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With another four day weekend, I am ecstatic to spend more time back home in District 17. I am hoping to have some great conversations at fish fries across the district. I am always happy to talk to constituents and appreciate when those who see me say hi and ask questions.
On March 1st we celebrated Nebraska’s 151st birthday! In 1867, after persevering through two presidential vetoes in statehood bids, President Andrew Johnson signed the statehood proclamation on March 1st making Nebraska the 37th state. I am proud that Nebraska has grown into the best state to live, work, and raise a family.
The first bill we heard at the Legislature on Monday was Senator Howard’s priority, LB 931 Provide requirements for opiate and controlled substance prescriptions. This legislation creates a seven-day duration cap on a prescription for an opioid issued to a person under the age of 18. Senator Howard lost her sister to an opioid overdose in 2009 after being prescribed pain pills, and law enforcement agencies in the state have opened investigations into prescribing practices recently. It is imperative that Nebraska continues to peruse avenues to combat opioid addiction, I believe this is a step in the right direction. I appreciate the courage of Senator Howard to tell the story of the struggles her family faced with the opioid epidemic and hope that we can continue taking steps to eliminate opioid overdose deaths.
With committee hearings completed, we began our first day of full debate on the floor Wednesday. Going forward, each legislative day will typically go until around 5:00 pm, allowing us more time to continuously debate bills. A few bills coming up in the next week will be sure to bring a lively debate to the Unicameral.
Senator Watermeier’s 2018 priority LB 44, Adopt the Remote Sellers Sales Tax Collection Act, would require remote sellers (online retailers without a physical presence in Nebraska) to collect and remit sales tax under certain conditions. Senator Watermeier introduced LB 44 last year in an effort to collect sale taxes from online retailers, such as Amazon, but the bill faced opposition for being unconstitutional – a claim that was confirmed in an opinion issued by the Attorney General’s office. Senator Watermeier introduced an amendment, AM 1822, to address concerns, but I expect there will still be fierce debate on the floor. I did not support LB 44 last year, but with the new amendment I plan on listening to floor debate and most likely supporting the bill.
LB 776, Senator McCollister’s priority bill, is also expected to bring contentious debate. Last week we began debating the bill which ensure that local jails do not accept or receive revenue in excess of the reasonable operating costs for establishing and administering such telephone or video conferencing service systems that provides inmates with affordable methods for communicating by telephone or video conferencing with inmates’ families and loved ones. This also includes contact with their attorneys without charge, and without monitoring or recording by the county jail or law enforcement. I do not support this bill in its original form, but am interested to hear discussion surrounding amendments that Senator McCollister will bring to the floor.
One of Business and Labor Committee’s priority bills that I introduced, LB 953 Change provisions relating to lump-sum settlements under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, will also be on the agenda in the next week. 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. This bill aims at expediting the process of Worker’s Compensation Court cases, I am hopeful fellow senators will vote yes.
Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available at www.netnebraska.org/capitol
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!