LINCOLN – Property tax relief will again be the focus for State Sen. Bruce Bostleman during the Second Session of the 106th Legislature.
“Overall this session, property tax will be the No. 1 things we’re working on as a body and as myself,” he said.
As the new session began, the Revenue Committee and other groups are at work on tax relief, he added.
Bostleman mentioned property taxes a year ago when talking about his plans for 2019. It’s been on his mind, and that of the entire Legislature, for years, just as it is on the minds of taxpayers.
“No. 1 is property tax, plain and simple,” he said.
Also making a repeat appearance on Bostleman’s agenda are bills targeting the state’s emergency medical services (EMS) system. It is a subject that has come up time and time again as he has traveled across the state.
“EMS is pretty important to me,” he said. “I try to continue to help in that area to improve EMS services across the state.”
Bostleman introduced a bill that would allow EMS personnel to replace medicines on an ambulance after a patient has been transported from the pharmacy at the hospital where the patient was transported.
He is also working with the state EMS board on a bill expands the classifications for EMS personnel. If passed, the bill would create new positions like community paramedic, which would help during non-emergency situations.
All of Bostleman’s bills dealing with EMS are aimed at improving emergency medical services across the state.
“They will help reduce costs and provide better care especially in more rural areas,” the senator said.
Another aim is to help recruit more people to serve in EMS by increasing opportunities for training volunteers. Membership in volunteer rescue departments is waning.
“It’s a big need now,” Bostleman said.
On the first day of the session, Bostleman introduced a bill that was crafted after a Wahoo man, Lane Nelson, had difficulty getting a title for a salvaged vehicle. The bill, LB831, will amend the Motor Vehicle Certificate Title Act to allow an owner of a vehicle made before 1940 that does not have a title to receive a salvage title, depending on the circumstances.
“The bill was dropped to remedy that for him and for other people in similar situations,” Bostleman said.
The senator is also working on a bill that would provide immunity for a person who breaks into a parked vehicle to rescue a child in distress.
Over the summer, Bostleman was busy. He toured areas around the state affected by the March 2019 floods to identify areas that need to be addressed more quickly. Among the areas he visited were the Lincoln well fields by Ashland, Camp Ashland, Schuyler, Fremont, Genoa and the Spencer Dam.
“It was a pretty broad view of what happened,” he said.
They talked to county emergency managers, county highway superintendents, members of county boards of supervisors and county commissioners and the general public.
“We asked them what worked well, what didn’t work well and what’s needed,” he said.
The legislature is looking at short- and long-term remedies for flood damage. The local natural resources districts and the Army Corps of Engineers are involved, but the work is far from over.
“There’s not an easy answer right now,” Bostleman said.
Bostleman said he co-chaired LR241 to develop an environmental action plan for the state in the event of a highly destructive weather event like the March 2019 floods. Depending on what the weather does this spring, flooding could make a return to the state.
“We may still see flooding,” Bostleman said. “But hopefully not as significant as we saw last time.”
The senator is also working on expanding high speed broadband in the state, a key to economic development.
“That just has to happen for a state to continue to grow,” he said.
Bostleman is developing a plan to help public libraries in rural communities seek grants for broadband. In many areas, the local library is the only place citizens can access the internet.
“In a lot of families, students don’t have access to broadband, yet they are receiving homework at home through the internet,” he said. “The library is a more immediate way to get broadband to them.”
Bostleman urged library directors to contact his office at 402-471-2719 or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive information on broadband grants.