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This has been yet another busy week in the legislature. The mornings had us dealing with important issues on the legislature floor and in the afternoon, my schedule was chock full of my bill hearings. This was a personal high for me, as I had five different bill hearings this week. On Monday I had my hearing on LB683, this bill provides a license fee exemption for service members and their spouses under the Nebraska Real Estate License Act: Like the compacts, this would allow a service member or their spouse, who are licensed realtors in another state, be able to be licensed in Nebraska and waive the licensing fee, expediting the process and helping to eliminate the burden of licensure.
This is just one of the bills I’ve brought forward in support of our military families when they are stationed in Nebraska. These families are a valuable part of our community and we need to remember that they also serve and often have little to say as to where they are assigned. We want them to feel welcome here and maybe even retire in our community when their military service is over.
On Wednesday, we presented LB689 in front of the Judiciary committee. This is a bill that codifies language in the state statutes that needs to be changed. When Nebraska changed its sex offender laws years ago, it accidentally made a loophole regarding juvenile sex offenders who were convicted of a minor crime outside the state. After moving into the state, these juveniles were mistakenly placed on the adult sex offender registry while juveniles convicted inside Nebraska were not put on the registry. This is not treating people equally under the law. A Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in August of 2017 said that Nebraska could no longer continue this discrepancy. My bill simply makes sure that the state is not violating the court. We are not giving any more rights to these juveniles than they are entitled to and we are not changing the adult sex offender laws, nor would I ever intend to.
On Thursday, I had two different bill hearings in two different committees. In front of the HHS Committee was LB685, which is the military Medicaid waiver bill. This would specifically add dependents of active duty military members who are severely developmentally disabled to the list of treatment priorities kept by the DHHS. In essence, this would allow prioritized treatment for those who need it most but are not covered by Tricare. We were very careful to make sure this isn’t coming at the detriment of others who also need services.
In front of the Judiciary Committee, I heard LB688, which is my school sunblock bill. This would allow for kids to bring sunscreen to school and allow teachers or school workers to help apply that sunscreen if needed, as long as there is a permission note from the parents, should the child be a person with a disability or need assistance. Further, it would protect the teachers or school employees from liability, unless there is criminal intent. This bill is more about making sure there is a standard and uniform policy across all school districts in the state than anything else. Melanoma is on the rise in Nebraska and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect our children.
Finally, on Friday, we had the Beginning Veteran Farmer Tax Credit bill. LB684 would create an incentive for property owners to rent land or assets to beginning veteran farmers. The proposal would make asset owners eligible for an additional one percent tax credit for land or assets leased to a qualified beginning veteran farmer. This bill is especially important as we have a large percent of Veterans with PTSD in our rural communities. Research has shown that farming and agricultural-related opportunities have proven to be beneficial environments for those suffering from this sometimes crippling disability.
I believe that all of this week’s hearings went well and we can help Nebraska in a variety of ways should these bills pass.
Next week won’t be as busy for my personal bills, although Wednesday does bring the hearing for the Physical Therapists Compact bill. LB681 is going to be heard in front of the HHS committee on Wednesday, January 31. This is very similar to my nursing compact, LB88, from a year ago. It allows for physical therapists from compact states to come into Nebraska and practice here without applying for an entirely new license. Should it pass, this will be a beneficial tool for helping military spouses who are therapists get to work as soon possible, and others in this field who would like to expand their ability to work in our state or others participating in the compact.
Friday was the 16th day of the Legislative session. That means there are just 44 days left! This short session is underway and now moving rather quickly.