NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Megan Hunt

Sen. Megan Hunt

District 8

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 mhunt@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 5th, 2022

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 8th 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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Megan Hunt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

Senator Megan Hunt Introduces Legislative Resolution 269CA to Establish an Independent Redistricting Commission

 

Lincoln, NE— 1.6.22 State Senator Megan Hunt introduced LR 269CA today to amend the Nebraska Constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission, to be appointed by the Legislature. If passed, the proposal will be added to the November 2022 ballot for the voters of Nebraska to affirm. Recent redistricting efforts were overshadowed by partisan games and the process largely obscured from public view. Nebraskans deserve for this process to be placed in the hands of people who can take on this responsibility in a transparent and impartial manner.

This proposal would establish a politically balanced nine-member independent citizens commission to set district lines.  It would prohibit anyone who has been a lobbyist, elected official, party leader,  or candidate in the past five years and their family members from serving on the commission.  Members of the Legislature would screen Commission members.  The Commission would recommend a plan for district boundaries to the Legislature for approval.  This way, the Legislature still plays an oversight role in the process, but there is a citizen arm of checks and balances to make the process fairer.  The proposal is modeled after the 2020 Ballot Initiative Petition that was filed, but which did not obtain the necessary signatures to get on the ballot due to the COVID19 pandemic.  

“It’s time to infuse more democracy into Nebraska’s redistricting process – and we need to do it while those of us with recent knowledge of the process are still in the body,” Hunt said. “When Nebraskans cast their ballots, they need to know their vote counts and their voice matters. I am committed to ensuring voters can pick their leaders, not the other way around.”

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

Senator Megan Hunt Introduces Legislative Bill 835 to Allow 529 NEST College Saving Plans to Pay Student Loans

 

Lincoln, NE— 1.6.22 Today, Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 835 to provide an option that could help relieve student debtors’ loan balances:  the 529 NEST college saving plan. Currently, 529 plans allow families to contribute money to an account, which grows on a tax deferred basis and can be withdrawn tax-free if it’s used to pay for qualified education expenses, like tuition or textbooks.  In 2019, the federal SECURE Act created new flexibilities for 529 college savings plans, including one that allows these plans to be used to make student loan payments. However, the state’s existing statute prohibits Nebraskans from utilizing the newly granted 529 options. LB 835 will permit 529 planholders to use account assets to pay up to $10,000 in student loans per beneficiary to help. 

Data from the Department of Education show nearly a quarter-million Nebraskans have student loan debt, owing $7.7 billion to the federal government as of September 2020. Harmonizing state statute to match federal statute is not only good governance, but provides a small way to help address the rising national student debt crisis.  This is good news for parents and grandparents who work and save to set money aside for their child or grandchild’s education.  If 529 assets can be used to pay tuition, it makes sense that they can be used to pay student loans for past tuition as well.  

“Student debt holds entrepreneurs back from starting businesses, holds families back from buying homes, holds workers back from saving for retirement and holds our economy back,” Hunt said. “It’s time to start looking at realistic ways to address the crushing debt students live most of their lives with. Our economy isn’t money. It’s people. That should be our focus.” 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

Senator Megan Hunt Introduces Legislative Bill 834 to Eliminate the Disability Subminimum Wage

 

Lincoln, NE— 1.6.22 Today, Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 834, which would eliminate the outdated statute that allows employers to pay disabled employees well below minimum wage. Under an 80-year-old federal provision, states can legally pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage based on their perceived productivity. While this law was initially well-intended to encourage differently-abled individuals to find work, today it keeps workers earning poverty wages and segregated from their communities. Dialogue around disability rights has changed since Nebraska passed the law allowing this, and we now know that “sheltered workshops” do not help move people with disabilities toward greater personal and financial independence. 

According to data released by the Department of Labor, some workers compensated under this exception to federal minimum wage laws are paid as little as 4 cents an hour. Data from Disability Rights Nebraska 2021 show that there are 12 organizations in Nebraska that pay 178 people a subminimum wage

“We’ve moved far beyond the days of this antiquated law, living in a world where we all know people with disabilities that hold jobs alongside people without disabilities and perform them well.  And yet, some people with disabilities in Nebraska are still being paid cents on the dollar,” Hunt said. “The work of disabled people is valuable and they should be compensated as such.  The shameful current practice of setting disability wages based on a worker’s efficiency and ability is exploitive, discriminatory, and dehumanizing. People with disabilities can be thriving, independent contributors to their communities when we pay them accordingly.”

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LINCOLN, Neb. 1.4.22 – Today, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt and reproductive health advocates announced a new effort to expand access to abortion care in Nebraska. Sen. Hunt said the effort will focus on three bills when the Nebraska Legislature reconvenes, two of which she plans to introduce this year and one that will carry over from last year. Local medical professionals and civil rights advocates from the ACLU of Nebraska, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Women’s Fund of Omaha attended the press conference in support of the proposed legislation.

Sen. Hunt is proposing a repeal of the state restriction that forces Nebraskans with private insurance to purchase additional optional coverage for abortion care (LB 715). She will also seek changes to allow Certified Nurse-Midwives, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and physician assistants to provide abortion care (LB 716).

The third effort focuses on passage of state bill LB276, which carries over from the 2021 session. The bill would repeal Nebraska’s ban on telehealth for medication abortion. Nebraska’s telehealth ban requires patients to take pills in the presence of a physician, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to permanently allow medication abortion by mail.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a national reproductive and sexual health research and policy organization, states have passed 1,336 restrictions on abortion since Roe was decided in 1973 and a record 106 abortion restrictions have passed in 2021 alone. Access to abortion in Nebraska is already highly restricted and the Guttmacher Institute categorizes the state as hostile to reproductive rights.

Today’s press conference comes at a point of national uncertainty surrounding the future of reproductive rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of related precedent. Challenges to Texas’ 6-week abortion ban otherwise known as SB8, the most restrictive ban in the nation, are also pending in the courts.

As a mom, I know firsthand that the decision about whether and when to become a parent is one of the most consequential life decisions we make. That’s why I believe so strongly that Nebraskans should have the freedom to make their own choices about what is best for their lives and their families, including decisions about abortion care.

Put simply, decisions about reproductive health care aren’t mine to make. They belong to Nebraskans, not the government.

Abortion is safe and legal in Nebraska, but lawmakers who are opposed to those rights have added layers of medically unnecessary barriers that make the procedure harder to access than it should be. These barriers fall hardest on Nebraskans who are financially struggling, most often young Nebraskans, rural Nebraskans, and Nebraskans of color.

Every time I speak with local health care professionals who provide abortion care, I hear a similar story: Barriers related to cost and travel are taking decisions out of Nebraskans’ hands, risking their health, and sometimes putting them on track to be pushed into poverty or further into poverty. Although abortion is a right, some Nebraskans effectively don’t have access, so the right means nothing to them.

This is unacceptable, but not unsolvable. In the 2022 legislative session, my colleagues must join me in expanding access to care rather than joining the stampede of other state legislative bodies that are tripping over themselves to take away people’s rights and tie doctors’ hands.

Many Nebraskans don’t know about our medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion care until they or someone they love is in need of abortion care. For example, currently, you must purchase an optional rider from your private insurance if you need abortion care coverage in most situations. This can result in unexpected bills totaling thousands of dollars. Legislation I’m introducing this session could change that.

I’m also seeking an end to Nebraska’s inexplicable and unnecessary ban on telehealth for medication abortion. Omaha World-Herald readers may have seen the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration is permanently authorizing medication abortion by mail. This is an exceedingly safe two-pill procedure legal in 31 states, but state law currently denies telehealth options to Nebraskans by requiring them to be in the same room as a provider, even if it’s just to swallow a pill and go home. A bill I introduced last year, LB 276, would repeal this requirement and bring abortion care in line with every other treatment offered in this state. It is important for all Nebraskans, but especially those in rural communities who cannot access care close to home.

Finally, we need to recognize that given the safety of abortion care, many duties that are performed by physicians can also be safely done by our skilled licensed advance practice registered nurses, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants. I will be introducing a bill modifying requirements to allow these practitioners to better support patient access.

I hope other state senators will join me and the majority of Nebraskans who support these measures and will reject any proposal that would add new restrictions.

The common theme with all of this is that a patient’s health should drive medical decisions, not politics. These issues belong between Nebraskans, their families, and their doctors. We must trust Nebraskans to make the right decisions for their personal circumstances with the guidance and support of medical providers they trust. I believe that to my core and I know I’m in good company. According to the Pew Research Center, most Nebraskans oppose outlawing abortion.

None of us can walk in each other’s shoes. Nebraskans believe in respecting others’ privacy, dignity, and bodily autonomy. We need to shop shaming and stigmatizing and start doing better to ensure every Nebraskan and their rights are respected.

We must do better, and I believe that we can.

Megan Hunt of Omaha represents District 8 in the Nebraska Legislature.

Intern With My Office!
September 28th, 2021

Apply here!

Interns will gain a unique, first-hand understanding of the Nebraska Unicameral operations and the legislative process in a fast-paced environment. Internship applications are due Friday, November 19, 2021, by midnight. The selected applicants will begin their internship concurrently with the 2022 legislative session on January 5th.

Responsibilities may include:
– Attending committee hearings
– Drafting correspondence
– Conducting legislative research
– Event coordinating
– Bill proposal research
– General office management
– Social media engagement
– Basic photography and videography

Requirements:
– Current undergraduate student
– Good verbal and written communication skills
– Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
– Self-motivated
– Ability to work ~10 hours/week (flexible)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

Senator Megan Hunt Receives The Council of State Governments 20 Under 40 Leadership Award

Lincoln, NE— 9.15.21 The Council of State Governments is excited to recognize Senator Megan Hunt as a recipient of the 2021 CSG 20 Under 40 Leadership Award. This annual honor highlights the outstanding work of 20 up-and-coming elected and appointed officials from across the country who not only exemplify strong leadership skills but have also demonstrated a true commitment to serving the citizens of their states.

“The state officials named to the 2021 class of The Council of State Governments 20 Under 40 Leadership Award represent a broad cross-section of the exceptional leaders that successfully govern our states,” said David Adkins, CSG executive director/CEO. “Those recognized this year come from diverse backgrounds, different political parties, different branches of state government and from every region of our country, but they share a singular commitment to make a difference for those they serve.” Leaders from across the country including the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories were nominated for this year’s leadership award class.

”It has been an honor to represent my constituents these past 3 years,” Hunt said. “But our work is not done yet. I ran for office because I know that we can do more collectively rather than individually. I believe that when we work together, we can build a stronger future for all of us. I am proud to play a role in finding solutions to build a better, more equitable world” 

Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments is a nonpartisan organization that brings state officials together to learn from each other and to craft solutions to today’s public policy challenges.

“The hard-working leaders recognized with the CSG 20 Under 40 Leadership Award have demonstrated the ability to productively collaborate to achieve consensus and produce results,” Adkins said. “While they may be young, their public service honors the oldest and best values of our democracy.”

Award recipients will be honored at the 2021 CSG National Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico in December.

To learn more about the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award, visit web.csg.org/20-40/. To learn more about The Council of State Governments, the nation’s only nonpartisan organization serving all three branches of state government, visit csg.org

Congratulations to these 20 leaders:

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LB 260 Signed into Law!
May 26th, 2021
My priority bill, LB 260, was signed into law by the Governor. This means it will take effect three calendar months following the adjournment of the Legislature, which is Thursday. So as of late August, Nebraskans who have been in the workforce but have a temporary gap in employment are able to apply for the unemployment benefits they are entitled to. I am proud to have 25 cosponsors on this bill and a broad base of bipartisan support.
LB 260 adds “caring for a family member with a serious health condition” to the list of reasons that are considered “good cause for voluntarily leaving employment” in our Employment Security Law. In other words, it would allow people who have made every effort to preserve employment but who have to leave work for temporary family caregiving needs to be eligible for unemployment if and when they are ready and willing to look for new work.

As is often the case, important bills like this often take several years of work and strategizing and compromising before we get the reward of seeing them passed. I’d like to thank Senator Sue Crawford (who introduced the bill before me), The AARP of Nebraska, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Nebraska AFL-CIO, and the many advocates and individuals who testified, called, and emailed Legislators about the need for LB 260. I’m also grateful to my colleagues across the political spectrum who cosponsored and supported the bill, and so proud that we passed it “clean” (meaning, without an amendment)!
After the year we have had, it’s been my goal to do something that will provide some tangible relief to Nebraskans. More Nebraskans than ever this past year have had to make the difficult choice to stay home with a loved one who is seriously ill. With the passage of LB 260, Nebraska is officially recognizing family caregiving as a legitimate reason for leaving employment. Benefits are available only for a limited time up to a limited amount while the worker seeks to rejoin the workforce – just like it is for any other applicant. Over half of the states have passed a law like this, and I’m proud to have Nebraska join their ranks. To the caregivers – we see you, and recognize the sacrifices you make. I hope that this can help those in the future who face similar circumstances, in some small way.
May Town Hall Recording
May 26th, 2021

View the Town Hall

Listen in as I provide a summary of the 2021 legislative session, share an update on the bills being debated, discuss the status of the bills I have introduced, and answer any questions you may have. Just click above or below to view a recording of the town hall.

Watch it here

Originally recorded on May 22, 2021

Sen. Megan Hunt

District 8
Room 1523
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2722
Email: mhunt@leg.ne.gov
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