2021

Thank you to all who have contacted my office about the vaccine hotline and subsequent overloading of the system. We appreciated hearing from you about your experiences and receiving these updates. 

We have had several conversations in recent days with Public Health Solutions (PHS) which serves Gage county, as well as four other counties in south central/southeast Nebraska. They are working to expand and improve the appointment system as quickly as possible. The overwhelming response to the hotline definitely taxed the system, as well as the limited staff at PHS and the hospital staff, who of course, have other crucial duties as well. 

The main problem is that demand for the vaccine far surpasses the supply. Our public health district receives just 700 doses of vaccine per week, and those must be shared among the five counties. Gage county, with the highest population, receives 200 of those. 

Our public health directors have been extremely diligent in making sure every dose is used and not wasted, and that the supply is stretched as far as possible. There are only a certain number that are manufactured at a time, and then allocated to all of the states. The State Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health departments, developed plans that work for each district based on demographics, available facilities, health care providers and so on. PHS is also working to resolve the differences between the online registration sites, as each health district developed a plan to serve local needs before the state roll out.

Until the supply of the vaccine can be drastically increased however, distribution will continue to be an issue. Public Health Solutions is urging all of us to continue the measures to protect ourselves and others until everyone who wants the vaccine has one. So please, continue to wear a mask, sanitize your hands, keep your distance from others, and stay home with any symptoms of illness.  Thank you!

January 29, 2021 Update
January 29th, 2021

A week that is out of the ordinary should not really come as a surprise anymore, it would seem. However the past week did have a few unexpected events. From an “historic snowfall” to a committee quarantine, the routine at the Legislature was anything but normal.

The Appropriations Committee began hearing agency reviews on Monday. In this process, we look at state agency budgets, go over their requests and compare it to the budget proposed by the Governor.  We had been meeting in a room that allowed senators and staff to distance, but when it was learned on Tuesday that a person had received a positive test for the virus, Lincoln Lancaster County Public Health officials recommended we leave immediately and quarantine. On Wednesday we began meeting virtually, which has worked out well for hearing agency reviews. We are making the best of it and glad to be able to continue working. 

Several bills of interest have been heard in committee this week. LR 22CA introduced by Sen. Linehan, would cap the amount of property tax that can be collected. At first look, it sounds like it would cap spending growth at 3%, but the bill focuses on tax collections when valuations increase.  As an example, with our system in Nebraska, if valuations went up 5% and the levy was not changed, tax collections also went up 5%. This act would require the levy to be adjusted to reflect a maximum of 3% increase in tax collections. Those in agriculture know there have been some very large increases in valuation and not always a corresponding reduction in the levy. If there were no increases in valuations, the bill does allow for a 3% increase in tax asking. The bill also has some exceptions for improvements and new construction, annexation of subdivisions and so on. So the bill is a 3% cap on growth of property taxes collected, not a cap on spending.

In visiting with schools in our district, I know they are very aware of this and what’s going on with state spending. LR 22CA does have the potential to hinder certain entities moving forward, since it removes the “automatic” increase in tax revenue when valuations go up. So in the instance there was 5% growth which necessitated a 5% increase in spending, another funding source would need to be found. For schools, that source would be state funding; and schools have concerns that, as has happened in the past, when the state budget is tight, TEEOSA will not be fully funded. 

In my opinion, LR22CA has a decent chance of getting out of committee, and then we will see what direction it would take on the floor. There are quite a few bills introduced about property taxes and relief. My office is hearing from constituents in Lancaster County who just received their valuations and protest notifications; with the system we have in Nebraska, there are real concerns that property taxes will continue to go up. This bill was introduced as a constitutional amendment, so if it gets out of committee and is passed by the Legislature, it would go to a vote of the people at the next election. 

LB 590 as introduced by Sen. Groene would reduce the time that early ballots are available from 35 days to just 20 days prior to an election. If you visit with county clerks, you learn they need time to process ballots. It takes time to go through requests, double check for voting eligibility; then mail them out and take them back in. For candidates, some believe we have too much time for an early ballot, meaning you must have your campaign able to reach a majority of voters 35 days ahead of the election.  The bigger picture here is to make sure we have confidence in our election process. I have complete confidence in the system in Nebraska.  We have about 22,000 residents in Gage county, and about 14,000 of those are registered to vote. Los Angeles County in California has 10 million people, five times as many as our entire state. When I go to vote in Adams, there are three or four people helping run the polling place; they know me and I know them. So compared to states like California, I do understand that we want to know it was completely above board and accurate. I have 100% confidence in District 30 and Nebraska; and I know our Secretary of State, Bob Evnan, has paid great attention to detail in our state’s process. 

Sen. Matt Hansen introduced LB 255, to provide a one time death benefit of $50,000 to the family of a first responder killed in the line of duty. This proposal has a lot of support from first responder groups, and 30 other states provide similar benefits to families. I remember in Wymore we did lose an individual in a fire there and that would have been a benefit to the family. I don’t see this as a high cost to the state, but I do see it as something that might help attract more volunteers to serve on our rescue squads and fire departments which desperately need more people to remain adequately staffed for our smaller communities.

Please send me your thoughts and concerns about these or any bills coming up in committee. My email is mdorn@leg.ne.gov and the phone number is 402-471-2620.  Stay safe in this winter weather and keep following the health guidelines.

January 22, 2021 Update
January 22nd, 2021

A dozen days of the session are already in the books. On both the state and national level, it has been an eventful January so far. The final day of bill introduction was on Wednesday, which allowed for some time to watch the presidential inauguration activities in Washington. While security was enhanced here at the state capital, I was pleased that it was not needed, and I even observed a small number of people outside the front steps representing both political parties. I believe that speaks to what a lot of the people in Nebraska feel – that we can work through this all together, and I was very glad to see that. We have a lot of work to do at the national level; we don’t need to argue, but we do need to get things done.

At the end of bill introduction here in the state legislature, 684 bills were thrown into the hopper. Two years ago, we had about 750 bills, so we are down about 10%. I was hoping for only 500 or so and heeded the recommendations to limit bill counts.  The committees will have a lot of work to do, especially the Judiciary Committee which gets the largest number of bills. At this point, they will need to work through at least ten per day to get through them all; plus they get the higher profile bills that deal with corrections, firearms and so on. 

Hearings will look different this session, as safety measures are being put in place due to the virus. There will be ways to safely distance and to provide testimony in person or virtually. All of this is centered around the safety of the public, staff and senators; and to make sure the public has their voice heard and feel they had  good input to the committee hearing process. Information about the changes can be found at www.nebraskalegislature.gov

For example, the Appropriations Committee on which I serve, has always met in room 1003, with only about 25 chairs, so we will need to move to a larger room to space people out and have room for the general public. (Please check the website for the correct hearing room each day.) Even with larger rooms, there is still concern about safety in the hallway with people waiting, so that was part of the discussion that led to more remote participation options. Also, if any senators end up being quarantined then remote options allow senators to still engage in the hearings. Extending hearings to an all day format, which is different from years past, is also part of the strategy to increase space and accommodations. We will check in at 9 am on the floor, then begin hearings at 9:30 am starting on the 25th of January. 

The Appropriations Committee has a slightly different schedule, in that the first week of hearings, we will focus on reviewing agency proposals and then start hearing bills on February 5th. As we do the reviews, we will look at larger agencies first like Health and Human Services. We do go over every agency and every program in those, over 75 agencies and over 275 programs, and we look at all of them. There will be some federal CARES funds that will be brought back into the state budget, which were not used or allocated, so that figures into our reviews and discussions as well. 

This week the Legislature heard from Chief Justice Mike Heavican as he delivered his state of the judiciary report. Despite the covid situation, the courts are required to remain open. He explained how they adapted, went on line for some things, and acquired larger venues in some parts of the state so they could hold court cases with jury trials and still be distanced. There were also changes in handling probation and in the drug courts, such as in Gage county, which were challenging. As Justice Heavican said, a year ago, no one envisioned the year like we had. 

I would add that we don’t know a year from now what we will be looking back on. But with vaccines and getting a better handle on the virus, we have real hope of returning to more of a normal sense of where we were, knowing full well parts of the economy have been really affected, and we need to be able to help these individuals and businesses thrive. Please continue to contact my office if you have any concerns or questions. mdorn@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2620. Stay safe and well!

 

January 15, 2021 Update
January 15th, 2021

The second week of the Legislative session includes organization of committees and the introduction of bills. Again for the next two years, I will serve on the Appropriations Committee. My experience with county budgets has served me well as I work with the eight other members of the committee to develop a balanced budget for the state of Nebraska. Senator John Stinner will again serve as chairman, and Senator Anna Wishart was elected vice chair of the committee. 

Before the Governor presented his biennial budget proposal in his State of the State address on Thursday, members of the Appropriations Committee attended a briefing with him at the Mansion. We were able to preview his ideas for spending, taxes and tax credits. Now the Legislature’s Fiscal Office will dissect his proposal and compare it to the intentions of the Legislature. Beginning next week, our committee will meet daily to review state agency budget proposals. 

Most committees will start all-day public hearings on the 25th, under a new format of morning (10 am to noon)  and afternoon (starting at 1:30 pm) hearings. The Appropriations Committee will begin public hearings on bills that have a fiscal note, or a cost associated with the bill, on February 8th. 

The last day for bill introduction is the 20th, which marks the tenth day of the session. The remainder of the week will be used to debate changes to rules that govern the legislative process. This is done near the beginning of every legislative session; changes typically pertain to how we operate in committees and during debate. One new proposal that reflects our current environment is a discussion about meeting and voting remotely, due to situations like the pandemic. 

At this time, I have introduced five bills. Just a reminder that you can find every bill and the complete text of each one, by going to the legislature’s website:  www.nebraskalegislature.gov . Along the left hand side of the page, you will see a tab for “Bills and Laws”, and can search for bills in a number of ways.

LB 41 would make it easier for townships to receive their funds each month.

LB 42 makes a small appropriation to the Nebraska Hall of Fame, so the families of recipients are not stuck with the cost

LB 102 allows counties with Courts the option to reorganize the county court and district court employees

LB 103 – see below

LB 361 provides some funding for the state Educational Service Unit system.

I consider all bills to be important, because all the bills introduced by our state senators affect either a district’s constituents or the entire state. I introduced LB 103 as part of my continuing effort to reduce the burden and strain on Gage county residents due to the federal judgment, commonly known as the Beatrice Six. This bill allocates $2 million dollars per year for each of the next two years, from the state budget, towards payment of the judgment, and would reduce the time left to pay it off. This will not be easy to achieve and I will work hard to convince my fellow lawmakers of the merits of this action, because I feel it is necessary for the economic health of our district. 

And speaking of health, please continue to follow the recommended guidelines for avoiding the coronavirus – wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid gatherings, get tested, and get vaccinated as soon as it is available to you. These procedures are our best hope in conquering a disease that has taken far too much already. Let’s continue to work together to stop it.

In good news for District 30, the Homestead National Monument has been officially renamed the Homestead National Historic Park by Congress, as signed into law this week. The Homestead National Historical Park commemorates the first claim under the Homestead Act with a heritage museum, the Freeman School, a tall grass prairie, hiking trails, a forest, and farming demonstrations. If you have never visited this great tribute to all the residents of the plains, I encourage you to do so when conditions allow. Click here for more information:  Homestead National Monument of America (US National Park Service)

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at any time. Send your emails to mdorn@leg.ne.gov. Call my office at 402-471-2620. Visit the website for more information on the schedule, public hearings on all bills, and new guidelines for the hearings. www.nebraskalegislature.gov Stay well!

 

Sen. Myron Dorn

District 30
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2620
Email: mdorn@leg.ne.gov
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