107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 38
What a beautiful week it was to be outside and enjoy the sunshine. My husband Mike, is a farmer who also works cattle. As we look forward to calving season beginning soon, these milder days are sure welcomed.
There was a significant shift in our Legislative schedule this week as hearings are beginning to wrap up and we spend more time in Executive Sessions. I am finding myself deeply appreciative of my colleagues who I see working so hard to make wise, strategic decisions for our great State. We will be setting all of our Priority Bills next week as well as deciding which Bills will come out of Committees.
This is my third year on the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee and expanding broadband internet service in rural areas has become one of the top issues in the Committee this year. Governor Pete Ricketts said he has heard too many stories of families having to drive their kids to libraries in town, parking lots near schools or high hills near their ranch to access adequate internet service to do homework. Businesses won’t locate or expand in rural areas unless they have high-speed internet. “We’ve got to have this infrastructure. It’s basic,” the Governor said. “This investment will allow all of Nebraska to be able to grow.” I am supportive of the Governor’s Legislative Bill 388, Adopt the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act, which is one of 11 bills being considered this year to boost expansion of broadband. It is evident that we are not going to be able to get the coverage we eventually hope to see in every Nebraska home this year, but we will be able to launch some important endeavors that will aid new business and bring in commerce, which in turn helps all Nebraskans. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will exec this week, and broadband will remain a high priority for me. I will keep you up to date with the latest developments.
Another key topic in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this week is railroad safety. The Committee heard a bill raising the question of how many people should be on a crew, and whether one person is sufficient to safely operate the train. Senator Lynn Walz introduced LB539 which would provide for a limit on the length of a train. There are places in Nebraska that have been developed near a track where railways were well established in the area. Often those residents then find the continual pattern of waiting on trains an inconvenience. Her bill is meant to address that issue.
I greatly appreciate Jeff Davis and the great team at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad that so faithfully provides service in District 17. Their presence significantly helps our commerce and I am proud to have them here. Annually, BNSF moves nearly 170,000 carloads of corn, wheat and other agricultural products from Nebraska to plants around the country for domestic use and to ports for export abroad. They are helping Nebraska farmers reach new markets by providing a vital transportation link for the state’s emerging ethanol industry. If you have any questions or concerns about a rail or the company, the BNSF Emergency Hotline is 1‐800‐832‐5452.
Union Pacific is another significant railway in Nebraska. I visited with Kelli O’Brien, from Union Pacic this week about new legislation being introduced. Kelli told me that for over 150 years, Union Pacific has been committed to Building America, serving as an economic engine and improving the standard of life for millions across the country. Building upon this heritage, they are launching the Union Pacific Community Ties Giving Program. The program is a grand opportunity to build safe, prosperous, and vibrant communities by investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs in the cities and towns in which we operate and our employees live and work. The application submission period is April 1, 2021 – May 31, 2021. If you or someone you know is interested, you can find more information at UP Community Ties Giving Program.
To report grade crossing blockages or damage, please call Union Pacific at 1-800-848-8715.
I began signing on to other Senator’s LBs this week:
LB4 Briese Tuition Credit for Armed Forces
LB40 Groene Adopt the Nebraska Rural Projects Act
LB310 Clements Change Inheritance Tax Rates and Exemption
LB387 Brewer/Gragert Change Taxation of Military Retirement
LB454 Friesen School Property Tax Stabilization Program
LB581 B Hansen Change Motorcycle Helmet Provisions
LR3CA Slama Verification of Voter ID
LR11CA Erdman Enactment of a Consumption Tax
DISTRICT 17 COVID-19
The number of positive tests reported for the periods February 26, 2021, and March 4, 2021 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +16 (3883)
Thurston County: +6 (1105)
Wayne County: +19 (1068)
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or email@example.com.