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Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

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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.

The third week of this short legislative session was a busy one for my office and the hard work has just begun. We had hearings on two of my bills this past week and I think both went well. The first bill was discussed in front of the Judiciary Committee and had to do with requiring the Nebraska Department of Corrections to do a comprehensive staffing analysis with an additional focus on mental health services staff.

LB692 follows through on recommendations made by the Legislature’s LR127 committee in their comprehensive report on the NDCS. I should point out that the Department has been asked to do a comprehensive staffing analysis several times but so far they have never completed it. Now the department believes it could cost  up to $150,000 because they would need to hire an outside consultant. I don’t believe this kind of thing needs to be done by an outside entity, I believe the department can and should do it themselves. Ongoing staffing analysis is one of the keys to any organization’s future success and it is standard that they are done in-house. They are done in house because who knows the workforce and their needs better than those who work in that environment every day? I’ll continue to fight to get this bill out of the Judiciary committee. This is about the safety of everyone, from the guards and staff at correctional facilities to the inmates to the general public. This is a decades old issue that needs to be corrected with common sense policy.

On Thursday, my APRN compact bill, LB687 went in front of the HHS committee. This, too, is going to be a bit of a fight, mainly because the opponents of the bill have managed to sew a great deal of confusion surrounding the language. To be clear, LB687 would make it so that an APRN from one compact state could practice in another compact state quickly and easily. They would still have to follow the laws of the state in which they are treating patients. This is about mobility and not about expanding what an APRN is allowed to do, which opponents have claimed. I am confident that as we continue to work to show members of the legislature what’s at the heart of this bill, we will be able to move it forward. It’s important to get this, and my other two compact bills passed this year. Interstate Compacts such as this APRN compact and others make it easier for military spouses who transfer to our state to hit the ground running and find employment in a more efficient manner in their field of expertise.

Speaking of military spouses and their families, next week is going to be another busy week. In total, we will have five bills going in front of committees. This includes LB683, the Military Spouse Realtor’s License bill on Monday, my Military Medicaid Waiver bill (LB685) on Thursday and my Military Veteran Beginning Farmer Tax Credit bill (LB684) next Friday. I will also be discussing LB688 in front of the Judiciary committee. This bill allows children to bring sunblock to school and allows teachers or employees to help children put the sunblock on. Currently, most schools don’t allow kids to bring sunblock to school unless they have a note from their doctor. Considering the scourge that is skin cancer these days, this is a bill that is relatively simple but can make a big change and possibly save lives.

On top of all of this, we are still debating bills that were left over from the previous session on the legislature floor in the mornings. As state senators, we pack a ton of work into what is a relatively small window of time on these short (60 day) sessions.

Friday was the 11th day of this Legislative session. That means there are only 49 left to go. If you have any questions about my bills, or any legislation in front of the legislature, don’t hesitate to email or call my office.
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Did you know that there is a long list of items available for free to the public relating to the Nebraska Legislature? Here is a list of only a few that you might find interesting. If you are receiving this email digitally, you should be able to link to the information from your newsletter.

1. Unicameral Update
2. About the Legislature
3. Unicam Kids
4. Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral
5. Poster of Nebraska Senators
6. Membership & Committees Card
7. Lines of Government

For hard copies of these documents, please call my office at 402-471-2627 and we will be happy to place one in the mail to your home address.

We are in our second week of the 105th Legislative session and have hit the ground running. We have started to address the bills that made it to General File in the last session to get them off our plates before we move on to new legislation presented over the first ten days. I have two more bills that were voted out of committee last year sitting in General File and waiting for debate on the floor. It’s possible we’ll get to debate at least one of them next week.

The beginning of the legislature is also when Governor Ricketts gives his State of the State address. This year he focused heavily on making sure that Nebraska is open and welcoming to new business ventures. I believe I have brought several bills this year that underline exactly what he was talking about. I have three virtual currency bills that are aimed at making sure we are on the cutting edge when it comes to intersecting the technological and business worlds.

The Governor also talked about continuing the state’s push for removing red tape and allowing for people who want to work to get to work faster. I brought several of these types of bills last year and I’ve brought more this year as well. The Governor and I are in full agreement that if someone is truly qualified to work in their field of choice, the state shouldn’t be standing in the way.

Listed below are the new bills I have introduced in 2018 and links to the text. Please be sure to call my office at 402-471-2627 and speak with me or Oliver should you have any questions about the legislation:

LB 681-Adopt the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact: This is very similar to my nursing compact from a year ago. It allows 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 good tool for helping military spouses who are therapists who want to get to work as soon possible.

LB 682-Provide consumer protection and civil relief for service members and provide a duty for active duty military and the National Guard: This bill would make it so that an active duty member of the military or National Guard that receives order to move out of Nebraska may do so without having to worry about paying early termination fees on contracts for services like cable, phone or gym memberships. It’s only fair that if a service member has no choice in their deployment, he or she should not be held accountable for the decisions of their superiors.

LB 683-Provide 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, to be able to be licensed in Nebraska right away without paying the licensing fee. We already have our hearing date for this bill, and it will be on January 22nd.

LB 684-Change the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act: This would create
an incentive for property owners to rent land or assets to beginning veteran farmers. The
proposal would make asset owners eligible for a one percent tax credit for land or assets leased
to a qualified beginning veteran farmer.

LB 685-Provide a funding priority for special-needs military dependents under the Developmental Disabilities Services Act. 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.

LB 686-Adopt the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact. This is much like my nurses compact in LB88 last year, though it applies to psychologists. This bill will also go the extra mile in moving Nebraska forward when it comes to telemedicine.

LB 687-Adopt the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact. Also like LB88, but with a different group of nurse licenses.

LB 688-Provide for the possession, use, and application of sunscreen for children and students and provide immunity. This would allow for kids to bring sunscreen to school and would allow teachers or school workers to help apply that sunscreen if needed, as long as there is a note from the parents and protect them from liability unless there is criminal intent.

LB 689-This is a bill that fixes some language in state statute that the courts have been having to work around. It would make it so that juveniles who are convicted for sexual offenses outside the state that then move into Nebraska are treated the same as those who are convicted inside the state. This is simply a fairness of law situation.

LB 690-Adopt the Counterfeit Airbag Prevention Act is a bill that will make it a felony for repair shops to knowingly install counterfeit airbags into cars. This is a bigger problem than people realize around the country and we need to make sure the practice is stopped cold in Nebraska so we don’t have the sad case of having to name a future bill after a loved one who has been killed as a result of this practice.

LB 691-Adopt the Nebraska Virtual Currency Money Laundering Act and define and redefine terms under the Nebraska Money Transmitters Act. Virtual currency and the technology that comes along with it is the wave of the present and the future. We need to make sure we have both our hands around it. This is one of three blockchain technology bills I’m bringing forward. This one lays out what happens when someone is committing illegal acts such as human trafficking and money laundering with virtual currency such as Bitcoin.

LB 692-Provide for a staffing analysis of the Department of Correctional Services. This would require the department to carry out a workforce analysis on the entire organization with a focus on mental health staffing services by the end of this year, and then every two years after.

LB 693-Regulate and create criminal offenses regarding the use of unmanned aircraft systems. This is the drone bill you might have read about in numerous articles over the past couple of months. We’re looking to make sure that people are not using drones for criminal activity. This is a public safety bill and I would encourage you to read the document in its entirety. It’s another one that is technologically advanced and complicated, though those who have read it fully have come away understanding the need for it.

LB 694-Prohibit cities and villages and counties from taxing or regulating distributed ledger technology. This is my second of three blockchain technology bills and makes sure that Nebraska will be an attractive landing spot for entrepreneurs. We need to be sure that these business people are not running into a maze of different regulations put in place by cities and counties. Blockchain is going to revolutionize how we do business because they are precise, save money, save time, are autonomous, transparent, versatile and are very safe since they are encrypted on a shared ledger.

LB 695-Authorize and define smart contracts and authorize the use of distributed ledger technology as prescribed. The third and final blockchain technology bill deals with smart contracts. Smart contracts use code and math to decide if contract conditions are met. The funds are then transferred automatically. With the dawn of self-driving delivery vehicles, governments looking to streamline efficiency and save costs, banks looking for safer ways to do business and industries like healthcare and insurance, smart contracts are a fast moving reality in both business and government.

LB 735-Provide for interlocal agreements regarding nuisances. Currently, municipalities have the authority to regulate and enforce nuisances within their borders. This would build on this legislative authority by allowing municipalities to enter interlocal agreements with a county to provide for cooperative action to remove or prevent nuisances. Interlocal agreements have always been a great way to save manpower and funds here in Sarpy County.

Did you know that there is a long list of items available for free to the public relating to the Nebraska Legislature? Here is a list of only a few that you might find interesting. If you are receiving this email digitally, you should be able to link to the information from your newsletter.

1. Unicameral Update
2. About the Legislature
3. Unicam Kids
4. Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral
5. Poster of Nebraska Senators
6. Membership & Committees Card
7. Lines of Government

For hard copies of these documents, please call my office at 402-471-2627 and we will be happy to place one in the mail to your home address.

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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