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This week we were able to move forward several of my bills. First and foremost, LB14, my priority bill for this session was signed by the governor on Wednesday and will now officially become law. This is my Audiology and Speech-Language Pathologist Interstate Compact. Now that it’s passed, it will create better access for patients, offer telehealth alternatives, and remove hurdles for employment for professionals including military spouses and their family members. We are now the tenth state to join the compact.
LB476, my Stroke Heart Bill is currently on its way to the governor after passing with overwhelming support on Final Reading on Thursday. This bill establishes the stroke system of care act to provide Nebraska patients with the highest quality of care and to ensure a seamless transition with all medical personnel involved in the care of those patients.
LB5, the Purple Star School Program bill, was placed on what’s known as the Consent Calendar and advanced to select file for a potential second round of debate. The Consent Calendar is stocked with bills that had no opposition of any kind. This means they did not have any letters or testifiers who opposed the bill during the committee hearing and then advanced out of their respective committees without any senators voting no on it. As a general rule, Consent Calendar bills are put on that list because the speaker doesn’t expect any other senators in the legislature to have a problem with them passing when they come up for debate. This was certainly the case with LB5.
The Purple Star Program encourages but doesn’t require every school in the state to appoint a “military liaison” who will then create programming for students who might be recent transfers into the school district after moving here with their military family. The liaison may also set up a website that demonstrates how to establish a “military-friendly” atmosphere at the school. Choosing to participate in the programming would then designate the school as a “Purple Star” school.
LB9, my annexation bill also advanced from general to select file this week. This bill changes annexation requirements and property tax special valuation provisions for cities that might encompass or be built near a military installation. The way state law is currently written, annexation has to include contiguous or adjacent land, but that’s impossible for cities like Bellevue which have federally owned land in the middle of a potential annexation area. This would allow those cities to “cross” over Federal land. The special valuation provisions make it so landowners who are being annexed in aren’t “punished” by the annexation.
In addition to my own bills moving closer to becoming law, I was happy to see some pieces of legislation I cosponsored that are specifically geared towards making schools safer for our students, advance. Those include LB639, which is a bill that sets up training of school employees to better deal with students who might be subject to seizures. Another bill I was proud to cosponsor was LB322 which requires the Department of Education to establish a statewide, anonymous reporting system enabling students, parents, school personnel, and community members to report threats or concerns of possible harm. Both of those bills advanced with quite a bit of support from the body as a whole.
For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.
Signing Ceremony For LB389
On Wednesday I was privileged to attend the signing ceremony for LB389, another bill I cosponsored, which establishes an alternative path for military spouses to receive a teaching certificate or permit in Nebraska. The certificate shall be valid for at least three years and shall include the same or similar endorsements to teach in all subjects they were certified for in another state. I have previously worked with the Nebraska Department of Education on similar rules and regulations, but this bill will expand out the period of time a teacher can have a temporary license before they need to get a permanent one. I’m very happy Governor Ricketts supported and endorsed this piece of legislation.
The Bellevue Community Foundation and the City of Bellevue have some big plans this summer. That includes the first ever Bellevue Rocks Riverfront Festival. Announced this week, the festival is slated to take place Friday, August 13th and Saturday, August 14th at American Heroes Park. It is going to replace the annual Riverfest Celebration that has been held in Bellevue for many years.
Bellevue Rocks! will feature two evenings of music, highlighted by two nationally known touring groups making appearances and performing right here in Bellevue. Friday night will be a Country Night while Saturday is reserved for those of you that prefer some Rock ‘N’ Roll. More details about who exactly is appearing is coming at a later date. The festival will also offer a full carnival, a large beer garden, a VIP area, numerous vendors and much more. I’m hoping this can be carried out safely and that I’ll be able to see many of you there.
COVID-19 Vaccines Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.
The department is now officially vaccinating all those who are involved in Phase 1A and 1B. In addition, Sarpy/Cass residents who are 50 or older are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination. The Department also continues to vaccinate all K-12 educators.
However, earlier this week, the Biden Administration removed the barriers for pharmacies to vaccinate an even bigger portion of the population. Anyone who is 18 or older can now be vaccinated at any pharmacy participating in the federal program. In Bellevue, this includes the Bellevue Medical Center Pharmacy. In Papillion it includes Hy-vee. There are also several Hy-Vee branches, and Walmart Pharmacies around the state taking part in this program. Because this is part of a federal effort you do not need to be a resident of a particular county in order to get your shot at a pharmacy.
You do however, still need to make an appointment. I would highly recommend checking in early and often to make sure that a pharmacy is offering vaccinations to people 18 and over and has appointments available. Some of these pharmacies do allow people to schedule vaccination appointments online, while others require you to call.
You can look for area Hy-Vee pharmacy appointments on their website and you can look for area Walmart vaccination appointments using theirs.
In addition to that rather good news, Governor Ricketts announced on Wednesday that the state is going to be reducing the age requirements to get the vaccine from county health departments to age 16 and over on April 5. He did caution that some county health departments may not be ready to make that jump. For now, that includes the Sarpy/Cass Health Department. However, I’d encourage everyone to keep checking this website to review the department’s latest vaccination rules and regulations.
If you do have any questions there is a number you can call to get assistance. 402-339-4334 and press option 1.
In preparation for your name being called to get vaccinated, the state does offer a website where you can register to be notified when it’s your turn. You can sign up at this link.