March 17, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column:
Serving All Nebraskans

March 17, 2023

While most attention is paid to the policy work I do for Nebraskans in Washington, D.C., my first priority will always be ensuring government is working for all taxpayers. When I was governor, I was proud of the progress we made to streamline and simplify how Nebraskans interact with state agencies, but navigating the federal bureaucracy can be even more daunting. It can be particularly daunting if you need help in a hurry.

That’s why I am excited about the team of dedicated caseworkers we are assembling across Nebraska. This past week, we launched our Mobile Office Hours program and I had the pleasure of opening our constituent service office at 304 N. 168th Circle, Suite 213 in Omaha. We also have an office in Scottsbluff and are working to open our Kearney and Lincoln offices soon. My team is specially trained to assist you with a concern, complaint, or question of services, eligibility, or benefits from a number of federal agencies. While my office cannot ask agencies to change their rules, we can inquire about the status of your situation and provide oversight to ensure your case is being handled properly.

This time of year, many Nebraskans begin to make plans for summer vacations, study abroad programs, and more. My office has already begun receiving questions about passport applications. According to the State Department, routine passport applications take 8-11 weeks and 5+ weeks for expedited processing. While it’s always better to allow extra time for your application, there are times where you need more immediate service. My team stands ready to assist you in navigating any delays.

For example, Michelle from Cass County paid for expedited processing of her passport earlier this year. After nine weeks she still hadn’t even heard back from the State Department. Her special family trip was quickly approaching, and she reached out to my office to see if there was anything to be done. Our team was able to reach out on her behalf, clear up the delay, and had her passport in hand to her before her trip. Unfortunately, we can’t always promise such a successful conclusion to a case, but our team will always do everything in our power to help Nebraskans in need.

My office has also begun receiving requests for help dealing with other federal issues, like Social Security, tax returns, veterans’ benefits and visas. Families frequently lack the requisite paperwork to request military burials or tax exemptions and my team is able to help you get connected to resources that will help you get answers. You can find necessary privacy release forms and more information on the “Services” tab of my website, www.ricketts.senate.gov. There is also a “Frequently Asked Questions” page with more specific instructions.

It’s very rewarding to hear success stories from Nebraskans when they get the help they need. I also welcome your policy ideas for ways to protect the Good Life and improve the lives of every Nebraskan. I’m committed to giving you the service and transparency you deserve and I look forward to finalizing the locations of more Mobile Office Hours and our other Lincoln office in the coming weeks.

Along with Senator Deb Fischer and the rest of my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation, my team and I are here to serve you. Contact my team and I anytime by phone at 202-224-4224, on my website www.ricketts.senate.gov, or via email contactricke@ricketts.senate.gov. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.