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Weekly Legislative Update
The final eighteen session days remaining will pass quickly as crowds of eager young fourth graders from around District 16 continue to visit our capitol office. We plan to adjourn June 5th. The Unicameral continued work on legislation as my priority bill to increase deductions for qualified contributions to Nebraska college savings plans passed the second round of debate. The bill will have one final round of debate before the governor would have an opportunity to sign the bill. Additionally, LB500, legislation that I introduced to provide additional stipulations for safe bus stops, was sent to the governor’s desk this week without any opposition.
The legislature took up the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act this past week for debate before advancing it to select file. This legislation creates a rating system for daycares so that parents have good information to help them decide what daycare provider would best serve their child’s needs. This program is mandatory for childcare centers receiving over a quarter million dollars in childcare assistance. Taxpayers currently shoulder the bill for approximately $94 million worth of childcare assistance every year. It’s important for the protection of our kids and our tax dollars to make sure the facilities receiving these funds measure up to standards.
Debate also began on LB354, which reforms the Nebraska Corn Board, and provides accountability to the institution. Currently, the board is an appointed position. LB354 would provide for the election of the board members by producers and also allows for a refund to producers should desire one. Questions were raised over whether this institution should have the ability to adjust the fee it charges producers for its budget. Introducer Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill pointed out that there was a specified range that the fee must remain in, and that producers could choose to opt for a refund instead of participating in the program.
Last Friday, our office spent the day in Burt County conducting listening sessions in Tekamah, Oakland, and Decatur to hear concerns about pending legislation and constituent issues that could result in future legislation. These sessions covered a broad variety of topics ranging from renewable energy to Medicaid expansion. Attendees at the listening sessions expressed interest in exploring alternatives to expanding Nebraska’s Medicaid program, including possible insurance reform to address the rising coast of healthcare.
On Sunday, Nebraska bid farewell to our state’s only First Gentleman, Bill Orr, husband to former Governor Kay Orr. His sense of humor and service to our state will be remembered for years to come. Lee and I extend our deepest sympathies to Governor Orr and her family in this time of sorrow.
This week, the legislature will take up the budget put forward by the Appropriations Committee. As mentioned last week, spending looks like it will increase by about 5 percent. I will be listening carefully as the committee lays out its rationale for additional spending. I hope that part of the revenue increase will be transferred to the cash fund. If you have questions about the budget or state spending, please contact me or my administrative aide, David Slattery, or legislative aide, Taylor Gage, at (402) 471-2728 or email@example.com.
Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to keep the good life growing,
Senator Lydia Brasch