NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at cblood@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

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

Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

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.

Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

The session is now officially winding down and we will adjourn Sine Die in a matter of days. It’s been a productive year for the body, even with the allowances we had to make, especially at the beginning of the year, for the coronavirus pandemic. It’s interesting to think back on where we were when this session began in January. Only the most senior among us were able to get the vaccine and most states were still worried about having enough for even those people. Now, just a few months later anybody down to the age of 12 that wants the vaccine, can get it.

After Sine Die – our last day until the expected redistricting special session this fall – I will provide you with an update of the bills passed most likely to affect district 3.

It should come as no surprise that this week saw us take up a number of important topics on final reading. In particular, we passed two bills that will be quite beneficial to the people of Nebraska.

The first was LB387. You’ve seen me mention the importance of this bill before but now it’s on the governor’s desk and will soon become law. This bill is a continuation of our efforts from a year ago when we made 50 percent of all military retirement pay tax-exempt. LB387 finished the job by making all military retirement pay exempt. The bill also included my LB6 as an amendment. LB6 closed a loophole that excluded retired veterans who do not receive 1099’s from the Department of Defense.

These military retirees receive a form 1099 from The Office of Personnel Management. They were being told they’re not eligible under last year’s military retirement bill. Now with LB6 and LB387, they are eligible for the benefits under the recently revised Nebraska Statutes, ensuring all are included.

The other big win for Nebraskans this week came in the form of LB64. On a 41-0 vote on Thursday, we gave final approval to a bill that will incrementally reduce the state income tax on Social Security income.

The bill achieves a 50 percent tax reduction by 2025 with the intention of achieving a 100 percent reduction by 2030, subject to review by a future legislative session. The bill has a built-in “guardrail” that allows a future Legislature to decide whether to continue with the annual 10 percent increase in tax reduction after 2025.

If those reductions are kept in place, we’ll be saving Nebraskans $73.8 million in the fifth year and then the amount will climb to $168 million in the 10th year with the full exemption.

In general, the legislature was able to show its fiscal responsibility throughout the session. That was evidenced by the fact that we had a spending growth of just two percent. Our budget was also able to have a carryover of $25 million. We were also able to put about $80 million back into the legislature’s “rainy day” fund. This fund is in case the state or the country sees another economic downturn. All of these numbers mean that the state’s economy is quite healthy. That’s quite an accomplishment considering we’re still technically in a global pandemic and that when I was elected 4 1/2 years ago we had a serious financial deficit and everyone was in a panic.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


The AltEn Ethanol Plant In Mead

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a closer look at the AltEn ethanol plant in Mead and specifically at the damage that has been done to the surrounding area by a near-unprecedented level of pollution emanating from some rather shady practices by the plant’s owner.

Unlike most ethanol plants across the country, the Kansas-based company used seed coated with insecticides and fungicides to make ethanol, creating widespread environmental contamination in Saunders County.

Over the last six years, the state conducted dozens of site visits to AltEn’s facility about a mile south of Mead and issued a series of non-compliance letters, violation notices, and administrative orders against the company. Despite those repeated violations, AltEn only shut the plant down after the state ordered it to stop pumping wastewater into its horrendously damaged lagoon system in early February.

The Mead community, which has complained to the state about a stench coming from the plant, as well as health and environmental issues since shortly after AltEn went into operation, has raised questions about why the company was allowed to stay open for so long. As a result of a lack of answers, I introduced LR159 last week. The resolution would set up a special committee to examine several aspects of the situation including how the state can make sure it isn’t on the hook for paying for the cleanup. It’s expected that it will eventually cost tens of millions of dollars to clean up the site and make sure the long-term damage has been mitigated. I was hoping to get a hearing on that resolution before the end of the session, but it turned out the Exec Board didn’t believe it had the time to take it up.

However, I have been assured they will be holding a hearing when the legislature reconvenes next January. In the meantime, I plan on holding several public forums. These forums will feature experts on the subject. Right now, the plan is to have one forum in Omaha, one in Lincoln and one out west. I’d encourage anyone interested in this situation to come. I’ll provide more details about dates, times, and locations after the summer begins.

Period Poverty Drive

“Period Poverty” is an issue that is very important to me. That’s why I talked about it on the floor on Friday and it’s why I’m taking part in a Period Poverty Supply Drive next week.

It is a fact that 1 in 4 women in the United States struggle to purchase period products due to a lack of income. 1 in 5 of those women report that they’ve had to miss school or work because of a lack of supplies.

Of the 411,000 women and girls between the ages of 12 and 44 who live in Nebraska, 1 in 6 lives below the poverty line. 49,300 women between the ages of 19 and 64 rely on Medicaid to help with medical care, but they still struggle to get the materials they need for their period.

That’s why this kind of period supply drive is taking place all across the country and it’s why the issue is near and dear to my heart.

With that in mind, I’ll be accepting period supply donations all next week at my legislative office, Room 1021 in the State Capitol. My office is open from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. If you are in the Omaha area and are not planning on making the drive to Lincoln, you can leave donations at the door of 16626 Harney St in Omaha.

I believe everyone has the right to feel comfortable and clean. Please show your support

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.


Bellevue Library Innovation Training

The Bellevue Public Library has been fortunate to receive an Innovation Studios grant to make various innovative learning tools available for public use. if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to use the wide variety of tools at your library, you can now register for one of the many training sessions. Once you have been trained on a piece of equipment, make an appointment with library staff to use the equipment to create your own artistic masterpiece.

Current training sessions are listed on the library’s website calendar. This kind of training can be both educational and entertaining and I’d encourage everyone to sign up for a session. You don’t need a library card in order to do this, you can just present proof that you live in the area and still participate.


Papillion’s Urban Garden

The Papillion Urban Garden is officially open for “business” and that business is to try and help reduce food insecurity all over Sarpy County.

Nearly 50 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located on the south side of the 400 block of East First Street — between the road and the creek — the garden consists of nearly 20 plots on one and a half acres of land. One plot is equal to a decent-sized home garden.

The garden was established using a $20,000 Google Community Impact Grant. This summer will consist of watching, weeding, and growing for the most part. Before the ribbon-cutting, the soil at the garden had been tilled, and some potato seedlings were planted. There are four plastic tanks that hold a total of 1,700 gallons of water, filled by the local fire station, in order to contribute to irrigation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the inability to have enough food for a healthy, active life. This is due to inadequate financial resources for food at the household level. This garden is geared to give back to the community and help those who might suffer from food insecurity.

Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

The session continues to move forward and we officially have only eight legislative days until we adjourn Sine Die.

With so little time left, you can expect that we’ll be quite busy over the final two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, I will provide you with an update of the bills passed most likely to effect district 3.

One issue that needs to be taken care of in preparation for a special session that will likely come this fall is the adoption of the resolution that will help govern how we go about our work in redistricting.

To that end, there will be a hearing on that resolution, LR134 on Tuesday, May 18 at 8:00 AM in room 1524.

I feel LR134 is a fair and flexible way for us to make sure that our redistricting efforts support districts that are roughly the same population while making every citizen’s vote equal and to ensure maximum opportunity for all our voters to have the ability to elect representatives from their own community as has been stated in multiple court decisions. I hope you feel the same as I do and I am hoping for a strong showing of support at this hearing.

This will give us the testimony we need to back us up when it is brought to the floor for debate.

If you feel as I do about how important an issue it is please consider coming in to testify or to witness the hearing. We want it to be about the people, being we don’t split communities, foster dysfunction, or dilute the vote of our citizens. You can help me make this so.

I will continue to update you on the redistricting process as we meet during the interim on this issue.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Nebraska Passport Program Returns

The Nebraska Passport program is back for another year!
The program has officially begun and will run through September 30. It features 70 attractions that are organized into 10 different categories:

  • Visual Treats
  • Parking Spots
  • Aroma Therapy
  • Now Hear This
  • Growth Opportunities
  • Grub and Cuisine
  • Shoptimum Values
  • Childish Things
  • Branching Out
  • Time Travel

You can either hit all of these spots whenever you want and however you want, or you can sign up for the 10 themed tours that include many of the passport locations.

Anyone interested can pick up a passport book from any of the places supporting the program, or you can download the official app and collect the stamps digitally.

For more information and a list of what locations are involved this year, check out the official Nebraska Passport Program site.


C’Rona Comix On Display

If you’re still having difficulties explaining to the little ones the complexities of living through a global pandemic, there’s a new book out that might help. C’Rona Pandemic Comics is a collection of short comics and essays geared towards helping youth understand how to navigate a still-changed world.

Each story focuses on different themes:

  • The biology of the COVID-19 virus
  • The relationship of wild animals, particularly bats, to the pandemic
  • the impact of the pandemic on tribal communities

The stories and illustrations were created by a varied group of storytellers, artists and experts in their field. Anyone who would like to buy a copy of the book can purchase it through the Nebraska Press site. As an added bonus, there are several storyboards on display in the middle of the first floor of the Capitol Building. Come check out some of the stories and illustrations while they’re here.


Bryan Pays A VisitI was very pleased to get a visit this week from the JAG Career program from Bryan Middle School in my district. I got to learn a  bit about what kind of aspirations they had. I was asked to share my story about when I decided to be a Nebraska State Senator (I was in 4th grade), and I encouraged all of them to become advocates for issues important to them and to use that activism as a stepping stone one day to potentially run for public office.

I would like to thank Angie Bacon for giving me the opportunity to meet and speak with these great kids. I love having bright young minds to encourage them to run for office in the future. You can’t be it, if you never see it! Thanks for coming to see me, future leaders!


Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an annual observance to shine a spotlight on mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding it so that people feel empowered to seek out help if and when they need it.

The social isolation and loneliness that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to rising rates of anxiety and depressive disorder symptoms, as well as increased risk behaviors among teens and adolescents. And similar to COVID-19 itself, not all communities or populations have been impacted equally:

  • Adults in households with kids younger than 18 are more likely to experience anxiety and/or depressive disorder symptoms than adults in households without kids. This is especially true for women in households with kids, more so than men.
  • Black parents are more likely to report negative impacts of the pandemic on their children’s education, their ability to care for their children, and their relationships with family members.
  • Black adults and Hispanic or Latino/a/x adults have experienced greater rates of anxiety and/or depressive disorder symptoms than White adults.
  • Early research shows increases in suicide attempts among adolescents ages 10-19; prior to the pandemic, suicide was already the second leading cause of death for this age group.
  • Young adults (ages 18-24) have reported starting or increasing substance use during COVID-19, as well as having serious thoughts of suicide at around two times the rate of adults.
This Mental Health Awareness Month, please take a moment to reach out and connect to someone in your life that may be struggling. If you find yourself struggling, reach out and share that with someone you trust. Although human connection won’t solve mental illness, connecting with those around us will help build bridges and create a safe space for you or a loved one to reach out and say, “I need help.”
__________________________________________________
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District 3
Room #1021
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2627
cblood@leg.ne.govCommittee Assignments
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Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

The session continues to move forward and we officially have only 15 days until we adjourn Sine Die.

One issue that came before the government committee this week was an amendment in preparation for a special legislative session that will likely come this fall. This is the year that the legislature is supposed to take up redistricting.

In a normal year, that would be done during the regular session. However, the pandemic has affected the census and redistricting much the same way it’s affected everything else. The federal government is not going to be getting us the census numbers we need in order to do the redistricting until much later this fall.

Because of that, we took up an amendment, AM1264 to LB285. This amendment would give any governing body of a city or village more time to request an adjustment to their election district boundaries based on the new census data.

The current statute has been deemed to create too much of a time crunch to make sure that these election districts are correct, especially since it’s still not entirely clear when we will be receiving the new data. The federal Census Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office has said they will deliver the information by September 30 but even that will mean a rush to get the data, look at it, hold public hearings and then decide if the state election commissioner needs to expand individual election districts.

These sorts of adjustments are very important to get into place by the time the primary elections roll around in May of next year. The process is a long and complicated one that takes more time than people realize.

AM1133 will give the cities and villages until December 31, 2021, to submit their requests.

In the meantime, the federal government will be sending what is called “legacy data” to states so that they can begin their redistricting work. This data is supposed to arrive by August 16, 2021. Should this amendment pass and the legacy data arrives when it’s expected, the following timeline would be put into place:

  • August-September 2021: Legislature could hold a special redistricting session.
  • October 2021: Counties draw precinct boundaries subdivisions.
  • November 1, 2021: Deadline for County Election Officials to provide precinct maps to political subdivisions.
  • December 30, 2021: Deadline for political subdivisions to provide their election district boundary lines to submit their requests for expansion.
  • January 5, 2022: Final deadline for any boundary adjustments, It’s also the start of the 2022 candidate filing period.
  • May 10, 2022: Nebraska Statewide Primary
I am quite proud to have been named to the legislature’s redistricting committee. I’m also looking forward to getting to work and making sure that our districts are created in a fair and impartial manner. If you have any questions about the process or this amendment, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Bellevue Spring Cleanup

A reminder that today is the City of Bellevue’s official spring cleanup. Two Street Department areas located at 29th & Hancock, and 8252 Cedar Island Road will be open from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM today for residents to drop off solid waste, including the following items:

  • Household and outdoor items including: Furniture, Mattresses, Carpeting, Toys
  • Metal goods including: Major Appliances, Storm Doors & Windows, Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Bicycles, Automotive Parts, Propane Tanks, Fencing
  • Construction Materials including: Lumber, Drywall, Doors and Windows, Masonry Products, Concrete, Sinks, Toilets, Landscaping Timbers
  • Electronics including: Computer Hardware, Audio/Video Components, Radios, Speakers

There are some items that cannot be accepted:

  • Tires, Boats, Campers, Televisions, Computer Monitors
  • Trees, Brush, Yard Waste, Automotive oil
  • Paint & Hazardous wastes
Information for recycling for items that cannot be dropped off at the spring cleanup sites can be found at Green Bellevue’s official site.


Traffic Alert!

This week, the city of road crews all across Sarpy have started repainting line markers in the area. If you happen to see these crews at work, please exercise caution and patience. Their vehicles are going to be moving a bit slower than normal traffic, in order to make sure the paint is going where it is supposed to go.

Also, please refrain from driving over freshly painted lane markings. This particular task is important for all of our health and safety and you can make their jobs a little bit easier with a little patience.


The New Beef Passport Program

The beef producers are incredibly important to the state of Nebraska. In fact, beef is the single largest industry in the state. That’s why I supported LB241, a bill that offers more protection against the COVID-19 pandemic to meatpacking plant workers. In this state, they are absolutely essential workers and should be treated that way. That bill advanced through the first round of debate on Thursday.

The importance of beef and meat to Nebraska is also why I’m fully on board with a new program Governor Ricketts announced earlier this week. The “Good Life Great Steaks Nebraska Beef Passport Program” is a way to incentivize people to visit restaurants across the state and order beef off the menu.

41 restaurants, from Gering to Omaha, are participating in the program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council.

The program allows anyone who visits a participating restaurant, orders a beef item and gets their passport stamped to enter a contest to win prizes ranging from a beef grilling package to an 80-quart cooler filled with $500 worth of beef.

The governor correctly pointed out during an appearance to announce the Passport Program that the beef industry weathered the height of the pandemic against all odds.

You can order a passport from the Nebraska Beef Council website, nebeef.org, and you have until September 7 to collect stamps. Full details and contest rules are posted online.


UNMC’s Project NExt Hits Big Milestone

Omaha and UNMC have been named as one of five pilot sites in the United States to tackle a federal program that is aimed at bolstering the nation’s disaster response. Being one of the pilot sites is a  key step for local plans to develop a multibillion-dollar, all-hazards response facility in Omaha.

The goals of the effort are to improve the National Disaster Medical System, a federal program that provides trained medical personnel to respond to disasters and to bolster the nation’s medical surge capacity. UNMC and Nebraska Medicine already have done a good deal of training through the system and expect to ramp up again soon.

The project has massive ramifications for Nebraska economically. It’s expected to create 8,700 high-paying and permanent jobs. and will have a projected $1.3 billion economic impact.

Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

The session continues to move foward and we officially have only 19 days until we adjourn Sine Die.

Amongst the biggest news of the week was that Governor Ricketts signed the bill package that makes up the two-year state budget without any vetoes. In doing so, the governor correctly pointed out that the work we did included $1.45 billion of direct property tax relief, including $613 million for a long-standing property tax credit program, more than $627 million for new income tax credits to offset a portion of school property taxes and $214 million for the homestead exemption program benefiting low-income elderly and disabled homeowners.

The budget also showed just a 1.7 percent annual spending growth rate. That’s a massive reduction from just four years ago when the annual growth rate was about four times larger.

I’ve said it before, but getting the budget done is the only part of our jobs that is required by the state’s constitution. I believe we did as good a job as we could when you consider the financial hardships that hit the state over the last year due to the pandemic.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Investigating Unemployment Fraud

On Monday, the Business and Labor Committee held a special investigative meeting with the Nebraska Department of Labor’s Commissioner John Albin.

Over the last year, there has been quite a bit of fraud perpetrated on this state by people pretending to be someone else and filing an unemployment claim. Tens of millions of dollars were stolen by crime rings outside of the United States and while we got some answers on Monday, the session also created even more questions.

You can watch a video of the meeting here. I would also encourage you all to familiarize yourself with what went on here and how we’re working to make sure this doesn’t happen again. KETV and WOWT both have very good reports summing up the situation.


CollegeNow Is Free

Metropolitan Community College announced this week that it will be able to make it easier for High School students (including the class of 2021) to take MCC classes this summer.

The school will be using federal Higher Education Emergency Rescue Funds to cover tuition, fees, and textbooks for all CollegeNow courses taken during the summer quarter, which runs June 6 – August 16.

The CollegeNow program allows college-ready high school-aged students to take MCC classes on campus or online. Traditionally, these courses are offered at half-price tuition, but with federal support, MCC can offer them free of charge (fees and books included) to participating students.  Most CollegeNow courses are transferrable to other colleges and universities, offering students a tremendous opportunity to get a jumpstart on their college careers.

COVID-19 caused numerous challenges for all of us last year, and many students were not able to take advantage of college-prep opportunities like CollegeNow.  This initiative will help students reach their academic and career goals, despite setbacks caused by the pandemic.
You can find more information about CollegeNow at this website or call 531-MCC-2400.


Return of the Youth Legislature

After having to skip last year because of the pandemic, the Unicameral Youth Legislature will officially take place this summer. Participants will learn what it’s like to serve as a state senator. The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators 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, staff, and lobbyists. Bill topics are based on legislation considered during the most recent legislative session.

The event runs from Sunday, June 13, to Wednesday, June 16. The deadline to register is May 28. Those who are interested should register right away, as there is a limit of 55 attendees. 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.

For more information, you can contact the Unicameral Information Office for more information at (402) 471-2788 or uio@leg.ne.gov. You can register for the event at this website.


Celebrate Earth Month The Right Way

There are many events taking place in Bellevue and Sarpy for Sarpy County Earth Month Including an electronics and EPS Styrofoam collection event at Bellevue University on May 8th.

Collections will take place from 10 AM to 2 PM in Lot D of BU. For a list of electronics and types of styrofoam that can be dropped off, you can visit Green Bellevue’s official website.
.

Beautifying Our Area

The Papillion 150 Butterfly & Pollinator Garden at Veterans Park is looking fantastic, even if it is far from finished. The continued work in progress will eventually feature a water feature, sculpture, and, of course, more plants and flowers. While it’s got a ways to go before it’s done, it is exciting to see how far it has come!

I’d encourage everyone to swing by and give it a look as the grass starts to green up and the flowers begin to bloom.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

The session continues to motor right along and we officially have less than 30 days until we adjourn Sine Die.

Amongst the biggest news of the week was that we passed the state’s official budget and sent those bills to Governor Ricketts for his signature. The next step will be to see if he decides to take issue with anything we passed in that package and sends back a veto.

I’ve said it before, but getting the budget done is the only part of our jobs that is required by the state’s constitution.

That doesn’t mean that’s all we did this week though. In addition to discussing several important topics, we also went through a wave of Consent Calendar bills. These are pieces of legislation that are extremely non-controversial. In addition to needing to have no opposition testimony during the hearings, they cannot have any official opposition from other senators.

This week, my LB265, which removes some silly red tape accidentally put in place by the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act was both passed on final reading and then signed by the governor this week. Because it had an emergency clause, it went into effect immediately, rather than the usual 90 days after the end of the session.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Investigating Unemployment Fraud

On Monday, April 26, the Business and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on the problems the Nebraska Department of Labor has had in dealing with the surge of unemployment claims made because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In particular, there was quite a bit of fraud perpetrated on this state by people claiming to be someone else and filing an unemployment claim. Earlier this year, I wrote a letter to the department asking for an accounting and explanation of how the fraud occurred. While I did receive a response, it wasn’t adequate, in my view. I asked for and received a special investigative hearing to get more answers in person from Director Albin and a member of the Attorney General’s office. The hearing will start at 8:30 am. You should be able to watch the hearing as we will live stream it on my Facebook page. I encourage all to tune in if you can.

There were tens of millions of tax dollars stolen by crime rings outside of the United States. We need to work hard to prevent this from happening in the future and recoup as much of the funds as possible.


Light Up The Night

Last Friday, several area landmarks showed their support for “Month of the Military Child.” The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, the City of Papillion- Municipal Government Building, The City of Bellevue administration building, the Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium, and other landmarks around the area lit up with purple light in order to commemorate the night.

Anyone who has been paying attention to my time in the legislature knows that I think it’s very important to make sure that we not only honor our active-duty military members and our veterans but also their families. They also serve and deserve this kind of recognition.


The Show Must Go On

In yet another sign that Nebraska is finally starting to put the pandemic behind us, the Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre announced this week that it will be making a return to SumTur Amphitheater stage this summer!

Information on when production and auditions will start will be announced later, as well as when you can see their first summer production since 2019.


Summer Time Fun

Speaking of the return of summer activities in the area, the YMCA of Greater Omaha summer day camps are going to be going strong again this summer. It’s important to keep in mind that these camps, aimed at kids aged 5-12 years old, are going to fill up fast.

The first camp will kick off on May 24 and then run weekly all the way to August 20. The first two weeks will be held at Nebraska locations only and the last two weeks will be held at Iowa locations only, so keep that in mind if/when planning what weeks you want to enroll your children.

You can register for these camps at the Metro YMCA website here. You can enroll your child for just one week, or the entire summer.


Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Attention friends who have loved ones in assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, child care centers, primary care facilities, and public health facilities.

There has been a DHHS Alert on Norovirus Outbreaks this week. Since March 1, 2021, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Epidemiology has received reports of 14 suspected or confirmed norovirus outbreaks among long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, childcare centers, and schools.

This is a little concerning as the Norovirus peak season is usually from December to March. This virus activity has been quite a bit higher for this time of year than is normal and as always, it’s most dangerous to our very old, and very young populations. As we continue to try to return to normal, it’s important we don’t get lackadaisical.


Bellevue Spring Cleanup

The date for the Bellevue spring cleanup has been set and it’s exactly two weeks from today. From 7 am to 3 pm on May 8, residents of Bellevue will be able to drop off a wide variety of different items to either of two locations.

You can drop off:

  • Household and outdoor items including Furniture, Mattresses, Carpeting, Toys
  • Metal goods including Major Appliances, Storm Doors & Windows, Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Bicycles, Automotive Parts, Propane Tanks, Fencing
  • Construction Materials including Lumber, Drywall, Doors and Windows, Masonry Products, Concrete, Sinks, Toilets, Landscaping Timbers
  • Electronics including Computer Hardware, Audio/Video Components, Radios, Speakers

At either 29th and Hancock or 8252 Cedar Island Road.

The following items WILL NOT be accepted at the shops:

  • Tires, Boats, Campers, Televisions, Computer Monitors
  • Trees, Brush, Yard Waste, Automotive oil
  • Paint & Hazardous wastes
In addition, Green Bellevue will also host an Electronics and Styrofoam Collection Event on May 8th at the Bellevue University Lot D from 10 am to 2 pm.

You can go to the city’s website here for more information.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

While I usually update you with what’s going on in the session in this section, I thought I’d tell you about a project I plan to carry out over the interim this year. Many of you may know that the topic of Blockchain technology is one that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve brought Blockchain bills in previous sessions that would have adopted the technology in the business world, but this summer and fall, I want to specifically examine the many ways I believe this technology can benefit our state’s agricultural producers.

I’m going to be establishing an interim investigative committee to carry out a study on that topic. In particular, I want the committee to look at:

  • Traceability and the origin of products, other than pork and beef from the farm to the shelf.
  • Inventory control.
  • Monitoring on-field conditions including quality of the soil, the weather, humidity, and the functioning of irrigation equipment and sensors.
  • Maintenance records for transportation and production equipment.
  • Verification and certification of organic products.
  • Tracking and ordering input supplies such as fertilizer and seed.
  • Asset exchange, including payments for sales and storage of products.

In truth, we’ll be examining all sorts of ways that Blockchain technology can impact agri-business but the above are the main touchstones we’ll be starting with. I firmly believe that we are leaving money on the table when it comes to Blockchain and the things it can do. I’ll be updating when and where these hearings will take place after the interim begins.

On the legislative floor this week, we did do some rather important business as well. Chief among those was the advancement of the state budget to Final Reading. As you may know, passing the budget is the only thing the legislature is constitutionally required to do, and we’re in sight of discharging that duty. The final round of debate should take place next week and will then head to Governor Ricketts for his final approval.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Investigating Unemployment Fraud

You may have heard that over the course of the last year, the Department of Labor has had numerous problems with unemployment benefits. On the one hand, there are a huge number of people who were receiving their benefits far later than they should have. On the other hand, the state saw quite a few instances of fraudulent claims.

I’ve encouraged the Business and Labor committee to hold a hearing within the next few weeks that will investigate how these fraudulent claims occurred, how many claims and how much money was stolen from Nebraska, and what the Department of Labor has done, and is doing in order to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

This sort of fraud is especially horrible because it involves stealing money from you, the taxpayer. We need to figure out ways to protect this money much better in the very near future.

Check out Java and Jazz
On Monday, April 19, several area schools are going to be holding a free outdoor (weather permitting) concert. Bellevue East, Mission Middle School, Logan Fontenelle Middle School and E-Street Jazz bands are putting on a show called Java and Jazz.

The performances will take place on the Bellevue East hillside by the South Gym if the weather is nice. If there is rain it will take place in the cafeteria.

Festivities run from 6pm-8:30pm. The event is entirely free, but donations are very welcome. Go check out this annual event and hear some very good jazz music.


Bruins Dominate Post Season Honors
The Bellevue University volleyball team was well represented on the 2020-21 all-North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) volleyball teams that were announced earlier this week.

Chief among the honorees was co-Player of the Year Olivia Galas. Four Bruins in total earned first-team honors and one Bellevue player gained second-team recognition. Olivia was named the NSAA co-Player of the Year and the NSAA Setter of the Year. Eve Fountain earned NSAA Freshman of the Year accolades and Trish Siedlik was honored as the Coach of the Year.

Also on the first team from Bellevue were Coree Lipovsky and Sierra Athen. Jacki Apel was honored on the second team. All of the honored players from BU are Nebraska natives and Olivia and Jackie were born and raised in Bellevue.

In addition to these individual honors, The Bruins are in the midst of a very successful season overall. Posting a 16-5 record so far, they fell just short in the NSAA conference championship game but will open the NAIA National Tournament on Sunday. Congratulations and good luck to all!


Papillion Spring Cleanup
The Papillion Public Works Department will host Spring Cleanup Days starting next week on April 19. The Spring Cleanup Days will run through April 25, from 7 am to 5 pm each day. The event will again be a joint effort with the City of La Vista. The Cleanup Days site is located at 99th Circle and Portal Road on the south side of Portal Road, just east of the Papillion Public Works Facility. The event is open to Papillion residents and water customers and La Vista residents.

Items that can be dropped off during the Spring Cleanup Days include:

  • Household and lawn furniture
  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Major appliances
  • Grills and smokers
  • Outdoor power equipment (please empty fuel prior to disposing)
  • Residential construction materials
  • Automotive parts and batteries
  • Undamaged propane tanks
  • Broken toys and play structures
  • Bicycles
  • Tree limbs and yard waste (must be free of garbage and bags)
  • All types of TVs (rear projection, tube TVs, flat screens, etc. may be disposed of in the roll-off dumpsters)
  • CRT computer monitors (may be disposed of in the roll-off dumpsters)

Nebraska Promise Deadline Extended
Last year, the University of Nebraska took the rather impressive step of recognizing the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on students and families of students who wanted to attend college. In response to the hardships people in the state were seeing, the University launched the Nebraska Promise program. That program is still going strong and will be available for those who want to attend UNL this fall. While the deadline to apply for FAFSA and qualifying for the program was originally April 1, that deadline has since been extended to May 1.

The program offers totally free tuition with a couple of qualifications. Tuition is covered for students who meet academic qualifications and have a family income of $60,000 or less (Adjusted Gross Income/AGI) or are Pell Grant-eligible.

This program is also only available for Nebraska residents, but it is not limited to recent high school graduates. Transfers, with a 2.5 GPA can qualify as well. I’d encourage you to check out the program at this link and see if it might be for you, or someone close to you.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week was our first round of debate on the budget. As you may know, passing a budget, and making sure that the budget is balanced, is the only constitutionally required duty of the legislature. For that reason, it takes center stage once the Appropriations Committee votes out the bills that comprise the different sections of the budget, out onto the floor for debate in front of the entire body. This year, the budget is made up of seven separate bills.

LB379 appropriated money for the ongoing Capitol construction projects. The bill deals with projects that either cost more or cost less than the original dollars that were projected when the construction was approved. Additionally, LB365 was folded into this bill as a committee amendment. That bill appropriates and funds the new Nebraska Gaming Commission. The bill did not create a new program, but instead funds a program that was actually first approved by a ballot measure last November by Nebraska voters.

LB380 is a heavy lift. The bill allocates money for the various agencies that make up the state government. Among the very important tasks this bill takes on is to appropriate funds for the Nebraska Department of Education for Early Childhood Education programs, carry out a cost analysis for improvement and structural changes at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, and appropriate funds to the Department of Economic Development for their Business Innovation grants act.

LB381 is the bill that appropriates money for State Senators’ yearly salaries. To be clear, our salaries are already set at $12,000 a year (which comes out to about $5.27 an hour) in the Nebraska Constitution. This bill simply appropriates that money in the Biennial Budget.

LB382 is similar to LB381 however instead of funding the salaries of State Senators, it appropriates the money to pay the salaries of the state’s constitutional officers. In other words, this bill pays people like the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the tax commissioner, and a few others.

LB383 is similar to LB379, though this deals with new construction projects that were approved more recently. While LB379 also deals with projects that cost more or less than they were expected to, this bill deals with construction projects that were known by the body would be paid over a period of time.

LB384 is a bill that’s sole purpose is to transfer money from one fund to another. One example is transferring funds from the Legislature’s General Fund to the Hall of Fame Trust Fund. There are also other instances in the bill where money is transferred from one fund, back into the general fund.

LB385 deals with money transfers that have to do with the Legislature’s Cash Reserve Fund. Most notably, this is also the bill that provides for a $50 million fund transfer to the United States Space Command Headquarters Assistance Fund. I’ve laid out many times why it is incredibly important for Offutt to be named the new home of Space Command. The good thing about the way we’ve written this bill is that if that doesn’t end up being the final landing spot for the headquarters, then the money will not be spent.

Finally, LB386 sets the salaries for the justices on the Nebraska Supreme Court.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Be Aware Of Vaccination Scams
If you’ve recently gotten your COVID-19 vaccination and then got an e-mail or text asking you to take a survey afterward, beware, it could be a scam.

The Omaha branch of the FBI is reporting scammers that are posing as the big drug companies, and sending out surveys to people who have had their vaccinations asking for follow-up information.

The FBI went on to say that the easiest way to tell if something might be up, is if you hover over the sender’s name, even if it says Modern or Pfizer, the email address might pop up with something like Hotmail or Gmail. Those companies are not sending emails using those kinds of addresses.

The FBI has said it’s seen an increase in similar survey scams. It’s important to note that Drug companies will never send out a survey after you’ve gotten your vaccination.

Further, if you do realize you’ve gotten a scam email, you should report it. The FBI says you should fill out the information at their internet crime complaint center.


Sarpy County Veterans Offices Have Moved

The Sarpy County Veterans Service Office, as well as several other county offices have a new home. On April 5, the veterans’ office moved into the County’s new 1102 Building, located at 1102 E. 1st Street in Papillion.

The Treasurer, Assessor, and Vehicle Inspection services will also move into the 1102 Building on April 12.

The 1102 Building is southwest of 72nd Street and Cornhusker Road. The county purchased the building to accommodate the construction of the new Sarpy County Correctional Center on the Sarpy County Courthouse Campus. Make a note so you aren’t going to the wrong place when you need to talk to someone at veterans’ services or any of the other county offices.


Nebraska Promise Still Alive And Well
Last year, the University of Nebraska took the rather impressive step of recognizing the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on students and families of students who wanted to attend college. In response to the hardships people in the state were seeing, the University launched the Nebraska Promise program. That program is still going strong and will be available for those who want to attend UNL this fall.

The program offers totally free tuition with a couple of qualifications. Tuition is covered for students who meet academic qualifications and have a family income of $60,000 or less (Adjusted Gross Income/AGI) or are Pell Grant-eligible.

This program is also only available for Nebraska residents, but it is not limited to recent high school graduates. Transfers, with a 2.5 GPA can qualify as well. I’d encourage you to check out the program at this link and see if it might be for you, or someone close to you.


COVID-19 Vaccines Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. 

The department is now officially vaccinating anyone who is 16 or older. You can click on this link in order to see what clinics the health department is offering and try and register for an appointment.

While the department’s clinics are still somewhat limited and filling up fast, area pharmacies are also offering the ability to sign up for vaccination appointments. Baker’s, Hyvee, and Walmart pharmacies are all now offering the ability to try and get vaccinated for anyone 16 and over.

You can look for area Hy-vee, Walmart and Baker’s vaccination appointments using their websites.

I want to take a minute to say that I have been able to get vaccinated and I would encourage everyone who can, to do so as well. Vaccination is a big step towards beating this pandemic, but the more people who get it done, the closer we get to “herd immunity” and squashing the coronavirus for good.

I’m also relieved that the vaccination program is well ahead of the schedule President Biden laid out in January. There was a time when 16 and up individuals weren’t expected to get vaccinated until the end of next month. All of this makes it that much more likely that life can truly get back to normal soon, as long as everyone is still careful until the disease is indeed beat down.
__________________________________________________

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

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Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

This week we were able to move forward several of my bills. First and foremost, LB14, my priority bill for this session was signed by the governor on Wednesday and will now officially become law. This is my Audiology and Speech-Language Pathologist Interstate Compact. Now that it’s passed, it will create better access for patients, offer telehealth alternatives, and remove hurdles for employment for professionals including military spouses and their family members. We are now the tenth state to join the compact.

LB476, my Stroke Heart Bill is currently on its way to the governor after passing with overwhelming support on Final Reading on Thursday. This bill establishes the stroke system of care act to provide Nebraska patients with the highest quality of care and to ensure a seamless transition with all medical personnel involved in the care of those patients.

LB5, the Purple Star School Program bill, was placed on what’s known as the Consent Calendar and advanced to select file for a potential second round of debate. The Consent Calendar is stocked with bills that had no opposition of any kind. This means they did not have any letters or testifiers who opposed the bill during the committee hearing and then advanced out of their respective committees without any senators voting no on it. As a general rule, Consent Calendar bills are put on that list because the speaker doesn’t expect any other senators in the legislature to have a problem with them passing when they come up for debate. This was certainly the case with LB5.

The Purple Star Program encourages but doesn’t require every school in the state to appoint a “military liaison” who will then create programming for students who might be recent transfers into the school district after moving here with their military family. The liaison may also set up a website that demonstrates how to establish a “military-friendly” atmosphere at the school. Choosing to participate in the programming would then designate the school as a “Purple Star” school.

LB9, my annexation bill also advanced from general to select file this week. This bill changes annexation requirements and property tax special valuation provisions for cities that might encompass or be built near a military installation. The way state law is currently written, annexation has to include contiguous or adjacent land, but that’s impossible for cities like Bellevue which have federally owned land in the middle of a potential annexation area. This would allow those cities to “cross” over Federal land. The special valuation provisions make it so landowners who are being annexed in aren’t “punished” by the annexation.

In addition to my own bills moving closer to becoming law, I was happy to see some pieces of legislation I cosponsored that are specifically geared towards making schools safer for our students, advance. Those include LB639, which is a bill that sets up training of school employees to better deal with students who might be subject to seizures. Another bill I was proud to cosponsor was LB322 which requires the Department of Education to establish a statewide, anonymous reporting system enabling students, parents, school personnel, and community members to report threats or concerns of possible harm. Both of those bills advanced with quite a bit of support from the body as a whole.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.


Signing Ceremony For LB389

On Wednesday I was privileged to attend the signing ceremony for LB389, another bill I cosponsored, which establishes an alternative path for military spouses to receive a teaching certificate or permit in Nebraska. The certificate shall be valid for at least three years and shall include the same or similar endorsements to teach in all subjects they were certified for in another state. I have previously worked with the Nebraska Department of Education on similar rules and regulations, but this bill will expand out the period of time a teacher can have a temporary license before they need to get a permanent one. I’m very happy Governor Ricketts supported and endorsed this piece of legislation.


Meet Jordan!Jordan Smith joined our office this spring as an intern. Jordan is currently a junior Political Science and Philosophy and Religion major at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Over the course of her college career she has been an intern on several campaigns. In her free time Jordan is an active member of Willard Sorority where she once served as Vice President and a member of the University’s Student Conduct Board. Now approaching her senior year, Jordan plans to study abroad through the CHIP program in Washington D.C. in Spring of 2022. “I have passions for both public policy and political strategy, and while in D.C. would love to find an internship that emphasizes these interests,” Jordan said.. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree in public policy and hopes to be able to visit various different countries for her field. “I am so grateful to be an intern for Senator Blood. Not only is it an opportunity to be involved in Nebraska’s legislature, but Senator Blood is so welcoming and a joy to work with.”


Bellevue Rocks!

The Bellevue Community Foundation and the City of Bellevue have some big plans this summer. That includes the first ever Bellevue Rocks Riverfront Festival. Announced this week, the festival is slated to take place Friday, August 13th and Saturday, August 14th at American Heroes Park. It is going to replace the annual Riverfest Celebration that has been held in Bellevue for many years.

Bellevue Rocks! will feature two evenings of music, highlighted by two nationally known touring groups making appearances and performing right here in Bellevue. Friday night will be a Country Night while Saturday is reserved for those of you that prefer some Rock ‘N’ Roll. More details about who exactly is appearing is coming at a later date. The festival will also offer a full carnival, a large beer garden, a VIP area, numerous vendors and much more. I’m hoping this can be carried out safely and that I’ll be able to see many of you there.


COVID-19 Vaccines Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. 

The department is now officially vaccinating all those who are involved in Phase 1A and 1B. In addition, Sarpy/Cass residents who are 50 or older are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination. The Department also continues to vaccinate all K-12 educators.

However, earlier this week, the Biden Administration removed the barriers for pharmacies to vaccinate an even bigger portion of the population. Anyone who is 18 or older can now be vaccinated at any pharmacy participating in the federal program. In Bellevue, this includes the Bellevue Medical Center Pharmacy. In Papillion it includes Hy-vee. There are also several Hy-Vee branches, and Walmart Pharmacies around the state taking part in this program. Because this is part of a federal effort you do not need to be a resident of a particular county in order to get your shot at a pharmacy.

You do however, still need to make an appointment. I would highly recommend checking in early and often to make sure that a pharmacy is offering vaccinations to people 18 and over and has appointments available. Some of these pharmacies do allow people to schedule vaccination appointments online, while others require you to call.

You can look for area Hy-Vee pharmacy appointments on their website and you can look for area Walmart vaccination appointments using theirs.

In addition to that rather good news, Governor Ricketts announced on Wednesday that the state is going to be reducing the age requirements to get the vaccine from county health departments to age 16 and over on April 5. He did caution that some county health departments may not be ready to make that jump. For now, that includes the Sarpy/Cass Health Department. However, I’d encourage everyone to keep checking this website to review the department’s latest vaccination rules and regulations.

If you do have any questions there is a number you can call to get assistance. 402-339-4334 and press option 1

In preparation for your name being called to get vaccinated, the state does offer a website where you can register to be notified when it’s your turn. You can sign up at this link.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week saw several of my bills advance to the next and final round of debate as they wing their way to the governor’s office and becoming law. LB14,my personal priority bill this session, is the Audiology and Speech- Language Pathology Interstate Compact bill. This passed on Final Reading and is now on Governor Ricketts’ desk awaiting his signature.

LB6, also advanced to final reading as part of LB387. Both bills will make all military retirement pay tax exempt in Nebraska. LB6 caught those who were left out of the original military retirement tax exemption bill passed last session and who had served in the military for decades and finished their career as a civilian federal employee.

LB20 was another bill of mine that advanced to final reading as an amendment. The bill, which was also amended in committee, was attached to LB100. The intent of LB20 is to create more consistent prescription access to contraception, by allowing a patient to get a three-month prescription after their first doctor visit and six-month prescriptions after that. This piece of legislation would not force a company that doesn’t already cover contraception to cover it. It also allows for insurance companies to opt out if they can prove offering six months worth of prescriptions at a time would prove too costly. Health equity is an important goal for my office. For women in rural areas, the doctor and/or pharmacy can be hours away and for women who travel for their careers, students who travel abroad, women who lack transportation and other known hurdles to access, this bill will be a relief for many.

Finally, LB476 also advanced to Final Reading with overwhelming support. This bill establishes the stroke system of care act to provide Nebraska patients with the highest quality of care and to ensure a seamless transition with all medical personnel involved in the care of those patients. Some find it surprising to learn that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in our state and it is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Revisiting our protocol for stroke victims and updating the process can also benefit our insurance rates as the fewer people in need of this type of critical care means the potential of fewer claims to an insurance company.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.

The T-Birds Big Accomplishment
Last week it was Bellevue East, this weekend it was the Bellevue West Forensics team with a spectacular showing at NSAA State Speech Championships. The team finished third, marking the first time in school history that the T-birds have placed 3rd at State.

In addition to that finish, students in five events advanced to final rounds, the first state finalists for Bellevue West since 2014. Congratulations to all of them. Their hard work and dedication truly did pay off and will continue to pay off.


Gear Up For Bellevue Christian’s Easter Scramble
Easter is coming up fast, and Bellevue Christian’s Easter Scramble is coming as well. The scramble will be a bit different this year, as it will start out in any one of five different parks.  (Everett, Stonecroft, Swanson, McCann, Russ Thompson). Those taking part will receive a basket to look for eggs filled with goodies.

Participants will also get the first clue for the Easter Scavenger hunt. They will then receive the next clue at that location. Any child who completes the scavenger hunt will be entered into a drawing to win a free PS5! The scramble is open to all children up to age 12 and begins on April 3 at 10:30am.


Seizure Safe Schools Act
While we unfortunately weren’t able to debate LB639 this week, I still wanted to show my support for this very important piece of legislation. That’s why I stood with several colleagues, including the bill’s introducer, Senator Day, during her recent press conference. I am also a co-sponsor on this important bill.

LB639 trains school personnel on seizure detection and response, implements seizure planning
and personalized plans for students diagnosed with epilepsy, or seizure disorders, and ensures
access to FDA approved seizure drugs in schools.

It was on the agenda for debate on Wednesday, but we weren’t able to get to it and the schedule was shuffled for the remainder of the week. I am hopeful Speaker Hilgers will bring this back to the floor soon.


American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
The Nebraska chapter of the AFSP has set up a series of displays on the first floor this week that provide information for people who are looking to support someone and offer help if they are struggling with mental health.

I’d encourage anyone who is going to be in Lincoln soon to come and check it out.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. 

The department is now officially vaccinating all those who are involved in Phase 1A and 1B (pictured above). In addition, Sarpy/Cass residents who are 55 or older are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

If you do have any questions there is a number you can call to get assistance. 402-339-4334 and press option 1

In preparation for your name being called to get vaccinated, the state does offer a website where you can register to be notified when it’s your turn. You can sign up at this link.
__________________________________________________

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

Committee Assignments
Urban Affairs
Business and Labor-Vice Chair
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

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Sen. Carol Blood

District 3
Room 10th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2627
Email: cblood@leg.ne.gov
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