NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Megan Hunt

Sen. Megan Hunt

District 8

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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/ 

 

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

Barring any public health emergency, high school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 7-10. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

“Civic engagement means a lot of things,” Senator Hunt said. “From volunteering at a phone bank and canvassing neighbors on important issues to census counts and running for office, the range of opportunities to participate in our community is immense. I have no doubt that during student’s time in the Unicameral Youth Legislature, students will learn how to expand their influence and effect on the systems of government that are ultimately here to serve them.”

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15.

###

For more information, please contact Kate Heltzel at (402) 471-2788 or kheltzel@leg.ne.gov

Lincoln, NE— 2.25.20 — Today, Senator Megan Hunt’s Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act advanced from General File at the Nebraska Legislature. Legislative Bill 962 provides for all student-athletes enrolled in public and private four-year colleges in Nebraska to earn money from endorsements, sponsorships, and any other activities related to their athletic skills. Thirty-six Senators voted to advance the bill, with only four voting in opposition. This bill will allow college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness rights or athletic reputation.

LB 962 would ensure that college athletes are not being taken advantage of and provide them more opportunities outside of the field. The bill would not require colleges and universities to pay the athletes, but would provide for college athletes to seek endorsement deals such as posting an Instagram post or teaching lessons to aspiring athletes. If passed, Nebraska could be the second state in the nation to enact name, image, likeliness rights legislation.

“The vast majority of college athletes, even with scholarships, struggle to make ends meet. 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,” Hunt said. “Students understand the market opportunities available to them through social media. They understand the modern economy. It doesn’t matter if they’re the biggest star athlete in Nebraska or if they’re a tennis player at a D3 school who just wants to give private lessons in the off-season: Currently, neither of them can earn a dime. That’s not right.”

Lincoln, NE— 2.21.20 — Today, Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 872 which seeks to repeal the language in state statute that requires both physicians and the state to provide unsafe and inaccurate information to patients regarding “abortion reversal.” New evidence presented by University of California-Davis researchers has raised serious safety concerns about the dangers of not completing a medical abortion combination regimen. The study investigated claims that the hormone progesterone can stop a medication abortion.

The study was stopped for safety concerns after three patients required transport to an emergency room for hemorrhaging. All women in the study except one experienced bleeding. The first pill in medication abortion — mifepristone — is not intended to be used without the follow-up misoprostol treatment within 24-48 hours. The study shows that there are serious medical concerns about encouraging patients to seek out a treatment that is not grounded in science or medicine.

“The UC-Davis study raises serious safety concerns about not completing the evidence-based medical abortion combination regimen,” Senator Hunt said. “Mifepristone is not intended to be used without follow-up misoprostol treatment. It is even more concerning that states are passing laws to encourage women to participate in what amounts to an unmonitored experiment. When a study is monitored, as this one was, we have the ability to stop if safety concerns arise.”

“The legislation that we passed last year was irresponsible, and new evidence shows that the “abortion reversal” procedure recommended by DHHS threatens the health and safety of patients,” Senator Hunt said. “We should not be passing laws that encourage women to participate in an unmonitored experiment. That’s what the enactment of LB 209 has done to abortion patients in Nebraska. The State of Nebraska should embrace evidence-based practices, not promote and encourage bad medicine.”

Lincoln, Neb. —  1.16.20 — Today, three senators from Omaha introduced four bills (LBs 1037, 1038, 1039, and 1040) to address the lack of access to healthy, affordable foods for workers, families, and children across Nebraska.

“It’s hard to reconcile the fact that 200,000 Nebraskans struggle with food insecurity when they’re living in America’s breadbasket,” said Senators Hunt, Vargas, and Cavanaugh in a joint statement. “Even in a state with expanses of farmland and ranches, many families are worried about how to feed their kids. Every hungry family, every hungry child is relying on answers from our state government.”

LB1040 from Senator Vargas (District 7) would appropriate money to the Department of Agriculture to manage and grow Double Up Food Bucks, a program that doubles the value of federal nutrition (SNAP or food stamps) benefits spent at participating markets and grocery stores. The Double Up program began in Lincoln in 2017, and has since grown to nine locations and benefited more than 700 families. Double Up is currently managed by Nebraska Extension with help from the Department of Agriculture.

“Double Up Food Bucks has been an incredibly successful program with a huge impact for families and farmers over the past few years. LB1040 will grow that program while helping people bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables and supporting local farmers,” said Senator Vargas.

Senator Hunt’s (District 8) LB1038 would remove SNAP restrictions on an individual with three or more felony convictions for possession or use of a controlled substance if they participate in a substance abuse program. The bill would remove a major barrier to successful reintegration for formerly incarcerated people, while reducing hunger for the individuals and their families that are negatively affected by this restriction. LB1037 would ensure that eligible children aren’t removed from benefits due to someone in the household being disqualified. Under the current SNAP system, if one person in a household is disqualified from participation in the program, the entire family loses access.

“Over 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons every year who face monumental barriers to attaining employment and housing. Restricting access to basic necessities for these populations perpetuates the cycle of poverty and increases rates of recidivism.” said Senator Hunt. “Additionally, Nebraska’s current rules around SNAP qualification exclude children who live in a household with an adult who may not qualify. Children shouldn’t go hungry because our state hasn’t adopted this common sense, compassionate approach.”

LB1039 from Senator Cavanaugh (District 6) would create the Hunger-Free Schools Program, ensuring that every public school student in Nebraska is provided with breakfast and lunch during the school day at no cost to their family. Participating schools will be reimbursed by the Nebraska Department of Education for the total difference between their expenses and federal reimbursement. Schools will also maximize their participation in federal reimbursement programs such as the Community Eligibility Provision, bringing Nebraskans’ tax dollars back to Nebraska.

“With over 80,000 children in Nebraska facing food insecurity, meals at school are one of the most effective tools available to ensure they get the nutrition they need and deserve,” Senator Cavanaugh said. “Studies have shown that well-fed students are well-performing students, receiving better grades and better health. By making these meals freely available to all public school children, regardless of income, we can eliminate needless bureaucracy, better prepare our children for educational success, and let our educational professionals focus on education.”

Lincoln, NE— 1.15.20 — Today the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) recognized Senator Megan Hunt with the 2020 Inspiring Efficiency Award in the Leadership category. The Inspiring Efficiency Awards honor leaders who delivered groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency in five categories: Leadership, Education, Impact, Innovation and Marketing.

“Today more than ever, the power to build a sustainable world rests on the shoulders of state and local officials,” Hunt said. “Nebraska is a nationwide leader in energy efficiency, creating economic opportunities, protecting the environment and advancing clean energy across the Midwest. I’m proud to play a role in finding solutions to build a healthier, more sustainable world.”

MEEA selected Senator Hunt as an award recipient because of her leadership as the sole sponsor of Nebraska Legislative Bill 405, which updated the Nebraska Energy code from the 2009 IECC to the unamended 2018 IECC, a three-version code jump signed into law in 2019. Senator Hunt shepherded the bill through the legislative process, defending against harmful amendments, and rallying support when necessary. Senator Hunt convinced a politically diverse body of state lawmakers to adopt the most progressive energy code in the country.

ABOUT THE MIDWEST ENERGY EFFICIENCY ALLIANCE:
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) is a collaborative network advancing energy efficiency in the Midwest for sustainable economic development and environmental stewardship across 13 states. MEEA is the Midwest’s key proponent and resource for energy efficiency policy, helping to educate and advise a diverse range of stakeholders on ways to pursue a cost-effective, energy-efficient agenda. Through partnerships, programs and a dynamic annual conference, we curate a forward-thinking conversation to realize the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.

Lincoln, NE— 1.13.20 — Today Senator Megan Hunt introduced two bills with the purpose of establishing creative districts in Nebraska, funded by the sale of Support the Arts license plates. LB 942 tasks the Department of Motor Vehicles to design a Support the Arts license plate in coordination with the Nebraska Arts Council. The bill also creates the Support the Arts Cash Fund, with the primary purpose of funding the establishment of creative districts in the state. LB 943 grants the Council authority to propose a plan for identifying and certifying creative districts in Nebraska. Once established, these creative districts would be able to apply for a grant from the Council, funded by the sale of Support the Arts license plates.

“Creative districts can revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for its residents,” Hunt said. “These districts can bring physical transformation, economic growth, and greater community and cultural cohesion. There are over 300 creative districts across the country, but Nebraska is one of the few states that does not recognize any creative districts. We need to embrace the amazing grassroots artists in our state for how much excitement, economic development opportunities, and cultural vibrancy they bring to neighborhoods across Nebraska.”

“The arts put people to work, fostering a skilled workforce of creative occupations that contribute to economic productivity,” Hunt said. “The arts and culture industry produces substantial federal, state, and local tax revenue that only continues to grow.”

Lincoln, NE— 1.13.20 — Today Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 962, allowing student athletes the right to earn money from their name, image, and likeness. Student athletes are the only college students who are prohibited from earning an income for their skill or talent. The Fair Pay to Play Act gives students who are athletes the same opportunity as the rest of their classmates to participate in the market and earn money for their skills and talent. This bill will not cost taxpayers or universities a dime, because it opens up the opportunity for all student athletes to leverage the value of their talent and skill through the free market and entrepreneurship. LB 962 was introduced with the bipartisan support of 11 cosponsors.

“NCAA athletic programs generate tons of revenue, while players who generate this money can only be compensated with performance-based athletic scholarships,” Hunt said. “These athletes give free labor for no compensation and at great risk to their physical health. That’s why ensuring all student athletes have control over the value of their name, image, and likeness rights is so important to leveling the playing field and ensuring the civil rights of all students.”

“LB 962 is about the right of every person to work, to participate in the free market, and to gain a living through their work and talent,” Hunt said. “Today, colleges and universities profit greatly from intercollegiate sports while athletes struggle to have enough money for food. With the Fair Pay to Play Act, players will finally enjoy the right to benefit from the value of their name, image, and likeness rights through markets and entrepreneurship.”

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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