107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 54
Happy Easter! I enjoy spending time with my family hunting Easter eggs with my grandchildren, seeing trees and flowers beginning to bloom and the hope of new life brings the sweetest things of life together. I hope that you experience a new joy and hope this Easter Season!
RURAL NEBRASKA IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE
Having resided in both urban and rural communities in Nebraska, one of the factors that I enjoy the most about living in a rural area is the familiarity and camaraderie that is shared among its people. It makes it a great place to come home to. That is why when I came across this survey of how rural citizens of Nebraska feel about their communities, I thought it would be valuable to share with you. According to Nebraska Institute of Agricultural and Natural Resources, more than six in ten Nebraskans who responded to the Rural Poll, which was sent to 7,000 rural households across the state in April 2020, said they agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements: People in my community help each other (82%); I believe in the ability of my community to overcome an emergency situation (76%); people in my community work together to improve the community (69%); I can depend on people in my community to come to my assistance in a crisis (68%); my community keeps people informed about issues that are relevant to them (65%); and there is trust among the residents of my community (63%). (Segments from an article by Becky Vogt)
POTENTIAL RELIEF FROM THE STORM OF 2021
I have been keeping in close contact with community officials in District 17 whose communities suffered enormous financial loss due to severe weather February 15-20th. My first hand understanding of their situations causes me to strongly support LB 549. This bill would set aside $10M in the State budget for municipalities who own natural gas systems to be eligible to apply for a State grant which may be used to cover up to 90% of the extraordinary costs incurred from extreme weather. I want to thank those of you who have reached out to my office with concerns for your community, or people you know who are struggling in response to the unexpected financial stress. It is so important that we stand together to get through tough times like this. LB 549 has not come to the floor as of yet, I will keep you informed to its status as the Session proceeds.
SCHOOL FUNDING AND PROPERTY TAXES AID
Last year LB1107 was introduced which should have provided approximately $12M in additional funding to District 17’s schools. Because it failed, I am standing in strong support of LB 454, which would create a School Property Tax Stabilization Program which would direct State aid to School Districts whose property taxes and formula needs ratio qualify them for aid. . It also reduces the assessed value of agricultural land for purposes of funding schools over a two-year period. This bill would provide from $1.4M to $3.8M in property tax relief to District 17. For those reasons I will be giving LB 454 a green light.
There are more than 80,000 households in Nebraska who lack adequate internet speed, most of them in rural areas. LB 388 is one of the broadband bills this year that looks to bridge the gap in Nebraska. LB 388 creates the “Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act” which provides $20 million in each of the next two years to increase broadband across Nebraska. That could help 30,000 households get better access to the internet. 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.
Another important bill playing a part in expansion of broadband this Session is LB 338, which allows a community to have more input on who will be providing them broadband services after NUSF funding has been withheld from the old carrier due to not providing the minimum speeds of 25/3. Together, the broadband bills introduced this year will help ensure available funds are properly used to develop broadband at speeds that will serve Nebraskans into the future.
STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROPOSED FOR K-12
Recently the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. Keep in mind State Standards are simply a guideline that individual School Districts can follow. The number one step is for the parents to weigh in. What is being taught in our districts is ultimately up to our local administrators.
Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think.
A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:
You can contribute your feedback at:
Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. <mailto:email@example.com>
DISTRICT 17 COVID-19
The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 27, 2021, and March 31, 2021 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +21 (3998)
Thurston County: +7 (1152)
Wayne County: +5 (1103) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>.