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Another week has officially come and gone, and this one was rather productive. While there were concerns about the legislature stalling early in the session, more than 30 bills were advanced to the next round of debate this week. Among those bills that were advanced is one that is very near and dear to my heart.
Senator Walz brought a bill this year, LB444 which will do a great service for our state’s first responders. The bill makes sure that if a first responder is injured in the line of duty, the city or county they work for cannot cancel their health insurance policy if the injury has forced the police officer, firefighter or EMT to fall below the needed hours worked to normally qualify for health benefits. In other words, as long the first responder continues to be an employee of the city or county, that city or county must continue to offer health insurance to the employee. In the interest of fairness, there is a caveat included in the bill that was brought forward by the Judiciary Committee. The committee’s amendment says that the city or county can cancel the health insurance they are carrying if the first responder does not return to work in some aspect, inside of one calendar year. I was proud to vote for this important piece of legislation, and it advanced to the second round of debate on a 33-4 vote.
Another week in the books and this one was pretty good. Last Saturday I attended a town hall meeting at the Bellevue Public Library with Senator Sue Crawford (LD 45) and we were met with a standing room only crowd. The attendees listened to us speak on current legislation as well as participated in a Q & A session. Questions included topics such as Nebraska Schools, Retirement, Potential Loss of Federal Dollars, Environmental, Taxes and possible ideas for future legislation. The Bellevue Public Library did a fantastic job and we are both excited to come back for future town halls.
The end of the week saw a great deal of activity for two of my bills. LB85, which would stop anyone from running for public office, or be appointed to public office if they owed fines to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC), passed final reading and is now headed to Governor Ricketts’ desk for his signature. Once he signs it, it will officially become law. I believe this bill will hold public servants accountable and weed out the people who aren’t willing to own up to their obligations. This bill hasn’t received a single no-vote as it’s made it’s way through the legislature. It advanced from the committee unanimously and got through three rounds on the floor without any opposition. The vote count on final reading was 48-0 with one senator absent. This truly has bipartisan support and will be a very beneficial law moving forward.
Speaking of a bill with strong bipartisan support, my priority bill LB88 got through the first round of debate on the legislature floor on Thursday. LB88 would allow military spouses to be able to get a temporary license in over 30 medical fields when they move to Nebraska, as long as they were licensed and able to practice in those fields in their previous states. This will help Nebraska be looked upon as more “Military Friendly” and will greatly aid those people who live and work in and around Offutt Air Force Base.
In addition to helping military families, the Health and Human Services Committee asked me to allow LB88 to be the vehicle to carry an amendment that included four other bills that are similar to my bill. The amendment includes parts of LB342 (Adopt the Nurse Licensure Compact and provide for temporary nursing license for military spouses) which is Senator Erdman’s bill, Senator Crawford’s LB425 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to the Nurse Practitioner Practice Act), Senator Kolterman’s LB61 (Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact) and finally Senator Riepe’s LB283 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to licensed practical nurses). This means that not only does LB88 with these amendments attached have bipartisan support in the legislature, but the bill and amendment shows the ability for bipartisan agreement in writing legislation.
Did you know that the following publications are available at no charge and can be ordered via the Unicameral Information Office?
Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral: The Nebraska Legislature
22 X 28″ Color Poster: Featuring Contact Information & Photos of Each Senator
Unicam Kids: Illustrated book for gradeschoolers
Membership & Committees Cards: Reference card listing Senator contact information and membership of the Legislative Committees.
Public Hearing Testimony: A brochure about the committee hearing process
Lines of Government: A booklet depicting boundaries for Nebraska’s Legislative, Supreme Court & Congressional Districts, as well as districts for other lines of Nebraska Government.
Unicameral Update: Online news source produced by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office. Weekly print or email subscriptions available.
Friday and Monday are recess days for the legislature and we’ll be back in session on Tuesday. That day will mark the 54th day of the session, meaning we only have 36 days left and we’re barrelling towards the end with still plenty of work to do. As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.
This past week started with my Sunday Symposium “Sex Trafficking – A Dichotomy” which had great attendance both from panelists and the public. Once again, I’d like to thank everyone for coming and making the event a great one. I hope the turnout for the next symposium is just as strong.The symposium has resulted in an amazing sharing of ideas from the public that will help to make our future legislation even stronger as we work to combat Sex Trafficking in Nebraska.
Monday morning saw LB85 advance through select file and is now on Final Reading. This means there is just one more round of voting before the bill will be sent to the Governor’s office for his signature and it will then become law. This bill would make it so anyone owing civil penalties to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission cannot run for, nor be appointed to a public office, until they pay those fines. I think this is an important piece of legislation and I am happy to see it get so much support in the legislature.
Obviously, people in Sarpy county have been greatly affected by road and highway construction over the past year. On Friday, March 24 at 8:30 AM, you will get your chance to hear about and give input towards the broader plan put forward by the Nebraska Department of Roads. The public forum will take place at Thompson Center at UNO, 6705 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska. You can get the agenda for the meeting at the NDOR website by clicking on the “State Highway Commission/District 2 Program Hearing, Omaha” link or by calling (402) 479-4871. The agenda is on page 2 of the document.
For those of you who would like to learn more about some of my legislation, as well as legislation I have dealt with in my committees, I will be having an informational coffee with Senator Sue Crawford on Saturday, March 18 at 10am to 11am at the Bellevue Public Library. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in following what is going on in the legislature to come out and participate.
Monday will mark the 50th day of the legislative session. That means we will be well past the halfway point of my first session. As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.
This past week, we continued to see my LB85 work it’s way through the legislative process. The bill I brought forward that doesn’t allow anyone who owes penalties to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) to run for public office leaped another hurdle. The legislative fiscal office had suggested a fiscal note be attached to the bill. A fiscal note means the state must appropriate money in order to pay for a policy that is included in the bill. While this particular fiscal note was a relatively small $750, I understand that while the state is in a budget crunch like we’re seeing right now, every dollar counts. I spoke to the NADC and the commission’s very capable director told me the agency would be able to absorb those costs and wouldn’t need additional money. This means the bill will continue to have no negative fiscal impact on the state and it will be able to hold “bad guys” who don’t want to pay their fines accountable.
LB85 will be on the legislature’s floor again Monday morning as it goes through Select File and it should easily advance as it received 40 yes votes and zero no votes to advance on General File. Another of my bills, LB80 has officially become law! The bill which makes it easier for county attorneys’ and public defenders’ offices to recruit and retain legal students and law clerks and then promote them to full-time lawyers. This is a simple law that removes the kind of red tape Governor Ricketts talked about in his State of the State address. LB80 was voted through the legislature last week and Governor Ricketts signed the bill on March 7.
It wasn’t such good news for all of my bills this week. LB87 which would have been a big help to job development and renewable energy efforts in the state of Nebraska was Indefinitely Postponed by the Natural Resources committee. My bill would have raised the cap on net metering from 25KW to 100KW and would have allowed meter aggregation. Both of those steps would have been important when trying to show businesses that Nebraska can be competitive when it comes to innovation and green tech. I talked about how important this kind of initiative is in a recent interview with The Reader. Several well-paid lobbyists were against this and several other green energy bills that were also killed by the committee. While I’m disappointed the committee decided to take this action, you can rest assured that I will continue to fight that fight and will be bringing another bill on the topic in 2018.
This Sunday I will be holding my first symposium of the session. The topic is going to be “The Dichotomy of Sex Trafficking” and we’re going to be having experts from the criminal justice side of the issue as well as those who work directly with victims of this terrible practice. The symposium is of course, open to the public and will take place from 1:00 to 2:30 PM on March 12 at Bellevue University, in the John B. Muller building. (1000 Galvin Road S) on the lower level. If you’re free on Sunday, please do consider coming out and learning more about this issue.
Monday will mark the 45th day of the legislative session. That means we will be right at halfway point of my first session and there is still much to do. As always, we are here to serve the residents of District 3. Don’t hesitate to call or email my office and we are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.
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