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The 106th Legislature, First Session begins on January 9, 2019. I am looking forward to heading back to Lincoln with my colleagues to work together and address the important issues facing Nebraskans. My priorities will continue to be addressing the property tax burden, ensuring good business and labor practices, K-12 education, and agriculture.
Senators are allowed one priority bill per each legislative session. A priority designation greatly increases a bill’s chance of passing through committee and being debated by the entire Legislature. In 2017 and 2018, both of my personal priority bills passed successfully. For the past two years I have also had the pleasure of serving as the Chair of the Business and Labor Committee. Legislative committees are granted two priority bill designations each session. All four bills the committee prioritized under my leadership were enacted as law.
In the 2017 legislative session, I designated LB 506, Adopt the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act and provide duties for the State Child and Maternal Death Review Team, as my personal priority bill. LB 506 directed the Department of Health and Human Services to provide an information support sheet on its website which includes a list of perinatal hospice programs available in Nebraska and nationally. Physicians who diagnose an unborn child as having a lethal fetal anomaly may provide the parents with the information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2018, my personal priority bill LB 1040, Provide for commemorative certificates of nonviable birth, provided mothers and families with the option to request a commemorative, state-issued certificate of nonviable birth for miscarriages that occur before the twentieth week of gestation during a pregnancy. Certificate applications are now available on the Department of Health and Human Services website. I am incredibly proud to have sponsored this legislation to help grieving mothers and families begin the healing process after experiencing a pregnancy loss.
The Business and Labor Committee prioritized LB 203 and LB 518 in the 2017 legislative session. LB 203, (Kuehn) Change provisions relating to maximum annual unemployment benefits and disqualification for benefits and authorize electronic notice, reduced unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who leave work voluntarily. LB 518, (Williams) Adopt the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act and transfer funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, created the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act. The Act provides grants to certain nonprofit development organizations to assist and promote the development of workforce housing in communities with shortages. Wayne Community Housing Development Corporation was awarded over $600,000 in 2018 to help build affordable housing in the Wayne and Wakefield communities – I look forward to seeing the progress they will make with this additional funding.
The Business and Labor Committee prioritized LB 791 and LB 953 in the 2018 legislative session. LB 791, (Ebke) Change Nebraska State Patrol employees’ bargaining rights, paves the way for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement by ensuring that the certification authority, potential law enforcement employers, and internal investigators have access to records of specific acts of misconduct by the officer. LB 953, (Albrecht) Change provisions relating to lump-sum settlements under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, expedites the process of Worker’s Compensation Court cases by requiring the Workers’ Compensation Court to approve certain lump-sum settlements in specific cases.
It is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage my constituents to reach out to me and I look forward to hearing from you.