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Machaela Cavanaugh

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh

District 6

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Arbor Lodge Outing


Please follow the link to see their flyer.

The current care gap that excludes families that include children with severe disabilities has led to Nebraska having the 5th highest cost of services in the nation. We end up paying for the most expensive services.  This waiver will help us bring down the average cost of services from $63,000 per individual to a $12,000 cap.  It may look like new money but really this is just changing where we would spend the money — from emergency services that cost us on average over $130,000 per individual per year to ensuring these children get the proper early and preventative services in their home instead of in an emergency room.

I believe these changes will decrease the number of children currently on the waiting list for home and community-based services. It will also provide support to family caregivers, allowing them to remain in the workforce. Remaining in the workforce means the family and the state can benefit from the family caregivers’ private health insurance as a first payer, thereby lessening the demand on Medicaid. 

I introduced the bill last year. On general file, or first round of debate, the bill had good support. On select file, even though it was a committee priority bill and was already calculated into the budget, the bill was filibustered and failed to advance. This year, I gave the bill my personal priority to get it back on the agenda. After some negotiation and an amendment, LB 376 has advanced to final reading.

LB 251 and LB 1082 both expand opportunities for organ donation. Marigold is a young lady who is actively supporting the bills. In this photo, Ms. Helvey and Senator Machaela Cavanaugh share a few moments in the Capitol.

I would like to thank the many people who have contacted me in support of restoring the Mother’s Room. It has been very gratifying to hear the passionate voices of so many. I can’t thank you enough!

For those who may not know, I was instrumental in 2019, my first year at the Legislature, in getting a room set up for pregnant women and nursing moms to go to rest and to nurse a baby or pump breast milk. A former office on the second floor of the Capitol was remodeled with private donations to provide a sink, changing table and furnishings for mothers and babies.  At the time, I was a nursing my youngest child.

I recently learned from one of the nursing moms that works in the building that it is no longer available. When I investigated I found out it is now being used as an office again during the current stage of the heating and air conditioning upgrade. I was, and remain, outraged! That room was customized for a specific purpose with private donations! There are other options for the one person that needed an office.  In fact, I vacated my private office to be used for that person and I’ve now set up an office in a cubicle next to my staff.

Although the office assigned to me remains empty and the person remains in the Mother’s Room, the Chair of the Executive Board has informed the Legislature that it will be returned to use as a Mother’s Room as soon as possible. For now, the mamava pod on the first floor is an option but be aware, nursing moms, there is no way to wash your hands or wash the equipment so in my opinion is not adequate. If you have problems using the code (provided by staff at the info desk) or the app, Security has a key. Please let me know of any problems you encounter using the pod.


Support for UNL student safety
August 27th, 2021

Over the past two evenings, thousands of students have publicly shown their criticism of the University of Nebraska- Lincoln administration’s handling of sexual assault cases on campus, including a lack of support for survivors of sexual violence. It is clear that University leadership has already lost the trust of a significant portion of the student body on basic issues of safety on campus. We empathize with these students and their advocacy, and are deeply concerned that these issues have been of repeated public concern over the last several years.

Several Senators have written Chancellor Green. The full letter is linked below.


Senator Letter August 26, 2021

Special Session planned for September

Speaker Mike Hilgers has announced a plan to schedule a Special Session for the Legislature to address redistricting from September 13 through September 30th. 

The finalized census data in a preliminary format is expected in mid-August. After receipt of this data, the Legislative Research Division will need approximately two weeks to re-format the data into a useable form. This time line leaves two weeks for the Redistricting Committee to work with the finalized data to prepare proposed maps and draft legislation prior to the start of the special session. The law needs passed and the maps provided to the Secretary of State prior to October 1. This will allow the Secretary of State and local officials to have time to prepare for the 2022 elections. For instance, voting precincts cannot cross a newly drawn legislative district boundary, so depending on the newly drawn districts some voting precincts will need to be redrawn by county election officials next fall. 

The special session is limited to the purpose outlined in the call of the session, and no bills introduced outside the scope of the call will be considered. Specifically, and pursuant to the Nebraska Constitution, the Legislature’s redistricting responsibilities include redrawing districts for the Legislature, the Supreme Court, the University Board of Regents, the Public Service Commission, and the State Board of Education. The federal Constitution and federal law also place with the state legislatures the responsibility of redistricting for members of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In addition to addressing redistricting legislation, the Legislature will be confirming gubernatorial appointments made between the end of our session in May and the beginning of the special session. Traditionally, the Legislature has always conducted confirmation hearings during a special session. While not specifically mentioned in special session calls, Attorney General Opinions hold that gubernatorial appointments fall within an administrative function of the Legislature, and thus, do not need to specifically be mentioned in the call. In addition to confirmation hearings and reports, standing committees may utilize the first few days to continue their interim work on study resolutions and to informally work on carryover legislation from the first session. No official action can be taken on any carryover legislation during the special session.


Page applications available to all Nebraska college students


The application process for the Page Program is now available to any Nebraska college

student who may be interested. The deadline for submitting page applications and letters

of recommendation for the 2022 legislative session will be Friday, October 1 at 5:00 p.m.

The page selection committee will meet in October to select individuals to fill those

Positions. For more information.


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:

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.

I’ve designated Legislative Resolution 29 as my priority for this year. LR 29 will create the Eastern Service Area Child Welfare Contract Special Investigative and Oversight Committee of the Legislature. 

The standing committee, Health and Human Services, will work collaboratively with the LR 29 Committee in studying the child welfare contract, the RFP (Request for Proposal) process and contract decision making process. The committees will also study the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Administrative Services with respect to the award, implementation, and oversight of the contract. Findings and recommendations will be issued no later than December 1, 2021.  

With allegations of financial mismanagement and poor performance of the current contractor, I felt this was of utmost importance. Taking care of these vulnerable children IS of utmost importance. The contractor, Saint Francis Ministries, has commented to the Health and Human Services Committee, that their original application and bid for the $147 Million services contract was fraudulent. The latest CEO of that company used that very word in their report. So, why should the State of Nebraska continue to throw money at the contract in hopes of improving performance? In addition to the original amount, HHS issued an “emergency” contract with an additional amount that makes their payments even higher. Why? Because until other plans can be made and implemented to take care of the 2500 children involved, there is no one else to do it. The decades-long experiment in Nebraska with child welfare privatization has proven over and over that the process is fraught with problems.  

Children in the eastern service area deserve better. Let’s see if we can get to the root of the problem.

A related bill is LB 428. Section 2 of AM 566 requires the Legislature to complete an evaluation of the “pilot program” of privatization of child welfare case management services in the Eastern Service Area by December 31, 2021. The bill would authorize the Legislature to hire a consultant to assist in completing the evaluation. LB 428 is currently on Select File, or the second round of debate. It is a Health and Human Services Committee bill that is very likely to pass. 

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh

District 6
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2714
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