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The legislature was back for a second week after a four-month absence as we march towards the official Sine Die for the 2020 session. On Friday, two of my bills, LB751 and LB755, returned to the agenda. LB755 is technically on Final Reading. One of the bills included in the omnibus amendment generated a small fiscal note; it now has an appropriations bill or an “A-Bill” meaning before 755 could pass and make its way to the governor’s desk for a signature, the A-Bill must catch up to the original. That A-Bill passed on general file and is now headed to select file.
LB751 adds mental health to the list of illnesses recognized when a collaborative plan is present between a school district and parents, to help a child improve school absence records. This will become law soon as it passed on final reading with a 48-0 vote, it is now on its way to the governor’s desk for final approval.
LB803 is a bill I was proud to co-sponsor since I sit on the Agriculture Committee and have a special place in my heart for rural Nebraska. It creates the Pulse Crop Resources Act. The act is intended to create a checkoff for pulse crops, which include field peas, lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans. It is important to continue to find ways to help our Nebraska farmers feed the world.
Additionally, I co-sponsored LB850, which authorizes the placement of a monument to the First Regiment Nebraska Volunteer Infantry at Fort Donelson National Battlefield. It also establishes the commission that will oversee creation of the monument.
One last bill with a final reading last week was LB911; this legislation amending the state veteran cemetery system by requiring the acquisition of the former Nebraska Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Grand Island.
One bill we attempted to take up last week that the body ultimately decided against giving the time it deserved was REQ6234, Senator Vargas’ motion to suspend the rules to allow a hearing on a new piece of legislation, rules state that legislation must be introduced during the first 10 days of a session. Senator Vargas felt the bill he wanted to introduce was important and its topic timely. His bill would mean the enactment of workplace health and safety protections at meatpacking and food processing plants during the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, his attempt to suspend the rules was voted down, but he is going to be trying to bring the bill back as an amendment to LB667 which will have a hearing on Thursday, August 6th at the state capitol.
National Korean War Armistice Day
This year marks the 70-year anniversary of the start of the Korean War and last week marked the 67th anniversary of the armistice ending that relatively short, but still very consequential war. On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we paused to remember the uncommon courage and sacrifice of ordinary Americans who fought to defend freedom and protect the values we hold dear.
When that conflict broke out, the country was still rebuilding and regrouping from World War II. Despite that, when we saw freedom and democracy threatened, more than two million people signed up to fight. Far too many were never able to return. In total, more than 36,000 Americans gave their lives in the Korean War, more than 103,000 wounded, and nearly 8,000 went missing in action.
Medicaid Expansion Program
Beginning on August 1, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services will begin accepting applications from Nebraskans who will be eligible for the Heritage Health Adult Medicaid expansion program. Eligible adults are Nebraska residents ages 19-64 who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level (about $17,000 per individual). In the past, lower income adults eligible for Medicaid either had to have children or special medical needs. Expanded Medicaid will launch at the beginning of October 2020. Individuals can apply online at dhhs.ne.gov, by phone at 855-632-7633 or at their local DHHS office.
Early Voting Applications Coming Next Week
The Sarpy County Election Commission announced last Thursday that it would be sending out vote by mail applications starting on August 3. Applications will be sent to all registered, eligible voters in the county. Anyone wishing to receive a vote by mail ballot should complete and return the application by October 23. The election commission has offered several different ways you can return applications, including scanning or emailing a photo of the completed application to email@example.com. Additionally, there are four-drop boxes available where completed applications may be deposited. For more information or to have your questions answered, you can reach election commission staff at 402-593-2167. Once your applications have been returned to the election commission, they expect to begin sending early voting ballots to voters on September 28.
Stand and Be Counted
Over the last few months, the United States government has been counting citizens for the census, and we are coming closer to a very important date – the date the government will begin sending census takers door-to-door in order to get information from homes that have yet to submit their information.
If you received a census form and have yet to return it, make sure to do so soon! You are also able to submit the information online at the official census bureau website. It will only take a few minutes and it is vitally important to our country. In order to make sure you and your community are being accurately represented everyone needs to do his or her part.
Bellevue Farmer’s Market Fresh Produce Drive
This past Saturday, August 1, the Bellevue Farmer’s Market held a fresh fruit & produce drive to help the Bellevue Food Pantry stock up their inventory. Generous market-goers purchased lots of tasty fruits and vegetables from our market attendees to donate to the pantry. We are sincerely grateful for the generosity!
As always, the market is open from 8 am to noon on Saturday’s, with the first hour reserved for pregnant mothers, senior citizens, and area residents with autoimmune diseases or other chronic health issues. You are encouraged to please wear a mask while shopping the market.
Rain or shine at Washington Park located in Bellevue at 20th & Franklin Streets!