NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Carol Blood

This week, another one of my bills, LB86 was heard on the floor and advanced to Select File. This is a bill that would change the requirements regarding when a county needs to open bridge bids. The bill was placed on what is known as the Legislature’s “Consent Calendar.” Bills that make this list are those that have had no opponents during the committee and were voted onto the floor without a dissenting vote. They also need to be considered “non-controversial” by the Speaker of the Legislature. The bill was indeed non-controversial as it didn’t receive a single “no” vote.

On Friday, we took up debate on LB461. This is the comprehensive tax reform package brought on behalf of the Governor. While I am in agreement with Nebraskans’ that feel their taxes are too high, I have some real concerns that none of our relief bills seem to offer long-term solutions. I have long said I have no interest in just kicking the can down the road. I am paying close attention to the debate, amendments and discussions, but I believe there is still much work to be done.

While this week has been one of serious issues and serious debate we did manage to get a nice break for a few minutes on Wednesday. The legislature hosted 18 former state senators. We briefly stood at ease as the former Senators came onto the floor and chatted a bit with us. It’s striking to think about the decades of combined experience that stood before us.

While there is quite a bit of talk about the legislature being stuck in the mud and not getting much done, when you look at the session as a whole so far, we’ve actually accomplished quite a bit. While I don’t always like what has been passed, we’ve certainly not been at the kind of standstill some have made it out to be. So far this year, we’ve already had 35 bills signed by the governor. We also have another 53 bills that are sitting on Final Reading. Once those are advanced, they will be headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. On Thursday alone, we advanced 45 Consent Calendar bills from General to Select File and those will be added to the 15 bills that were already sitting on Select File. It is a wonderful feeling to work together on issues that are important to the residents of Nebraska and to continue to move legislation forward.


While we continue to make progress moving through the legislative agenda, there is also some noticeable progress going on just outside my office window with the installation of the fountains! No, that courtyard isn’t the prettiest looking right now, but I’m excited to get a look at the finished product in the next few months.

Friday marked the 69th day of the legislative session which means we have just 21 legislative days to go! While we have accomplished much, there are still plenty of hard decisions ahead. Next week we will begin debating the state budget. Considering the massive shortfall we’re dealing with, there are bound to be some tough calls.

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High school students with an interest in law, government, leadership or public speaking are encouraged to register for the 2017 Unicameral Youth Legislature, which will convene June 11-14.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation conducted at the State Capitol Building and coordinated by the Clerk’s Office of the Nebraska Legislature. Student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff. Bills will be based on legislation considered during the current legislative session. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission.
Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available. The University of Nebraska– Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities for the camp as part of their Big Red Summer Camps program. Registration forms can be obtained from the Legislature’s Unicameral Youth Legislature page: www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl. The registration deadline is May 15.

On April 11, 2017 we gave first-round approval to a bill that seeks to require the collection of state sales taxes on purchases made over the Internet. LB 44 was presented by Senator Watermeier.

The 28-13 advancement of the bill does create concern about whether it could survive a potential veto by Governor Pete Ricketts. It takes 30 votes to override the Governor’s veto.

It has been estimated that LB 44 has the potential to bring in an additional $30 to $40 million in state revenue every year. This would make a substantial difference in our long term planning when it comes to the state budget and the ongoing deficit we face.

The lack of taxes on Internet purchases has been a point of contention with Sarpy County’s main-street businesses. Many have shared with me that it gives out-of-state companies a tax advantage. This unfair tax advantage has clearly contributed to the closing of local stores in Bellevue and Papillion.

At least 28 states have proposed laws this year to require the collection of taxes on online sales. As many of you know, this is not a new tax, but one that is owed and rarely paid. Collecting this existing tax is one of many tools we can use to tackle Nebraska’s current budget woes.

Last Friday, my Legislative Aide, Oliver VanDervoort had the opportunity to tour the Beatrice State Developmental Center with a group of Senators and other staff, as well as members of DHHS. He’s reported back about the great work that is going on at the BSDC despite significant hurdles the current administrators have had to overcome, including working with a challenging budget. The individuals who live in this facility truly call the BSDC home,as most have been housed there for decades. The facility staff work hard to make sure these citizens of Nebraska aren’t simply cast aside but help them to learn trades and skills that can be used in the greater community and give their residents a sense of purpose.

The facility staff work hard to make sure these citizens of Nebraska aren’t simply cast aside but help them to learn trades and skills that can be used in the greater community and give their residents a sense of purpose. LB68 is a Preemption bill presented by Senator Hilgers of Lincoln. There was a lengthy debate in reference to the topic and it was passed from General File to Select this week. The bill reinforces that the state is the original authority and that laws controlling firearms ownership and possession shall not be overridden by local laws (county, city, municipality). This critical piece of legislation emphasizes the power and authority of the state. However, if the intent of this bill is to eliminate the patchwork of laws in Nebraska, I feel the carve out for Omaha creates a new patchwork hurdle. All of the proponents at the hearing stated that this bill was about being able to travel across Nebraska as a law abiding gun owner without fear of prosecution. I agree this is an important issue and I support this effort. In response, I have offered AM 865 as an alternative solution. If the issue is truly about safe transportation and not taking away important local power, than I am hoping to garner support on the floor. The majority of local law enforcement in my area oppose the bill in its current form.

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Need help with a legal question? No money for a lawyer? www.NE.FreeLegalAnswers.org is now available. It’s easy, fast and its free to qualified users! Go to the website and see if you qualify to ask a Nebraska volunteer lawyer a question about a civil legal problem for FREE! You must be at least 18, not incarcerated, meet low-income eligibility requirements, and need an internet connection. If you qualify: you can post a civil (non-criminal) legal question for free, you will get an email when a lawyer answers your question and you can log in to the website to read the lawyer’s response. This is a national online pro bono project sponsored by the American Bar Association in collaboration with the NSBA Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Did you know that the following publications are available at no charge and can be ordered via the Unicameral Information Office?

Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral: The Nebraska Legislature
22 X 28″ Color Poster: Featuring Contact Information & Photos of Each Senator
Unicam Kids: Illustrated book for gradeschoolers
Membership & Committees Cards: Reference card listing Senator contact information and membership of the Legislative Committees.
Public Hearing Testimony: A brochure about the committee hearing process
Lines of Government: A booklet depicting boundaries for Nebraska’s Legislative, Supreme Court & Congressional Districts, as well as districts for other lines of Nebraska Government.
Unicameral Update: Online news source produced by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office. Weekly print or email subscriptions available.

Thursday marked the 65th day of the legislative session. That means we have officially passed the two-thirds mark for this session. The last 25 days are sure to be busy as we still have to debate school funding, the governor’s tax proposal, and the budget.

Another busy week has come and gone as we move closer to the end of the legislative session. Earlier this week my priority bill LB88  got one step closer to becoming law. In addition to helping military families by allowing their spouses attain temporary licenses in more than 30 professional fields while they apply for their permanent license, the Health and Human Services Committee asked me to allow LB88 to be the vehicle to carry an amendment that included four other bills that are similar to mine. The amendment includes parts of LB342 (Adopt the Nurse Licensure Compact and provide for temporary nursing license for military spouses) which is Senator Erdman’s bill, Senator Crawford’s LB425 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to the Nurse Practitioner Practice Act), Senator Kolterman’s LB61 (Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact) and finally Senator Riepe’s LB283 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to licensed practical nurses).

In this latest round of debate, I added another amendment that removes the requirement for licensed audiologists to have to go and get a separate license in order to sell and dispense hearing aids. This was yet another piece of governmental red tape we’re doing away with. This bill is also a shining example of how we can work together and across the political spectrum for the greater good of Nebraska and create effective policy through a team effort. Next up for the bill will be final reading and then it will be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

While it wasn’t my bill, I took great interest in Senator Stinner’s bill, LB222 which makes some much-needed changes to the Nebraska Tourism Commission. One part of the bill I had a problem with was a requirement that the commission redraft it’s strategic plan, rather than simply reviewing and adjusting it. I believe an organization’s strategic plan should be treated as a living document that can be amended and reviewed quite often, but doesn’t need to be scrapped entirely and started over from scratch. The last strategic plan for the commission cost $109,000 to create. This isn’t money we should just be throwing away. My amendment AM816 addresses this and added language to the bill that has the commission “review the plan annually and update as necessary.” Senator Stinner was receptive and supportive of this amendment and it shows once again that bipartisan cooperation can be achieved in this legislature.

LB68 was discussed on the floor this week and if nothing else, led to a lot of good conversations with members of the public. I have a problem with the way this bill was written because it would open up cities and counties to frivolous lawsuits. In emails and in testimony on this bill, we heard that the real problem was traveling around the state, transporting a law-abiding citizens’ gun becomes an issue. I introduced an amendment AM865 that would make it possible to do just that, without having to worry about being cited in one municipality or another. I have no problem with lawful gun owners wanting to exercise their second amendment rights. I believe in those rights. I believe my amendment continues to allow people to use those rights without putting cities and counties in the crosshairs of outside organizations who wish to come in here and file lawsuit after lawsuit, causing real financial harm to our communities. I understand this is an important issue to many, and I would encourage anyone who has any questions or concerns about LB68 or my amendment to contact my office and speak to either myself or my Legislative Aide, Oliver. The bill was debated for three hours on Wednesday and then we moved onto other business. It’s not clear when the Speaker plans to put it back on the agenda.

Another bill we talked about this week that is very important to me is Senator Krist’s LB300. This bill eliminates the statute of limitations on civil actions in relation to the sexual assault of a child. Current law sets the statute of limitations at 12 years past an alleged victim’s 21st birthday. The problem is that most sexual assaults aren’t reported until the victims are well into adulthood. I believe this bill takes an important step towards truly giving a voice to the voiceless and I will do everything I can to make sure it becomes law.

In case you haven’t checked it out yet, the Tax Foundation Facts and Figures for 2017 book was recently released. This booklet compiles a huge amount of information about how Nebraska fares compared with other states when talking about categories like State and Local tax collections per capita. This information is also online at the Tax Foundation’s Website and you can download it or even get a smartphone app to have it at a glance at all times. I encourage you to study these numbers as I know I will be.

Did you know that the following publications are available at no charge and can be ordered via the Unicameral Information Office?

Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral: The Nebraska Legislature
22 X 28″ Color Poster: Featuring Contact Information & Photos of Each Senator
Unicam Kids: Illustrated book for gradeschoolers
Membership & Committees Cards: Reference card listing Senator contact information and membership of the Legislative Committees.
Public Hearing Testimony: A brochure about the committee hearing process
Lines of Government: A booklet depicting boundaries for Nebraska’s Legislative, Supreme Court & Congressional Districts, as well as districts for other lines of Nebraska Government.
Unicameral Update: Online news source produced by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office. Weekly print or email subscriptions available.

Thursday marked the 61st day of the legislative session. That means we have officially passed the two-thirds mark for this session. The last 29 days are sure to be busy as we still have to debate school funding, the governor’s tax proposal, and the budget.

Another week has officially come and gone, and this one was rather productive. While there were concerns about the legislature stalling early in the session, more than 30 bills were advanced to the next round of debate this week. Among those bills that were advanced is one that is very near and dear to my heart.

Senator Walz brought a bill this year, LB444 which will do a great service for our state’s first responders. The bill makes sure that if a first responder is injured in the line of duty, the city or county they work for cannot cancel their health insurance policy if the injury has forced the police officer, firefighter or EMT to fall below the needed hours worked to normally qualify for health benefits. In other words, as long the first responder continues to be an employee of the city or county, that city or county must continue to offer health insurance to the employee. In the interest of fairness, there is a caveat included in the bill that was brought forward by the Judiciary Committee. The committee’s amendment says that the city or county can cancel the health insurance they are carrying if the first responder does not return to work in some aspect, inside of one calendar year. I was proud to vote for this important piece of legislation, and it advanced to the second round of debate on a 33-4 vote.

One of my bills officially became the law of the land this week as well. LB85, which would stop anyone from running for public office, or be appointed to public office if they owed fines to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC), was signed by Governor Ricketts. This law will make sure that public servants are held accountable and will weed out the people who aren’t willing to own up to their obligations. Since its introduction, through committee and three rounds of debate, the bill never received a single “no” vote.
Another of my bills, my priority bill LB88  will likely be heard on the floor starting next Monday for the second round of debate. In addition to helping military families by allowing military spouses attain temporary licenses in more than 30 professional fields while they apply for their permanent license, the Health and Human Services Committee asked me to allow LB88 to be the vehicle to carry an amendment that included four other bills that are similar to mine. The amendment includes parts of LB342 (Adopt the Nurse Licensure Compact and provide for temporary nursing license for military spouses) which is Senator Erdman’s bill, Senator Crawford’s LB425 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to the Nurse Practitioner Practice Act), Senator Kolterman’s LB61 (Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact) and finally Senator Riepe’s LB283 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to licensed practical nurses). This bill is a shining example of how we can work together for the greater good of Nebraska and create effective policy through a team effort.
In case you haven’t checked it out yet, the Tax Foundation Facts and Figures for 2017 book was recently released. This booklet compiles a huge amount of information about how Nebraska fares compared with other states when talking about categories like State and Local tax collections per capita. This information is also online at the Tax Foundation’s Website and you can download it or even get a smartphone app to have it at a glance at all times. I encourage you to study these numbers as I know I will be.

Another week in the books and this one was pretty good. Last Saturday I attended a town hall meeting at the Bellevue Public Library with Senator Sue Crawford (LD 45) and we were met with a standing room only crowd. The attendees listened to us speak on current legislation as well as participated in a Q & A session. Questions included topics such as Nebraska Schools, Retirement, Potential Loss of Federal Dollars, Environmental, Taxes and possible ideas for future legislation. The Bellevue Public Library did a fantastic job and we are both excited to come back for future town halls.

The end of the week saw a great deal of activity for two of my bills. LB85, which would stop anyone from running for public office, or be appointed to public office if they owed fines to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC), passed final reading and is now headed to Governor Ricketts’ desk for his signature. Once he signs it, it will officially become law. I believe this bill will hold public servants accountable and weed out the people who aren’t willing to own up to their obligations. This bill hasn’t received a single no-vote as it’s made it’s way through the legislature. It advanced from the committee unanimously and got through three rounds on the floor without any opposition. The vote count on final reading was 48-0 with one senator absent. This truly has bipartisan support and will be a very beneficial law moving forward.

Speaking of a bill with strong bipartisan support, my priority bill LB88 got through the first round of debate on the legislature floor on Thursday. LB88 would allow military spouses to be able to get a temporary license in over 30 medical fields when they move to Nebraska, as long as they were licensed and able to practice in those fields in their previous states. This will help Nebraska be looked upon as more “Military Friendly” and will greatly aid those people who live and work in and around Offutt Air Force Base.

In addition to helping military families, the Health and Human Services Committee asked me to allow LB88 to be the vehicle to carry an amendment that included four other bills that are similar to my bill. The amendment includes parts of LB342 (Adopt the Nurse Licensure Compact and provide for temporary nursing license for military spouses) which is Senator Erdman’s bill, Senator Crawford’s LB425 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to the Nurse Practitioner Practice Act), Senator Kolterman’s LB61 (Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact) and finally Senator Riepe’s LB283 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to licensed practical nurses). This means that not only does LB88 with these amendments attached have bipartisan support in the legislature, but the bill and amendment shows the ability for bipartisan agreement in writing legislation.

Did you know that the following publications are available at no charge and can be ordered via the Unicameral Information Office?

Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral: The Nebraska Legislature
22 X 28″ Color Poster: Featuring Contact Information & Photos of Each Senator
Unicam Kids: Illustrated book for gradeschoolers
Membership & Committees Cards: Reference card listing Senator contact information and membership of the Legislative Committees.
Public Hearing Testimony: A brochure about the committee hearing process
Lines of Government: A booklet depicting boundaries for Nebraska’s Legislative, Supreme Court & Congressional Districts, as well as districts for other lines of Nebraska Government.
Unicameral Update: Online news source produced by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office. Weekly print or email subscriptions available.

Friday and Monday are recess days for the legislature and we’ll be back in session on Tuesday. That day will mark the 54th day of the session, meaning we only have 36 days left and we’re barrelling towards the end with still plenty of work to do.  As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.

This past week started with my Sunday Symposium “Sex Trafficking – A Dichotomy” which had great attendance both from panelists and the public. Once again, I’d like to thank everyone for coming and making the event a great one. I hope the turnout for the next symposium is just as strong.The symposium has resulted in an amazing sharing of ideas from the public that will help to make our future legislation even stronger as we work to combat Sex Trafficking in Nebraska.

Monday morning saw LB85 advance through select file and is now on Final Reading. This means there is just one more round of voting before the bill will be sent to the Governor’s office for his signature and it will then become law. This bill would make it so anyone owing civil penalties to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission cannot run for, nor be appointed to a public office, until they pay those fines. I think this is an important piece of legislation and I am happy to see it get so much support in the legislature.

Obviously, people in Sarpy county have been greatly affected by road and highway construction over the past year. On Friday, March 24 at 8:30 AM, you will get your chance to hear about and give input towards the broader plan put forward by the Nebraska Department of Roads. The public forum will take place at Thompson Center at UNO, 6705 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska. You can get the agenda for the meeting at the NDOR website by clicking on the “State Highway Commission/District 2 Program Hearing, Omaha” link or by calling (402) 479-4871. The agenda is on page 2 of the document.

For those of you who would like to learn more about some of my legislation, as well as legislation I have dealt with in my committees, I will be having an informational coffee with Senator Sue Crawford on Saturday, March 18 at 10am to 11am at the Bellevue Public Library. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in following what is going on in the legislature to come out and participate.

Monday will mark the 50th day of the legislative session. That means we will be well past the halfway point of my first session. As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.

High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 11-14. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

Senator Blood said, “It’s important for young people to get involved in programs like this, we need to foster civic engagement for our leaders of the future.”

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

The office of the Clerk of the Nebraska-Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska –Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call 402-471-2788. The deadline to register is May 15.

This past week, we continued to see my LB85 work it’s way through the legislative process. The bill I brought forward that doesn’t allow anyone who owes penalties to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) to run for public office leaped another hurdle. The legislative fiscal office had suggested a fiscal note be attached to the bill. A fiscal note means the state must appropriate money in order to pay for a policy that is included in the bill. While this particular fiscal note was a relatively small $750, I understand that while the state is in a budget crunch like we’re seeing right now, every dollar counts. I spoke to the NADC and the commission’s very capable director told me the agency would be able to absorb those costs and wouldn’t need additional money. This means the bill will continue to have no negative fiscal impact on the state and it will be able to hold “bad guys” who don’t want to pay their fines accountable.

LB85 will be on the legislature’s floor again Monday morning as it goes through Select File and it should easily advance as it received 40 yes votes and zero no votes to advance on General File. Another of my bills, LB80 has officially become law! The bill which makes it easier for county attorneys’ and public defenders’ offices to recruit and retain legal students and law clerks and then promote them to full-time lawyers. This is a simple law that removes the kind of red tape Governor Ricketts talked about in his State of the State address. LB80 was voted through the legislature last week and Governor Ricketts signed the bill on March 7.

It wasn’t such good news for all of my bills this week. LB87 which would have been a big help to job development and renewable energy efforts in the state of Nebraska was Indefinitely Postponed by the Natural Resources committee. My bill would have raised the cap on net metering from 25KW to 100KW and would have allowed meter aggregation. Both of those steps would have been important when trying to show businesses that Nebraska can be competitive when it comes to innovation and green tech. I talked about how important this kind of initiative is in a recent interview with The Reader. Several well-paid lobbyists were against this and several other green energy bills that were also killed by the committee. While I’m disappointed the committee decided to take this action, you can rest assured that I will continue to fight that fight and will be bringing another bill on the topic in 2018.

This Sunday I will be holding my first symposium of the session. The topic is going to be “The Dichotomy of Sex Trafficking” and we’re going to be having experts from the criminal justice side of the issue as well as those who work directly with victims of this terrible practice. The symposium is of course, open to the public and will take place from 1:00 to 2:30 PM on March 12 at Bellevue University, in the John B. Muller building. (1000 Galvin Road S) on the lower level. If you’re free on Sunday, please do consider coming out and learning more about this issue.

Monday will mark the 45th day of the legislative session. That means we will be right at halfway point of my first session and there is still much to do. As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.

Upcoming Hearings

January 30th, 2017

We have several bills that will have hearings this week. LB 81 (Handgun Permit Fees Bill) will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 2nd, LB 84 (DWI Bill) will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 3rd and LB 365 (Public Records Bill) will be heard on February 2nd. We encourage you to review these bills and if you would like to send letters to support or oppose the topic or would like to testify in person, please contact our office immediately so we can make sure your voice is heard at the hearing(s).

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3
Room #1021
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2627
Email: cblood@leg.ne.gov
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