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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 3rd legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Carol Blood
This past week was the beginning of all day debate, and it has been productive for the state. Senator Linehan’s omnibus bill, LB754 has seen the largest share of attention because an omnibus bill is a combination of multiple bills put together. Luckily, my bill LB38 is a part of this omnibus bill. LB38 will provide a tax exemption for federal annuities for Nebraska’s federal retirees. Previously LB873 provided vital tax relief on Social Security, and this year’s LB641 (included in this package) will further expand Social Security Tax Relief. However the tax relief is not equitable for Federal retirees. The debate about the overall omnibus has been good for the body. Being wrapped up in culture war debates can be exhausting for all involved and I am happy to see things start to move forward.
Inflation Reduction Act
With today being the deadline for early applications for IRA funding, it was nice to see Governor Pillen and NDEE respond to my letter that requested they take advantage of the available funding! Since it’s the early stages of obtaining funding, there are going to be more opportunities. I will continue to push that we take advantage of all available funding. Our state desperately needs to improve energy efficiency within homes. Insulation of homes would see a net decrease in the cost and usage of heating and air conditioning. We also would see a significant increase in job opportunities if we were to request as much of the IRA funding as possible with 10,000 possible new and good paying jobs. I’ll be looking at the actions of NDEE with great interest moving forward and will continue to challenge them to apply for as much available funding as possible.
Upcoming Community Events
All event flyers are posted below.
If you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please feel free to contact my office by calling 402-471-2627. You can also contact my staff directly:
Gabriel Hinrichs, Administrative Aide: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Maycher, Legislative Aide: email@example.com
Senator Carol Blood, District 3
This past week was made up of highs and lows. I wish to start this by discussing the lows of the week and what happened on the floor this past week. LB 574 had debate from Tuesday morning until 11:30 am yesterday. The cloture motion never would’ve happened if a senator wasn’t forced back to the capitol who’s recovering from sickness. Senator’s on the floor pleaded to have this bill reconsidered. I pointed out the inadequacies within the bill and how it fails to consider the ramifications such as cosmetic procedures and other medicinal practices. It also opens the state of Nebraska open to a long list of potential lawsuits. I’ll continue to fight tooth and nail for the trans youth and population of this state. This bill is about big government control and is unrelenting in its pursuit of controlling parental rights.
Yesterday, LB 9 and LB 559 were presented back-to-back in the Government, Veteran and Military Affairs committee. Dark money is a bipartisan issue. Politicians from both sides of the aisle despise dark money because the entities that create advertisements that are false can’t be corrected nor tracked. It undermines the will of the voters by giving voters factually incorrect information on candidates. LB 559 was received positively by the committee members as well. Having C-1 financial disclosure documents required for elected members of First Class cities to fill out is of great importance for the democratic values that this nation espouses. It’s an important thing for the electorate to know where people’s interests are. The bill also implements digital submissions for all C-1 one forms reducing costs and staff time and creating immediate transparency online for Nebraskans.
A Thank You
Some of you may have seen my post on Facebook about the wonderful piece of art sent to me by Andrea Tellechea, a 4th grader from my district. I wish to thank her once again. It’s now hanging up in my office.
Unicameral Youth Legislature
Another thing you may have seen on my Facebook was about the Unicameral Youth Legislature. This is a great opportunity for the youth of this state to be educated on the legislative process of the unicameral. Please notify the young people in your lives about this opportunity. You can find the information about the Unicameral Youth Legislature below.
Thank you all, it’s a honor to represent legislative district 3.
Happy Monday! This past week the legislature has seen a huge amount of time dedicated to debate on LB 753. I wish to broach upon a few other topics that need to be addressed at the legislature but also in our own communities.
As some may know, on the 3rd of March I introduced LR5. It’s a legislative resolution to ratify an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to regulation of child labor.
The resolution wasn’t brought up out of thin air. Since 2018, the United States Department of Labor has seen a 70% increase in child labor violations, including in hazardous occupations. Just recently a meatpacking facility in Grand Island, Nebraska was found to be employing 50 child laborers, some as young as 13 years of age. Many of these children worked late hours and in dangerous environments that were inappropriate and unsafe.Their childhood and their education were placed on the backburner. This bill wouldn’t eliminate the infractions by these corporations, but it would send a strong message to the rest of this nation. The first state to ratify this amendment for the first time in the past 86 years is Nebraska! We value our children and we value our own workers, that’s what this is about.
An urgent priority for my office is LB560. Time is short for Nebraska to take advantage of the $91,000,000 available to the state to ensure long-term sustainable job growth that can create prosperity for our working families; to help our families benefit from rebates on weatherization and energy-friendly appliances that result in energy savings; to support tourism by providing more car charging stations across Nebraska, and so much more. From our agricultural community to our manufacturers, this is a win for all involved and this complicated act offers funds to help both our rural and urban areas, their residents and businesses. The state of Nebraska has a deadline of March 31st to apply for the funds from the IRA with a ‘notice of intent.’
Please feel free to contact the office by calling 402-471-2627 if you have any questions about legislation or need any help with a governmental issue. Thank you all. It’s an honor to represent legislative district 3!
Sen. Blood’s Bill Hearing This Week
LR284 is being heard in the Agriculture Committee Feb 15th. Sen. Blood brings forward this resolution because agriculture is the #1 industry in Nebraska and cattle production is the largest segment of this industry. Ag drives our economy and with that comes over 6.5 billion in cattle sales each year. This industry clearly impacts all Nebraskans whether they are meat eaters or not. We all know that Nebraska has more cattle than we do people. Policymakers in Nebraska we need to support measures that will protect our beloved beef industry as participants in a global market.
The intent of LR284 is to encourage the Nebraska Legislature to support an objective review of the “Product of U.S.A.” label by the USDA and support any future actions to restrict the scope of use in a way that is beneficial for cattle producers and consumers and is trade compliant. American consumers rely on food labeling for truthful, meaningful information about retail food purchases. If a label says “Product of the USA” they assume that the meat they are placing in their grocery cart was actually raised here in the United States, and not another country as has been happening. The legislature should support initiatives to prevent misleading and deceptive practices that negatively affect United States Cattle producers and drive down prices for the cattle producers while increasing the profits for the meatpacking industry. LR284 is in support of these efforts.
We’re targeting the USDA to review the “Product of U.S.A.” label because they are responsible for the safety, labeling, and packaging of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products. They currently allow the use of the label on foreign imported beef or beef food products by the packing and grocery industry which we need to take a closer look at.
Multiple government entities agree that the USDA must provide a deeper review of the use of the label. President Biden issued an executive order on July 9, 2021, that directed the USDA to consider new rules defining the conditions under which meat products can bear “Product of U.S.A.” and other similar labels so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to choose products originating in the United States.
In July 2021, the Federal Trade Commission finalized a new rule cracking down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are “Made in the U.S.A.” and specifically requires “Made in the U.S.A.” claims on labels be used only for products that are “all or virtually all” made or sourced in the United States. The review needs to reflect and support these new rules.
Nebraska has the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including the nation’s No. 1 cow county – Cherry County, with nearly 166,000 cows. Custer County is No. 2 (100,000) and Holt County is No. 3 (99,000). It is an important part of our culture and economy, so we need to support initiatives that will prioritize better, more honest practices in the beef industry.
Updates to the Situation in Mead
“Friends, I want to begin by saying that today’s rally is first and foremost about supporting Nebraska Ag and our precious Ethanol Industry — our corn, soybean, and wheat growers. The AltEn disaster is the responsibility of one bad actor and, while this catastrophe is a stain on our state, by no means should Nebraska’s agriculture and ethanol industries be painted with the same brush. We’re holding AltEn accountable for being bad stewards of Nebraska’s environment and its water while dismissing Nebraska citizens as if they are collateral damage.
As I reflect on this environmental crisis, I want you to know that Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers and our rural residents are the victims of this crisis, as well may be their children and grandchildren if we don’t receive better answers to our long-standing questions as to how did this happen? Why was it allowed to happen? And could Nebraska have been more responsive in its actions to prevent this unprecedented crisis?
Now as we have observed the proposed clean-up, it’s clear that if we want to protect our precious soil, our life-giving water and the air that we breathe, it is time for public discourse so we can amplify our voices here today. We want to know in clear terms that if Nebraska is going to clean up these piles of polluted wet cake,why are they trying to cover them over with a seal made of fiber, cement and clay while using drainage ditches to collect chemical runoff? Why are they covering it up?
On May 18th, 2021, LR159 requested that the Legislature’s Executive Board appoint an AltEn Ethanol Plant Investigative and Oversight Committee. At that time, we were told that it would have to wait until the 2022 session. So far, there has been no hearing on this legislative resolution and the environmental clock is ticking. It’s time for voices to be heard…it’s time for public discourse.
Friends, Nebraska can do so much better. We believe the optics are very bad and the state’s reactions have appeared to be dilatory and we were saddened to see that in 2012 it was the state who gave approval for this plant to use chemically treated seed to make ethanol without the benefit of public input and this is what ultimately gave this crisis the momentum it needed to move forward.
In response, we rally together on valentine’s day to show some love to our fellow Nebraskans affected by this crisis, we share our love for a safer and healthier state and we pray that we can make movement forward in time to protect our future generations.”
On January 5, your Nebraska Legislature convened for the 2022 Legislative Session. We are excited to advocate on behalf of District 3 and all Nebraskans.
Listed below are the bills I have introduced for this short session.
LB 689 Elimination of LLC Fees: This bill is meant to stimulate potential new business owners and eliminate additional financial hurdles for small and minority-owned businesses by eliminating the initial and annual filing fees associated with becoming an LLC.
LB 690 Teacher Qualifications Change: Minority groups are underrepresented in the teaching community but are in high demand for employment. This bill would provide more flexibility in the certification of qualified educators for Nebraska schools. It allows the Nebraska Department of Education to determine an appropriate line of coursework as sufficient means to fulfill the basic skills competency requirement currently needed to become a certified teacher. This bill would not eliminate the PRAXIS examination but would instead add another choice to fulfill the requirement.
LB 691 Address Confidentiality Program: LB 691 would add survivors of kidnapping to the eligibility requirements for the Address Confidentiality Program to create an extra layer of protection for those victims.
LB 694 Delayed Impact: Amid growing environmental concerns, we must protect those who are exposed to toxic chemicals from industrial facilities such as those recently under fire in Mead, NE. This bill changes how Nebraska defines disabled veterans mirroring the federal definition. Changing the definition of disabled veteran will result in updated tax exemptions for both motor vehicle and homestead taxes in Nebraska. The exemptions will be based on the level of Veteran disability.
LB 695 Delinquent Taxes and TIF: Cities should not reward those who do not pay their property taxes. This bill would prohibit the granting of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) or Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to anyone delinquent in the payment of real property taxes.
LB 696 Teacher Retention Bonus: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all professions, but most especially our child educators and school support staff. This bill would appropriate funds to aid in the retention of teachers and school support staff such as bus drivers, food service handlers, and librarians. Each teacher and school support staff member, excluding school administrators, would receive a bonus.
Mead Research Group Funding (no bill number yet): This bill would allocate funds to the Mead Research Group to assess and evaluate the environmental and human health effects of the toxic chemicals contained in the dry residue (“wetcake”) and wastewater produced and stored at the AltEn ethanol-production plant in Mead, NE.
Beef Resolution (no bill number yet): Nebraska is a national leader in cattle and beef production, and the legislature should support initiatives that encourage beef packers and American citizens to buy beef that is produced in the United States. This bill is a resolution to support United States Senate Bill 949 that will restore the competitiveness of the fed cattle spot market by requiring beef packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle needs in the competitive spot market. It also would support passage of the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 (S.2716).
LR263CA Unfunded Mandates: One pressing reason property taxes remain high is because of underfunded mandates enacted by the Nebraska Legislature. LR263CA is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Legislature from imposing any financial responsibility for new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs on any political subdivision such as a county, city, or state department after the year 2022.
LB687 Circuit Breaker: This bill would put a process in place that protects taxpayers based on a particular activity. For example, if an individual’s income goes down, this bill would make it so there is automatically a process and answer, such as receiving a tax break.
LB 688 Property Tax Reduction Act: This session, Sen. Blood has several bills to address this ongoing issue. LR 688 would provide property tax relief in the form of a property tax credit.
LB 692 Stealthing: Sexual assault should be prohibited in all forms, including a growing issue called stealthing. This bill would prohibit any unwanted sexual contact when a condom has been removed without the consent of all parties involved, otherwise called stealthing. A victim of stealthing would be able to bring forth a civil action and be entitled to collect on actual damages, preliminary and declaratory relief, including attorney and court fees.
LB 693 Expanding Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans: Supporting our veterans continues to be a priority for Sen. Blood. This bill would change the way Nebraska defines disabled veterans to match the federal definition. By doing this we are also changing tax exemptions for motor vehicle and homestead taxation in the state, so that the more “disabled” a veteran is, the more exemptions they receive. This eases the burden of changing the definition on the state
For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.
New Guidelines for Public Testimony
Nebraska’s unique Unicameral Legislature relies heavily on the “second house” – the citizens of the State of Nebraska. Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process.
• The Legislature will no longer accept written testimony submitted prior to a committee hearing. To have your name and comments appear on the hearing transcript, you must physically appear before a committee and be available to answer questions from committee members.
• If you are unable to appear in person at a public hearing on a bill or resolution but would like to have your opinion included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, you will find an option to “Include Comment in Public Hearing” when you search the Legislative website and select the bill or resolution you wish to have your position known. The comment option becomes available once a bill has been scheduled for public hearing and remains available until the conclusion of that bill. PLEASE NOTE: To have your original comments included in the official hearing record they must be submitted prior to 12:00 p.m. CST, on the last workday prior to the public hearing. You will have the opportunity to leave additional comments for the duration of the time that bill is being considered by the committee or the body of the Legislature.
• If unable to appear in person, or not interested in having your opinion become a part of the official record, but still want Senators to know how you feel, there is a feature available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website. Once a hearing has been scheduled, you may submit comments at any stage of the process. (To access this feature, search for the bill you wish to submit a statement on and click the corresponding button “Submit Comments Online For LB___” near the top of the bill page.) For more information follow this link to the Nebraska Legislature’s website.
My office is looking for people to testify on our new bills. If you are interested in giving testimony or have questions, call our office at (402) 471 – 2627, or email Bri at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bri is a long-time community advocate in Omaha who believes in a holistic and inclusive approach to the health of a community. She graduated in 2020 with an undergraduate degree in public health and is currently in the second year of a master’s program in public administration at UNO.
As a politics and policy nerd, Bri has a passion for empowering community members to engage with their local forms of government to influence what goes on in their neighborhoods. She hopes to aid in the development of policy that will create lasting change to keep Nebraska communities healthy and thriving.
We are thrilled to welcome Bri to Team Blood!
The session is now officially over, and the final week certainly had some fireworks. Most noteworthy was the veto override of three bills, two that help the working poor.
The first bill of the day that overcame the governor’s veto was LB108. This is a bill that expanded the qualifications of families that are eligible for the food stamp program, otherwise known as SNAP to 165 percent of the federal poverty level. Previously, families with a gross income of 130 percent or less of the federal poverty level were eligible.
It’s important to note a few things about this bill. The first is that this expansion of the program will expire in 2023. The intent of LB108 was always to make sure that families that are still struggling because of the pandemic are able to feed their children. Secondly, SNAP benefits are fully funded by federal dollars and the money for this expansion will come from funds set aside by the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Third, there were quite a few inaccurate arguments made on the floor about this program. Several senators seemed to be confused about SNAP, claiming that people were lying on their couches all day rather than going to work. The truth is that SNAP has work requirements in order to qualify. That means those who are getting the benefit of SNAP are indeed, the “working poor.” These are people who have one or more jobs, but are still below the federal poverty level. These are people who are working hard to feed their families, and because of recent circumstances are unable to do so.
LB108 originally passed 33-11, meaning it already had widespread bipartisan support. The vote to override the governor was still very bipartisan, with a 30-19 vote.
The second bill that saw an override of the governor’s veto was LB306. This bill expanded the program that assists low-income homeowners in Nebraska. The bill increases the eligibility threshold for the low-income home energy assistance program from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent. The bill also requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to allocate at least 10 percent of program funds to weatherization assistance.
This was another piece of legislation that was popular throughout the body, originally passing on a 38-6 vote. We overrode the veto on a 32-15 vote. As is the case with all veto overrides, thirty votes were needed.
Our third and final override vote came on LB147. This bill authorizes a takeover of the Omaha Public Schools pension plan. While there had been some talk of OPS getting special treatment with this bill, the fact is that OPS was the only public school retirement plan that wasn’t already being handled by the state. When the governor vetoed the bill, he did so while stating concerns that the state would be held liable if something catastrophic happened to the money in the fund. The fact of the matter is that the plain language of the bill makes it very clear that the state of Nebraska is not in any danger of being held accountable in such a situation.
In short, there is no downside to the takeover of this particular plan. As some on the floor of the legislature said during the debate, LB147 will take the management of the retirement plan off the hands of teachers in Omaha and allow them to solely focus on educating our youth. Just like the other two bills we took up yesterday, LB147 was incredibly popular in the body, originally passing 38-3.
Very soon, I will provide you with an update of the bills passed that are most likely to affect district 3. For this week, the Legislature was all about tying up loose ends and getting ready to shut things down. Unlike most years, we won’t be gone all that long.
While the session would usually be over until January of 2022, this fall, we’ll need to return for a special session in order to hash out the state’s redistricting plans. While a date for the session hasn’t been set yet, it’s expected to take place in mid-September.
I’ll also be sending out a year-end newsletter that will go into greater detail on everything we’ve accomplished this session.
For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.
Governor Ricketts’ Sine Die Address
As part of the process of ending the legislative session, Governor Ricketts came to the chamber to give his Sine Die Address. In the short speech, he touched on many important accomplishments we made this year including the massive amount of tax relief.
With this year’s budget, the refundable income tax credit will provide more than $430 million in property tax relief each year. But that’s just the start. With the property tax relief fund and other exemptions, the biennial budget will provide nearly $1.7 billion in property tax relief over the course of the next two years. When you factor other tax exemptions, such as sales tax and personal property relief, the legislature is going to be saving the people of Nebraska, over $1.8 billion over the next two years.
Governor Ricketts pointed out that this body has provided more tax relief than perhaps any other legislature in Nebraska’s history. That’s an accomplishment we can all be proud of, though as the governor pointed out, there’s still much work to be done, and I’ll be working on finding solutions throughout the rest of this year.
Period Poverty Drive a Massive Success
“Period Poverty” is an issue that is very important to me. That’s why I talked about it on the floor last week and it’s why I took part in a “Period Poverty Drive” this week. I’m happy to say that I had so many people contribute to this that the area I set aside for donations is positively overflowing.
These supplies will go to organizations that women in need who may not otherwise have the means to get them. I will add that there are a few more days left in this drive and if you should feel so inclined, you can go to my Amazon Wishlist page and purchase something. Please know that whatever is donated is going to a very good cause that simply isn’t talked about enough.
I’d advise everyone to check out this information sheet from the Alliance for Period Supplies for more information on why the Period Poverty Drive is needed.
Taking Time Out For Memorial Day
While we are all out enjoying the three-day weekend, it’s important to remember exactly why Memorial Day matters. Many Americans fought and died since the inception of this country in order to protect our freedoms.
It’s also important to remember that the families also serve. There are countless members of our community who have lost a loved one. If you know of a spouse, or child, or even great-grandchild of a veteran or active duty military member, make sure you thank them for their sacrifices as well, as they have surely made some.
To that end, I wanted to point out that Bellevue and the surrounding area has done a fantastic job making sure to recognize all those who stepped up. Since 1999, the city has lined several roads with American flags. They go up just before Memorial Day, and are up now and will stay up through Veteran’s Day in November.
Now the Sarpy County Chamber Legacy Project is committed to expanding those lines of flags along Highway 370 through Papillion into Gretna. Many of you may know how fitting this particular stretch of land is as it’s known as the Strategic Air Command Memorial Highway.
There are still some final approvals from various jurisdictions that need to go through, but it’s expected those will be approved in the coming days.
As always, I am especially proud of the communities in Sarpy County for how they continue to show support for our military men and women.
Fun In The Sun
Memorial Day weekend is, of course, a period for thoughtful reflection, but it’s also the unofficial start of summer. That means that various swimming pools and splash pads around Sarpy County are, or soon will be open for business.
The two Bellevue splash pads are located at Banner Park (50th & Virginia) and Everett Park (Adjacent to Betz Road). Papillion has one in Eagle Ridge two blocks east of 66th Street and Ashwood Avenue, the Schwer Splash Pad at 800 West Centennial Road, and First Street Plaza, on the corner of First and Washington streets in downtown Papillion.
All of the Splash Pads are free and open to the public from early in the morning until late into the night. Make sure to stop by and cool yourself off while having a little fun.