Thanksgiving provided opportunity to be grateful, create and consume amazing food, share smiles and hugs, and to re-invigorate for the work ahead.

My office has received a Legislative schedule and anticipated Floor Procedures from the Speaker’s office, along with information about the pending 2019 Priority Bills. Naturally, new bills will also be introduced in the 2020 session and we will stay informed about those as they become part of the Legislative landscape. Meanwhile, the pending 2019 priority bills fall into two categories—those that have been debated and those that have not. Some of these bills will likely be the earliest we see on the floor, so if you have thoughts on any or all of them, please feel free to communicate your thoughts via letter or email.

There are currently three (3) bills on General File that have not yet been debated, including LB153 (to reduce taxation of military retirement benefits), LB109 (to modify certain position classifications and pay at the Department of Corrections), and LB147 (addressing ability of educators to effectively manage classroom misbehavior).

LB153 seeks to provide income tax relief for those who have served our country as part of the military. The bill was introduced by Senator Tom Brewer on behalf of the Governor and is Senator Lowe’s 2019 priority bill. The bill would repeal the current, one-time election for retired military to exempt a portion of their military retirement benefit income from tax. It would replace it with a 50% exemption for military retirement benefit income, to the extent it was included in federal adjusted gross income. At its Committee hearing, LB153 had several individuals and organizations that testified in favor of the bill and no opposing testimony. Two

policy groups testified in a neutral capacity. The bill passed out of Committee on a 6 to 1 vote.

LB109 is a bill that would modify the position classification plan and the accompanying salary or pay plans within the Department of Corrections in an effort to improve chances to retain staff and reduce turnover. At the Committee hearing, several individuals from the Fraternal Order of Police testified in favor of the bill. The Director of the Department of Corrections testified in opposition. The bill passed out of Committee on a 5-3 vote.

The final of the three, LB147, is a bill that would change the Nebraska Student Discipline Act to provide for use by a teacher or administrator of necessary physical contact or restraint and provide procedures and grounds for removing a student from class in response to certain violent behavior. At the Committee Hearing, there were testifiers in support and in opposition to the bill. The bill was pulled from Committee with a 25-14 vote by the Legislative body.

Being a strong supporter of our military, of safety for students and teachers, and of maintaining safe conditions for our correctional facilities, I am watching each of these bills closely. As an elected official, it is important to me that I and my staff pay close attention to introduced legislation, floor debate, and proposed and/or adopted amendments before casting that final vote on the merits.

 In addition to the three bills that still await debate, there are nine more bills on General File that have had debate and may come up, depending on Legislative support, including LB44 (eliminate death penalty), LB110 (adopt Medical Cannabis Act), LB289 (county assessor inspections), LB311 (adopt Paid Family and Medical Leave Act), LB483 (change valuation of Agriculture and Horticultural

land), LB550 (require voter approval of fees and taxes on wireless services), LB670 (adopt the Opportunity Scholarships Act), and LB700 (providing for decommissioning and reclamation of a wind energy conversion system).

DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR SBA DISASTER LOANS:

In other news of interest to Legislative District 17, December 23, 2019 is the deadline to apply for disaster loans intended to remedy damages caused by the March 9-July 14, 2019 flooding in Nebraska. Eligible for the loans are small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in agriculture and most private nonprofit organizations that have sustained economic injury due to flooding that occurred March 9-July 14, 2019.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center, the low interest federal disaster loans are available in Dakota, Thurston, and Wayne counties, among others in Nebraska. The interest rate is 4 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loan proceeds may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. For more information on the program and to access application information, interested parties may call 800.877.8339, or access online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

As we move closer to the Jan. 8, 2020, start of the next Legislative Session, I continue to consider constituent requests and thoughts about the session ahead. 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 by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.go

In other news

Since taking office, I have focused on securing critical investments for our state while working to reduce wasteful spending. I sponsored legislation that’s now law to save millions of federal dollars by closing expired grant accounts and bolster oversight of government programs. I also push…

It is getting busier at the Capitol. With the holidays upon us and friends and family visiting, if you have the opportunity to get to Lincoln be sure to drop by your State Capitol. Enjoy the beauty of the newly lit tree in the Rotunda on the second floor. Attend one of the several holiday ha…

It’s no secret that 2019 has been a tough year for Nebraska due to historic flooding. For our farmers and ranchers, damage from the floods was compounded by additional hardships. Commodity prices remain low. A major canal failed along the Nebraska-Wyoming border. And the Green New Deal and “…

When we want to learn what’s on the news, most of us turn on our television. According to a Pew Research poll, television is still America’s favorite platform for news consumption. When Nebraskans need to know the latest about events taking place in their community, the weather, or broadcast…

Thanksgiving provided opportunity to be grateful, create and consume amazing food, share smiles and hugs, and to re-invigorate for the work ahead.

Last year, a couple from Omaha decided to make a trip to Chicago. They raved about their experience at the hotel – until they checked out of their room and received the bill. Hotel staff notified the couple that they owed thousands of dollars in fees for an additional three-night stay in a r…

THURSTON -- On Thursday, State Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston announced she will seek reelection to the Nebraska Legislature in District 17 which includes Dakota, Thurston, and Wayne counties in Northeast Nebraska.

As I travel across Nebraska, one thing I hear consistently from businesses is their need to find skilled workers. Whether to replace retiring teammates or expand their business, Nebraska companies are looking for talent to help their operations grow and thrive. In a statewide survey of busin…