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This column covers legislative days 43 through 46.
March 20th marked the first day of Spring and the halfway point of the 2019 legislative session. The agenda for the remaining half took shape as senators and committees declared their priority bills. Additionally, the Speaker of the Legislature is able designated up to 25 bills as “speaker priority bills” and released his list this week. In order for a bill to be considered for the speaker priority list, senators must submit a letter requesting their bill be chosen as a speaker priority. A combination of these bills – senator priority, speaker priority, and committee priority – will make up the rest of the debate for the 2019 session.
I’ve chosen LB 304 introduced by Sen. Crawford of Bellevue for my priority bill this session. LB 304 is a cottage food bill allowing individuals and families to use their own home to prepare certain foods for sale at farmers markets, craft shows, and public events, or for distribution from their home. When this bill was heard in committee I received many emails and phone calls urging my support to vote it out of committee. Through those emails and phone calls, I learned just how important a bill like this could be to families looking for a bit of extra income or simply a way of spending meaningful time together doing something the whole family enjoys. I expect the bill will soon be voted out of committee, with a few minor amendments, and make its way to the floor for debate on general file.
The flooding continues to be a major topic of discussion amongst senators and other officials in the Capitol. During a briefing Thursday, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) officials said they are moving from rescue operations to recovery operations. According to a White House press release Thursday, President Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in the state, freeing up federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The President’s declaration includes Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders, and Washington counties with more counties to be included later as the declaration is processed. Funding can be used for things such as temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans, and small business loans. Citizens affected by the flood are encouraged to contact 2-1-1 or visit nema.nebraska.gov for information.
On Friday a statewide campaign called #NebraskaStrong kicked off. The public/private partnership aims to raise money for those affected by the flooding. Governor Rickets, Senators Sasse and Fischer, and others staffed a call center in an effort to raise funds for flood victims. To contribute to flood victims or to request assistance, please visit nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong.
If you have questions or comments, please contact the District 16 office at (402)-471-2728 to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl; or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow along with the session please visit nebraskalegislature.gov or you may watch the live stream when available at netnebraska.org