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The Nebraska Legislature reconvened its interrupted 2020 session, put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re attempting to squeeze quite a bit into a short period of time, as we are only back for 16 legislative days to finish out this year’s 60-day term.
With the limited time and the budget constraints placed on the state because of the pandemic, there are unfortunately a few issues we won’t be able to take up or get passed this year. I did have three pieces of my own legislation that advanced to the next round of debate this week.
LB755 was initially drafted as a bill that allowed barbers to come to Nebraskans’ homes who are unable to visit their local barbershop or salon because of physical or mental health issues. I encouraged the HHS committee to use the bill as an omnibus bill to make sure other very important pieces of legislation that had to do with the health and safety of Nebraskans moved forward. Working together for the greater good of Nebraska is important to move good legislation forward. I amended another one of my bills LB752 on this bill from the floor.
LB752 started out as the Veterans’ Bill of Rights but after many discussions with stakeholders, including the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs we paired it down. This meant we were able to accomplish the “Ask the Question” part of the BOR. It allows for service providers in various state agencies to potentially have a profound impact on service members, veterans, and families by connecting them to services and care through asking the simple question: “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” The question should be included in intake forms and interviews where appropriate, including, but not limited to, hospitals, mental health care centers, senior centers, employment offices, courts, and schools and in encounters with law enforcement.
LB751, also advanced to the next stage of debate and appears well on its way towards becoming state law this year. This bill adds mental health to the list of illnesses recognized when a collaborative plan is created between the school district and parents to help a child improve their school absences. This helps Nebraska move forward with national efforts to treat an individual’s mental well-being the same as their physical health. I believe there is power in adding that simple change to state statute and hopefully start some dialogues on Nebraska’s youth and mental illness. It’s another step toward destigmatizing mental health issues faced by many of Nebraska’s children and helping to decrease the alarming rate of suicide within that demographic.
Sarpy County is currently in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. That means some but certainly, not all restrictions have been lifted. Phase 3 still requires masks in places like hair salons or tattoo parlors where it is impossible to receive services at the recommended six-foot distance. The size of gatherings are also limited. While the state continues to reopen, the implementation date for Phase 4 is yet to be determined based on the risk of infection. The state is still watching to see if cases begin to tick down. The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department regularly updates its webpage with news and helpful resources. It’s here where you can learn if and when we move into Phase 4.
Food For Homeless Veterans
Getting food and supplies to veterans who desperately needed it was a team effort last weekend. From the people all over the community who made the donations to those who transported them to Victory Apartments, the community came together to help and it was a wonderful sight to see. My office also provided lunch for the residents of Victory Apartments that day. Special thanks to the Filipino Heritage Foundation for providing me with the manpower to serve the meals.
We enjoyed the music of the 43rd Army National Guard Bands throughout the morning and were highly impressed by their professionalism and most definitely their talent.
It was a beautiful day to do something like this and it was great to see everyone come together for this very worthy cause.
Bellevue Cleanup Day
Just a reminder that this Saturday, July 25 is Bellevue’s citywide cleanup day. While this normally takes place earlier in the spring, it had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two areas located at 29th & Hancock, and 8252 Cedar Island Road will be open on July 25th from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM on that day for residents to drop off solid waste.
We’re also asking that anyone who does drop off a load at one of these locations also consider dropping off some food items to the Bellevue Food Pantry. You can find a complete list of what the locations can and cannot take here. This is a good opportunity to clear out your basements and garages and get ready for the fall.