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A few weeks ago, Senator Tony Vargas and his wife, Lauren Micek Vargas, posted a public video with information about the condition of his parents, Lidia and Antonio Vargas, who had both been diagnosed with coronavirus. Lidia (71) and Antonio (72), who immigrated to the United States from Peru in the 1970’s, live in Long Island, NY where Senator Vargas grew up. His mother was able to remain quarantined at home and has since recovered.
His father, with more severe symptoms, became a patient at an intensive care unit at a local hospital. Antonio was in critical condition and on a ventilator for 31 days until he passed away on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 4:17 a.m. ET.
“My father has always been a source of quiet strength for our family. He has always been a fighter and, for the last month, fought for his life, to overcome this disease. Words cannot describe what this loss means for me, my mother and brothers, and all of our family and friends here in the U.S. and in Peru,” said Vargas.
Senator Vargas would like to remind the public that COVID-19 cases in Nebraska are continuing to rise and that we all must continue to be cautious, especially for our most vulnerable populations. “This is deeply personal for me. I don’t want another family to go through what we are experiencing right now. Please, if you can, continue to stay home, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a mask in public. If you have symptoms, call a healthcare provider and get tested right away. By doing this, we have the opportunity to prevent this tragedy for others and stop this virus from spreading even further.”
“And to all our elected, community, public health, and medical leaders across the state, please take every precaution and step to protect the health and well-being of Nebraska’s working families, especially the workers on our front lines, including healthcare professionals and food processing and meatpacking plant workers.”
Learn what it’s like to serve as a state senator! The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.
The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators, staff and lobbyists. Bill topics are based on legislation considered during the most recent legislative session. From driving laws to the death penalty, topics selected for the legislature are diverse and engaging.
Legislative activities are conducted at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in the historic Warner Chamber, which was home to the Nebraska Senate until the state consolidated to a one-house legislature in 1937.
The youth legislature is organized by the Nebraska State 4-H Office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office youth development program. The Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature, through the Unicameral Information Office, serves as a technical consultant for the Unicameral Youth Legislature.
Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.
It’s so important for all of us to keep up-to-date on the latest updates about COVID-19 / coronavirus. Our local public health departments are doing all they can to keep us informed and work towards identifying and containing cases. This year I was proud to lead the fight for an increase in funding for our 18 public health departments — and it’s even more critical now than I knew it would be when I introduced the proposal in January. As Vice Chair of the Executive Board and a member of our Appropriations Committee, I’ll be working with other legislative leaders towards ensuring we are doing all we can to keep our communities safe and healthy. You can find the latest info about coronavirus below.
Lincoln, Neb. — Today, three senators from Omaha introduced four bills (LBs 1037, 1038, 1039, and 1040) to address the lack of access to healthy, affordable foods for workers, families, and children across Nebraska.
“It’s hard to reconcile the fact that 200,000 Nebraskans struggle with food insecurity when they’re living in America’s breadbasket,” said Senators Hunt, Vargas, and Cavanaugh in a joint statement. “Even in a state with expanses of farmland and ranches, many families are worried about how to feed their kids. Every hungry family, every hungry child is relying on answers from our state government.”
LB1040 from Senator Vargas (District 7) would appropriate money to the Department of Agriculture to manage and grow Double Up Food Bucks, a program that doubles the value of federal nutrition (SNAP or food stamps) benefits spent at participating markets and grocery stores. The Double Up program began in Lincoln in 2017, and has since grown to nine locations and benefited more than 700 families. Double Up is currently managed by Nebraska Extension with help from the Department of Agriculture.
“Double Up Food Bucks has been an incredibly successful program with a huge impact for families and farmers over the past few years. LB1040 will grow that program while helping people bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables and supporting local farmers,” said Senator Vargas.
Senator Hunt’s (District 8) LB1038 would remove SNAP restrictions on an individual with three or more felony convictions for possession or use of a controlled substance if they participate in a substance abuse program. The bill would remove a major barrier to successful reintegration for formerly incarcerated people, while reducing hunger for the individuals and their families that are negatively affected by this restriction. LB1037 would ensure that eligible children aren’t removed from benefits due to someone in the household being disqualified. Under the current SNAP system, if one person in a household is disqualified from participation in the program, the entire family loses access.
“Over 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons every year who face monumental barriers to attaining employment and housing. Restricting access to basic necessities for these populations perpetuates the cycle of poverty and increases rates of recidivism.” said Senator Hunt. “Additionally, Nebraska’s current rules around SNAP qualification exclude children who live in a household with an adult who may not qualify. Children shouldn’t go hungry because our state hasn’t adopted this common sense, compassionate approach.”
LB1039 from Senator Cavanaugh (District 6) would create the Hunger-Free Schools Program, ensuring that every public school student in Nebraska is provided with breakfast and lunch during the school day at no cost to their family. Participating schools will be reimbursed by the Nebraska Department of Education for the total difference between their expenses and federal reimbursement. Schools will also maximize their participation in federal reimbursement programs such as the Community Eligibility Provision, bringing Nebraskans’ tax dollars back to Nebraska.
“With over 80,000 children in Nebraska facing food insecurity, meals at school are one of the most effective tools available to ensure they get the nutrition they need and deserve,” Senator Cavanaugh said. “Studies have shown that well-fed students are well-performing students, receiving better grades and better health. By making these meals freely available to all public school children, regardless of income, we can eliminate needless bureaucracy, better prepare our children for educational success, and let our educational professionals focus on education.”
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
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