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We have had another exciting week at the Unicameral, over 325 bills and 21 legislative resolutions have been submitted since convening on January 3rd. We have been moving through debate on many bills in General File that carried over from last year, while committees prepare to hold hearing for newly introduced bills.
On Wednesday, Governor Ricketts delivered his State of the State address highlighting his priorities and hopes for 2018. He pointed to the many successes Nebraska had last year, including winning the Governor’s Cup for most economic development projects per capita of any state in the country, Forbes’ ranking of Nebraska as the fourth best state for business, and achieving the lowest unemployment rate in the state since 1999 at 2.7 percent. As revenue continues to come in below projections and we face a $200 million shortfall, Governor Ricketts’ proposed budget dictates across-the-board budget cuts to close the gap without raising taxes while still protecting state priorities, including K-12 education, developmental disability services, child welfare and corrections.
Governor Ricketts also released a plan to address Nebraska’s crushing property taxes, through the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunity Act (LB947) proposed by Senator Smith. While this is a work in progress, I am excited to work together to pass bipartisan legislation for much-needed property tax relief.
Also on Wednesday, our office was delighted to welcome many guests from District 17, including South Sioux City School Board members and students, the South Sioux City Chamber of Commerce, South Sioux City, Dakota City, Dakota County, and 2018 Teacher of the Year Michelle Helt to the Capitol to watch the Governor’s speech. Senator Brewer and I also welcomed Tribal leaders from across the state to watch the State of the State address followed by coffee and a productive discussion.
I was proud to stand with Attorney General Doug Peterson, Governor Pete Ricketts, fellow Senators, and law enforcement at the reveal of the “Demand an End” awareness campaign on Thursday. The awareness campaign is the latest step Nebraska is taking to end the sale of minors and adults coerced or forced into sex. Awareness posters targeting the buyers of trafficking victims will be placed at all rest stops along I-80 and many more around the state. Governor Ricketts also declared January Human Trafficking Awareness Month to solidify Nebraska’s commitment to ending this heinous crime. Thank you to the brave men and women who have already begun this fight on the front lines.
This week I also introduced three additional bills, LB 949, LB 952, and LB 953:
LB 949 aims to rename the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority Act to include cultural institutions, allowing for cultural institutions such as museums or visual arts centers to finance or refinance cultural assets they deem important to the economic vitality of their locality.
LB 952 protects businesses by limiting the number of times an employee can file and dismiss the same case in Workers’ Compensation Court.
LB 953 corrects language in current Nebraska statutes regarding workers’ compensation to allow penalties for late payments to injured workers. LB 953 also allows parties in Workers’ Compensation Court to settle their case without court approval when there may be unpaid medical bills or the employee is a Medicare beneficiary. Court approval would still be needed if the employee is not represented by an attorney.
The Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on January 22nd, February 5th, February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.
If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the business day prior to the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.
You may submit your written testimony by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Senator Joni Albrecht
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604
I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716 or to write me at the address above.
I look forward to hearing from you!