NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Carol Blood

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at cblood@leg.ne.gov

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.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week was our first round of debate on the budget. As you may know, passing a budget, and making sure that the budget is balanced, is the only constitutionally required duty of the legislature. For that reason, it takes center stage once the Appropriations Committee votes out the bills that comprise the different sections of the budget, out onto the floor for debate in front of the entire body. This year, the budget is made up of seven separate bills.

LB379 appropriated money for the ongoing Capitol construction projects. The bill deals with projects that either cost more or cost less than the original dollars that were projected when the construction was approved. Additionally, LB365 was folded into this bill as a committee amendment. That bill appropriates and funds the new Nebraska Gaming Commission. The bill did not create a new program, but instead funds a program that was actually first approved by a ballot measure last November by Nebraska voters.

LB380 is a heavy lift. The bill allocates money for the various agencies that make up the state government. Among the very important tasks this bill takes on is to appropriate funds for the Nebraska Department of Education for Early Childhood Education programs, carry out a cost analysis for improvement and structural changes at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, and appropriate funds to the Department of Economic Development for their Business Innovation grants act.

LB381 is the bill that appropriates money for State Senators’ yearly salaries. To be clear, our salaries are already set at $12,000 a year (which comes out to about $5.27 an hour) in the Nebraska Constitution. This bill simply appropriates that money in the Biennial Budget.

LB382 is similar to LB381 however instead of funding the salaries of State Senators, it appropriates the money to pay the salaries of the state’s constitutional officers. In other words, this bill pays people like the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the tax commissioner, and a few others.

LB383 is similar to LB379, though this deals with new construction projects that were approved more recently. While LB379 also deals with projects that cost more or less than they were expected to, this bill deals with construction projects that were known by the body would be paid over a period of time.

LB384 is a bill that’s sole purpose is to transfer money from one fund to another. One example is transferring funds from the Legislature’s General Fund to the Hall of Fame Trust Fund. There are also other instances in the bill where money is transferred from one fund, back into the general fund.

LB385 deals with money transfers that have to do with the Legislature’s Cash Reserve Fund. Most notably, this is also the bill that provides for a $50 million fund transfer to the United States Space Command Headquarters Assistance Fund. I’ve laid out many times why it is incredibly important for Offutt to be named the new home of Space Command. The good thing about the way we’ve written this bill is that if that doesn’t end up being the final landing spot for the headquarters, then the money will not be spent.

Finally, LB386 sets the salaries for the justices on the Nebraska Supreme Court.

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


Be Aware Of Vaccination Scams
If you’ve recently gotten your COVID-19 vaccination and then got an e-mail or text asking you to take a survey afterward, beware, it could be a scam.

The Omaha branch of the FBI is reporting scammers that are posing as the big drug companies, and sending out surveys to people who have had their vaccinations asking for follow-up information.

The FBI went on to say that the easiest way to tell if something might be up, is if you hover over the sender’s name, even if it says Modern or Pfizer, the email address might pop up with something like Hotmail or Gmail. Those companies are not sending emails using those kinds of addresses.

The FBI has said it’s seen an increase in similar survey scams. It’s important to note that Drug companies will never send out a survey after you’ve gotten your vaccination.

Further, if you do realize you’ve gotten a scam email, you should report it. The FBI says you should fill out the information at their internet crime complaint center.


Sarpy County Veterans Offices Have Moved

The Sarpy County Veterans Service Office, as well as several other county offices have a new home. On April 5, the veterans’ office moved into the County’s new 1102 Building, located at 1102 E. 1st Street in Papillion.

The Treasurer, Assessor, and Vehicle Inspection services will also move into the 1102 Building on April 12.

The 1102 Building is southwest of 72nd Street and Cornhusker Road. The county purchased the building to accommodate the construction of the new Sarpy County Correctional Center on the Sarpy County Courthouse Campus. Make a note so you aren’t going to the wrong place when you need to talk to someone at veterans’ services or any of the other county offices.


Nebraska Promise Still Alive And Well
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.

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.


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 anyone who is 16 or older. You can click on this link in order to see what clinics the health department is offering and try and register for an appointment.

While the department’s clinics are still somewhat limited and filling up fast, area pharmacies are also offering the ability to sign up for vaccination appointments. Baker’s, Hyvee, and Walmart pharmacies are all now offering the ability to try and get vaccinated for anyone 16 and over.

You can look for area Hy-vee, Walmart and Baker’s vaccination appointments using their websites.

I want to take a minute to say that I have been able to get vaccinated and I would encourage everyone who can, to do so as well. Vaccination is a big step towards beating this pandemic, but the more people who get it done, the closer we get to “herd immunity” and squashing the coronavirus for good.

I’m also relieved that the vaccination program is well ahead of the schedule President Biden laid out in January. There was a time when 16 and up individuals weren’t expected to get vaccinated until the end of next month. All of this makes it that much more likely that life can truly get back to normal soon, as long as everyone is still careful until the disease is indeed beat down.
__________________________________________________

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

Committee Assignments
Urban Affairs
Business and Labor-Vice Chair
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
Redistricting

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Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

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.


Meet Jordan!Jordan Smith joined our office this spring as an intern. Jordan is currently a junior Political Science and Philosophy and Religion major at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Over the course of her college career she has been an intern on several campaigns. In her free time Jordan is an active member of Willard Sorority where she once served as Vice President and a member of the University’s Student Conduct Board. Now approaching her senior year, Jordan plans to study abroad through the CHIP program in Washington D.C. in Spring of 2022. “I have passions for both public policy and political strategy, and while in D.C. would love to find an internship that emphasizes these interests,” Jordan said.. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree in public policy and hopes to be able to visit various different countries for her field. “I am so grateful to be an intern for Senator Blood. Not only is it an opportunity to be involved in Nebraska’s legislature, but Senator Blood is so welcoming and a joy to work with.”


Bellevue Rocks!

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.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week saw several of my bills advance to the next and final round of debate as they wing their way to the governor’s office and becoming law. LB14,my personal priority bill this session, is the Audiology and Speech- Language Pathology Interstate Compact bill. This passed on Final Reading and is now on Governor Ricketts’ desk awaiting his signature.

LB6, also advanced to final reading as part of LB387. Both bills will make all military retirement pay tax exempt in Nebraska. LB6 caught those who were left out of the original military retirement tax exemption bill passed last session and who had served in the military for decades and finished their career as a civilian federal employee.

LB20 was another bill of mine that advanced to final reading as an amendment. The bill, which was also amended in committee, was attached to LB100. The intent of LB20 is to create more consistent prescription access to contraception, by allowing a patient to get a three-month prescription after their first doctor visit and six-month prescriptions after that. This piece of legislation would not force a company that doesn’t already cover contraception to cover it. It also allows for insurance companies to opt out if they can prove offering six months worth of prescriptions at a time would prove too costly. Health equity is an important goal for my office. For women in rural areas, the doctor and/or pharmacy can be hours away and for women who travel for their careers, students who travel abroad, women who lack transportation and other known hurdles to access, this bill will be a relief for many.

Finally, LB476 also advanced to Final Reading with overwhelming support. 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. Some find it surprising to learn that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in our state and it is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Revisiting our protocol for stroke victims and updating the process can also benefit our insurance rates as the fewer people in need of this type of critical care means the potential of fewer claims to an insurance company.

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

The T-Birds Big Accomplishment
Last week it was Bellevue East, this weekend it was the Bellevue West Forensics team with a spectacular showing at NSAA State Speech Championships. The team finished third, marking the first time in school history that the T-birds have placed 3rd at State.

In addition to that finish, students in five events advanced to final rounds, the first state finalists for Bellevue West since 2014. Congratulations to all of them. Their hard work and dedication truly did pay off and will continue to pay off.


Gear Up For Bellevue Christian’s Easter Scramble
Easter is coming up fast, and Bellevue Christian’s Easter Scramble is coming as well. The scramble will be a bit different this year, as it will start out in any one of five different parks.  (Everett, Stonecroft, Swanson, McCann, Russ Thompson). Those taking part will receive a basket to look for eggs filled with goodies.

Participants will also get the first clue for the Easter Scavenger hunt. They will then receive the next clue at that location. Any child who completes the scavenger hunt will be entered into a drawing to win a free PS5! The scramble is open to all children up to age 12 and begins on April 3 at 10:30am.


Seizure Safe Schools Act
While we unfortunately weren’t able to debate LB639 this week, I still wanted to show my support for this very important piece of legislation. That’s why I stood with several colleagues, including the bill’s introducer, Senator Day, during her recent press conference. I am also a co-sponsor on this important bill.

LB639 trains school personnel on seizure detection and response, implements seizure planning
and personalized plans for students diagnosed with epilepsy, or seizure disorders, and ensures
access to FDA approved seizure drugs in schools.

It was on the agenda for debate on Wednesday, but we weren’t able to get to it and the schedule was shuffled for the remainder of the week. I am hopeful Speaker Hilgers will bring this back to the floor soon.


American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
The Nebraska chapter of the AFSP has set up a series of displays on the first floor this week that provide information for people who are looking to support someone and offer help if they are struggling with mental health.

I’d encourage anyone who is going to be in Lincoln soon to come and check it out.


COVID-19 Vaccine 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 (pictured above). In addition, Sarpy/Cass residents who are 55 or older are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

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.
__________________________________________________

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

Committee Assignments
Urban Affairs
Business and Labor-Vice Chair
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

Follow Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week, we continued floor debate in earnest and took up two of my bills on select file. LB14 my personal priority bill this session, is the Audiologist and Speech Pathologist Compact bill. The other was my military retirement fix, LB6. was advanced as part of the broader military retirement bill which I also co-sponsored, LB387.

LB6 was designed to fix an unintended oversight with last year’s military retirement bill, but with the expansion it will also apply to this year’s bill. Right now, there is a population of military retirees in Nebraska who receive their 1099’s from the office of Personnel Management rather than the Department of Defense, because they first retired from the military and then worked on the civilian side, though still for the federal government. That means that the tax exemption in these military retirement bills do not apply to them as is. The language from LB 6 would make this group of Nebraska military retirees eligible for the benefits, ensuring no one is left behind and that everyone is treated fairly. Finally, it will help to further support Governor Ricketts’s goals by helping to retain and attract veterans to Nebraska.

LB9  has been selected by Speaker Hilgers as one of his Speaker Priority bills. This guarantees that the bill will be debated on the floor in the near future and I expect it to advance, pass and become law this year.

LB9 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.

When Bellevue looks to expand and grow, it is in fact, hampered several different ways. Offutt and Rising View Military Housing create particular hurdles. Offutt AFB causes Bellevue to be “landlocked” to the South, the Missouri River is to our east, Omaha to our north and Papillion and La Vista to our West. Our only option for growth is to move south and that’s what we hope will happen with the passing of LB9.

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


Bellevue East With The Big Win
Congratulations to Bellevue East as the overall State Champion and Large School State Champion at the Academic Decathlon State Finals. This is the first time the team has won this particular event in the history of the school!

In addition to the overall team win, several students won individual honors. I want to send out my heartfelt congratulations to the entire group. Clearly their hard work and dedication paid off.


What Drives You?
The Nebraska State Highway Commission will conduct a virtual meeting via WebEx on March 26 at 8:30 am. This event is open to the public. An audio feed will be available by dialing 1-415-655-0003. When prompted, enter meeting number 145 060 5666 to connect to the call. If attendees would prefer an access link for computer or mobile viewing, please contact Sarah Soula at 402-479-4871 or sarah.soula@nebraska.gov.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions about anything going on that are related to highways in our area. Just FYI, District 2 includes the counties of Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. 

While still in Phase 1B they have been able to lower the age requirements for those who can schedule an appointment for a vaccination. 

Sarpy/Cass residents born in 1956 or before are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination. Any K-12 educator is also now eligible to be vaccinated.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

Please keep in mind that scheduling at this time is limited to those residents 65 or older, or those who are K-12 educators.

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.


Preschool Screenings
If you’re in the Papillion La Vista school district and your child is going to turn four-years-old by July 31, 2021 then it’s officially time to call and schedule a screening.

If your family fits this criteria please call 402-524-3243 today and set up an appointment. Again, you must reside in the Papillion La Vista community schools district in order to use this number for the screenings.

March OPPD Efficiency Tip
Every month, OPPD offers a couple of helpful tips to be more energy-efficient and lower your electricity bill. This month, the focus is on furnace filters. You may not believe they aren’t that important in the broader scheme, but in fact, filters protect the internal compacts of your HVAC system and keep it running smoothly.

Furnace filters, like many other things, have ratings that tell you a filter’s ability to capture and hold particles and pollutants. Most furnace filters have a MERV rating (3M has MPR and The Home Depot has FPR, but have equivalents to the MERV rating). The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles that can be trapped when the system is running.

OPPD suggests you get a furnace filter that has a MERV rating of between 8 and 11.

Legislative UpdateGood morning, Nebraska!

This week, we began floor debate in earnest and took up three of my bills with LB14 my personal priority bill this session, the Audiologist and Speech Pathologist Compact bill, first up on Tuesday morning. That bill ended up advancing to Select File with a very bipartisan 43-0 vote. I look forward to it continue moving forward and becoming law.

Another bill that advanced to select file with overwhelming support was LB476. 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. Some find it surprising to learn that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in our state and it is the leading cause of disability in the United States. This is also about people’s health but it’s also about rising insurance costs that will be spread amongst everyone.

As part of this plan, the Department of Health and Human Services will maintain a statewide stroke data registry that utilizes the American Heart Association’s ‘Get with the Guidelines’ initiative. I’m hopeful this can make a real difference in detecting and dealing with strokes in Nebraska.

Finally, my military retirement fix, LB6 was amended into the broader military retirement bill, LB387. LB6 was originally meant to fix an unintended oversight with last year’s military retirement bill, LB153 but will also apply to this year’s. Right now, there is a population of military retirees in Nebraska who receive their 1099’s from the office of Personnel Management rather than the Department of Defense, because they first retired from the military and then worked on the civilian side, though still for the federal government. That means that the exemption in these military retirement bills do not apply to them. The language from LB 6 would make military retirees eligible for the benefits, ensuring no one is left behind and that everyone is treated fairly. Finally, it will help to further support Governor Ricketts’s goals by helping to retain and attract veterans to Nebraska.

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


Conversation with Leonard Lawrence Elementary
Earlier this week I had the very real pleasure of visiting with a class from Leonard Lawrence Elementary. We got to visit over zoom and I was so encouraged and energized by the interest and intelligence these young people showed. I don’t get to do something fun like this as much as I’d like because of my busy schedule but this was time very well spent. I thought you might like to read some of the comments from those students.”Thank you for that zoom. It was nice that you did it. I enjoyed every second of it. I thought you said what you did very well. You also were very inspiring about how you wanted to be a senator when you were young. I thought being a senator would be boring but you made me now think that it’s fun.” – Henry

“Thank you for teaching me about you being a senator and what it’s like. It was interesting hearing about how many bills you have passed and the bills you are working on right now. I think it was pretty cool that you wanted to be a senator ever since you were in 4th grade.  I am so happy that you took time out of your day to teach us about your job and what you do and maybe I will grow up and become a senator.  I will be a leader at my school by doing random acts of kindness like holding the door and giving someone a compliment.” -Paige

There were many more wonderful comments from so many of the children. I am so thankful I was able to participate in this online meeting and I hope to do more in the future. I’m especially looking forward to a time when we can do this sort of thing in person again.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.

While still in Phase 1B they have been able to lower the age requirements for those who can schedule an appointment for a vaccination.

Sarpy/Cass residents born in 1956 or before are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination. Any K-12 educator is also now eligible to be vaccinated.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

Please keep in mind that scheduling at this time is limited to those residents 65 or older, or those who are K-12 educators.

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.


A Little Luck of the Irish
Members of the Bellevue Community Foundation gathered Wednesday evening to participate in the annual painting of a giant Shamrock in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day. The large shamrock is right in the middle of Olde Towne at the intersection of Mission Avenue and Franklin Street.

This year the Shamrock is dedicated and painted in honor of Frank Kumor and Al Sullivan who were two longtime Bellevue residents and business owners who unfortunately passed away recently. Both were dedicated to serving their communities and will be missed.


Bellevue Little Theater Back In Action
Perhaps as a sign of our community beginning to return to normal, the Bellevue Little Theater kicked off its 2021 season with a production of “Dial M For Murder.”

While I’ve heard the production is very good, and you can read a review in the Omaha World-Herald here, I’m mostly just delighted that this important piece of Bellevue Culture is still going strong.

These particular performances started on March 5 and will run through March 21.


March OPPD Efficiency Tip
Every month, OPPD offers a couple of helpful tips to be more energy-efficient and lower your electricity bill. This month, This month, the focus is on furnace filters. Some may believe these aren’t that important in the broader scheme, but in fact, they protect the internal compacts of your HVAC system and keep it running smoothly.

Furnace filters, like many other things, have ratings that tell you a filter’s ability to capture and hold particles and pollutants. Most furnace filters have a MERV rating (3M has MPR and The Home Depot has FPR, but have equivalents to the MERV rating). The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles that can be trapped when the system is running.

OPPD suggests you get a furnace filter that has a MERV rating of between 8 and 11.
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Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

This week was the last week of hearings for my bills. We went out with a bang as we had five bills go in front of various committees. LB12LB20LB478LB13, and finally LB8 had their hearings. I honestly believe that we made our case for each one of these bills and I look forward to the committees advancing the bills out of committee.

While the hearings were still center stage, we did have several bills debated and advanced on the floor as well. Of those, a rather large chunk were select file bills, meaning they were already in the second round of debate and likely headed to final reading. In all, we advanced 26 bills. Of note:

LB159 which was brought by the Urban Affairs Committee, of which I’m a member. This bill isn’t going to move mountains, but it does allow for a city or village to print its ordinances in an online format. This will both allow for a bit less waste, as they may not need to print off as many pamphlets and it allows more people to better educate themselves on those ordinances.

LB4, which increases from 50 percent to 75 percent the magnitude of tuition assistance benefits for Nebraska-based enlisted military reservists. This piece of legislation has 36 cosigners, including myself and might be one of the most “sure to become law” this session.

Next week, at least two of my bills will be heard on the floor, with LB14, my personal priority bill this session, the Audiologist and Speech Pathologist Compact bill, first up on Tuesday morning. The other bill on the agenda for Tuesday is my stroke-heart bill. LB476. I’m looking forward to taking the next step in getting them both passed.

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


Have Your Kiddos Join The Pawsitive Reading Program
Next Saturday, March 13, the Bellevue Public Library is holding a couple of its Pawsitive Reading Programs, though for obvious reasons, this year it will be on Zoom. Grades Pre-K through 6th will be able to read to a host of furry cuties.

The first program will take place from 9:30-10:30 am and the second will take place from 2:00 – 3:00.that afternoon. You can sign up on the Bellevue Library’s website but you should know that you’re going to need to sign up at least 24 hours in advance.


Water Roundtable Next Week
Nebraskans continue to reach out to me about the potential for flooding due to the record amounts of snow we have received. Here is an opportunity to learn more about the history, impact, outlook, and preparation regarding ice jams for the upcoming 2021 spring season. This will be an excellent opportunity to have your questions answered, as well.   Please share this information with any interested parties.

Please join the 2021 Water Roundtable presentation being held on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 8:00 am (Central Time)  This will be a webinar format and will feature Bryan Tuma, Assistant Director of NEMA.

You can register for this Webinar here.

Questions regarding the event can be directed to the Nebraska Water Resources Association at 402-476-1528


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department recently issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The department has officially entered into Phase 1B.

Unfortunately for those with underlying health conditions who were hoping to be vaccinated sooner, Governor Ricketts announced last week that “High-Risk” individuals won’t be receiving their vaccinations during Phase 1B. This phase is expected to last until April.

However, Sarpy/Cass residents born in 1951 or before are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

Please keep in mind that scheduling at this time is limited to those residents born in 1951 or before. Appointments made for non-residents or those outside the age range will be canceled by the individual clinics.

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.


Nebraska DED Impacts Report
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development just released its annual Key Programs and Impacts report. They produce this report with the goal of showing how Nebraska’s taxpayer dollars are efficiently being put to use to try and help grow the state.

You can view the report at the DED’s official website here.


Utility Scammers
For whatever reason, the springtime is also a time of year when OPPD and other utility companies report that customers start getting calls from scammers who are posing as workers for companies like OPPD and others. This is actually a long-running scame happening all across the country. Aggressive callers try to convince customers they owe money. They often instruct customers to use a pre-paid debit, gift or Green Dot card to settle up. Callers threaten to disconnect service if customers do not pay.

Even more dastardly is that these scammers are reported to be using “spoofing” software so that the number that comes up on someone’s caller ID looks as if the call is coming from a utility company.

Callers claimed they’d need to come out and replace a meter, which the customer would have to pay for. They provided a toll-free number for the customer to call back in order to make the payment. However, OPPD never charges for a meter replacement.

The other scenario gloating around recently is that customers will get a call that shows up as “NPPD,” with scammers pretending to work for Nebraska Public Power District. In those calls, customers have been told their power will be turned off within 30-minutes if they do not pay up immediately. It’s important to note that this is not how utility companies operate. These companies never cold call someone looking for payment.

If you do receive one of these calls, hang up as soon as you realize what it is. If possible, make note of the number that called you and report that to your utility company. If you receive one of these calls, you and should independently reach out to your utility company to sort out the situation.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

Next week is the final day of committee hearings for most of us, though the Judiciary committee will keep on going as they had over 150 bills assigned to them this year. Far more than any other committee. The week is going to be a busy one for our office as we have five bills up in various committees.

Next Monday afternoon I present LB12 in the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee and LB20 in front of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance committee.

LB12 is my Commuter Rail Study bill. This bill would task the Department of Transportation to study the effectiveness, cost, and need for a commuter rail line between Lincoln and Omaha. It would then submit a report on the study to the legislature. Among other reasons I brought this bill, I think it will greatly help reduce the traffic on Highway 6 and I-80. Especially when this route gets traveled, the most, during Husker game days. Anyone who has been on I-80 a few hours before or a few hours after a Husker game knows the pain of the interstate traffic jam.

LB20 is my women’s health equity bill. This will reduce interruptions in birth control, helping to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion by having insurers cover the number of contraceptives dispensed in accordance with the prescription—up to 12 months at a time but it won’t require a 12-month supply on the first pickup. The bill allows an initial 3-month prescription to make sure it is safe to use prior to expanding it. The intent is to close health inequities in rural Nebraska, those reliant on public transportation, and women who must travel for work or abroad.
This also a cost-saving measure for the state. One study found that the longer prescription period led to fewer gaps in taking contraceptives. The study found unwanted pregnancies can be reduced by as much as 30 percent. When you consider that providing a year’s worth of contraceptives cost $365 compared to birthing services that run near $5,000; it’s a no-brainer.

On Tuesday, I’ll present LB478, my firefighter’s retirement bill to the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee. This bill would move all First Class city firefighters’ pension and retirement funds over to the state’s Public Employees’ Cash Balance Retirement Plan. They currently have a simple 401K program that does not provide enough money for these firefighters to retire on, forcing them to work later into life than they should, thereby putting themselves and others in harm’s way.

Wednesday sees my LB13 slated for hearing with the Judiciary Committee. The bill deals with protection orders from another state when that protection order relates to domestic or family abuse. Currently, certain prohibitions are already in place for Nebraska but we want to harmonize the language to include orders that might be issued in other states and jurisdictions as there have been examples where these individuals have fallen through the cracks, to the detriment of the victim.

Finally, on Thursday, LB8 will get heard by the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs committee. This bill addresses gaps in Nebraska’s current statute that enable “dark money” special interest groups to place influential ads. These ads may incorrectly sway voters during elections without knowing who is behind them. This would fill in the gaps by requiring anyone who makes an advertisement that costs more than $1,000 to file a form with the election commission. This is, by the way, the same thing everyone else has to do. It’s time for the legislature to put its money where it’s mouth is when it comes to transparency. This bill will do that.

This past week I also had a hearing on LB5, the Purple Star Schools Program bill. It 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.

We also got good news this week in regards to one of my bills that we’ve already had a hearing on. LB6, which would change provisions relating to the taxation of military retirement benefits. This is a bit of a tweak from last year’s military retirement bill, LB153. However, that bill was based on 1099’s received from the DOD. There are military retirees that do not receive form 1099 from the US DOD but receive it from The Office of Personnel Management. They are being told they’re not eligible under 153 and LB6 would make them eligible for the benefits. That bill’s language was folded into Senator Brewer’s larger military retirement bill, LB387, and advanced from the committee on Thursday. It will now go in front of the full legislature for debate and we have high hopes of its passage.

A reminder that if you want to participate in any of the hearings on my bills, there have been some changes to the way they are carried out this year. Because of the pandemic, Speaker Hilgers would prefer not to pack the room with testifiers but understands it’s a fundamental right to participate in the legislative hearings in Nebraska. To that end, only those who intend to testify on a bill will be allowed to sit in the hearing room. His office set up a system that will allow users to track the hearing online and enter comments on any bill being heard on the Legislature’s website.

As always the committees are also accepting letters of support or opposition in lieu of testimony. Because of the added stressors that come from all-day hearings, those letters must now be submitted by noon the day before and they must be submitted to specially designated committee emails, rather than the clerk or the chairperson directly.

In order to see exactly how you can participate in legislative hearings this year, you can go to this link.

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


Meet Sarah!
We want to introduce you to our new intern Sarah Lies, who is working with us under the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Honors Legislative Internship Program. Sarah grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the only girl among five brothers. Having been homeschooled through high school, Sarah says that she is incredibly grateful to her parents for their continued investment and encouragement.

Now, she is a junior at UNL dual majoring in Global Studies and Political Science and minoring in Arabic and Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. She is involved as a Resident Assistant in Sandoz Hall and the World Youth Alliance organization. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano, going rock climbing, and spending time with friends. Upon graduation, Sarah hopes to pursue a career working in foreign affairs for the United States Federal Government.


Water Roundtable In March
Nebraskans continue to reach out to me about the potential for flooding due to the record amounts of snow we have received. Here is an opportunity to learn more about the history, impact, outlook, and preparation regarding ice jams for the upcoming 2021 spring season. This will be an excellent opportunity to have your questions answered, as well.   Please share this information with any interested parties.

Please join the 2021 Water Roundtable presentation being held on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 8:00 am (Central Time)  This will be a webinar format and will feature Bryan Tuma, Assistant Director of NEMA.

You can register for this Webinar here.

Questions regarding the event can be directed to the Nebraska Water Resources Association at 402-476-1528


Rosters Are Out
After a long wait, the new rosters are officially out! If you would like one, don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’ll be happy to mail you one.


It’s A Seussathon!
For something a bit more fun, you can take part in next week’s Bellevue Public Library Seussathon.  It will be virtual this year, with special guest readers in the Zoom room every half hour. You can just head over to the event’s calendar and grab the zoom link. Then join in next Tuesday!


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The department has officially entered into Phase 1B.

Unfortunately for those with underlying health conditions who were hoping to be vaccinated sooner, Governor Ricketts announced last week that “High-Risk” individuals won’t be receiving their vaccinations during Phase 1B. This phase is expected to last until April.

However, Sarpy/Cass residents born in 1951 or before are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

Please keep in mind that scheduling at this time is limited to those residents born in 1951 or before. Appointments made for non-residents or those outside the age range will be canceled by the individual clinics.

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.

Good morning, Nebraska!

We kicked the week off with floor debate on bills for the first time this session. With the change in our daily schedule, we had been involved in all-day hearings for most of the session but on Tuesday, we opened the morning with General File debate on the floor.

We almost completed the entire agenda, eventually passing 22 separate bills onto select file. It was indeed an unusual break from all-day hearings. On Wednesday we returned to our normal schedule. We won’t be returning to floor debate until March 9. At that point, most of the committee hearings will be over (with the exception of Judiciary) and soon after that week, we’ll transition to all-day floor debate.

On Wednesday, I was in front of the Health and Human Services committee for the hearing on LB554, which is my third interstate compact bill this session. LB554 adopts the Licensed
Professional Counselors Interstate Compact in order to create better access for patients, offer telehealth alternatives and remove hurdles for employment for professionals including military spouses and family members. This is a brand new compact, though there are already several states looking to adopt it. Like the others of this kind, it will go “live” when 10 states join. We should be clear that our office also supports reciprocity, but that does not address our military spouse who must move every 2-3 years. We not only want them to be able to work into Nebraska without additional hurdles, but move to their next post and be able to get to work quickly as well. That’s why our office LOVES these compacts and enjoys working with our friends in the military families office at the DOD on your behalf. every year.

Next week I will have a hearing for LB5 in front of the Education Committee. The bill 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 to Nebraska 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.

A reminder that if you want to participate in any of the hearings on my bills, there have been some changes to the way they are carried out this year. Because of the pandemic, Speaker Hilgers would prefer not to pack the room with testifiers but understands it’s a fundamental right to participate in the legislative hearings in Nebraska. To that end, only those who intend to testify on a bill will be allowed to sit in the hearing room. His office set up a system that will allow users to track the hearing online and enter comments on any bill being heard on the Legislature’s website. 

As always the committees are also accepting letters of support or opposition in lieu of testimony. Because of the added stressors that come from all-day hearings, those letters must now be submitted by noon the day before and they must be submitted to specially designated committee emails, rather than the clerk or the chairperson directly. 

In order to see exactly how you can participate in legislative hearings this year, you can go to this link.

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


Food Pantry
The winter has been all the more difficult this year thanks to the extreme weather and the coronavirus pandemic. If you are someone in need, you can head out to the Glory Tabernacle church later this morning and pick up some food and winter clothing. You can also go and donate winter clothes or food, if you have some to share.
ENOA Meeting In March
The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging is going to be having a virtual meeting on March 1 to discuss changes they are making to their routes. The agency is no longer going to offering rides that are strictly inside an area that is defined as “Urbanized Areas” of Omaha. That includes most of Sarpy and Cass county. They will still allow for rides from Bellevue, Papillion and LaVista to rural areas, and will allow rides from rural areas to the Urbanized Omaha Area.

The changes are currently slated to go into effect on July 1.

If this plan does go into effect, it’s going to make things quite hard for Sarpy and Cass county’s aging population to get around. I would encourage everyone to listen in on this meeting and make your voice heard in hopes of convincing ENOA to change its plans.

This particular change was on the agenda two years ago but they were able to scrap it, after additional funding was made available. It can be changed again if enough people fight for it.

All the information on the meeting can be found on ENOA’s official website here.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The department has officially entered into Phase 1B.

Unfortunately for those with underlying health conditions who were hoping to be vaccinated sooner, Governor Ricketts announced this week that “High-Risk” individuals won’t be receiving their vaccinations during Phase 1B.

However, Sarpy/Cass residents born in 1951 or before are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

You do not need the Sarpy/Cass Health Department to schedule this appointment for you. Please visit this website to view all the vaccine clinic options in our communities. Select the clinic that works best for you, and click or call that individual clinic to schedule your appointment.

Please keep in mind that scheduling at this time is limited to those residents born in 1951 or before. Appointments made for non-residents or those outside the age range will be canceled by the individual clinics.

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.

Legislative Update

Good morning, Nebraska!

We kicked the week off with LB9 on Tuesday in front of the Urban Affairs committee. 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 or NRD land in the middle of a potential annexation area. This would allow those cities to “cross” over NRD or Federal land. The special valuation provisions make it so rural landowners who are being annexed in aren’t “punished” by the annexation by a change in their valuation. If passed, this bill will change the future path of growth and economic development for the Bellevue community for the better.

Next week, I have one bill hearing, on Wednesday, February 17, in front of the Health and Human Services committee. LB554 is my third interstate compact bill this session. LB554 adopts the Licensed Professional Counselors Interstate Compact in order to create better access for patients, offer telehealth alternatives and remove hurdles for employment for professionals including military spouses and family members. This is a brand new compact, though there are already several states looking to adopt it. Like the others of this kind, it will go “live” when 10 states join. We should be clear that our office also supports reciprocity, but that does not address or military spouse who must move every 2-3 years. We not only want them to be able to work into Nebraska without additional hurdles, but move to their next post and be able to get to work quickly as well. That’s why our office LOVES these compacts and enjoys working with our friends at the DOD on your behalf. every year.

I also received some good news on LB476. That bill will use Nebraska’s existing Stroke System of Care as a foundation to establish and implement an improvement plan for a more comprehensive system for stroke response and treatment. The bill requires DHHS to collaborate with the task force to maintain a statewide stroke data registry using the ‘Get with the Guidelines’ stroke data set provided by the American Heart Association. It was advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee this week to the floor and general file. Hopefully, we’ll be taking it up for debate in front of the entire legislature very soon and help it to become law yet in 2021.

I’ve also been happy to see several bills that I cosponsored get voted out of committee. That includes LB4, which raises the tuition assistance for undergraduate education under the Reserve Tuition Credit from 50 percent to 75 percent. It also removes a restriction that anyone with more than 10 years of military service couldn’t access the credit.

LB255 is another one I’m proud to support as it benefits families of first responders who gave their lives to help others. The bill creates the In the Line Of Duty Compensation Act to provide a one-time death benefit to the family of a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or another first responder who dies in the line of duty.

A reminder that if you want to participate in any of the hearings on my bills, there have been some changes to the way they are carried out this year. Because of the pandemic, Speaker Hilgers would prefer not to pack the room with testifiers but understands it’s a fundamental right to participate in the legislative hearings in Nebraska. To that end, only those who intend to testify on a bill will be allowed to sit in the hearing room. His office set up a system that will allow users to track the hearing online and enter comments on any bill being heard on the Legislature’s website. 

As always the committees are also accepting letters of support or opposition in lieu of testimony. Because of the added stressors that come from all-day hearings, those letters must now be submitted by noon the day before and they must be submitted to specially designated committee emails, rather than the clerk or the chairperson directly. 

In order to see exactly how you can participate in legislative hearings this year, you can go to this link.

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

Head Start Sarpy Accepting Applications
Sarpy County/ESU #3 HEAD START is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 School Year!Head Start has no cost pre-k and early childhood programs for children from birth to age 5.
The only requirement is that families that want to take advantage of this program must live in Sarpy County and meet certain income requirements.
You can apply online at Sarpy Head Start’s official webpage and click on the “apply now” section. If you need assistance, please call 402-597-4982.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department issued an update on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The department has officially entered into Phase 1B where members of the public will begin getting vaccinated.

As is the case everywhere in the state at this point, the health department has started vaccinating the elderly first and is currently working on getting those who are 80 and over, covered. They will then move to 75 and over, then 70 and over, 65 and over and then onto other popular groups. However, the department is also working on getting first responders and educators vaccinated during this phase, though it’s still a lengthy process. The focus, after the aged, is indeed first responders. Then utility workers, homeless shelter employees, corrections officers, and then teachers.

If you do have any questions about the process the department is using in order to get people vaccinated, there is a number you can call to get assistance. 402-339-4334 and press option 1. This number has information about what tier the area is in, what to do if you’ve been called about an appointment to vaccinate, and other details.

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. Keep in mind, tens of thousands of Nebraskans have already registered so they have a long list to work through and review. Still, it’s better to register now and wait, than wait to get registered.

Sen. Carol Blood

District 3
Room 10th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2627
Email: cblood@leg.ne.gov
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