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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 email@example.com.