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It’s that time of the decade again and while many are dividing perennials this fall, your state legislators are reshaping legislative districts. Redistricting can be complicated so I hope to make the process conceivable.
What Is It? Redistricting is the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts. It happens every 10 years based on the census. Redistricting determines where you vote and who’s on the ballot, and most importantly how our voices are heard.
Why Does It Happen? To fulfill the premise of equal representation as the constitution requires by keeping districts as equal as possible in population. How and where district lines are drawn can shape communities’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.
Why It Matters? Redistricting can dramatically impact the fairness of our political process.This matters because if not careful, it could leave states vulnerable to gerrymandering. Unfair redistricting (or gerrymandering) has negative ramifications such as impacting racial fairness by diluting the power of minority voters and giving an unfair advantage to one political party in a certain district.
Redistricting in Nebraska: Our legislature’s return for a special session starting today is dedicated to redistricting. The past couple of weeks has included the Legislative Research Division organizing data from the Census Bureau and the Redistricting Committee preparing recommendations they will present in hearings in each Congressional district. District remapping also includes our U.S. House of Representative districts, regent districts for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, the Nebraska Supreme Court, the Nebraska Public Service Commission and State Board of Education.
Hearings will be as follows:
Tuesday, September 14 at 1:30pm at Central Community College, 3134 W. Hwy 34, Room 555, Health Science Education Center, Grand Island, NE
Wednesday, September 15 at 9:00am at the Nebraska State Capitol Bldg. Room 1524, Lincoln
Thursday, September 16 at 10 a.m. at the Scott Conference Center, 6450 Pine St. in Omaha
The Redistricting Committee website that gives further information on procedures and how to comment is found at: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/red/
Press Conference No Funding for Children with Disabilities Again This Year
Last week, a small group of legislators killed LB 376, a bill I introduced to create a Medicaid waiver, called a Family Support Waiver, to support children with Developmental Disabilities. The bill would reduce the number of individuals on the A&D waiting list for developmental disability services that now has over 3,000 people. Wait time is 6-8 years on average and is radically growing. Because of the long-term critical underfunding and a service model that has not been updated for decades, Nebraska families with disabled children have struggled greatly.
The Family Support Waiver could make would help families provide care at home with services designed to help the disabled child develop to their fullest potential. For some, that would eventually mean being able to live independently. This is already a federal program available for state participation that includes a federal matching amount. I had worked with Senator Stinner to limit the fiscal impact of the bill and identify the funding in this year’s budget. The senators who filibustered the bill ignored the fact that the money is available and Appropriations Chairman Stinner had agreed.
This fight has brought a lot of light to the issue and has solidified my resolve. I will continue to fight for these kids and families who desperately need our help. The link above is a press release the ARC of Nebraska will be releasing. To continue to bring light to the people who need this funding, they are hosting a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. Please clink the link to learn more.
Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, Nebraska Legislature 402-471-2617
Newly proposed regulation changes relating to childcare centers and certain schools or school programs has garnered a lot of comments. These proposed administrative regulations are in response to FEDERAL law and not as a result of any bill passed by the Nebraska Legislature. The federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 requires DHHS to develop a state plan that includes group size limits for specific age populations, as determined by the State. The group size limit is in addition to provider-to-child ratios. The federal law requires A PLAN but does not require certain ratio or size limits. The state can alter those limits in their state plan.
A public hearing on these proposed regulations was held on May 19th. My staff attended the hearing and I’ve been in contact with local representatives from some of the affected programs. While the deadline for public comment has passed, the department has indicated because of the large amount of feedback, it will continue to take comments but has asked that those comments are submitted ASAP. Any comments should be sent to: DHHS.Regulations@nebraska.gov.
Also, there will be another public hearing on this matter and another opportunity for parents and providers to weigh in on the proposed regulations.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
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