NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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

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Lincoln, NE— 1.6.22 Today, Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 834, which would eliminate the outdated statute that allows employers to pay disabled employees well below minimum wage.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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Welcome
January 5th, 2022

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

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:

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LB 260 Signed into Law!
May 26th, 2021
My priority bill, LB 260, was signed into law by the Governor. This means it will take effect three calendar months following the adjournment of the Legislature, which is Thursday. So as of late August, Nebraskans who have been in the workforce but have a temporary gap in employment are able to apply for the unemployment benefits they are entitled to. I am proud to have 25 cosponsors on this bill and a broad base of bipartisan support.
LB 260 adds “caring for a family member with a serious health condition” to the list of reasons that are considered “good cause for voluntarily leaving employment” in our Employment Security Law. In other words, it would allow 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 if and when they are ready and willing to look for new work.

As is often the case, important bills like this often take several years of work and strategizing and compromising before we get the reward of seeing them passed. I’d like to thank Senator Sue Crawford (who introduced the bill before me), The AARP of Nebraska, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Nebraska AFL-CIO, and the many advocates and individuals who testified, called, and emailed Legislators about the need for LB 260. I’m also grateful to my colleagues across the political spectrum who cosponsored and supported the bill, and so proud that we passed it “clean” (meaning, without an amendment)!
After the year we have had, it’s been my goal to do something that will provide some tangible relief to Nebraskans. More Nebraskans than ever this past year have had to make the difficult choice to stay home with a loved one who is seriously ill. With the passage of LB 260, Nebraska is officially recognizing family caregiving as a legitimate reason for leaving employment. Benefits are available only for a limited time up to a limited amount while the worker seeks to rejoin the workforce – just like it is for any other applicant. Over half of the states have passed a law like this, and I’m proud to have Nebraska join their ranks. To the caregivers – we see you, and recognize the sacrifices you make. I hope that this can help those in the future who face similar circumstances, in some small way.
May Town Hall Recording
May 26th, 2021

View the Town Hall

Listen in as I provide a summary of the 2021 legislative session, share an update on the bills being debated, discuss the status of the bills I have introduced, and answer any questions you may have. Just click above or below to view a recording of the town hall.

Watch it here

Originally recorded on May 22, 2021

LB 160 Passes!
May 19th, 2021

LB260 Passes! 

My priority bill, LB 260 passed on final reading today, with a veto-proof number of affirmative votes. (33 yes, 11 no, and 5 present-not voting) I am proud to have 25 cosponsors on this and a broad base of bipartisan support.

LB 260 adds “caring for a family member with a serious health condition” to the list of reasons that are considered “good cause for voluntarily leaving employment” in our Employment Security Law.  In other words, it would allow 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 if and when they are ready and willing to look for new work.

Voting NO: Albrecht, Clements, Erdman, Friesen, Groene, Halloran, Hansen, B., Hughes, Lowe, Moser, Slama

Present – Not Voting: Arch, Bostelman, Brewer, Lindstrom, Lienhan

Voting YES: Aguilar, Blood, Bostar, Brnadt, Briese, Cavanaugh, J., Cavanaugh, M., Day, DeBoer, Dorn, Floor, Geist, Gragert, Hansen, M., Hilgers, Hilkemann, Hunt, Kolterman, Lathrop, McCollister, McDonnell, McKinney, Morfeld, Murman, Pahls, Pansing Brooks, Sanders, Stinner, Vargas, Walz, Wayne, Williams, Wishart

Why Is LB260 Important? 

I selected this bill as my personal priority this year because after everything we have all been through in the past year, I wanted to do something that would have a tangible impact for Nebraskans who have experienced financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While we will never be able to make up for the terrible loss suffered in the past year, I think it is my duty as a legislator to do whatever I can to put in place policies that will provide real, tangible relief to constituents who are suffering.  It is enough that many of our constituents have lost loved ones, lost their livelihood, or have had to care for a sick loved one in a time when our healthcare system is stretched so thin and the availability of skilled care is so sparse.  With LB 260, we’re allowing workers who have earned unemployment benefits throughout their years in the workforce a temporary safety net of unemployment eligibility while they care for a seriously ill family member and seek to eventually get back to work.  

Under current law, employees who leave work due to family caregiving demands are not able to collect unemployment benefits that they have earned throughout their years in the workforce.  This would cover situations in which someone had to leave one job, then they have a temporary period where they’re providing care and are out of work, and then they’re ready to get back in the workforce.  For example, an employee may have a parent that suddenly becomes seriously ill.  It may take weeks for the employee to make suitable arrangements for the parent’s long-term care, or until the parent might be admitted into a care facility.  This bill would provide a safety net until the need for full-time caregiving passes.

The coronavirus pandemic has made this bill even more important.  Many jobs don’t grant workers enough flexibility to care for a sick loved one.  Closures, capacity restrictions, and fear of infection have caused a strain on the availability of skilled care, and facilities are experiencing high rates of infection spread.  Vulnerable individuals may have more demanding and long-term care needs following infection with the virus.  These factors in combination with increased unemployment and the difficulty of finding new jobs as a result of COVID-19 make it harder than ever for working Nebraskans who have family caregiving needs.

24 states have adopted this change.

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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