WEEKLY UPDATE December 7, 2020
As this update is being written, it is December 7. Today we reflect on the unprovoked attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and we remember the 2,403 United States citizens who were killed in the surprise attack that day. President Roosevelt described December 7, 1941 as “A day that will live in infamy.” Each December 7 there are events across the country to remember our citizens. Along with others, I remember those citizens and mourn their loss. I also mourn the loss of the sense of security experienced by residents of the United States on that day. I join many in the commitment to do what I can do to remember, learn, and prevent such an attack from ever happening again. I salute those who served then and those who serve now to keep our country safe.
Back on the Job: I truly never leave the job of your State Senator behind. A huge part of serving you is being present in District 17, to meet and listen to the people and businesses here and to live under the laws I help create when at the Capitol. Meanwhile, my staff and I work over the phone and occasionally in person to prepare for the upcoming Session. I spent some time in Lincoln this past week, meeting with my colleagues and other individuals as we look forward to the 2021 Legislative Session currently scheduled to convene on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. There are discussions about what convening for the 107th Legislature will look like and roll out in a manner designed to keep the Senators, staff, and public as safe as possible. Remember that every bill introduced by lawmakers must be given a public hearing, so it is important that the State provide a safe environment and opportunities for you, the public, to be heard. Remember that you are always invited to testify live or submit letters to Committees considering legislation that is of interest to you. While in Lincoln, I also met with various people about results of studies and potential bills going forward. Some you will likely hear about as we move into and through the 2021 Session.
Last week’s visit also included meetings of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. The first meeting was a joint meeting of the Committee and the Appropriations Committee. We received information about the State’s highway needs and accomplishments for 2020.
In a second meeting, the Committee heard from the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) in a 911 service system briefing. The 911 service system is the next generation 911. The is a nationwide standard system that enhances voice and multi-media caller and 911 center communication and enables communications to be sent on to local to local dispatchers for resolution. Northeast Nebraska is the last leg of getting the entire state online with the system, which the PSC reported should be completed in 2021.
COVID-19 State Response Update.
The Governor held press briefings regarding the State’s response to COVID-19 on Wednesday, December 2, Friday, December 4, and Monday, December 7, 2020.
Joining the Governor at the December 7 briefing was University of Nebraska Ted Carter.
The Governor again reminded us of the importance of taking precautions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, including social distancing six feet, wearing a mask when in contact with the public, frequent hand washing and staying home if you are sick. Speaking about the season of holiday shopping, the Governor asked that we try to shop alone and only once a week. As he said, this is a good time to be extra careful with holidays approaching to take precautions that can help protect our families and reduce chances for illness over the holiday itself.
Hospitalizations again decreased over the weekend. If Nebraska continues to see progress, the Governor noted that the State will be able to move into a less critical phase and revise current restrictions accordingly. As of Monday morning’s report, the hospital bed availability was:
32% of hospital beds available
30% of ICU beds are available
68% ventilators available
Tools to help protect the hospital availability in Nebraska include avoiding the 3 “C”s – close contact, crowds, and confined spaces. Wash hands frequently, sanitize hands and surfaces, social distance, and wear a mask when around others. If you are experiencing symptoms, get tested.
Did you know that TestNebraska has returned back nearly 499,000 tests? As a reminder, the test is available to anyone who wants to sign up at www.testnebraska.com <http://www.testnebraska.com>.
University of Nebraska news. Joining the Governor at Monday’s press briefing was University of Nebraska President Ted Carter. They both spoke of the University’s success with in-person classes and effective safety measures.
President Green first thanked Legislature for supporting the University of Nebraska budget this past year. He reported that the Nebraska University system was one of the first universities in the country to announce a re-opening and to welcome students back to campus. The University did so all while keeping a close eye on protecting students, faculty, and staff safety. Unlike many universities seeing drops in enrollment, Nebraska saw a 1% overall increase in enrollment that included a 2% in students from Nebraska enrolling. The University was able to hold back tuition costs for two years running and to reduce online tuition costs as the need for online classes has increased. The University has developed in-person and online learning programs as well as hybrid programs that combine the two.
President Carter offered that one of the most strategic things the University did was take a look at the academic calendar and bring students back a week early, with all students returned to campus by August 24. This adjustment created an opportunity for most students to finish all course work and exams by Thanksgiving break. The University is considering that as students are returning later in January than usual, they will be an expectation to increase testing, exploring full student attendance and perhaps having each student get tested before returning. Looking at the fall numbers, requests for enrollment applications are up 7% for the 2021 Fall Semester and there are examples of the creation of the $2 million Career Scholarship Program, which helps bridge the gap in needed high-skilled occupations keeping and bringing Nebraska’s talented young people to complete studies in the State. Hearing about what’s happening at the University, we will be visiting with leadership at Wayne State College and Northeast Community College in Norfolk and West Point to get news on campus status.
The Governor will be holding future press briefings on Wed. Dec. 9, and Friday, December 11. The briefings can be viewed live on many channels, including NET TV, as well as on Facebook and other social media sites. Summaries can be found at the Governor’s website.
COVID-19 numbers in District 17
The number of positive tests reported for the periods November 28, and December 4, 2020 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County: +175 (3317)
Thurston County: + 31 (711)
Wayne County: +36 (813)
Legislative Look ahead: As I mentioned above, I was in Lincoln for a couple of days last week. In addition to my colleagues, I met with various people about topics for consideration as we begin the new Session. For instance, I met with representatives from the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska to discuss the report on my Interim Study (LR373) about the state of Ethanol production and use in the State and steps that might be taken to increase production in Nebraska, and use both inside and outside of Nebraska. We are exploring important steps to obtain more complete information about the breakdown of Ethanol blends currently being sold in Nebraska. Look for more details, as well as details on issues of interest being considered in future newsletters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>