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The 2020 Legislative session is over and the interim has officially begun. I fully expect to be back in January to serve alongside a new class of State Senators and I want to wish everyone who saw their terms come to an end last week, good luck in whatever they choose to do moving forward. It was certainly a challenging session, considering it was split into two separate sections, with a long layoff due to the pandemic. While the session was a challenge, I still consider it a success. The Unicameral passed good legislation and so did I, despite the fact that the governor vetoed quite a bit of what passed in the last week of the session.
At the top of the list was my priority bill, LB755. Originally, this bill would give those who cannot get to a barbershop or hair salon the ability to have a barber come to them. While it still contains that provision, I encouraged the Health and Human Services Committee to add important bills from their committee to my bill as a way to show bi-partisan support for all involved. The bill will accomplish many positive things for Nebraskans.
LB755 removes restrictions that are currently placed on Physician Assistants and will make it easier for them to help their patients while still adhering to rules, regulations, and laws of the medical profession and Nebraska. It will also allow PA’s to work with podiatrists for the first time.
As amended, 755 will add spinal muscular atrophy to the list of diseases that will be screened for in infants, and will make sure that pharmacists include specific information regarding patients with Parkinson’s disease in their semi-annual report to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
The bill also allows architecture candidates to begin taking their examination in conjunction with completing educational and experience requirements. It will allow engineers to take one of two examinations prior to completing four years of post-accredited degree experience, and includes other beneficial changes in the way architects are handled in Nebraska.
Finally, I amended one of my bills to this package. LB752 began as a Veterans’ Bill of Rights, but after many discussions with stakeholders, including the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, we pared it down. What we were able to accomplish was the addition of the “Ask the Question” part in the original B.O.R.. This allows service providers in various state agencies the potential to have a profound impact on service members, veterans, and their families, by connecting them to care and services. Service providers will ask the simple question: “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” That question should be included on 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. This bill was one of the yearly requests made by the DoD Military Community and Family Policy Office. District 3 works closely with this organization to help keep Nebraska a great place for our military veterans and their families to live and work.
In its final week of the year, the legislature also passed a very important piece of legislation that I believe will go a long way towards helping Nebraskans in a variety of ways. LB1107, introduced as a Speaker’s Major Proposal, it touches on various economic factors, including property tax relief for both rural and urban parts of the state.
1107 is the kind of bipartisan legislation the Unicameral is known for being able to produce. It is not perfect, but it will allow for some relief for property taxes, while also helping the state as it attempts to climb out of the economic hardships imposed on it by the coronavirus pandemic. There are also several incentives for the business community. The hope is that this will further entice companies to come to Nebraska and set up shop, further boosting an economy I think could turn around quickly thanks to this bill.
The Governor spoke about the bill during his Sine Die address and pointed out 1107 will be teamed with the existing $275 million a year tax credit program, for a total of $650 million in state funds that will help defray the cost of property taxes in the state. That is a four-fold increase in property tax relief since he took office.
As the session is over, we will not do a weekly update, we will still do updates throughout the interim on a monthly basis, or to give important information.
We had yet another successful food drive at the Bellevue Farmers’ Market last Saturday. This time our collected fresh fruits and vegetables went to the Intercultural Senior Center. The Center provides food services and resources for aging Nebraskans in parts of Douglas & Sarpy Counties.
Since March, our office has worked closely with this organization to provide weekly food pantry deliveries and hot meals to area senior citizens in need. ICS serves those over the age of 50 by providing fresh fruits and vegetables. Donations received, compliments of all who donated, are greatly appreciated and we were happy to help another area non-profit.
The Bellevue Farmer’s Market has been key in helping area non-profits with food drives. This drive is the third of the season; each has been a success thanks to all who have contributed.
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 at 2020census.gov. It only takes a few minutes, and is vitally important to our country. To insure you and your community are being accurately represented we ALL must do our part and be counted. UPDATE: The Census Bureau announced plans to officially stop counting on September 30, a month sooner than previously announced, and includes all forms of data collections. Please hurry with your responses so Nebraska can be adequately counted!
The Sarpy County Election Commission began sending out vote by mail applications on August 3. Anyone wishing to receive a vote by mail ballot should complete and return that 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 you can deposit completed applications. For more information, contact election commission staff at 402-593-2167. Voters returning applications to the election commission can expect ballots to arrive beginning on September 28. UPDATE: The Secretary of State announced that applications will be sent to all registered, eligible voters in the state.