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Week 4 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of days 12 through 16 this session.

After a weekend blizzard that dropped snow totals of 17.6 inches in Bloomfield, 3.6 inches in Fort Calhoun, and 4.3 inches in Lincoln, Senators immediately turned attention to matters of the Agriculture Committee on Monday, Jan. 22 by confirming Steve Wellman for Ag Director, Tyler Weborg, a District 16 native, to the Beginning Farmer Board and Harry Hoch to the Nebraska State Fair Board. The General Affairs Committee considered 9 gubernatorial appointments and heard testimony on LB 921, a bill to create a licensing exception under the State Electrical Act for certain farm building construction.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, following the blizzard back home and news that Kenny Brummond was nowhere to be found I requested a prayer for him from the Chaplain of the Day and Legislature during our daily 8:55 prayers. Shortly after, I announced on the floor of the Legislature that our prayers had been answered and Kenny Brummond had been found safe after being missing in the blizzard for over 20 hours. Kenny is a Veteran, a dear neighbor, and friend of the family. It was such a blessing to receive that good news after such a frightening event.

The Agriculture Committee received public testimony on two bills Tuesday. LB 808 was introduced to support a growing interest in community gardens that make use of vacant or unused properties to grow fresh produce. The bill would create a matching grant fund to assist with the cost of securing water supplies.

Also heard by the committee was LB 764, a bill proposing amendments to the Nebraska Pure Food Act which regulates any person or business that prepares and handles food for human consumption. The bill would expand exceptions to individuals, allowing them to sell some foods considered a low risk for contamination directly to consumers

The Revenue Committee heard testimony Wednesday, January 24th on a bill that would adopt a 10% excise tax an ammunition. LB 730 received passionate and informed testimony from the Legislature’s “second house.”

Pastor Andrew Anderson from Country Bible Church in Blair visited the Capitol as the Chaplain of the Day on Thursday, January 25th. Our office sent invitations to all pastors in District 16 to come and pray. If interested in being Chaplain of the Day, please call my office for more information.

The Revenue Committee continued hearings Thursday receiving testimony on LB 829, a bill to offer an income tax refund equal to the amount of 50 percent of property taxes paid by Nebraskans. LB 829 is one of many bills introduced this session seeking to bring property tax relief to the state.

I personally provided testimony for the Revenue Committee on LB 804 Friday. LB 804 is a bill I introduced on behalf of the State Treasurer to bring Nebraska tax law in alignment with new federal tax law and makes no changes to public school funding. It would allow Nebraskans to use NEST 529 plans to pay K-12 private and parochial school tuition and provide for a tax deduction up to $10,000 for contributions made to NEST 529 plans for that purpose. I hold education very dear and believe Nebraska has excellent public, private and parochial schools. This bill simply allows families to plan and save for tuition at schools that best align with their family’s religious beliefs and values. Without passage of LB 804, Nebraskans would be unable to utilize some changes made in Federal law for education. Nebraskans have always supported education. This is one more meaningful way to do the same with LB 804.

Please contact me; my Administrative Aide, Courtney McClellen; my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell; or the Agriculture Committee Research Analyst, Rick Leonard, with questions or concerns.

Sen. Lydia Brasch represents District 16 in the Nebraska Legislature. She can be reached at 402-471-2728 or lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

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