NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

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

May Newsletter
April 29th, 2021

Dear friends and neighbors,

Here in the Legislature, we have started late-night debates to provide more time for discussion as we only have 20 days of session left until we adjourn. Last week, we passed the state budget and it was sent to the Governor who could have vetoed individual parts of the budget. Fortunately, the Governor approved the budget with no vetoes this time.

Over the past several decades, we have created a structural deficit and we have eroded our revenue with special interest exemptions, carve-outs, tax credits, and incentives that are designed to grow Nebraska’s economy and attract more people to the state. Instead of growing our state, these exemptions have cuts into the resources we have to provide property tax relief. We don’t have the funding. We need to look at new revenue sources for Nebraska so we can not only provide property tax relief, but make sure we have a fair public school funding system and that Nebraskans can access the public services they need.

Our thinking is shortsighted. Part of this may be because of term limits–maybe we are thinking in four or eight-year increments instead of thirty, fifty, or one-hundred-year increments for the long-term sustainability of people in Nebraska. When we look at all of these carve-outs and write-offs and credits that have eroded our tax base, we see that this loss of revenue cuts into the resources that we have to provide property tax relief.

A comprehensive strategy for property tax relief has to raise revenue and attract more people to our state. It means keeping our promises to fund our schools, including early childhood care. Keeping tax dollars in the public education system to serve all our children. Expanding SNAP benefits. Legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. Allowing those with marijuana charges to modify their records. Passing policies that emphasize support and equity for the LGBTQ community. Raising the tipped minimum wage. Reforming police. These are smart ways to grow our tax base.

We are losing our college graduates, young people are fleeing our state, and people say they do not want to live in Nebraska. A big reason for this is the racist, discriminatory, old-fashioned policies that we pass in this state. Our growth rate ranking is 39th in the country. We have to do more to attract and retain talent.

My colleagues say reducing property taxes will help us achieve this. The young people I know are not concerned primarily about property taxes — most of them do not own property! For many Nebraskans, the dream of homeownership is unfathomable. They cannot get ahead because we do not pass policies in this body that says we value them. What we need instead of this is more targeted tax relief and rebuilding our safety net for Nebraskan families. With policy like this, instead of saying “look at our great policies” or “look at our great quality of life” or “look at the great culture we have in our state,” we are merely saying “look how cheap it is to live here.” The majority of young people are not excited to move here and that is in large part because we have given up asking “how do we make our state the best state” and we just keep chipping away at our culture, focusing only on making our state the cheapest.

There are things we can do to tangibly improve Nebraskans’ quality of life, without costing anything and without giving a tax giveaway to corporations. We cannot keep cutting taxes at the expense of services and programs. We have to raise revenue. We can do this by enacting LGBTQ protections, providing paid family leave, legalizing cannabis, supporting public schools, having affordable housing, raising our tipped minimum wage, expanding tolerance and nondiscrimination policies for migrants, and accessible reproductive healthcare.

This is the comprehensive way to deal with property tax relief. It is not about what percentage of tax cuts we debate over in a single bill. These are not short-term solutions like we have seen so many times before. This is the systemic change Nebraska needs. 

Best,
Meg

Status of My Bills

  • LB 121 – Expand SNAP access by lifting the ban to food benefits for people with prior drug convictions
    • Advanced to General File on March 9th
  • LB 131 – Municipal updates bill package
    • Advanced to General File
    • Urban Affairs committee priority
  • LB 250 – Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act
    • Advanced to General File on February 17th
    • Will likely be debated in 2022
  • LB 260 – Unemployment for caregivers in the Employment Security Law
    • Advanced to Final Reading
    • Designated as my personal priority 
  • LB 277 – Harmonize the Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant Act
    • Amended into a Judiciary Housing Package via LB 320 (Cavanaugh, J.)
    • Advanced to Final Reading on April 20th
  • LB 357 – Youth in Care Bill of Rights
    • Advanced to General File on March 12th
    • Will likely be debated in 2022

Priority Bills I Support

By no means is this list comprehensive. I want to highlight some of the most impactful priority bills my colleagues have introduced this session.
  • LB 320 (Cavanaugh, J.) – contains my LB 277; Judiciary Housing Bill Package
    • LB 320 provides housing protections for victims of domestic violence
    • Committee amendment (AM 450) included portions of several bills addressing Landlord/Tenant issues into LB 320. Portions of LBs 4546246268277, and 402 are included in the amendment.
    • Advanced to Final Reading on April 20th
  • LB 258 (Vargas, Hansen, M. priority) – Adopt the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act
    • Requires employers to provide employees with access to paid sick and safe leave.
    • Advanced to General File on March 17th
  • LB 108 (McCollister) – Addresses the SNAP cliff effect
    • There is a two-part income eligibility test under SNAP: first, gross income eligibility (130% of federal poverty limit) and second, net income eligibility.
    • When a family applies for SNAP, the first question is whether their gross income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines
    • LB 108 would set gross income eligibility at 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. The net income eligibility limit would not change
    • Advanced to Select File on April 20th
  • LB 298 (McDonnell) – Extend unemployment benefits to all eligible work-authorized immigrants
    • Placed on General File on March 29th
  • LB 241 (Vargas) – Adopt the Meatpacking Employees COVID-19 Protection Act
    • Advanced to General File on March 17th
  • LB 474 (Wishart) – Legalize medicinal cannabis by adopting the Medicinal Cannabis Act
    • Advanced to General File on March 31st
  • LB 306 (Brandt) – Expand eligibility for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    • Changes requirement from 130% of the federal poverty level to 150%, making more Nebraska households eligible.
    • Advanced to General file on March 9th
  • LB 485 (DeBoer) – Expand eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy program
    • Increase income eligibility limit from 130% to 185% of the federal poverty level

Priority Bills I Oppose

  • LB 2 (Briese) – Reduces the valuation of agricultural land for school bonding
    • This will cause revenue losses resulting in cuts to schools, health care, and other services Nebraskans need
  • LB 11CA (Erdman) – Replaces current tax system with a consumption tax
    • If passed, it will reduce state revenue by $4 billion and adds taxes to essential services, disproportionately shifting the tax burden onto low and middle-income Nebraskans.
    • Tax policy experts largely disagree with this approach
  • LB 408 (Briese, Geist priority) – Limits property tax growth requests from localities to 3% per year
    • This undermines local control and will have harmful impacts on local governments, who are already accountable to their constituents to keep property taxes low
    • The state does not need to overreach and set an inflexible limit that communities should decide for themselves
    • I support property tax relief through increased state support for schools and think these proposals cut in the opposite direction
    • This bill was filibustered and is considered dead for the year
  • LB 281 (Albrecht) – Requires school districts to adopt specific instructional programs
    • Mandating curriculum is a legislative overreach
    • The authority to craft education standards should remain with the NE Board of Education

COVID-19 Updates

Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is now providing free vaccinations to those 16 years old and over.

Vaccines for Minors
If you are 16, 17, or 18 years old, you will need parental consent and a guardian present with you in order to get the vaccine. Click here to see which vaccine you are eligible for if you are a minor.

COVID-19 Testing
You can use the Douglas County Health Department’s interactive map to find a testing site that is best for you. Sort testing options by location, price, rapid results offered, and more.

Vaccination Locations
Click here to use DCHD’s interactive map with both long-term and temporary vaccine clinics

  1. Douglas County Community Clinic Locations
  2. Temporary Locations: 
    1. Heartland Family Services Intergenerational Campus (4318 Fort St., Omaha, NE 68111) – Only Pfizer Vaccines available – Click here to find available appointments
  3. OneWorld Community Health Center (for patients)
  4. Charles Drew Health Center: Please call 402-451-3553 to schedule an appointment
  5. Fred Leroy Health Center (for patients)
  6. Baker’s locations: Click here to find available appointments
  7. CVS locations: Click here to find available appointments
  8. Hy-Vee locations: Click here to find available appointments
  9. Kubat Health Care: Click here to find available appointments
  10. Kohll’s Pharmacy:  Click here to find available appointments
  11. Walmart locations: Click here to find available appointments

Walk-ins are now welcomed at most clinics but appointments are still available.

Contact the COVID-19 Information Line at (402) 444-3400

Schedule an Appointment
Vaccine FAQ

District 8 Events

2021 Homestead Exemption Applications

  • Accepted until June 30th; file with the Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds
  • Douglas county homeowners (seniors 65+), disabled individuals, and/or veterans with 100% service-related disabilities may qualify for a homestead exemption, which is a property tax relief program
  • You can find more information on the program
    here

Castlepalooza at Joslyn Castle

  • Free neighborhood festival on June 5th (3pm-9pm) with live music, activities for families, vendors, food trucks, beverages, and more

Picnics at the Castle

  • Every Thursday in July from 5pm -8pm at Joslyn Castle enjoy a picnic and family-friendly activities. Food trucks will be present or you can bring your own food

National Night Out

  • Save the date for Tuesday, August 2nd

Keep Clarkson Park Beautiful

  • Seeking volunteers to assist with trash clean-up. Sign up here

2021 JCNA Spring Cleanup

  • May 22nd from 9am-2pm at Duchesne Academy’s Parking Lot (36th & California Street)
  • Free disposal of bulk items too large for normal trash pickup (couches, TVs, computers, anything but hazardous waste)

2021 Benson Neighborhood Clean-up

  • May 15th from 9am-2pm at Omaha Home for Boys (4343 N. 52nd St)
  • Accepts any bulky household items except tires, batteries, and hazardous waste

Our Office in the News

Lincoln Journal Star – Extended protections for student journalists fail to advance in Legislature

Lincoln Journal Star – State lawmakers advance bill to allow food aid for more Nebraskans

San Francisco Chronicle – Nebraska prison proposal clears big hurdle in Legislature

NET Nebraska – In-state college sports betting ban rejected; budget passes after debate over police, prisons

The Neighbor / Omaha World-Herald – Nebraska budget heads to Ricketts’ desk as focus turns to other tax, spending ideas

KETV Omaha –  State takes step forward in building a new prison

The Neighbor / Lincoln Journal Star – Legislature advances police reform bill, looks for compromise on issues concerning rural senators

Newsweek – Radio Host Chris Baker Fired Over ‘Racist’ Tweet About Derek Chauvin Verdict

Sioux City Journal – Legislature won’t consider convention of the states

NET Nebraska – Convention of states blocked in Legislature

Scottsbluff Star Herald – Local journalism teachers disappointed after bill fails

North Platte Telegraph – Lawmakers advance bill creating statewide Farm to School network

Scottsbluff Star Herald / Omaha World-Herald –  Proposed corporate tax cut narrowly survives vote in Nebraska Legislature

Connect with Me

  • Please follow me on FacebookTwitterYoutube, or Instagram to stay up to date with my latest activities.
  • I invite you to visit my office in Lincoln at the Nebraska State Capitol. Call my office to coordinate. (402) 471-2722
  • You can watch the Legislature live on NET TV or find NET’s live stream here.
March Newsletter
March 15th, 2021
Dear friends and neighbors,

On March 12th, after weeks of passionate hearings and testimony, the committee hearings came to a close. The legislature has now moved to floor debate – beginning with priority bill selections. I hope you continue to stay in touch with me on any issue that is of importance to you throughout this process.

Each Senator is allowed to designate one bill as a personal priority bill and each committee can designate two committee priority bills. In addition, the Speaker designates another 25 priority bills. This session, I have prioritized LB260 – a bill to classify caring for a family member with a serious health condition as a qualification for unemployment. This would allow workers who need to temporarily leave employment to care for a family member with a serious health condition to be eligible for unemployment if they are ready and willing to rejoin the workforce.

This session, I am seeking a speaker priority on three bills – LB 121, LB 250, and LB 357: LB 121 would remove the lifetime ban on SNAP eligibility for people with certain drug convictionsLB 250 creates a voluntary registration for interior designers, allowing them to stamp their own documents if they choose; and LB 357 creates a “Youth in Care Bill of Rights” to inform foster and juvenile system-involved youth of their rights at regular intervals and ensure they know how to advocate for themselves. Each of these bills is vital in providing equitable support and assistance to our Nebraska residents.

Speaker Hilgers will be selecting his priority bills this Wednesday, March 17th. If you’d like to support any of these bills, I encourage you to reach out to Speaker Hilgers at mhilgers@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2673 and urge him to select them as speaker priorities. The significance of priorities is that these bills will jump to the top of the line in debate, essentially guaranteeing that it will get a chance to be debated and voted on by the full body before we adjourn. Since we hear so many bills and there’s not enough time to debate all of them each year, those selected as priority have the best chance of passage.

All the best,
Meg

Legislative Update
As the committee hearings are drawing to a close, below is an update on bills Senator Hunt has introduced. You can get more information on each bill by clicking on the bill number.
  • LB 121 – Lift SNAP ban for people with drug convictions
    • Advanced to General File on March 9th.
    • Requested a Speaker priority
  • LB 250 – Adopt the Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act
    • Advanced to General File on February 17th.
    • Requested a Speaker priority
  • LB 260 – Unemployment for caregivers under the Employment Security Law
    • Advanced to General File on March 12th.
    • Designated as my personal priority 
  • LB 277 – Change Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant Act
    • Added to Judiciary Housing Package via LB 320 (Cavanaugh, J.)
    • Expected floor debate on Thursday, March 18th
  • LB 357 – Youth in Care Bill of Rights
    • Advanced to General File on March 12th.
    • Requested a Speaker priority on this bill.
Bills Yet to be Voted Out of Committee
To help move these bills out of committee – I need your help! I urge anybody passionate about these bills to reach out to the committee members and advocate for their progression to floor debate. Your voice can make a difference in our community!
  • LB 120 – LGBTQ+ Employment Nondiscrimination (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB 122 – Eliminate Tipped Minimum Wage (Business and Labor Committee)
  • LB 183 – Sexual Assault Emergency Care Act (Health and Human Services Committee)
  • LB 205 –  Place Cap on Rental Late Fees (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB 230 – LGBTQ+ Public Accommodation Nondiscrimination (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB 231 – Prohibit Conversion Therapy for Minors (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB 276 – Telemedicine Medical Abortions (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB 517 – Gender Neutral ID (Judiciary Committee)
March in Review
On March 2nd, I had the opportunity to attend Nebraska’s 2021 Day of Empathy Virtual Lobby event – “No New Prisons: Building Empathy & Alternatives.” I was able to discuss the legislative impact on the criminal justice system and how I am addressing prison overcrowding in Nebraska through my work.
Planned Parenthood facilitated a conversation and training with supporters about abortion rights nationally and in Nebraska. I had the opportunity to speak about my work in creating safe, equitable care for women in Nebraska through my legislation with telemedicine abortions and access to emergency contraception.
The current pandemic has provided new challenges for us all – and the legislature has been no exception. There have been many changes across our legislature as a whole to ensure the safety of everyone, but there is one thing that has not changed – your support. During this session, we received hundreds of passionate in-person and written testimony from across the country. The pictures above are with testifiers who traveled from all over to advocate for the passage of these critical bills. We couldn’t do this without you, your support is vital in passing these bills and bettering our community! Thank you to all who have testified this year.
Civic Nebraska – Virtual Capitol Experience

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Civic Nebraska and my fellow senators to aid in their Virtual Capitol Experience. Here, you can explore the history of our unicameral Legislature, learn more about our state government, explore facts and features of the art and architecture of our Nebraska State Capitol, and hear personal insights from myself and other government officials.

Civic Nebraska
COVID-19 Updates
Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is providing vaccinations to those 65 and over at the following times and locations:

TUE/WED – Christ Community Church, located at 404 S. 108th St., vaccinations will be given from 9 A.M. – 5 P.M.

WED/FRI – CHI Immanuel Medical Center, located at 72nd Street and Sorensen Parkway, vaccinations will be given from 9 A.M. – 5 P.M.

THU/SUN – Nebraska Medicine Testing & Vaccination Clinic, located at 144th Street and Millard Avenue, vaccinations will be given from 9 A.M. – 5 P.M on Thursdays and 9 A.M. – 3 P.M. on Sundays

SAT – Creighton University Rasmussen Center, located at 702 N. 17th Street, vaccinations will be given from 9 A.M. – 9 P.M.

Contact the COVID-19 Information Line at (402) 444-3400

Schedule an Appointment
Vaccine FAQ
Housing, Utility, and Financial Stability Resources

DHHS LIHEAP Program
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides heating assistance, cooling assistance, year-round crisis assistance, emergency furnace repair, and replacement, fan program, and weatherization services for eligible Nebraska citizens/households.

Heartland Family Service
The Homeless Prevention program provides assistance to prevent individuals from losing their housing and becoming homeless. This can include helping them preserve their current housing situation or identifying alternate appropriate housing option. Additionally, they provide rapid rehousing services to provide temporary housing relocation and stabilization services and financial assistance for 1-12 months.

Together Omaha
Together provides short-term financial assistance for rent, utilities, and deposits to individuals and families that are currently enrolled in the Horizon Programs to avoid or end homelessness.

Legal Assistance
Legal Aid of Nebraska provides a comprehensive tenants overview page with links to legal documents you might need if you are facing evictions.

The Nebraska Bar Association has a website to provide a virtual legal advice clinic for qualifying users to post civil legal questions at no cost.

The Civil Clinic, through the University of Nebraska Law School, provides representation for low-income clients. You can contact them at (402) 472-3271.

The Creighton Law School Clinic also provides representation for low-income clients. Their phone number is (402) 280-3068.

Nebraska Appleseed
You can access their basic questions and answers about utility shut-offs and weatherization assistance here.

Pennies for Power
This is an energy assistance program established to help disadvantaged families pay energy-related expenses. To apply, Call 2-1-1 (or 402-444-6666) and ask about NPPD’s Pennies for Power Program.

Douglas County COVID Relief Fund
You can access Douglas County CARES assistance programs for rent and utilities here.

Our Office in the News

KVNO News – Nebraska Lawmaker Pushes Big

News Now Omaha – Winner-take-all & Voter ID Bills Pushed in NE Unicameral

Lincoln Journal Star – Omaha Senator Renews Effort to Prohibit Employment Discrimination for LGBT Individuals

KETV Omaha – Nebraska Lawmakers Consider Banning Conversion Therapy Statewide

The Daily Nebraskan – Lincoln Passes Conversion Therapy Ban

NTV ABC – Bill Would Allow Virtual Doctor Visits for Non-Surgical Abortions

The Neighbor – Bill Targets Nebraska’s Ban on Using Telemedicine for Medication Abortions

Effective tomorrow, the Legislature has updated its testifying guidelines for those with a disability who wish to testify. The updated policy is below:
  1. An individual with a disability, as defined by the federal Americans with Disability Act of 1990, may have their written testimony submitted in person by another individual between 8:30 and 9:30 on the day of the hearing in the respective hearing room.
  2. The individual delivering the testimony will be authorized to sign the written testimony record on behalf of the individual with a disability, after signing a statement that to the best of their knowledge, the individual whose testimony he/she is delivering has a disability as defined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  3. This exception is allowed because COVID-19 often presents greater risks to individuals with a disability.
  4. In order to be included on the committee statement as submitting written testimony, all remaining requirements must be met. You can view the requirements here, along with the updated policy.
New Online Public Input Option
February 16th, 2021
Friends, supporters, detractors, interested parties, I want to encourage you to utilize the Nebraska Legislature’s new online comment feature to make your voice heard and opinions known about our bills. Here are the main points:
  1. Submit an online comment on the bill page for any bill, at any stage of debate, by searching for it on nebraskalegislature.gov. To access this feature, search for the bill you wish to submit a statement on and click the corresponding button near the top of the bill page.
  2. These are super useful – I read the comments as we debate bills, and I think these are an important way to receive feedback from constituents during the pandemic.
  3. Please keep in mind that these comments *won’t* be recorded as part of the record on the bill. If you want your comments on the record, you must submit a letter to the committee by noon on the day before the hearing.
  4. I have two bills being heard in committee tomorrow. LB 121 would allow people with past drug convictions to receive SNAP if they are eligible, and LB 356 would prevent eligible SNAP recipients from being unnecessarily disqualified if they are found ineligible for some other assistance program. Please leave supportive comments on these bills and contact your senator, especially those on the Health and Human Services committee! Your voice matters and your support will help to advance these critical bills.
Community Vaccination Clinics
January 28th, 2021
The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) and its community partners will host four community clinics beginning in February in an effort to provide Douglas County residents 80 years of age and older with the COVID-19 vaccine. The four sites are being coordinated by the DCHD in partnership with Nebraska Medicine, CHI Health, Creighton University, and Methodist Health System. The clinics will continue to operate until further notice. To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit https://vaccinate.ne.gov.

The locations and times for the clinics are:

  • Christ Community Church – 404 South 108th Street, Omaha
    • Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning on February 2nd.
  • CHI Immanuel Medical Center – 72nd Street and Sorensen Parkway, Omaha
    • Wednesdays and Fridays from  9 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning on February 3rd.
  • Nebraska Medicine Testing & Vaccination Clinic – 144th and Millard Avenue
    • Thursdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
    • Sundays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
    • Begins February 4th
  • Creighton Universit’s Rasmussen Center – 702 North 17th Street
    • Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning on February 6th.

Douglas County residents will have the opportunity to visit the clinic that is closest to them. This is the beginning of Phase 1-B of the vaccination rollout and will provide the first dose of the vaccine for this group.

In addition to the four community clinics, beginning on Monday, February 1st, DCHD will provide vaccines on a limited basis at OneWorld Community Health Center in South Omaha, Charles Drew Health Center, and the Fred LeRoy Health Center. Kohll’s Pharmacy will provide vaccinations to independent living and retirement communities, while the Nebraska Methodist College mobile diabetes unit will be serving vulnerable populations. 

Vaccine Registration

The DCHD Vaccine Registration Line will go live on Friday, January 29th at 9 a.m. DCHD’s Information Line at (402) 444-3400 will be taking reservations beginning Friday at 9 a.m. for those who do not have computer access. There is NO advantage to calling early or trying to register if you are not 80 years old. Vaccinations will be by appointment only.   

Those who have registered with the DCHD vaccine notification system can expect to be contacted about the next step in the process. You can register online for notifications here. Please wait for further information on that next step. These clinics are limited to Douglas County residents who are 80 years of age or older this year. If you were not born in 1941 or earlier, please do not attempt to attend a clinic. You will not receive the vaccine if you show up.

Age-based eligibility will start with over 80 years of age which has the highest mortality rate and then move down through lower age groups. This will be based on the year of birth in order to simplify the process. For example, people who were born in 1941 or before (or will turn 80 at any time during this calendar year) will be the first group to make appointments. Depending on demand and appointment availability, we will add groups in 5-year increments throughout the month of February.

Additional Information

Until much more vaccine is available, healthcare providers and clinics will not be able to order it for their patients. Future clinics will address more tiered groups of residents over 65 years of age, a group that has suffered 82% of the COVID-19 related deaths in Douglas County

If you have any questions regarding the vaccine, the DCHD website has a comprehensive information page. If you would like to volunteer to assist with vaccination efforts, you can register with the Medical Reserve Corps here.

If you missed an opportunity to be vaccinated during phase 1a, you can call the DCHD COVID-19 Information Line at (402) 444-3400 for an appointment.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Nebraska’s unique Unicameral Legislature relies heavily on the “second house” – the citizens of the State of Nebraska. Ensuring that members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital to the legislative process.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique health and safety concerns. The Legislature has adopted expanded methods by which the public can provide input into the legislative process so that citizens who have safety concerns about in-person testifying have multiple opportunities to have their voice heard as part of the legislative and committee process.

The following options provide ways for citizens to share their views on a bill with the Legislature. Please read each option carefully, as each has a different outcome as to how your input is recorded. Guidance on hearings may continue to change depending on COVID-19, but I will make sure that you hear of any changes and are able to testify on the bills that matter to you.

All the best,
Meg

Option 1: In-Person Testimony

As always, persons attending a public hearing in person will have an opportunity to present verbal testimony to the committee and be subject to questioning by the committee members. In-person testimony is generally limited to 5 minutes, although the chair of each committee has the discretion to modify that time limit.

Persons verbally testifying will be listed as a testifier on the committee statement as has been the practice, and have their position included within the official committee hearing record.

Option 2: Written Testimony In Lieu of In-Person Testimony

The intent of this option is to create a substitute for those who are concerned about safety by testifying in person but wish to have their testimony submitted, their name recorded on the committee statement, and included in the formal committee hearing record as if they had testified in person. Please note that the committee statement will note that the testimony was provided in writing with no opportunity for the committee members to question the testifier.

In order to take advantage of this option, the following four requirements must be met:

  1. Submission of written testimony will only be accepted the day of the hearing between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in the committee room in which the hearing is scheduled.
  2. Individuals must present their written testimony in person during this time frame and sign the submitted written testimony record at the time of submission on the day of the hearing on the bill.
  3. The testifier must submit 12 copies. Failure to submit the required number of copies will result in the treatment of the submission as a position letter and not written testimony.
  4. The written testimony must be a written statement that is no longer than 2 single-spaced, typed pages or 4 double-spaced, typed pages in length.
  5. Only the written testimony from the person delivering the testimony will be accepted. No handouts, testimony, or letters from other individuals may be included outside of an individual’s written testimony.
  6. Written testimony will be handed out to each member of the committee during the hearing and made available as part of the hearing transcript when the transcript is made public.

Failure to meet all of these procedures for submitted written testimony will result in the person providing the testimony to not be listed on the committee statement as a written testifier, however, the testimony will be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit.

Option 3: Position Letter

If you are not testifying in person on a bill or resolution, or submitting written testimony in person on a bill (Option 2), but would like to submit a position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, you must deliver your letter to the office of the committee chair or email it to the committee’s email account by 12:00 p.m. CST on the last workday prior to the public hearing.

Letters emailed (and not hand-delivered) will not be included as part of the public hearing record if sent to any email other than the committee’s email account. A list of these emails is included below.

Your letter must identify the bill or resolution, include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral, on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Please note that mass communications will also not be included as part of the official hearing record as an exhibit regardless of delivery time or requests to have the communication included.

Option 4: Online Database

A new feature has been added to the Nebraska Legislature’s website for submission of written statements on pending legislation on the Legislature’s website at any stage of the bill’s process.  (To access this feature, search for the bill you wish to submit a statement on and click the corresponding button near the top of the bill page.)

These submissions will not be considered testimony or part of the public hearing record, but the submitted statements will be available on the UniNet for access by senators and staff throughout the session.  Please note, there should be no expectation of privacy regarding comments submitted in this format. If a citizen uses the database to submit their views prior to the public hearing on a bill or resolution, this option will allow input to the members of the committee prior to any committee votes.

Committee Emails

Each committee has been assigned a new committee email. If you are submitting written testimony or a position letter, your testimony must be sent to one of the emails below to be included in the record.

Agriculture Committee

Appropriations Committee

Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee

Business & Labor Committee

Education Committee

Executive Board Committee

General Affairs Committee

Government, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee

Health & Human Services Committee

Judiciary Committee

Natural Resources Committee

Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee

Revenue Committee

Transportation & Telecommunications Committee

Urban Affairs Committee

Dear friends and neighbors,

Below you can find a brief overview of each of the bills I have introduced for 2021, as well as a few of the nearly 80 proposals I am co-sponsoring with my colleagues.

The text of these bills is available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website. This is a great tool to use to find information on hearing dates, the progress of a bill, and other relevant documents. If you are interested in testifying on any bills, you can find an overview of the process here. Note that this year, written testimony will need to be submitted by noon the day before the bill’s hearing, a change from 5 pm in previous years. Guidance on hearings may continue to change depending on COVID-19, but I will make sure that you hear of any changes and are able to testify on the bills that matter to you.

All the best,
Meg

2021 Legislative Agenda

LB 120 – Prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity

  • While the Supreme Court Bostock v. Clayton County case held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against this, it is still essential to pass this at the state level
  • Good governance to harmonize federal and state laws
  • Prevents employers and employees from wading through a patchwork of laws resulting in uncertainty and costly civil rights litigation

LB 121 – Expand access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for individuals with prior drug convictions 

  • Removes the lifetime SNAP ban for people with drug convictions who have either completed their sentence or are serving a term of parole, probation, or post-release supervision

LB 122 – Eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers

  • The tipped wage of $2.13/hour has not been updated since 1990, resulting in poverty rates 3 times higher for tipped workers than the general workforce. Eliminating the subminimum wage would put tipped workers at the standard state minimum wage of $9/hour.

LB 183 – Sexual Assault Emergency Care Act 

  • Require emergency rooms to provide information about emergency contraception to all victims of sexual assault, and to dispense emergency contraception upon request

LB 205 – Rental Housing Late Fees

  • Places reasonable limits on late fees or penalties that may be charged by a landlord and requires accurate and sufficient information to be provided in termination notices
  • Currently, there is no restriction on the amount of a late fee that can be charged for unpaid rent in Nebraska except that it cannot be “unconscionable.”  Data collected by the UNL Civil Clinic shows late fees often exceed the amount of rent due.

LB 229 – Gender Identity Hate Crimes

  • Provide for enhanced penalties and civil action for crimes committed because of a victim’s gender identity or association with a person of a certain gender identity.

LB 230 – LGBT Public Accommodation Equality

  • Prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations and under the Nebraska Fair Housing Act.

LB 231 – Ban Conversion Therapy

  • Prohibits any person holding a credential under the Uniform Credentialing Act from advertising for and/or charging money for conversion therapy and prohibits performing conversion therapy on any individual under the age of 19.
  • This would not prevent faith leaders from preaching what they believe regarding gender issues.

LB 517 – Gender Neutral Option for ID

  • Driver’s license applicant’s gender shall be indicated as female, male, or not specified through an indication of “X”
  • Provides a simplified pathway for Nebraskans to amend their gender on official government documents, such as a driver’s license

LB 250 – Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act

  • Creates a voluntary registration to be administered by the Nebraska State Treasurer for those qualified interior designers in Nebraska to use the title “Registered Interior Designer”
  • Gives those registered the ability to stamp and seal their interior design construction documents for permits in code-regulated spaces
  • Creates reciprocity for the Nebraska registration for those interior designers who may be registered, licensed, or certified in another state
  • Establishes continuing education requirements for those who wish to become registered

LB 260 – Unemployment for Caregivers 

  • Allows 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

LB 276 – Telemedicine Abortions

  • Allows for medical abortions, or abortions administered via medication, to be administered through telemedicine
  • Eliminates the current statutory requirement that a physician be physically present in the same room when medical abortions are performed

LB 277 – Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Update

  • In 2019, LB 433 amended the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act but it did not update the Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant Act to match it
  • This bill harmonizes the two acts to ensure uniformity in our state law with regard to the landlord-tenant issues addressed by LB 433

LB 356 – SNAP Comparable Disqualification

  • Prevents SNAP benefits from being cut if an individual fails to meet any requirements under some other federal benefit program such as TANF
  • This bill would opt the state out of this comparable disqualification option, meaning that if someone is to be disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits, it must be for reasons only related to failure to meet eligibility requirements for THAT program – not for some other public assistance program

LB 357 – Youth in Care Bill of Rights

  • Ensures that youth in our foster system and YRTC system are given notice of their rights related to services, connection to family, and transition planning
  • Ensures that caseworkers are trained on the rights and regularly discuss these rights with young people, and strengthens youths’ awareness of the grievance process through DHHS if they believe their rights have been violated

LB 358 – Tenant Anti-Retaliation 

  • Prohibits a landlord from retaliating against a tenant if the tenant has made a good faith complaint to the landlord of a violation of the housing code or noncompliance with the lease agreement or if the tenant has exercised or attempted to exercise a right or remedy under the lease agreement or law

Co-Sponsored Legislation

  • LR 10CA (Cavanaugh, M.) – Restore voting rights for felons, except if convicted of treason
  • LR 2CA (Wayne) –  Legalize cannabis for persons twenty-one and older and to require legislation
  • LB 20 (Blood) – Insurance coverage & Medicaid access to prescribed contraceptives
  • LB 56  (Lathrop) – Improve parole eligibility & accountability
  • LB 72 (Geist) – Provide for sale of alcoholic liquor not in its original package
  • LB 83 (Flood) – Allow Videoconferencing in the Open Meetings Act
  • LB 107 (McCollister) – Adopt the Redistricting Act to provide for fair redistricting
  • LB 109 (Pansing Brooks) – Provide that photographing or recording a peace officer is not an obstruction of justice
  • LB 110  (Pansing Brooks) – Change and provide duties relating to the use of force in law enforcement
  • LB 114 (McCollister) – Seal criminal records by adopting the Clean Slate Act
  • LB 125 (McCollister) – Ranked-Choice Voting
  • LB 128 (McCollister) – Seal eviction records
  • LB 134 (Brandt) – Require the posting and reporting of tax incentive information
  • LB 171 (Hansen, M.) – Increase unemployment benefits by 5% per dependant
  • LB 196 (Vargas) – Prohibit housing discrimination based on income source
  • LB 241 (Vargas) – Adopt the Meatpacking Employees COVID-19 Protection Act
  • LB 258 (Vargas) – Adopt the Healthy & Safe Families and Workplaces Act for safe and sick leave
  • LB 264 (Stinner) – Cultural district funding
  • LB 266 (McCollister) – Adopt the Renewable Energy Standards Act
  • LB 278 (Wayne) – Change the penalty for having residue of a controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor
  • LB 306 (Brandt) –  DHHS must allocate at least 10% of funds for the low-income home energy assistance program
  • LB 321 (Cavanaugh, J.) – Prohibit defendant’s discovery of victim’s actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation as a defense to a crime
  • LB 396 (Brandt) – Adopt the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act
  • LB 419 (Cavanaugh, J.) – Right to counsel in evictions

A day before the riot at the Capitol, robocalls were sent from the Republican Attorneys General Association, urging them to march on the Capitol to “stop the steal” and “continue to fight to protect the integrity of our election.”  Today (1.10.21) I filed a public records request to see to what extent public funds have supported Attorney General Doug Peterson’s membership of RAGA, including any impact those funds may have had in organizing support for the Capitol riot.

We need accountability for how these funds were used and for who is responsible. Those behind this dangerous attack an attack on the Capitol that left 5 people dead and directly targeted our elected representatives need to be condemned and punished. Every public official should agree: To let this insurrection pass without a full investigation would set a dangerous precedent for the future of our democracy.

————

Below is a copy of the request I sent to Attorney General Doug Peterson:

Mr. Peterson:

         This is a request under Nebraska public records law.

         Of course you are aware of the horrible events of January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C when hundreds of supporters of outgoing-President Donald J. Trump invaded the Capitol building.  Using social media and news outlets favorable to him, President Trump and others summoned and encouraged supporters to travel to Washington D.C. for a “MAGA Rally” to coincide with the ceremonial electoral vote counting and certification process that Congress was performing on that same day.  Shortly before the invasion of the Capitol, President Trump addressed the crowds of people who had assembled and told them that “[I]f you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” and he urged them to move to the Capitol[1].  After being so encouraged, President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and caused significant property damage to the offices and the building, stole or defaced personal and public property, and created circumstances that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer who was attempting to defend the Capitol and those who worked there.  Not only were these acts criminal and shocking, they were an international embarrassment and disgrace, compounded with the involvement and support of the President and other elected officials, and it was a dramatic challenge to our democratic system.

         Subsequent news outlets have reported that a number of groups and entities provided financial and logistical support to those organizing and coordinating the protest gathering in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021.  One of these groups apparently includes the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).  According to NBC News, a component or affiliate entity of RAGA, the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), funded a robo-call campaign to urge people to go to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and, according to the robo-call recordings explained that “At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal” of the election.[2]  Also, a website promoting the January 6, 2021 rally listed RLDF as a promoter and sponsor of the event.[3]

         According to its website, you are a member of RAGA.[4]  I am sure you would agree that the people of Nebraska have a right to know whether their public funds have supported your membership in this organization, including the extent their public funds may have supported the RLDF, and similarly the involvement and extent that their funds have supported any efforts you or your office may have had in organizing, encouraging, or providing any support of arranging attendance or disseminating information of the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C.  I am seeking documents relating to these questions.

         For purposes of this request:

  • “Documents” includes notes, memos, emails, text messages, faxes, letters or written items of any kind whether in paper format or electronic format, including recordings of virtual communications, video conferencing, or web conferencing.  This includes notes of telephone communications, virtual communications, or emails memorializing telephone conversations or virtual communications.
  • “RAGA” means the Republican Attorneys General Association. 
  • “RLDF” means the Rule of Law Defense Fund, an entity or subgroup or affiliate of RAGA.
  • “Your office” means the Attorney General’s office of the State of Nebraska and includes you, Doug Peterson, and all employees of the Attorney General office acting in their official capacity or on behalf of your office and/or the State of Nebraska.  This would include, but not be limited to, when you or such employee is using any state-owned or leased office space, computer, telephonic equipment, electronic communication device.  It would also include when you or any employee is not using state-owned or leased office space, but when you or such employee is accessing or using any computer, telephonic equipment, electronic communication device, database, or any other program or software that is maintained or provided by the state, regardless as to whether you or such employee is physically located in a state office building or on state-owned or state-leased property, such as when such employee is working from home due to COVID-19 protocols or for other reasons.  

 

         The materials I am requesting are limited to the time period of November 4, 2020 to January 10, 2021 except where noted below:

  1. Any documents including email, letter, phone message, or other communication with your office and RAGA, and with your office and the RLDF, and with your office and any individuals or organizations or entities acting or operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF relating to discussion, planning, organizing, suggesting, or providing any support of the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C. described earlier in this correspondence.
  1. Any documents or records of public funds, including any invoice, contract, check, receipt, or contribution, or similar record to pay for membership or sponsorship or dues for RAGA, RLDF, or any person, organization, or entity operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF for the time period of January 1, 2019 to January 10, 2021.
  1. Any documents including email, letter, telephone message or other communication between your office and Governor of Nebraska Pete Ricketts, or the Governor’s office, the Governor’s Budget Office, Governor’s Policy Research Office, regarding RAGA, RLDF, or any person, organization, or entity operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF regarding the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C. described earlier in this correspondence.

         As you know, Nebraska state law requires a response to an open records request to be made within four (4) days of receipt. Please advise if you require additional time.

         When the documents relevant to this request are ready, you may provide them in electronic form or, if you are providing in paper form, please let me know and I will make arrangements in my office to access those.

         I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully,

Senator Megan Hunt,

District 8

CC:   Members of the Legislature

      Members of the press   

 

[1] https://time.com/5926883/trump-supporters-storm-capitol/

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/republican-ags-group-sent-robocalls-urging-march-capitol-n1253581

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-08/republican-ags-group-disavows-staff-ties-to-pre-riot-march

[4]https://republicanags.com/ags/doug-peterson/ 

 

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

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

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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