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Lt. Governor tours Valley, visits Legacy Museum
December 19, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann visits with Legacy of the Plains Museum’s Nancy Haney during a visit to the area last week.

During a tour of the Gering and Scottsbluff areas last week, Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann spoke to members of the Gering Business Club about what he sees for the future.

He said it was the work ethic of common sense people that made Nebraska what it is. “We don’t think government should solve all out problems. We don’t get the highs when the national economy is booming. But we also don’t get the lows when the economy struggles.”

He said revenues have been coming into the state above forecasts because state has never used “smoke and mirrors” to solve its budget problems. And one of those ongoing challenges is tax relief.

“We hear about high property taxes more than anything else,” Heidemann said. “Ag producers have experienced rapid valuation increases, so they’re paying more property tax.”

He said he was disappointed the Tax Modernization Committee, which has been studying tax issues this year, didn’t make more concrete suggestions on how to provide tax relief to Nebraskans. But he thinks the Legislature and governor’s office will be able to work together and make tax relief a reality.

When asked about term limits on state senators, Heidemann said it’s been detrimental in some ways. “Term limits force some good people out. Long term institutional memory over the long term is gone. I think we would be better off with three four-year terms, which would give some continuity from one group to the other. Term limits hurt the rural areas of the state more than they helped.”
Heidemann grew up on a farm in southeast Nebraska and said that’s how he planned to spend his life. But after he got married and started a family, he was elected to their local Class 1 (elementary only) school board.

“I was especially frustrated with property taxes after I got my 2003 tax statement,” Heidemann told the group. “I told myself I had no right to get mad if I didn’t try to do something about it.”

So he told his wife he was going to run for the state Legislature. And that began his career in public service. His legislative win was decided by 200 votes.

As a freshman senator, he was assigned to the Appropriations Committee, which deals with taxes and budgets. By his third year, he was the committee chair.

In 2012, during his final term in the Legislature, Heidemann decided to run for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents after encouragement from Gov. Dave Heineman.

But in 2013, the resignation of Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy prompted the governor to offer Heidemann the position. He said he wouldn’t run for governor next year, but is still open to another position in the public sector.

“It’s been a great opportunity for me to help agriculture and rural Nebraska,” he said. It’s all about helping the governor do what he’s trying to do to make Nebraska a better place. The state is what it is because of the people who live here.”
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