Russ Karpisek

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Russ Karpisek
Member of the Nebraska Legislature
from the 32nd district
In office
Preceded by Jeanne Combs
Succeeded by Laura Ebke
Personal details
Born (1966-07-20) July 20, 1966 (age 51)
Political party Democratic
Residence Wilber, Nebraska

Russ Karpisek (born July 20, 1966) is a politician from the U.S. state of Nebraska. He served in the Nebraska Legislature from 2007 to 2015.

Early life and career[edit]

Karpisek was born on July 20, 1966, in Friend, Nebraska, and graduated from Wilber-Clatonia High School in 1984. In 1989, he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a B.S. in business administration. After college, he returned to his hometown of Wilber, where he took over his grandmother's business, Karpisek's Meat Market. He served as mayor of Wilber from 1994 to 2006.[1][2]



In 2006, Karpisek challenged incumbent Jeanne Combs for the 32nd District seat in the Nebraska legislature.[3] The district, in the southeastern part of the state, then consisted of Fillmore, Jefferson, Saline, and Thayer counties.[4]

In the nonpartisan primary, Combs, a Republican, won 50.1% of the vote; Democrat Karpisek won 43.3%; and George Shada, an independent and a college student from Fairbury, won 6.6%.[5][6][7][8] Shada was eliminated from the race; Combs and Karpisek, as the top two vote-getters, were to move on to the general election.

Less than two weeks after the primary, Combs, a registered nurse, announced that she had been offered a significant advance in her career, with increased responsibilities that would preclude her serving as a legislator, and withdrew from the election.[3] Combs's withdrawal would have left Karpisek's the only name on the ballot. However, Ron Schwab, a former city attorney and mayor of Fairbury, secured enough petition signatures to have his name listed as well. Schwab, a Republican and self-described "staunch fiscal conservative",[9] stated that he was concerned about high taxes, particularly property taxes, and government spending.[9][10] Karpisek expressed support for increased state aid to schools to allow reduction of local property taxes.[11][12]

Karpisek won the general election, with 59% of the vote to Schwab's 41%. He won his home Saline County by a 3-1 margin, and Fillmore County by a 2-1 margin; Schwab won his home Jefferson County by a 2-1 margin and narrowly defeated Karpisek in Thayer County.[4][13]

In 2010, Karpisek filed for re-election, stating that he would continue to focus on rural economic development.[14] He ran unopposed and was elected to a second term.[15][16]

In 2014, Nebraska's term-limits law prevented Karpisek's running for a third consecutive term. In the race to succeed him, he endorsed Crete veterinarian Phil Hardenburger, a Democrat and a self-described centrist, against Republican Laura Ebke, a Crete community college instructor and the president of the Nebraska chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, whom the Omaha World-Herald described as "conservative".[17] Ebke won the general election with 50.7% of the vote to Hardenburger's 49.3%.[18]

Legislative career[edit]

Karpisek served as chairperson of the Legislature's General Affairs Committee. At various times, his other committee assignments included the Executive Board; the Committee on Committees; and the Agriculture, the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs, the Nebraska Retirement Systems, and the Urban Affairs Committees.[1][19][20][21]

In every session of the Nebraska legislature, each senator is allowed to designate one priority bill, which will be considered before other bills in debate.[22] In 2007, Karpisek prioritized LB232, a bill introduced by Annette Dubas that modified the 2005 Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act, which awarded grants to economically depressed rural communities to promote development and entrepreneurship. LB232 reduced the matching-funds requirement for communities meeting certain standards. The bill passed 40–0 and was signed by governor Dave Heineman.[23][24]

In 2008, Karpisek introduced and prioritized LB844, which increased penalties for possession of marijuana. At the time, possession of quantities less than one ounce (28 g) was decriminalized, with a maximum penalty of $100; the bill reclassified simple possession from an infraction to a Class III misdemeanor, increased the penalty for a first offense to $300, and allowed sentences of up to 90 days in jail. Karpisek argued that the penalties for possession of marijuana should at least equal those for possession of alcohol by a minor. The bill passed the Legislature 40–2, and was signed into law by governor Heineman.[25][26][27][28]

In 2012, Karpisek introduced and prioritized LB1067, which would allow communities to increase the frequency of keno games. Under current state law, at least five minutes had to elapse between games. Karpisek's bill would allow communities to choose a new interval, provided that it was greater than one minute. The bill was amended in committee to change the minimum interval to three minutes. In this form, it was supported by the city of Omaha and the League of Nebraska Municipalities, as a means of raising additional revenue; it was opposed by anti-gambling groups. The measure failed to secure the necessary majority in the General Affairs Committee.[29][30][31][32]

In 2013, Karpisek, a divorced father of two, prioritized LB22, introduced by Kearney senator Galen Hadley, which would require divorce courts to devise custody plans in which both parents shared decision-making authority, and which maximized parenting time for both. The bill failed to clear the Judiciary Committee in 2013, which proponents attributed in part to delaying tactics by Ernie Chambers; it was carried over into the 2014 session, but again was not moved out of the committee.[33][34][35][36][37][38]


  1. ^ a b Nebraska Blue Book 2012–2013, p. 309. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  2. ^ "Karpisek brings hometown perspective to Legislature". Retrieved 2015-02-21. Archived 2015-02-21 at Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Hicks, Nancy. "Combs will withdraw bid for re-election". Lincoln Journal Star. 2006-05-22. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  4. ^ a b Campbell, Harold. "Wallman wins 30th District seat". Beatrice Daily Sun. 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  5. ^ "Member of the Legislature" (2006 primary results). Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  6. ^ "NE-State: Legislative Race Overview". Daily Kos. 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  7. ^ "Voter's Guide: Russ Karpisek, Legislature, District 32". Lincoln Journal Star. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  8. ^ Jenkins, Nate. "Meet new candidates for the Legislature". Lincoln Journal Star. 2006-03-01. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  9. ^ a b Hicks, Nancy. "Fairbury lawyer looks at Combs' legislative seat". Lincoln Journal Star. 2006-06-06. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  10. ^ Hicks, Nancy. "Schwab hands in petitions for Legislative race". Lincoln Journal Star. 2006-08-16. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  11. ^ "Russ Karpisek for District 32". Lincoln Journal Star. 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  12. ^ "Candidate series begins today". Beatrice Daily Sun. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  13. ^ "Member of the Legislature" (2006 general election results). Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  14. ^ Dunker, Chris. "Karpisek files for re-election, second term".Beatrice Daily Sun. 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2105-02-21.
  15. ^ Young, Joanne. "Lincoln-area legislative races go down to wire". Lincoln Journal Star. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  16. ^ "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 2, 2010", p. 20. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  17. ^ Hammel, Paul. "32nd Legislative District candidates offer voters a distinct choice". Omaha World-Herald. 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  18. ^ "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 4, 2014", p. 21. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  19. ^ Nebraska Blue Book 2010–2011 Archived February 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., p. 306. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  20. ^ Nebraska Blue Book 2008–2009 Archived February 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., p. 308. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  21. ^ Nebraska Blue Book 2006–2007, p. 312. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  22. ^ "Glossary of Legislative Terms". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  23. ^ "LB232 - Change the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act" (bill history: LB232, 100th Legislature). Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  24. ^ "Introducer's Statement of Intent: LB232". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  25. ^ "LB844 - Change penalty provisions for marijuana possession" (bill history: LB844, 100th Legislature). Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  26. ^ Loeks, Maunette. "Prosecutor, police want stiffer penalties for marijuana". Scottsbluff Star-Herald. 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  27. ^ "Introducer's Statement of Intent: LB844". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  28. ^ "New law could toughen marijuana penalties. North Platte Bulletin. 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  29. ^ "LB1067 - Change restrictions on keno" (bill history: LB1067, 102nd Legislature). Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  30. ^ Schulte, Grant. "Cities push to cut wait between keno games". Lincoln Journal Star. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  31. ^ "Debate begins on decreasing time limit between Keno games". Unicameral Update. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  32. ^ "Bill to decrease time limit between keno games stalls". Unicameral Update. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  33. ^ "Divorced dads lose chances to be parents". North Platte Bulletin. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  34. ^ Karpisek, Russ. "Legislative Up-date". The Nebraska Signal. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  35. ^ Young, Joanne. "Senator calls out bar association for bias on study of parent custody issue". Lincoln Journal Star. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  36. ^ White, Jane. "Karpisek gives senators above average grade". Wilber Republican. 2013-06-08. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  37. ^ Klein, Kaitlyn. "Courthouse rally held for equal parenting rights". Omaha World-Herald. 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  38. ^ "LB22 - Change Parenting Act provisions relating to parenting plans" (bill history: LB22, 103rd Legislature). Nebraska Legislature Retrieved 2015-02-21.