Even with many important issues before the Legislature this week, all eyes have been on the effects the weather has had on our state. I attended a briefing for state senators conducted by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency which includes the National Guard and State Patrol.
As a result of the blizzard conditions, snow melt, ice jams, heavy rain and flooding, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been activated. We know a great number of Nebraska citizens are facing costly repairs and rebuilding in the coming weeks. A number of counties will need to fix or replace infrastructure as well.
Here at home in District 30 as we all know, Gage county must pay a federal judgment of over $28 million and I have introduced three bills that deal with that in different ways.
Two have already been heard in committee, LB 474 would allow a claim to be made of the state, LB 473 would make it possible to request a low interest loan from the state.
This week the Revenue Committee heard LB 472. This bill would give a county the ability to create a sales tax of one half of one percent, which could only be used to pay a federal judgment, and would terminate when that payment was complete. If Gage county used this means of collection, the length of time to pay off the judgement could be shortened, helping reduce the burden that is now on property tax alone.
Once again, the county was well represented at the hearing and the committee members asked excellent questions. I continue to discuss the bill with my fellow senators to encourage them to help Gage county find ways to meet the requirements of the judgment that will mitigate the burden on all of our tax payers.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) brought their SIM-NE (Simulation in Motion Nebraska) truck to the Capitol on Tuesday in support of my bill, LB 666, which would provide a modest amount of funding for this project.
SIM-NE is a statewide, mobile education system that takes state-of-the-art, hands-on training to emergency medical service providers in rural communities, including health professionals in hospitals. SIM-NE provides this training using four 44-foot trucks that provide mobile, real-life experiences designed to enhance lifesaving skills to individuals in their local communities. This also allows training to be team-based as learners train side-by-side with the people they normally work with during an emergency response.
As an EMT myself for over 30 years, I can attest to the quality and vital importance of the training received from the SIM-NE project. It is my hope there will be enough funding in the budget for this, and a few other small ticket items, which bring so much benefit to our communities.