Governor Signs Bill Sponsor Says Sparked Threats

Courtesy of the Governor's Office

Governor Pete Ricketts hosted a ceremonial signing event for LB 596 Wednesday. The newly passed State Law exempts equine, cat, and dog massage practices from licensure and regulation, into law. LB 596 was introduced by State Senator Mike Groene of North Platte. The Legislature voted 46-0-3 to advance the bill to the Governor’s desk.

LB 596 will remove licensing restrictions for Nebraskans who wish to engage in equine, cat, or dog massage practice, which were previously restricted by the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act.

“With Governor Ricketts’ leadership, we are chipping away at the obstacles presented by over-regulation and licensure by the state,” said Senator Mike Groene. “Together we are helping hardworking Nebraskans follow their dreams of creating small businesses and a living for their families. I appreciate his support of LB 596.”

A Facebook post and reaction to it prompted a harsh speech by Groene on the floor of the Legislature Tuesday afternoon. Tina Koeppe, the author of the post, said she emailed Groene in frustration over the legislature spending time on Groene’s horse massage bill. Her original message said:

“Are you seriously wasting taxpayer money with your bill regarding licensed animal massage? How much time was spent discussing this bill?

And now you claim that there is no need for psychologists in schools?

What is wrong with you?

Do you live in the real world?

You are making a mockery of our state with your ignorant foolishness.

It is time for you to step down. I hope you have enjoyed your time as a politician.”

Groene received flack earlier in the week when he opposed a bill that would place a social worker in every Educational Service Unit across the state. The senator said he didn’t want education dollars spent on mental health, and went on to say there isn’t enough money there to support that.

Groene’s response to Koeppe is below:

“There are three ladies in Lincoln County that will be opening separate equine massage clinics now that we have removed regulatory barriers. I am considering having her contact you. For you see, equine includes zebras, horses, mules, donkeys and ‘asses.’ Since you fit one of those categories those ladies will now legally be able to help you with your hateful stress.”

Dozens of comments were added to Koeppe’s post with more than 200 shares.

On the Floor of the Legislature Wednesday, Groene told his colleagues that, as a result of the Facebook exchange, “A fake webpage was put up in my name where it implied that I was a White Supremist”. Groene went on to say that it was more than a post. “My family has been threatened, by violence, it is under investigation.” Groene said that the matter is being investigated by the State Patrol.

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