NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. 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 8th, 2020

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

Today, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act. LB 962, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, provides a path for college athletes to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness rights.

“With more than twenty-five state looking at this issue, Nebraska has an opportunity to be a leader in providing economic freedoms to college athletes. College athletes are the only students on campuses across Nebraska that are prevented from earning money from their reputation as an athlete, or from their own skill and talent,” Hunt said. “The vast majority of college athletes, even those with scholarships, struggle to make ends meet because unlike their fellow students, they can’t leverage their skills to earn a living. LB 962 is our chance to align these athletes with the rest of the student population and restore their right to earn a wage for their talent and skills.”

The bill provides for all student-athletes enrolled in public and private four-year colleges and universities in Nebraska to earn money from endorsements, sponsorships, and any other activities related to their athletic skills,” Hunt said. “Under current law, athletes cannot participate in the modern economy and are barred from doing things as simple as posting a sponsored post on social media or coaching private lessons in the off-season.” The delayed implementation date of 2023 provides ample time for colleges and the NCAA to prepare for this change.

Nebraska the third state in the nation to enact name, image, and likeness rights legislation. “We are already leading on this issue, exemplified by the University of Nebraska which is already at the forefront of providing a name, image, and likeness program for athletes,” Hunt said. “By restoring college athletes’ rights, we’re sending a clear message to students across the country: you’re welcome in Nebraska.”

Dear friends and neighbors,

Today I requested State Auditor Charlie Janssen to perform a financial audit and investigation of the operation of Test Nebraska in order to ensure that the state funds are being properly and judiciously spent.

TestNebraska is comprised of a number of out of state companies with little prior experience in mass testing, contact tracing, or pandemic treatment. TestNebraska promised to administer 3,000 tests a day. However, throughout June, the average daily test rate has been 1,200 – considerably less than half of the stated goal of 3,000 daily tests.

I appreciate that we are in an unprecedented time in our state with respect to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in our current budget situation, a $27 million award with barely any debate and no competitive bidding needs to be looked at closely. In short, I want to know whether Nebraskans are getting their money’s worth and whether the millions we are paying these companies are actually going to testing Nebraskans for COVID-19.

A report generated by the Iowa State Auditor of their similar TestIowa program, which is administered in partnership with the same companies behind TestNebraska, found that TestIowa took “pointless risks” and increased liabilities to the state. Related to the claims of accuracy, in mid-June of 2020 a number of investors sued one of the TestNebraska companies (Co-Diagnostics) in Utah federal court alleging that executives had misrepresented their Logix COVID-19 test as being “100% accurate” and that company directors, officers and scientists “made continual, knowing and willful misstatements” about their COVID-19 test to inflate the Co-Diagnostics’ stock price.

I have urged the State Auditor to consider these areas of focus in any audit performed of Test Nebraska:

  • Is the quantity, or rate, of testing sufficient to justify our state spending this kind of money to TestNebraska
  • Is the quality, or accuracy of the testing similar to or consistent with other testing being done in Nebraska by area hospitals or clinics?
  • What is the actual rate of accuracy of the testing of TestNebraska?
  • What measures or efforts were taken to protect Nebraskan’s private health information that is collected by TestNebraska?
Read the Request to the Nebraska Auditor
 

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov. Please continue to wear a mask, maintain a 6′ social distance between others, and stay home as much as possible. I will continue to do everything I can through policy to keep you and your family safe, but without wider government leadership, you must choose to do what’s best for your own health.

Keep safe,
Meg

Alisha Shelton is the one.
July 19th, 2020

Dear friends and neighbors,

We need to talk about Chris Janicek. It’s time for him to drop out of the race for US Senate. You can read a previous email I sent about him here.

Today, the Nebraska Democratic Party State Central Committee voted to replace Chris Janicek with Alisha Shelton as the Democratic Nominee for U.S. Senate. This is huge! That means she is now the candidate who will officially take Chris Janicek’s place when he steps down.

Chris Janicek made the despicable, likely career-ending choice to sexually harass his staff in a group text message where he explicitly described how one of his staffers should be gang raped. Predictably, as many morally unevolved men do in this scenario, he believed he was making a joke and that we should all forget about it and move on to elect him to the U.S. Senate. That of course is a ridiculously delusional fantasy that Chris holds on to because he is unserious.

When Chris drops out, Alisha Shelton will replace him on the ballot and be the first Black nominee *ever* for U.S. Senate in the history of Nebraska. This is the best-case scenario for voters in Nebraska, who want a credible candidate who represents Nebraska values. For this to happen, Chris must drop out before September 1. Please continue to pressure him to make the right decision.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign and share the formal petition from NDP to request Chris Janicek step down.
2. Tell your family and friends not to support Chris Janicek. You can share these articles with them from the New York Times, which wrote about his sexist and racist behavior.
3. Email Chris Janicek at chrisjanicek@hotmail.com and tell him to step down.
4. Call Chris Janicek at 402-730-9560 and tell him to step down.
5. Boycott and protest outside his business, Cupcake Omaha, until he steps down.
6. Donate to Alisha Shelton

I am calling each of you to step up and show Nebraska that there is no room for sexual harassment and abusive behavior in our leadership, and we do not put values over party. Shelton for Senate 2020.

Support Alisha Shelton for US Senate
Changes to Unemployment
July 12th, 2020
Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week, Governor Ricketts announced that he was bringing back job search requirements for unemployed Nebraskans earlier than planned. Is that great? No — during this pandemic, this is not what’s best for Nebraskans. In the most economically robust of times, many people make convincing arguments for the need to ensure that the unemployed are motivated to continue to seek jobs, but that is not where we are today. My office has been contacted daily by Nebraskans who are confused and distraught about these new requirements. For example, many workers who are temporarily laid off with the expectation that they will be rehired do not want to waste time searching for jobs they do not intend to keep. On the flip side, employers don’t want the hassle of processing applications and training new employees who may not intend to stay. With this order, Governor Ricketts has introduced unnecessary friction into an already anxious economy. It doesn’t help.

But it’s where we are. And here is no hope for the Legislature to do anything to stop this. So let me help you understand it.

The Department of Labor has put together a helpful FAQ for workers who have been furloughed or have been working intermittently for their employer during this pandemic. It also includes Q&A for employers on how they can let the department know if they have employees on furlough that they want to bring back, and includes a form that employers can use to ask for an extension if needed.

Work Search FAQs for Workers
Form for Employers to Request an Extension
 

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov. Please continue to wear a mask, maintain a 6′ social distance between others, and stay home as much as possible. I will continue to do everything I can through policy to keep you and your family safe, but without wider government leadership, you must choose to do what’s best for your own health.

Keep safe,
Meg

Drop out, Chris!
July 7th, 2020

Dear friends and neighbors,

We need to talk about Chris Janicek. It’s time for him to drop out of the race for US Senate.

A person’s true character shows in how they treat those with less power than them, especially behind closed doors. Mr. Janicek is not a person who is fit to represent Nebraskans in Washington.

It doesn’t matter if you agree that what Janicek did was wrong or if you’re friends with him or if he was your candidate or if you like his cupcakes or if you think it’s “time for forgiveness and positivity” or whatever. I don’t care. That’s not what the conversation is about.

The reality now is that Chris Janicek doesn’t have a path to victory. At all. He knows that, and he is willfully withholding a path to victory for Democrats because he would rather stay in and sabotage the race than drop out and give Nebraskans a chance to vote for a viable candidate.

If Janicek was facing reality, he would see that the Democratic Party has pulled all of their support from him. That means he’s getting…

  • No access to the electronic voter network that all candidates use to target voters
  • No support staff
  • No input on vote by mail targets or mail strategy
  • No press leads or sharing of stories and events on social media
  • No emails to the Democratic Party’s full list (almost 100k people)
  • No access to donor leads
  • No texting program

Chris Janicek will not have access to any party resources, including money and voter file data. He will not be included in any Democratic campaign literature or on the party’s website, and cannot hold events with county parties or other Democratic candidates.

Janicek has no path to victory. He is wasting everyone’s time and disrespecting the dignity of the office and the honor and privilege of public service. There is no path for Janicek, and that’s Janicek’s fault.

Some may say, “but Chris has apologized for sending group texts about his staffer being gang raped!” or, “we talk about giving second chances, but then we don’t give them!”

That’s not what’s going on here.

First, Janicek has not apologized. He blamed the staffer, he blamed the party, and the only person he hasn’t blamed is himself. He continues to refuse to take any personal responsibility or work to make amends in a way that is commensurate with the harm he caused. Also, “second chances” doesn’t mean saying, “You sent group texts about gang raping a staffer but we are going to forget about that and pretend it didn’t happen.” That is not what forgiveness is and that is not the form that Janicek’s “second chance” can take.

Chris Janicek may be able to have a second chance if he drops out of the race, puts his support behind Alisha Shelton who has the message and vision for the future of this state, and takes a break from public service to get his mind right about women and Black people. The clock is ticking and if Chris is serious about getting Ben Sasse out of office, this is the only path he can take.

What can you do?

  • Call Chris’s Office: 402-730-9560
  • Email Chris: chrisjanicek@hotmail.com (yes, hotmail)
  • Boycott and protest Chris Janicek’s businesses, Cupcake Omaha and Chris Janicek’s Cake Box
  • Support Alisha Shelton for US Senate
  • Spread! The! Word! Tell everyone this is happening and pressure Chris to resign.
Community Cares Act Grants
June 29th, 2020

Grants Available to Community Orgs

Dear friends and neighbors,

The Department of Health & Human Services is pleased to announce three funding opportunities for charitable organizations and providers. Please share this information with anyone who you think could benefit from it. The first grant application opens on Monday, June 29.

DHHS says they are committed to prioritizing funds for underserved communities, including areas of high poverty and areas disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Community CARES Stabilization Grant

  • One-time payment of at least $12,000 for charitable organizations and eligible provider organizations. Applicants must have sustained increased costs and/or lower revenue/income due to COVID-19. Total allocation: $40 million
  • Applications open: June 29-July 6, 2020
  • To apply: http://dhhs.ne.gov/CommunityCares

Community CARES Response and Recovery Grant

  • Competitive grant opportunity for non-profits and eligible provider organizations that will help children, families and communities respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Funding can be used for homelessness prevention assistance, shelters, meal delivery for individuals with food access barriers, telehealth resources, PPE, community health services, behavioral health services, sanitation of public spaces, and more. Applications must include measurable outcomes. Funding is subject to federal grant subrecipient requirements and must be expended by December 30, 2020.
  • Awards expected to be in the range of $50,000-$2,000,000.
  • Total allocation: $43 million
  • Applications open: July 1-8, 2020
  • To apply: http://dhhs.ne.gov/CommunityCares

Community CARES Healthy Places Grant for Child Care Centers and Places of Worship

  • Funds will be used for the purchase of PPE and cleaning supplies. These health and safety supplies will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across Nebraska. Total allocation: $2 million
  • Applications open: July 6-12, 2020
  • To apply: http://dhhs.ne.gov/CommunityCares
As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov.

Keep safe,
Meg

Dear friends and neighbors,

Hello Nebraskans, and especially my friends in District 8. Are you looking for an opportunity to serve? In Nebraska, our Governor has the power to appoint leaders for many of the state’s agencies, boards, and commissions. Those organizations may be as large as DHHS or the Department of Education, and as small as the Brand Committee or the Boiler Safety Code Advisory Board.

Each appointment is confirmed by the Legislature during a confirmation hearing. In my committees of Government, Military, and Veteran’s Affairs, Urban Affairs, and General Affairs, we have held confirmation hearings for several appointed positions. These hearings go through the same process as bills: the appointee answers questions from senators on the committee, and then members of the public are invited to testify in support, opposition, or in a neutral position on the appointment. The committee then votes on whether to send the appointment to the full Legislature, which debates the appointment and then votes on final confirmation. Most appointees are very well-qualified and well-vetted and sail through the process to begin serving the public.

These appointments on commissions and boards are an important way for citizens across the state to bring their expertise to policies and decisions made by our state government. I encourage you to consider serving, and to occasionally check the Governor’s webpage to see if there is an opening that is a good fit for you or someone you know. A list of current vacancies and the application form can be found at the following link! I would love to see more of my constituents, and more Nebraskans statewide, active in their local governments.

Please check this list out! See a complete list of the openings currently seeking applicants here.

Complete an online application for a board or commission here.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov.

Keep safe,
Meg

Dear friends and neighbors,

Today brings us historic news from the Supreme Court. In a landmark ruling, our nation’s highest court affirmed the rights of LGBTQ+ workers by finding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. That means that a person cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a big deal.

Today is a victory for LGBTQ+ workers all over our country, especially in Nebraska where we have fought for years at the state level to enshrine these protections into law. We owe our gratitude to Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, the LGBTQ+ workers who brought these cases all the way to the top. Sadly, only one of the three plaintiffs is still with us today — Don passed away in 2014 and, just this May, we lost Aimee, too. They deserved to be a part of this moment and we owe them so much thanks.

This much-needed win also comes in the midst of two epidemics: COVID-19, and racial violence, answered by the Black Lives Matter movement. A guarantee of employment protections like these couldn’t come at a better time, but it is not enough. I find myself happy about this Supreme Court decision, but not resting and not even really relieved. This is one long-overdue step in the fight for equality and fight against violence toward the LGBTQ+ community, which disproportionately affects Black people and people of color. We have to recognize and dismantle all policies that embolden those who stand on the side of inequality, and that work is not done.

I am the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the Nebraska Legislature in its 165-year history. To me, that is a dubious honor, because that much time should not have passed before we had a single person offering representation to our community at the state level. In 2020, we must elect more people from our LGBTQ+ community and continue to expand the diversity of representation across all intersections of identity and experience at the state and local level. The government doesn’t work for all the people until it reflects all the people.

In Nebraska, we must still pass LB627, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks’s priority bill to enshrine LGBTQ+ workplace protections at the state level and mirror federal law. This will be my expectation of my colleagues in the Nebraska Legislature.

Every person should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and provide for their families. Those aren’t just Nebraska values – they are American values.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov.

Keep safe,
Meg

Dear friends and neighbors,

It’s hard to believe that we are now in our fourth month of social distancing. It is extremely important that we continue to follow the guidelines put forth by public health experts as we slowly begin to re-open parts of our state. By following these health directives with continued social distancing and the wearing of masks in public, we can prevent more infections and death.

Nebraska is currently in Phase II of reopening. Is that great? No, but it is what it is, and that’s the Governor’s choice. I’m emailing you today to update you with the most current directives and guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Governor for COVID-19 in Nebraska. Please feel free to share this email and any of these resources with caregivers, business owners, workers, and anyone else who may benefit.

Besides the health impacts of the Coronavirus, we know that the economic devastation will not only be lasting, but it will affect the health of Nebraskans as well. Omaha has record unemployment, nearly 50,000 people without healthcare, and families and workers are facing hardship like our community has never seen. There are resources available for workers, families and small businesses to help deal with the financial insecurity that has impacted so many Nebraskans.  Below are links to resources available to help people in need of assistance.

The Speaker announced that we will be returning to complete the final 17 days of our Legislative Session on July 20. The Lancaster County Public Health Department has worked with capitol staff to make the Chamber as safe as possible for our return, including spreading out our seating arrangement, plastic dividers, and masks.

My colleagues and I have spent a lot of time over this legislative suspension discussing how to move policy concerns forward when we return, especially given the drop we expect in revenue for the year and the likelihood that we will experience at least two years of economic downturn from this pandemic. I am learning a lot from the experience of my senior colleagues and doing everything I can to make sure we do not forget about marginalized groups and how they will be impacted.

While we are not in session, the Governor has addressed several issues related to the pandemic through executive orders. He also has broad discretion to spend CARES Act dollars. Consequently, much of our efforts to directly address pandemic concerns in the immediate term have been through advocating the Governor to act. Ongoing conversations have also been occurring over how CARES Act funding could be used including helping to fund front line services in our cities and counties and provide relief to small business owners and families who have been hardest hit economically. I signed onto a letter sent by Senator Kate Bolz recommending more public input and transparency with how CARES Act dollars will be spent. There will be opportunities for legislative oversight when we return to session.

When we return, the same bills will be up for discussion. New legislation cannot be introduced unless we suspend the rules (which is unlikely, but possible). Nebraskans can expect several amendments to be introduced addressing new needs brought to us by both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.

I know that working together we will get through this pandemic and be stronger for it.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov.

Keep safe,
Meg

Dear friends and neighbors,

“It’s up to you to talk to your brothers and your sisters and persuade them that they have a responsibility. We’ve assumed ours for over four hundred years and we’re tired of this kind of stuff now. We’re not going to suffer patiently anymore.”
-Senator Ernie Chambers, 1966

The iconic clip of Senator Chambers speaking about racial injustice as he barbers in North Omaha, in the Oscar-nominated 1966 documentary A Time for Burning, has gone viral over the last few days. It’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter by famous writers and producers and professors all over the world, including Chuck D of Public Enemy, actress Yvette Nicole Brown, and Jarrett Hill of NBC.

Film Streams currently has A Time For Burning available to stream for free online. If you haven’t seen this film, watch it soon with your family. Its message is important, because until we acknowledge and understand our history, we will continue to repeat it.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at mhunt@leg.ne.gov.

Many thanks,
Meg

Sen. Megan Hunt

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