Senator Dave Bloomfield
January 27, 2012
Another week has gone by, with a variety of issues coming before the Nebraska Legislature. Several bills came before the Legislature during morning debates, and did not receive enough votes to advance further in the process. After eight hours of debate, sponsors of LB 418, a bill that would have changed provisions relating to robocalls (automated phone calls with a pre-recorded messages), did not receive the 33 votes needed to stop debate, which resulted in the bill being pulled from the agenda probably for the rest of the year. Senator Amanda McGill’s LB 304, a bill that would have allowed physicians to dispense medication (with immunity) to people who have sexually transmitted diseases AND their partners without ever seeing the partner or partners, failed to gather the necessary votes to advance to round two of debate. Senators spent time at the end of the week listening to debate on LB 276, the bill that would eliminate the death penalty and make the punishment for such crimes to be life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. I opposed LB 276 and in good conscience support the use of capital punishment when warranted. LB 276 did not advance after round one debate, and was removed from the agenda at the sponsor’s request.
The Health and Human Services Committee held a seven hour hearing (starting at 1:30 pm) on Thursday, January 26th. LB 961 would place all case management of child welfare services with the State of Nebraska, the entity who I believe has the legal responsibility for the children in its custody, and away from private entities who have this authority in certain parts of the state. The Health Committee introduced this bill after conducting interim hearings in locations throughout the state last year. Another bill (LB 957) was heard the same day. This bill would create the position of Inspector General to monitor all aspects of Nebraska’s child welfare system. I believe Nebraska’s current child welfare program has failed miserably, and that changes must be made to save the lives of the children in this system. Families of these children (both biological and foster) also deserve to be treated in a more timely and respectful way. These two bills are just part of a package of bills introduced by the Health and Human Services Committee in an attempt to change the child welfare system in Nebraska.
Days are sometimes long while the Legislature is in session, but they are usually busy and go by quickly. The day begins with meetings with groups and constituents between 7:00 – 9:00 am, then the Legislature usually convenes at 9:00 am and stays in session until noon. After lunch meetings with various groups or constituents, committee hearings begin daily at 1:30 pm. Committee hearings vary in length, but senators are encouraged stay and listen to testimony of any bill scheduled for hearings before their committees on that particular day. (Senators are also busy introducing bills in front of other committees holding hearings at the same time.) I have attended hearings under one hour in length, compared to this week’s Health Committee Hearing that lasted seven hours. At night, various groups schedule receptions and/or dinners, and try to meet with senators on various issues. Later in the session, when the hearings are completed, we will meet in the Legislative Chamber both morning and afternoon, and sometimes into the night.
On a personal note, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to the family of Henry Trysla, who passed away on January 22nd. Henry loved his family and his community. He was an instrumental part of so many accomplishments in the South Sioux City area. Citizens of Northeast Nebraska owe Henry our gratitude for his many achievements as well as the example he provided by the way he lived his life. I will be introducing a Legislative Resolution to honor Henry Trysla’s life and acknowledge his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with Henry’s family and friends.