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The public hearing process has concluded. Every bill that was introduced was referred to a committee for a hearing, where the public was invited to testify. Committees are finishing the process of advancing the bills that they think should be discussed by the full Legislature. Beginning Monday, March 7th, senators will meet in full-day session.
Last year, I was elected as the chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee. This committee is responsible for overseeing the state’s performance audit process. Performance auditing is a systematic review of any aspect of agencies and their programs to evaluate an agency’s success in effectively implementing legislative intent. This function is carried out by the Performance Audit staff, under the direction of the Legislative Auditor.
The Legislative Performance Audit Committee is authorized to introduce legislation. This year, we introduced three bills and one legislative resolution. I personally introduced another bill pertaining to the jurisdiction of the Performance Audit Act.
LB 867 proposes to amend the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets forth the formal process for agencies to follow when adopting administrative regulations. This bill was introduced as the result of a 2015 audit, which found that the APA does not provide adequate guidance to agencies about what types of policies must go through the formal rulemaking process. LB 867 also puts in place a process for the adoption of emergency rules. LB 867 was designated as a Performance Audit Committee priority bill and is pending on the agenda for first-round debate.
The intent of LB 1022 is to provide the Legislative Audit Office with full access to the information they need in order to perform accurate and thorough evaluations of state programs. Last year, legislation was passed to require the Legislative Audit Office to conduct a performance audit of our tax incentive programs. However, when the auditors started the first audit, they found that they were not able to access necessary electronic files pertaining to the Nebraska Advantage Act in a timely fashion, nor were they given access to records for all tax incentive program projects. LB 1022, another committee priority bill, has received first round approval from the Legislature.
LB 756 would eliminate the Long-Term Care Savings Plan, which the committee recommended following a performance audit of the program. The audit found that very few people were participating in the plan and that the program was not meeting its goals of encouraging Nebraskans to save for long-term care or reducing the costs of Medicaid. LB 756 has not been advanced from the Revenue Committee at this time, but has been designated as a speaker priority bill, giving it a good chance for debate once it is advanced to the floor.
LR 413 is a legislative resolution that proposes to create the Task Force on Behavioral Health. The purpose of the task force is to provide legislative oversight to monitor the progress of the Department of Health and Human Services in conducting a statewide needs assessment and in the development of a strategic plan. Furthermore, the task force will study the infrastructure, provider rates, current workforce, delivery systems, and the number of qualified facilities within the state. The resolution was introduced as the result of a 2015 audit of the Behavioral Health System in Nebraska, which identified several gaps in services across the state. LR 413 was adopted by the Legislature earlier this week.
Finally, LB 1016, the bill that I introduced, amends the definition of “agency” in the Legislative Performance Audit Act, adding the Office of Probation Administration and the Office of Public Guardian to the list of governmental units that can be subject to a performance audit. LB 1016 was passed by the Legislature this past week on a 49-0 vote.
As we begin full-day debates, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and opinions. I can be reached at District #1, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my telephone number is (402) 471-2733.