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Although over 500 bills were introduced in the 2018 legislative session, it is likely that only priority bills will be debated on the floor. A priority bill is a bill that has priority status and generally is considered ahead of other bills in debate. Each senator may select one priority bill, each committee may select two priority bills, and the speaker may select up to 25 priority bills. All priority designations were announced Wednesday morning, and we now have a good idea of the topics that will dominate this legislative session. Topics include property tax reform, education reform, rural broadband access, and voter ID laws. To view all priority bills please visit https://nebraskalegislature.gov/session/priority.php.
I designated LB 1040, provide for certificates of nonviable birth, as my 2018 priority bill and I am happy to announce it passed out of Health and Human Services Committee with 7 “yes” votes and 0 “no” votes. LB 1040 is a bill to help grieving families by offering a commemorative birth certificate for those who suffer a pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks gestation. Every pregnancy loss is a tragedy that has a profound impact on women and entire families, yet most go unrecognized. Any woman who has ever miscarried knows the pain and loss are real no matter the gestation. Whether a pregnancy is lost at 5 weeks, 12 weeks, 19 weeks or 20 weeks and beyond, the pain of that loss is severe and should be recognized and honored for those who wish to do so.
As Chair of Business and Labor Committee, I designated LB 953 and LB 791 as the committee’s priority bills.
LB 953 requires the Workers’ Compensation Court to approve a lump-sum settlement in cases in which the employee at the time of settlement is eligible for Medicare or has a reasonable expectation of becoming eligible for Medicare within 30 months. A lump-sum settlement may also be approved if medical expenses incurred for treatment of the injury will not be fully paid as part of the settlement, if the employee’s attorney affirms that the settlement is in conformity with the compensation schedule and for the best interests of the employee or his or her dependents, under all the circumstances. LB 953 also addresses a recent Workers’ Compensation Court’s decision regarding the enforceability of late payment penalties.
LB 791 was introduced by Senator Ebke at the request of the Governor. LB 791 makes changes to the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act regarding the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) to eliminate certain conflicts of interest and to provide for accountability and transparency in NSP investigations. Specifically, LB 791 removes NSP sergeants from the collective bargaining unit and places them in the supervisors unit. LB 791 also removes disciplinary and investigative procedures of the NSP from the scope of collective bargaining.
This week also marked the end of most committee hearings. The Business and Labor Committee will have our last hearing on Monday; Government, Military and Veteran Affairs, Health and Human Services, Judiciary, and Revenue Committees will hold their final hearings on Tuesday. Wednesday, February 28th, will mark the first full day of floor debate for the 2018 session. Things will be moving fast and I am hopeful we will pass meaningful legislation this year. Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: www.netnebraska.org/capitol. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.
I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to write me at:
Senator Joni Albrecht
State Capitol, Room 2010
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604
I take into consideration every letter, email, and phone call my office receives when I consider legislation. I truly value your input and suggestions on the issues before the Legislature. It is of great importance that I hear from you in order to do my job. I look forward to hearing from you!