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

March Legislative Update
March 17th, 2022

Note from Meg

Dear friends and neighbors,

On March 3rd, after weeks of passionate hearings and testimony, the committee hearings came to a close. The legislature has now moved to all-day 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 LB121 – a bill that would remove the lifetime ban on SNAP eligibility for people with certain drug convictions. I requested LB932 as a priority bill from Speaker Hilgers. This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify foster youth and their guardians of their social security benefits. Unfortunately, Speaker Hilgers did not select this bill as one of his priority bills.

A big focus of mine this session has been opposing bills that do not represent the values Nebraskans hold dear. These bills include- LB939LB1023LB1015 among others. LB939 would reduce taxes for Nebraska’s highest individual earners while doing nothing for the majority of Nebraskans; LB1023 would appropriate $200 million of federal pandemic recovery funds to build a lake between Omaha and Lincoln when this money should be used for the services Nebraskans are asking us for such as rental assistance, mental healthcare, etc.; and LB1015 would use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to build a canal that would divert South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska. This bill is in search of a problem as Colorado has not violated the water compact agreement between them and Nebraska. The canal will cost $500 million dollars with $100 million coming from ARPA funds. LB1023 and LB1015 would both use relief funds irresponsibly. We need your support in defeating these four bills.

As all-day floor debate continues, your voice matters. To learn how to submit online comments, click here. Since committee hearings have ceased this session, online comments will not be included on the official record. However, feedback is still relevant and important as bills progress.

All the best,
Meg

Legislative Update

Committee hearings have drawn to a close, below is an update on bills I have introduced. You can get more information on each bill by clicking on the bill number.

  • LB121: Lift SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) ban for people with drug convictions
    • This ban only applies to individuals with drug-related felonies.
    • Many people did not find out that they were banned from receiving SNAP until they were in desperate need of the service during the pandemic.
    • These individuals have served their time and should not be deprived of essential services. Everyone deserves access to food.
    • Nebraska is the only state with this ban.
    • Placed on General File
    • My priority bill
  • AM2200: Require DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) to inform foster youth and their guardians of social security benefits
    • After an interim study this past session, we discovered that DHHS in Nebraska does not inform foster youth or their guardians of possible social security benefits they are entitled to.
    • DHHS often was using these funds that were meant for the foster youth to pay for the cost of their care.
    • My bill would require that the foster youth and their guardian(s) are notified of their benefits.
    • AM 2200 to LB1173
    • Advanced to Final Reading
  • LB1137: Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) update for the Fair Pay to Play Act
    • College athletes deserve to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness. This would be a technical update to the Fair Pay to Play Act that was passed into law in 2020.
    • Placed on Select File
  • LB357: Youth in Care Bill of Rights
    • Foster youth are already required to be informed of their basic rights, however foster youth and advocates have expressed that the rights that are currently enumerated are not broad enough nor are they communicated in a way that the youth can retain or fully understand.
    • This bill would provide the foster youth with a more comprehensive list of rights and an avenue for them to file a complaint if they feel as though their rights have been violated.
    • Placed on General File
  • LB250: Adopt the Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act
    • Currently in Nebraska, interior designers are required to hire an architect or an engineer to stamp their design plans; thus, causing unnecessary fees and delays in their project.
    • This is a bill to create a voluntary registration to be administered to the Nebraska State Treasurer for those qualified interior designers in Nebraska to use the title “Registered Interior Designer”. Those registered would have the ability to stamp and seal their interior design construction documents.
    • Placed on General File with AM471

Bills to Watch

Bills I Support

  • LB920 (Lathrop): Create the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Task Force
    • The task force would enact a series of evidence-based strategies to reduce inmate population and lower recidivism rates.
  • LB872 (Brewer): Allows Native American students to proudly wear their tribal regalia
    • Requires that Native American students shall not be forced to remove items of tribal regalia at school or school-sanctioned events.
  • AM1969 (Hansen, M.): Require the Governor to apply for emergency rental assistance under ARPA
    • Nebraska is one of two states who have not yet applied for emergency rental assistance from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
    • This amendment would require Governor Ricketts to apply for this emergency rental assistance.

Bills I Oppose

  • LB939 (Linehan): A tax break for wealthy Nebraskans
    • Cuts taxes for wealthy Nebraskans, but fails to provide any significant relief for middle to lower-class Nebraskans.
  • LB773 (Brewer): Concealed Carry without a permit
    • Removes the requirement for one to receive a permit to conceal carry a handgun which in turn means people will not have to take a safety class before doing so.
  • LB730 (Lindstrom): Tax credit bill amended to include Opportunity Scholarship tax credit
    • Puts in place a tax incentive that would match dollar-for-dollar donations to private schools.
  • LB1213 (Albrecht): Provides requirements for access to digital and online materials for public schools. Restricts access to “obscene” materials.
    • This is a bill in search of a problem. Obscene is never defined in the bill leaving it up to interpretation which could restrict academic freedom for students. It also takes control away from the library commission and educators who are already filtering online content.
  • LB933 (Albrecht): Bans abortions entirely if SCOTUS overturns Roe
    • Makes it so that if the Supreme Court of the United States overturns all or part of Roe, Nebraska law will reflect that decision immediately.
  • LB1086 (Geist): Put unnecessary restrictions on medication abortions
    • Requires the patient who is taking the medication abortion to partake in pre and post appointments which are not medically unnecessary. This bill also shortens the window you can take the medication down from 11 weeks to 10 weeks. Both of these requirements go against the standard of care of abortion services.
All of the bills listed above are priority bills. To see a full list of Senator, Committee, and Speaker priority bills, click here

February/March in Review

February 24th was a big day for abortion rights at the Unicameral. Three draconian bills, LB933LB781, and LB1086, were being discussed in the Judiciary Committee that day. LB933 would ban abortions entirely if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe. This bill also criminalizes physicians for providing the standard of care.  LB781 would ban abortions at about six weeks, which is well before many people even know they are pregnant. LB1086 would put unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion. These bills attack Nebraskan’s vital reproduction rights. None of these bills take into consideration the standard of care for abortions and they are based on false evidence. Nebraskans showed up in droves to voice their opinions on each bill. Proponents of these bills did not use up all of their allotted two hours of testimony, while opponents of these bills still had people waiting inside and outside of the room to testify after their two hours were up. Anyone who was in the Capitol that day knows that it was an important day. Research shows us that most Nebraskans are in favor of reproductive healthcare. On February 24th, Nebraskans proved this by showing up in astonishing numbers.
On March 1st, I had the privilege of speaking to Thespians from across the state for the first annual Theatre In Our Schools Advocacy Day. I was able to speak about the importance of keeping theater in our schools and how important the arts are in general for students.
The League of Women Voters held a panel on March 3rd to discuss the minimum wage and medical marijuana ballot initiatives. I was able to discuss the various bills I have introduced throughout my time on the legislature addressing the need for a living wage and how I strongly support this initiative.

On March 4th I had the pleasure of speaking at the National Art Education Foundation’s National Conference Panel about my help with defeating LB364, the opportunity tax credit bill. I discussed how this bill is an effort to undermine public schools and chip away at public schools to move towards privatization.

The Nebraska Civic Leaders Program (NCLP) held a Senator panel on March 10th. This program is a partnership between Omaha Public Schools and the University of Nebraska Omaha to give high schoolers hands-on experiences on how government works at all levels. I had the opportunity to speak on my experience as a State Senator in Nebraska.

Our Office in the News

1011 Now: Nebraska bill proposed would help schools discontinue use of Native American mascots
KMTV Omaha: Women of Nebraska Legislature demanding change in wake of Groene resignation
Omaha World Herald: Future of legal abortion at stake in Nebraska legislative hearing
Lincoln Journal Star: State income tax rate reduction advanced for further consideration
Unicameral Update: Bill would expand authorized abortion practitioners
Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska moves to end privatized management of child welfare cases after troubled history
North Platte Post: Bill to end lifetime ban on food assistance before Nebraska lawmakers
KLKN TV: New bill would allow insurance companies to cover abortions in Nebraska 
Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska lawmakers push Ricketts to seek additional federal rental aid
News Channel Nebraska: Big Metro lake brings big questions
KLIN: Lawmakers debate no permit conceal carry

District 8 Events, News, and Resources

Dundee- Memorial Park Neighborhood Meeting: April 11th from 7-8pm at Brownell Talbot click here for more information on the event.
Annual Spring DMPA Garage Sale Weekend: The annual Dundee-Memorial Park garage sale weekend will take place on May 12th-15th, to sign up to sell your cool stuff click here! A list of all the addresses selling items will be available soon.
Benson Community Garden: Benson’s Community Garden is located at 1302 N 60th st. You can sign up to garden or donate through their website. More info here.
BFF: Benson First Friday’s aka BFF has opened a new art gallery in Benson located at 5901 Maple st! Come check it out on Saturdays from 10am-6pm.
Benson Days: The annual Benson Days will take place on July 30th-31st. This event takes place in historic Benson. For more info, click here
17th Annual Omaha Film Festival: Virtual events will take place March 13th-April 2nd. Limited in person screenings will take place March 11th and 12th at the Brownell Talbot Theater. For more info, click here
Food Bank: Benson Baptist Church in conjunction with Food Bank of the Heartland has a food pantry open to the public from 9am-12pm on the last Saturday of every month. The church is located at 6319 Maple St. For more info, click here
Omaha Parks and Rec: Omaha Parks and Rec is looking for employees this summer. Click here or reference the photo below for more information.

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 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.
January Newsletter
January 25th, 2022

Dear friends and neighbors,

The Unicameral is back in session! Bill introduction is officially over and below you can find a brief overview of my 2022 legislative agenda, testifying procedure updates, bills I support, and dangerous proposals that have been introduced this session.

We are beginning our 60-day session with nearly 700 bills introduced and the added task of allocating over 1 billion in federal funding. This is our chance to make generational investments with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding by prioritizing affordable housing, racial and gender equity, education, infrastructure, economic justice, and environmental protections.

A handful of my colleagues have continued their relentless attack on abortion rights by introducing roughly six bills to ban or restrict access to reproductive healthcare and comprehensive sex education. We must remember that abortion is a right. Abortion is health care. The decision about whether and when to become a parent belongs to Nebraskans and their medical providers, not the government. Above all, politicians have no place interfering with personal health care decisions. We aren’t medical experts, and we don’t know better than doctors or the patient themselves. However we personally feel about abortion, individuals, not lawmakers, should have the option to make these decisions without political interference. As long as I am in the Nebraska Legislature, and beyond, I am committed to doing everything I can to protect the rights of patients, families, doctors, and ensure that any policy we advance is motivated by evidence, research, and the well-being of all Nebraskans.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with your thoughts on any upcoming legislation. Your feedback and input are always important to me.

All the best,
Meg

2022 Legislative Agenda

LB 715 – Lift the ban on insurance coverage for abortion care

  • Nebraska is one of 11 states that prohibit abortion coverage from being included in private and public plans. Current restrictive laws serve to “punish” people who have made the difficult decision to end a pregnancy.  Many of these people may already be struggling financially, and the burden of medical bills incurred from abortion care may contribute to keeping them in a cycle of poverty.

LB 716 – Expand the list of providers qualified to provide abortion care to include Certified Nurse Midwives, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and physician assistants

  • Health care providers are overworked and in short supply. Many duties that are currently performed by physicians can also be safely done by skilled, licensed nurses and physician assistants. This is a simple, effective way to help our health care workers and patients alike.

LB 834 – Eliminate the disability subminimum wage

  • The current practice of setting disability wages based on a worker’s efficiency and ability is exploitive, discriminatory, and dehumanizing, resulting in these workers being paid cents on the dollar due to a little-known 80-year old federal law.

LB 930 – Allow for the use of campaign funds for a child’s travel and childcare related to the office holder’s official duties

  • Being a parent with little to no disposable income should not be a factor in whether or not someone is able to run for office. The aim of this bill is to make it easier for low-income and single parents to fulfill the public service duties they were elected to do.

LB 931 – Counting vacation payouts fairly for unemployment eligibility

  • This bill removes the statute that currently requires lump sum vacation paid out upon separation to be prorated to an amount reasonably attributable to that week and the amount the employee would be entitled to for the weeks thereafter. If a contract employee chooses to save up vacation days rather than take time off in order to get paid out for those days later on,  it is their prerogative to do so; and their unemployment eligibility should not be adversely affected. The employee earned those vacation benefit dollars during the course of employment and is now no longer working, so they should be eligible for unemployment without the lump-sum payment counting against them.
  • Hearing set for Jan. 24th

LB 932 – Establish protections for foster youth’s social security benefits  

  • Establishes notification requirements and transparency measures, requires the state to provide financial literacy training to older youth, and requires the state to establish a savings account for social security benefits for youth starting at age 14.
  • Comes after interim study LR 198 which investigated the state’s practice of interception social security benefits that belong to foster youth under the guise of reimbursing itself for the youth’s care (2.7mil a year) without the youths’ or their guardian’s knowledge.
  • Nebraska is one of at least 10 states that has hired a for-profit contractor to screen youth for eligibility for this money and to apply for it on the state’s behalf, taking the most vulnerable of our vulnerable children and asking them to foot the bill for their own care.
  • Hearing set for Jan. 28th

LB 1027 – Provide grants to schools that discontinue the use of Native American mascots  

  • Incentivizes schools to discontinue the use of Native mascots by allowing them to apply for a grant from the State Department of Education for up to $200,000 to assist with the cost of changing mascots. Currently

LB 1028 – Tipped wage enforcement

  • We know from reports and testimony from hundreds of workers across the state that some employers are not following the current law, but due to the vagueness of the statute, it is difficult to track and enforce
  • The bill makes it explicitly clear it is the employer’s responsibility to make up the difference between a tipped employee’s wage + tips and the regular minimum wage of $9/hr,
    establishes a simplified process to submit complaints, and expands protections for employees.

LB 1029 – Provide employee harassment protections for small businesses

  • Creates harassment and discrimination protections that apply to businesses with 14 or fewer employees
  • The Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA) includes protections for employees from harassment, discrimination, and employer retaliation for employers with at least 15 employees. This means there is a giant hole in the Act – employers with 14 employees or less have no protections under this Act or federal law. There is no good reason that small employers should be free to discriminate against and harass their employees without penalty.

LB 1136 – Prohibit senior care living facilities from discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals 

  • Under current statute, these facilities can deny applications, evict residents, refuse to assign a room in accordance with one’s gender identity, and bully and harasses LGBTQ+ individuals for simply being themselves. This bill will provide vital housing protections for our LGBTQ+ senior Nebraskans.

LR 269CA – Establish an independent redistricting commission 

  • Establishes a politically balanced 9 member independent citizens commission to set district lines for the Legislature’s approval to remove partisan games and restore transparency in the redistricting process.
  • Hearing set for Jan. 27th

Carryover Legislation 

  • LB 121 (General File) – Removes the lifetime SNAP ban for individuals with prior drug convictions
  • LB 205 (in committee)– Places a cap on rental late fees
    • Bringing a new amendment to simplify the math
  • LB 250 (General File) – Establishes the Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act
  • LB 276 (in committee) – Permit telemedicine abortions
  • LB 357 (General File) – Create the Youth in Care Bill of Rights

Testifying Update! 

New this year, the Legislature has updated its procedures for submitting a written position letter. Formally, Nebraskans could submit a written statement on a bill, to be included in the record, by emailing it to committee staff by noon the day prior to the bill’s committee hearing. This process has been discontinued.

To streamline the process, it has been moved online. Nebraskans can now submit comments on the Legislature’s website (www.NebraskaLegislature.gov). Simply search the bill number and click on the submit comments button. If you would like your comments to be part of the formal record, they must be submitted by noon the day before the hearing and you must select the ‘include in hearing record’ button. Comments may be submitted on any bill, at any stage of debate, for all legislative staff and senators to view.

Sponsored Legislation

Racial Justice 

  • LB 814 (McKinney) – Require racial impact statements for legislative bills
  • LB 842 (Brewer) – Include tribal governments to be able to receive Civic and Community Center assistance grants
  • LB 872 (Brewer) – Ensure Native American students can proudly wear their tribal regalia in Nebraska schools
  • LB 1191 (Brewer) – Use federal funds to improve tribal-owned drinking water

Healthcare

  • LB 929 (Wishart) – Extends postpartum insurance coverage
  • LB 1129 (Morfeld) – Provide free birth control
  • LB 1133 (Morfeld) – Allow health workers to qualify for mental health benefits under workers’ compensation
  • LB 1066 & 1067 (Stinner) – Direct federal funds to behavioral health care services
  • LB 1075 (Stinner) – Direct federal funds to youth mental health services

Gender Equity

  • LB 745 (Cavanaugh, M.) – Update marriage language to “spouses” to make it more inclusive
  • LB 881 (McKinney) – Provide for a sale tax exemption for feminine hygiene products and require detention facilities to provide such products

Housing

  • LB 940 (Hansen, M.) – Direct federal funds for housing
  • LB 1002 (McDonnell) – Direct funds to low-income home energy assistance
  • LB 1142 (Vargas) – Direct federal funds to affordable housing
  • LB 1052 (Cavanaugh, J.) – Direct federal funds to a homeless assistance program
  • LB 1070 & 1071 (Williams) – Direct federal funds to rural affordable housing
  • LB 1073 (Wayne) – Create the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address affordable housing needs
  • LB 1252 (Vargas) – Direct federal funds to middle-income housing

Economic Development 

  • LB 991 (Morfeld) – Direct funds to conduct a feasibility study for a high-speed commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln
  • LB 1024 (Wayne) – Adopt the North Omaha Recovery Act and state intent regarding appropriation of federal funds
  • LB 1114 (McKinney)LB 1116 & 1117 (Wayne) – Encourage business/development in areas of high poverty and/or unemployment
  • LB 1141 (Vargas) – Direct federal funds to legal civil representation for financially struggling clients
  • LB 1201 (Deboer) – Use federal funds on expanded food assistance
  • LB 1203 (Briese) – Use federal funds on child care assistance
  • LB 1238 (Vargas) – Use federal funds on South Omaha Recovery Grant Program

Criminal Justice Reform 

  • LB 920 (Lathrop) – Create the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Task Force
  • LB 946 (Wayne) – Prohibit state agencies from prescribing off-label medications to certain juveniles
  • LB 952 (Cavanaugh, J.) – Provide Medicaid enrollment assistance to inmates prior to release
  • LB 1111 (McKinney) – Designate funding for reentry and restorative justice programming
  • LB 1154 (McKinney) – Smart justice reform to support reentry and rehabilitation
  • LB 1155 (Cavanaugh, J.) – Smart justice assessment of pretrial release, supporting bond reform
  • LB 1276 (McKinney) – Allow for civil actions against police officers who commit misconduct

Voting 

  • LB 793 (McCollister) – Provide for ranked-choice voting

Opposed Legislation

  • LB 768 (Albrecht) – Ban health and sex education in public schools
  • LB 781 (Slama) – Ban abortion at six weeks, before many Nebraskans even know they’re pregnant
  • LB 785 (Groene) – Shortens the window of when ballots can be mailed out to voters
  • LB 859 (Clements) – Prohibit health departments from implementing directed health measures without approval from DHHS
  • LB 933 (Albrecht) – Ban abortion entirely if the Supreme Court overturns Row vs. Wade
  • LB 938 (Linehan) – Reduces corporate income tax rates
  • LB 963 (Murman) – Allows for healthcare workers to deny almost any kind of care based on personal beliefs, creating a sweeping license to discriminate
  • LB 1011 (Budget proposal) – Continued push for a $240+ million new prison, instead of investing in smart justice solutions
  • LB 1077 (Hansen, B.) – Classroom censorship bill to restrict discussions of race and gender in K-12 classrooms, higher education, and government agencies’ professional development training
  • LB 1078 (Hansen, B.) – Prohibit students from having cell phones in classrooms
  • LB 1181 (Groene) – Adds new mail voting restrictions
  • LB 1086 (Geist) – Further restricts medication abortion, a safe, effective, and FDA-approved method of care
  • LB 1179 (Groene) – Allow for teachers to use physical intervention in classrooms
  • LB 1213 (Albrecht) – Digital censorship in schools
  • LR 282CA (Slama) – Undoes the nonpartisan nature of our unique Unicameral elections
  • LR 278CA (Linehan) – Eliminate the State Board of Education

District 8 Events

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Benson First Friday Art Walk

  • Supporting the emerging artistic community in Omaha and our surrounding areas starting Friday, February 4th.

Hand Up Food Pantry

  • January 27 at 3:30 pm – 5:15 pm at First Presbyterian Church’s on 216 S 34th St, Omaha. This is a recurring event every Thursday.

Season of Lights

  • Experience a winter’s night and stroll in the glow of a cherished holiday tradition – tens of thousands of white LED lights strung throughout Turner Park and along Farnam Street. Happening now through February 14, 2022.

Valentine’s Day Pop-Up Events with Mauve Moon Florals 

  • February 6th embrace your inner goddess pop-up at Bellevue Social Center
  • February 12th Galentine’s Day Pop-Up at Shop Five Nine (Benson)

Our Office in the News

Lincoln Journal Star – Sen. Megan Hunt proposes expanded access to abortion care as Legislature returns

Omaha World-Herald editorial – Midlands Voices It’s vital for Nebraska leaders to stand up for all women by Megan Hunt

3 News Now – School choice bill fails in Nebraska Legislature despite unlikely political alliances

ACLU of Nebraska – Advocates announce new bills to protect abortion rights

KETV Omaha – Abortion stakes high in upcoming legislative session

Lincoln Journal Star – Social Security tax repeal bill delayed by fiscal uncertainty

Connect with Me

  • Please follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Youtube 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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

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

 

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

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

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

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Hunt is welcomed into the distinguished 2022 class of 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40 list in the Business Equity Magazine. A search was conducted to identify young LGBTQ+ leaders who unequivocally stand up and out in their truth; who demonstrate exceptional leadership while making significant contributions in government, corporate, academia, non-profit, or small business. Each honoree has taken bold steps towards equitable futures for everyone. 

“Thank you so much to Business Equality Magazine for recognizing me as one of 40 Under 40 LGBTQ+ leaders across North America. It’s an honor to be included among so many visionary changemakers in business, education, government, the arts, and more,” Hunt commented. 

You can view the article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intern With My Office!
September 28th, 2021

Apply here!

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cassy Ross, Communications Director

Phone: (402) 471-2722

Email: cross@leg.ne.gov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to these 20 leaders:

###

 

Sen. Megan Hunt

District 8
Room 12th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2722
Email: mhunt@leg.ne.gov
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