So, what does a Nebraska State Senator do when the Legislature is not in session? Well, the best answer I can think of to this question would be fishing, but the truth is that I have actually been quite busy serving the needs of the State since we adjourned in late May. So today, I would like to inform you about what I’ve been up to.
Throughout the summer months I have been traveling the district getting signatures for the petition drive to put the ballot initiative for the 35 Percent Solution on the 2020 ballot. This is the ballot initiative which will lower your property taxes by 35 percent.
The petition drive is going very well! I hope you will sign it. Many people have told me they have already signed the petition, which is always good news to hear. The people of Legislative District 47 understand that the most pressing issue facing our State is property taxes.
As I have worked my way through all of the county fairs in the ten counties which comprise Legislative District 47, I have talked with many folks who are struggling under the burden of these exorbitant property taxes. For instance, one rancher told me that he pays $125 in property taxes for every cow he has on his ranch. Similarly, homeowners have also shared with me their stories. For example one couple told me when they bought their house 30 years ago their monthly mortgage payment plus their taxes and insurance was less than the amount of their property taxes.
Attending our county fairs is always the highlight of my summer. I hope to see as many constituents from Legislative District 47 at the fair as possible this year. As we inch our way towards fall, though, I will be turning my attention to the many festivals, community celebrations and parades in Western Nebraska. Along the way, I will be sharing with even more people my goal of lowering property taxes by 35 percent.
Because of the various committees I serve on in the Nebraska Legislature, I am also involved in several Interim studies. These Interim studies will continue throughout the fall. So just because we are not in session doesn’t mean that I’m out fishing every day. Instead, many of us State Senators are busy doing what you sent us there to do, and that means representing you and your best interests.
During the off season I am also busy writing legislation for next year. For instance, I am working to improve the bill I introduced last year to change the way we value agricultural land for taxation purposes. Nebraska needs to scrap the current sales or market approach and switch to a productivity or income approach, and that’s what my bill does. Had this change been made 20 years ago, we would not have seen such sharp increases in agricultural land valuations over the course of the past two decades.
I am also working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to change some of their policies. For instance, NDOT is changing their regulations to allow folks in agriculture to cross four-lane divided highways with their ATVs and UTVs. NDOT is also creating a new policy for highway memorial signs. Soon families of victims will be able to request a highway memorial sign be place at the site of a fatal and tragic accident. These were two bills I introduced this year that got the attention of NDOT. As a result, NDOT is changing their regulations to make our roads much more user friendly.
I have also been working to help find a solution to the irrigation canal collapse in eastern Wyoming near Fort Laramie. An economic evaluation has been completed by the University of Nebraska and the University of Wyoming on the economic impact of this incident. Their estimate is $89 million in combined economic losses due to the collapse of the irrigation canal. This will have a significant economic impact on our State. The goal of the irrigation district is to restore water to the farmers in the near future. They continue to make progress to accomplish that goal and our hope is that it will happen soon.
As you can see, I’ve been quite busy this summer. Now, where did I leave my fishing pole?