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Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

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Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

While I usually update you with what’s going on in the session in this section, I thought I’d tell you about a project I plan to carry out over the interim this year. Many of you may know that the topic of Blockchain technology is one that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve brought Blockchain bills in previous sessions that would have adopted the technology in the business world, but this summer and fall, I want to specifically examine the many ways I believe this technology can benefit our state’s agricultural producers.

I’m going to be establishing an interim investigative committee to carry out a study on that topic. In particular, I want the committee to look at:

  • Traceability and the origin of products, other than pork and beef from the farm to the shelf.
  • Inventory control.
  • Monitoring on-field conditions including quality of the soil, the weather, humidity, and the functioning of irrigation equipment and sensors.
  • Maintenance records for transportation and production equipment.
  • Verification and certification of organic products.
  • Tracking and ordering input supplies such as fertilizer and seed.
  • Asset exchange, including payments for sales and storage of products.

In truth, we’ll be examining all sorts of ways that Blockchain technology can impact agri-business but the above are the main touchstones we’ll be starting with. I firmly believe that we are leaving money on the table when it comes to Blockchain and the things it can do. I’ll be updating when and where these hearings will take place after the interim begins.

On the legislative floor this week, we did do some rather important business as well. Chief among those was the advancement of the state budget to Final Reading. As you may know, passing the budget is the only thing the legislature is constitutionally required to do, and we’re in sight of discharging that duty. The final round of debate should take place next week and will then head to Governor Ricketts for his final approval.

For a full list and additional information about all the bills I’ve introduced and cosponsored, you can click the link here.

Investigating Unemployment Fraud

You may have heard that over the course of the last year, the Department of Labor has had numerous problems with unemployment benefits. On the one hand, there are a huge number of people who were receiving their benefits far later than they should have. On the other hand, the state saw quite a few instances of fraudulent claims.

I’ve encouraged the Business and Labor committee to hold a hearing within the next few weeks that will investigate how these fraudulent claims occurred, how many claims and how much money was stolen from Nebraska, and what the Department of Labor has done, and is doing in order to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

This sort of fraud is especially horrible because it involves stealing money from you, the taxpayer. We need to figure out ways to protect this money much better in the very near future.

Check out Java and Jazz
On Monday, April 19, several area schools are going to be holding a free outdoor (weather permitting) concert. Bellevue East, Mission Middle School, Logan Fontenelle Middle School and E-Street Jazz bands are putting on a show called Java and Jazz.

The performances will take place on the Bellevue East hillside by the South Gym if the weather is nice. If there is rain it will take place in the cafeteria.

Festivities run from 6pm-8:30pm. The event is entirely free, but donations are very welcome. Go check out this annual event and hear some very good jazz music.

Bruins Dominate Post Season Honors
The Bellevue University volleyball team was well represented on the 2020-21 all-North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) volleyball teams that were announced earlier this week.

Chief among the honorees was co-Player of the Year Olivia Galas. Four Bruins in total earned first-team honors and one Bellevue player gained second-team recognition. Olivia was named the NSAA co-Player of the Year and the NSAA Setter of the Year. Eve Fountain earned NSAA Freshman of the Year accolades and Trish Siedlik was honored as the Coach of the Year.

Also on the first team from Bellevue were Coree Lipovsky and Sierra Athen. Jacki Apel was honored on the second team. All of the honored players from BU are Nebraska natives and Olivia and Jackie were born and raised in Bellevue.

In addition to these individual honors, The Bruins are in the midst of a very successful season overall. Posting a 16-5 record so far, they fell just short in the NSAA conference championship game but will open the NAIA National Tournament on Sunday. Congratulations and good luck to all!

Papillion Spring Cleanup
The Papillion Public Works Department will host Spring Cleanup Days starting next week on April 19. The Spring Cleanup Days will run through April 25, from 7 am to 5 pm each day. The event will again be a joint effort with the City of La Vista. The Cleanup Days site is located at 99th Circle and Portal Road on the south side of Portal Road, just east of the Papillion Public Works Facility. The event is open to Papillion residents and water customers and La Vista residents.

Items that can be dropped off during the Spring Cleanup Days include:

  • Household and lawn furniture
  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Major appliances
  • Grills and smokers
  • Outdoor power equipment (please empty fuel prior to disposing)
  • Residential construction materials
  • Automotive parts and batteries
  • Undamaged propane tanks
  • Broken toys and play structures
  • Bicycles
  • Tree limbs and yard waste (must be free of garbage and bags)
  • All types of TVs (rear projection, tube TVs, flat screens, etc. may be disposed of in the roll-off dumpsters)
  • CRT computer monitors (may be disposed of in the roll-off dumpsters)

Nebraska Promise Deadline Extended
Last year, the University of Nebraska took the rather impressive step of recognizing the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on students and families of students who wanted to attend college. In response to the hardships people in the state were seeing, the University launched the Nebraska Promise program. That program is still going strong and will be available for those who want to attend UNL this fall. While the deadline to apply for FAFSA and qualifying for the program was originally April 1, that deadline has since been extended to May 1.

The program offers totally free tuition with a couple of qualifications. Tuition is covered for students who meet academic qualifications and have a family income of $60,000 or less (Adjusted Gross Income/AGI) or are Pell Grant-eligible.

This program is also only available for Nebraska residents, but it is not limited to recent high school graduates. Transfers, with a 2.5 GPA can qualify as well. I’d encourage you to check out the program at this link and see if it might be for you, or someone close to you.

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3
Room 1021
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2627
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