NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

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My first session in the Nebraska Legislature was both productive and educational. As promised, I hit the ground running with a group of bills that were especially important to the residents I serve in District 3. I’ve listened to your concerns and questions.

I took that information, pushed up my sleeves and got to work. Four of my bills are now law and many others will hopefully be debated on the floor next session. I am thrilled to be your Senator and will continue to work hard on your behalf.

LB 80: Provide for Unclassified Service Under The County Civil Service Act

LB 80 will make it easier for county attorneys’ and public defenders’ offices to recruit and retain law students and law clerks in order to eventually promote these employees to full-time lawyers within the office. This is a relatively simple law that has removed red tape and takes away an unnecessary hurdle. Governor Ricketts challenged Legislature in his State of the State address to work toward eliminating hurdles to employment by removing unnecessary red tape that prevents our residents from gaining employment here in Nebraska. I accepted that challenge and worked toward that goal.

LB 88: Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact and change and eliminate other provisions relating to the regulation of Health Professionals

 

LB 88 was introduced as a bill that allowed military souses the ability to obtain temporary licensure in Nebraska in over 30 professions under the Uniform Credential Act. As a body, we were able to make this an even more powerful bill that included additional provisions.

Additional language authorized Nebraska to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact; updated provisions for licensure and practice requirements within the current Nurse Practitioner Practice Act; allows licensed practical nurses to provide intravenous therapy and eliminates the Licensed Practical Nurse-Certified Practice Act; and amends portions of the state’s Nurse Practice Act to allow Nebraska to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact that will take effect when 26 states have joined or on December 31, 2018.

Additionally, it removed a requirement that nurses educated in a foreign country pass a specific examination or hold a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. Now, an applicant is required to pass a board-approved examination and provide a satisfactory evaluation from a board-approved foreign credentials evaluation service. LB 88 also removes a requirement that a licensed audiologist obtain a second, specialist license in order to sell hearing aids.

For so many of our military spouses the routine is to move, certify and repeat. This has created career obstacles for many of the military spouses relocating to Nebraska. This is an especially concerning topic for many of our District 3 families.

When PCS orders arrive, spouses must uproot their careers and attempt to find jobs in their new state. If a spouse chooses to stay in their current position, it can mean being separated from their family.

Offutt Air Force Base has a powerful economic impact on eastern Nebraska. We must work hard to honor our military and their families by creating policy that not only embraces their needs, but also helps our state when there is another round of BRAC-Base Realignment and Closures.

Over 15,689 base jobs and another 7,796 local jobs depend on the Legislature to make smart policy that supports our goal to prevent Offutt from a potential base closure.

LB 85: Provide a requirement for persons seeking appointive or elective office.

LB 85 is a bill that prohibits any person that has outstanding civil penalties issued by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission from filing for election to public office.

If a candidate disputes that they have outstanding civil penalties and has an appeal pending, they will still be allowed to file for office if they file a surety bond in favor of the state while the appeal is pending.

When we continue to address issues, such as nonpayment of NADC fines, we foster an ethical, moral culture that also expresses certain behaviors have consequences. This bill provides statute

 

LB 86: Change Provisions Relating to Opening Bids

LB 86 eliminates the requirement relating to bids for county bridge contracts. No change was requested in reference to changing any transparency for the public on this issue.

This bill allows the bids to be opened outside of a board meeting and does not force the contractors or other interested parties to sit through other discussions.

The issue is about expediency and not making contractors or the public sit through discussion of issues not pertaining to the bids. The county board will still deal with the bids but they simply will not need to be present at the opening of these bids.

The awards are always going to be made at an open public county board meeting and the bids will be readily accessible and viewable by the public.

This is a simple bill that helps to uncomplicated the process and not waste time that can be spent on more important agenda issues that serve the public.

What Is Our Office Working On For 2018?

We have worked all summer on a vast array of topics and crafted multiple bills that we hope to bring forward in January.

One of our more important efforts is our military families initiative. Working closely with the Department of Defense, our office continues to strive to remove hurdles for our military families when it comes to employment and to offer needed policy that allows better access to services here in Nebraska.

This initiative includes a proposed Medicaid Waiver for military families that have complex medical conditions not covered by TRICARE. It will help to protect the families from having to wait longer than may be necessary and provide service to their children with disabilities.

The military initiative also includes state enhancement to the service member’s civil relief act (SRA). Although service members are protected as consumers through the federal SCRA; the federal law does not protect service members concerning obligations that occur while on active duty. This bill will provide additional consumer protections that can mirror and expand the federal SCRA.

Also included are three interstate compact bills that include Physical Therapists, Psychologists and APRNs. Interstate compacts make it easier to get licensed in multiple states and empower those interested to reach more patients in rural and underserved communities. It also removes additional hurdles for potential employment for military spouses.

Yet another aspect of our Military Families initiative is our Realtor’s Licensing Bill. This bill allows for an exemption for military spouses from licensing fees if transferred to Nebraska and already holding a license from another state.

We are also working with the Nebraska State Court Administrator’s office to potentially waive the fee for military spouses who are practicing attorneys that transfer to Nebraska with their spouse.

We hope to craft several additional bills this session as part of our initiative, but feel we are off to a great start.

We have three bills that pertain to Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a new concept to many people, but one that has become a popular peer-to-peer exchange platform. Our office enthusiastically supports many of the wonderful aspects of blockchain technology as it has created the backbone of a new type of Internet. Originally created for the digital currency, Bitcoin, there is a long list of potential uses for this tech.

However, with new technology, there are often stumbling blocks that need to be addressed to protect the public. It is important to have state statute updated to keep up with any changes that may affect Nebraska residents.

Upcoming Hearings

January 30th, 2017

We have several bills that will have hearings this week. LB 81 (Handgun Permit Fees Bill) will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 2nd, LB 84 (DWI Bill) will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 3rd and LB 365 (Public Records Bill) will be heard on February 2nd. We encourage you to review these bills and if you would like to send letters to support or oppose the topic or would like to testify in person, please contact our office immediately so we can make sure your voice is heard at the hearing(s).

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3
Room #1021
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2627
Email: cblood@leg.ne.gov
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