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LB690 aims at safe births for all women
I was proud to be able to be one of the cosponsors for Senator Cavanaugh’s LB690 this week. The bill makes it so that pregnant women who are incarcerated in our prison system cannot be shackled while they are giving birth.
There is an exception allowed if officials believe she will be a danger to those around. There are few in the legislature that know the dangers people encounter on a daily basis when working in a prison but shackling women when they are giving birth can be quite dangerous for the inmate and the soon to be arriving child. This is common sense legislation that passed through general file this week with 43 “yay” votes and no opposition.
First round of the state budget advances
One of the most important things we are tasked with as State Senators is to come up with and pass the budget. As you may know, we are constitutionally required to have a balanced budget, and Nebraska is one of the only states where that is the case.
On Wednesday, LBs 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, and 299 came to the floor for the first time this year. After several hours of discussion, they all advanced to select file. These bills are incredibly comprehensive as they deal with making sure that state employees are paid, that funding for various infrastructure projects are funded, and the first steps towards getting real, tangible property tax relief are taken.
On the idea of property tax relief, the legislature is still going to have to hammer out some of the details, but it does appear there will be some coming in the very near future. How much and in what form is still going to take some tweaks and more debate but I will fight to get as much as is feasible when working under the budget constraints the state finds itself in.
A Budget to Love or Hate
The proposed Appropriations Committee Budget Report is available online for you to view, see underlined link. If you find areas of concern or have questions, feel free to send them to me at email@example.com or call my office and speak with my Legislative Aide, Oliver. I’m available to speak over the lunch hour as well, or we can set up a phone appointment. Happy reading…
Filling in for Senator Howard
On Friday morning, I was honored to fill in for my good friend, Senator Sarah Howard in presenting her LB248 on the floor.
Speaking of common sense legislation, this bill changes all references in state statute from “hearing impaired” to “deaf or hard of hearing.” Being deaf is not an “impairment” and the way these people are referred to in law can have an impact on perception. I’m proud to be a cosponsor on this.
On a sad note, the reason I was asked to present the bill for Senator Howard is because her father-in-law passed away earlier this week and his funeral was on Friday. My prayers and good wishes go out to Senator Howard and her family during this difficult time for them.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 10 this year and is set to be celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day every year.
People forget that the spouses and family members of active duty military personnel also serve. This is a way to honor the fact that they also have to pick up and move on short notice when a soldier is deployed to another state or country. They also have the added stress of watching their loved ones go off to fight. The day celebrates important contributions, support, and sacrifices of military spouses in the middle of Military Appreciation Month which is every May.
A Week of Appreciation
This past week gave us the opportunity to honor two extraordinary groups of American workers as we celebrated National Nurses Week along with National Teachers Week. It is only fitting that these two go hand-in-hand as they truly change lives, and play vital roles in our communities. From patient and student care, to advocacy and innovation, they are there to help us learn and live healthier every day. Thank you ALL for all you do to make our lives better!
A special shout out to one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Gould. Mr. Gould taught me Drama, English and Debate at Adams Central High in Hastings. Mr. Gould, or Charlie as many know him now, is retired and lives in Omaha. Thank you Mr. Gould for the great start you helped give me, especially in the art of Debate.
Spring at the State Capitol
More great visits from District 3 Schools this week!
A visit by fourth graders from Bell Elementary inclued a student whose poster was recognized by Governor Ricketts during a recent ceremony at the Capitol. The Governor presented awards to winners of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s (Nema) Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest. The poster by Jack Baarson of Papillion, (photo below) was chosen as top prize. Jack was unable to join his mother during the Capitol ceremony in March, so we took the opportunity of his class visit to finally meet.
NEMA Poster winner Jack Baarson of Papillion
Golden Hills Elementary
Monday found the Legislature in Recess, me in Iowa to meet our newest Grandson, Samuel, and my Administrative Assistant speaking with fourth graders from Golden Hills Elementary in Bellevue. I have it on good authority these students knew the three branches of Government and all about the Unicameral.
L-R: Dee Austin and Golden Hills fourth grade students
I am always honored to speak with students as they visit our beautiful Capitol and busy Legislature. Thank you District 3 schools for always being great sports and so well informed!
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Dee Austin-Administrative Aide