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August Recess: Time For Your Ideas

By Senator Mike Johanns

After a very hectic July and early August, the Senate has adjourned for a month, giving me a great opportunity to return home to Nebraska. As you're reading this, I've already embarked on a trip across the state and look forward to meeting with many of you at open coffees from Omaha to Oshkosh. I'll be offering thoughts on the recent activity in the Senate and am very interested in hearing from you about what our focus should be when Congress reconvenes in September.

The Senate accomplished some positive things before adjourning, notably passage of  a child nutrition bill I supported that will improve the quality of the food our children eat every day and ensure families struggling to make ends meet don’t have to worry about their kids going hungry. I was so pleased to see the Senate get this passed before recess, and it’s paid for out of the budget, not by some fictitious credit card that adds to the national debt. I was also very pleased to see the Veterans' Committee approve a fix to the Post 9/11 GI Bill that ensures certain Air and National Guard members who were not initially covered will get the benefits they deserve.

August is a very important month for me. My extended time with Nebraskans strongly influences my ideas and decision-making in the Senate. My latest piece of legislation is a good example inspired by your concerns. It would repeal a terrible provision in the health care law that imposes an overwhelming tax filing mandate on businesses large and small across the country, costing them time and money, when they should be focused on hiring and growing their businesses. I introduced it because a host of Nebraska business owners wrote to me to express concern about the mandate. I spoke directly with several of them on the phone and learned just how hard this mandate will hit them.

One business owner even went as far as to do a cost estimate analysis for his business, and found out that the mandate will cost him about $23,000 annually. Because he alerted me to the consequences and other Nebraskans spoke up, it became clear to me how imperative it is to get this provision repealed. It is scheduled for a vote first thing when the Senate reconvenes in September. This is just one example of how you can influence your government beyond the ballot booth. Your participation matters.

Be on the lookout for one of my Open Coffees, which I'll be hosting this week and next. I would also encourage you to visit my website,, where you can view my Trip Tracker and sign up for my e-Updates. I look forward to visiting with you.