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Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 7th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Tony Vargas
In 2018, Nebraskans expanded Medicaid, ensuring that more than 90,000 neighbors, family members, friends, and citizens across our great state receive access to the basic right of healthcare. Though the measure gained support in both rural and urban areas, Douglas County, and in particular, District 7, favored expansion by some of the widest margins in the state. I look forward to fulfilling my promise to fight for District 7 and ensuring that our community has access to affordable healthcare.
Our district has the highest rate of uninsured people of any in the state. For too long, healthcare costs have been too high and unaffordable. We have seen thousands of hardworking Nebraskans left behind by insurance companies, either unable to afford care or turned away for no fault of their own. Medicaid expansion will not only bring down the cost of healthcare, but will also provide 90,000 more Nebraskans with the safety, comfort, and dignity that comes with the basic right of healthcare.
As Nebraskans, we understand the importance of looking out for another and building strong bonds with our neighbors. I am so proud that our state took that next step, and now, it is the Legislature’s turn to fulfill their promise to Nebraskans. Though Governor Ricketts mentioned funding for Medicaid expansion in his State of the State address on Tuesday, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will fight to guarantee that Medicaid expansion is fully funded and recognized as the will of the people, and not at the expense of other critical programs like education and services for children and seniors.
In other news, I have dropped two more bills so far this week. LB 292 will help to fund the Microsoft Imagine Academy, a program designed to give students and teachers the training necessary to advance in a tech-driven economy. I also introduced LB 310, which would expedite the process of applying for a Historic Tax Credit. This tax credit benefits rural and urban communities alike, including District 7. The Historic Tax Credit program is crucial for ensuring that communities across our state maintain their beautiful histories.. Over the next few days, I will be introducing several more, so keep a lookout here!
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of my second session representing District 7 in the Legislature. I am so excited to get back to work on behalf of the wonderful people of District 7.
On the first day of the legislative session, I was honored to be elected by my peers to serve as Vice Chair of the Executive Board, a role that will require the continuation of the bipartisan, consensus-forming approach that I have taken during my first two years in office.
Before discussing what my plans are for this legislative session, I want to take a moment to revisit all that we have accomplished in just two years. My work has been marked with a commitment to developing positive working relationships with Senators from every corner of our state and from a wide range of ideological perspectives. Together, we have been able to pass legislation and a budget that is fair to as many of our Nebraska neighbors and communities as possible.
I have been honored to serve on the Appropriations Committee under Chairman Stinner and Vice Chair Bolz, two great leaders, which has given me critical experience in having difficult conversations to resolve differences and find compromises to balance our budget and make smart investments for our future while best serving Nebraskans.
Last session, I introduced and unanimously passed my priority bill on payday lending reform, LB194. Working together with the Banking Committee and a bipartisan coalition of urban and rural senators, we came together around a common goal that is supported by nearly 90% of Nebraskans. Together we took a pragmatic approach to tackle this important issue and began to bring more economic fairness to working families in our communities.
My values driven and consensus seeking philosophy has also been demonstrated through my work as Vice Chair of the Legislature’s Planning Committee and as Co-Chair of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, where I have worked together with stakeholders on common sense, evidence based, cost-efficient juvenile justice reform. Just last year we took a huge step in child welfare and passed my bill to end detention for children under the age of 12 for good with a supermajority vote.
We are currently in the process of introducing bills (you can keep an eye on introduced legislation here), and on the second day of the session, I introduced LB50 & LB51. LB50 is a bill that will adjust state income tax brackets, creating an additional bracket of 7.84% for those making more than $100,000, and levy an additional 1% tax for those making more than $1 million and 2% for those making more than $2 million. I have always been an advocate for economic fairness, and my goal with this bill is to alleviate the tax burden placed on low income and middle class families and more evenly place it on our state’s highest earners. LB51 upholds free market principles and consumer choice by allowing Tesla to sell their automobiles in Nebraska for the first time. Over the next eight days, I plan to introduce many more bills that are important to the people of District 7.
On a personal note, the next couple of months will become even more exciting as my wife, Lauren, and I welcome our first child in the spring. Though nerve-wracking, I am so grateful to be able to bring our baby girl into a community as wonderful, loving, and caring as District 7.
All the best,
The 2018 legislative session is officially in full swing! This year I’ve introduced 19 bills, which is keeping my office very busy. My legislation this year spans topics from ensuring equal access to education for deaf and hard of hearing students to opening our state’s market to new and emerging businesses, and from reinforcing worker protections to restricting the use of juvenile detention. Below you can learn a little bit more about the bills I’ve introduced this year:
Reinforces and clarifies existing law that guarantees qualified education interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing students
Prohibits contractors and business with unpaid fines for violating the Employee Misclassification Act to the Department of Labor from entering into contracts with political subdivisions
Updates terminology in statutes relating to marriage to align with federal law
Modernizes language relating to elected and government officials
LB 826 –
Reaffirms and clarifies existing law that permits judges to make findings concerning the wellbeing of juveniles
LB 904 –
Closes a loophole that would allow payday lenders to obtain a new license as a credit service organization, which are intended to help improve a consumer’s credit
LB 922 –
Creates a new program that would extend health care benefits to all Nebraska children, regardless of immigration status
LB 974 –
Prohibits political affiliation, demographic information other than population figures, and results of previous elections from being considered in the drawing of legislative district boundaries
LB 999 –
Provides timelines and clarifications around student disciplinary actions and allows students to complete coursework during suspension or expulsion
LB 1074 –
Adjusts income tax bracket by lowering taxes on middle income earners and creating additional brackets for higher earners with increased rates of 1-3%. Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit from 10% to 12.5%, providing additional tax relief for low-income earners
LB 1082 –
Requires law enforcement agencies who enter into agreements to enforce federal immigration law to provide notice to the political subdivision and the public
LB 1101 –
Increases the reimbursement rate for short-term residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and substance use assessment for behavioral health patients exiting correctional facilities
LB 1105 –
Changes the duration of a payday loan from a maximum of 34 days to a minimum of 34 days
LB 1110 –
Clarifies the intent of the Legislature to have public school and district scores reported annually
LB 1112 –
Restricts the use of juvenile detention and creates opportunity for alternative, community based resources
LB 1134 –
Expands upon federal law by requiring businesses who are closing or laying off more than 25 employees to notify the employees and the Nebraska Department of Labor at least 60 days in advance
LB 1135 –
Creates additional pathways to obtaining a Nebraska Teaching Certificate to address the shortage of full time and substitute teachers that exist across the state
Increases Legislator salaries from $12,000 per year to 50% of the Census-reported median income, to be recalculated every two years
Want to join my team here in the Legislature?
Applications for internships for the 2018 Legislative Session are now open in the following areas: social media, advocacy, and policy.
My office is willing to work with students to obtain class credit, if desired. Internships will begin on or before Wednesday, January 3, 2018, depending on the availability of selected interns.
On Saturday, January 28th, I held my first town hall at the South Omaha Public Library. I was so glad to be able to talk with many of you about the work my colleagues and I are doing in Lincoln and hear your questions and concerns.
At the town hall, I handed out a survey to gauge support on both the bills that I have personally introduced as well as a handful of other key issues facing the legislature. That survey is now available online in English and Spanish. If you were not able to attend the town hall, I hope you will take a few minutes to let me know your thoughts.