The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee that I chair recently held an interim study hearing brought by Sen. Aguilar about the challenges facing the Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Kearney.

This facility is incredibly important to our veterans. Unfortunately, they are not immune to the labor shortage every business in Nebraska is facing. This facility only has about two-thirds of the staffing needed. One entire wing of rooms is closed while we have veterans on waiting lists.

What staff we do have are doing a heroic job working incredible overtime hours every week. The problem is made much worse by the fact that staff are paid about a third less than the prevailing wage, and the overtime is burning them out.

This is totally unacceptable. Next session I will introduce a bill to increase the pay of the staff of our veteran homes.

The legislature simply must address the fact we have more than 50,000 vacancies in the skilled trades in Nebraska. For example, we have some of the best healthcare facilities in the world in our state. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on our university, our community colleges and our state colleges, yet we face a critical shortage of healthcare workers in Nebraska each year. We can do better than this and we simply must. We owe a debt to these Nebraskans. They are depending on us to keep our promise and I intend to see that we do.

The dedication ceremony for the Central Nebraska Veterans Memorial is at 2 p.m. on Veterans Day, Thursday, the 11th of November.

I think this is the best monument to honor veterans there is in Nebraska. If you are in the area, I urge you to visit. The memorial is located next to the veterans home at 4510 E 56th St. in Kearney.

Special vaccination mandate session

My friend and colleague Sen. Ben Hansen, along with twenty-five other senators, has sent the Secretary of State a letter asking that senators in the legislature call a special session to pass a bill that outlaws vaccine mandates in Nebraska. Our constitution and state laws allow this if 33 senators agree and sign a letter.

Each of the 49 senators were sent a registered letter by the Secretary of State. They have until 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 1 to reply. If we get seven more signatures needed to reach 33, a special session to debate vaccine mandates will happen soon after. I tried this method in 2018 for property taxes and received 14 signatures. I’ve received numerous calls and messages about this subject. I strongly oppose vaccine mandates, but calling this special session is far from a done deal.

So far, the following 26 senators have signed the letter: Sens. Ben Hansen, Albrecht, Arch, Bostelman, Brandt, Brewer, Briese, Clements, Dorn, Erdman, Flood, Friesen, Geist, Gragert, Groene, Halloran, Hilgers, Hughes, Lindstrom, Linehan, Lowe, McDonald, Moser, Murman, Sanders and Slama. As I see it, we are short seven votes among the remaining 23 senators in the body. Citizens interested in this important issue should contact their senator if their name wasn’t listed.

Tom Brewer represents dist. 43 — most of the Sandhills — in the state legislature. Contact his office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call (402) 471-2628.

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