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Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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Weekly News–October 6, 2023
October 11th, 2023

On Monday, September 25th, Governor Jim Pillen proclaimed September 25-29 to be Agriculture Literacy Week in Nebraska, marking the start of the initiative with Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom, a statewide initiative to promote awareness and understanding of agriculture in the classroom. First Lady Suzanne Pillen has partnered with Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education at the Nebraska Farm Bureau, to create the new initiative. During her time as first lady, Suzanne has made it her mission to share books about agriculture with Nebraska’s youths in an effort to teach them more about where their food comes from. “I knew literacy was really important to me and our family,” she told the Lincoln Journal Star. “The first place I went, kids had no idea what sound cows make, what sound a pig makes. So, it made me realize that this will be really important.” First Lady Pillen has traveled across the state to visit schools to read agriculture-based stories to students. So far, she has stopped in nine schools with plans to visit as many as she can through the initiative. At the end of every visit, First Lady Pillen donates the signed book to be placed in the school library for even more children to read, enjoy, and learn from. Most of all, she hopes students always remember to appreciate the work farmers do. “Make sure in your day, every day, you tell somebody that does something for you that you appreciate them, and tell them thank you.” (Ebbers, Jenna. “Pillen visits Prescott”. Lincoln Journal Star. 28 September, 2023. Page A3.)

This week I would like to share with you the Transportation and Telecommunications priority bill, LB683, which changes provisions relating to the County Bridge Match Program, the Highway Cash Fund, the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund, the Roads Operations Cash Fund, the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act, the One-Call Notification System Act, and the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, adopt the Rural Communications Sustainability Act, and create the Nebraska Broadband Office and the Underground Excavation Safety Committee. This omnibus package included portions of seven other bills.

  • LB683 established the Nebraska Broadband Office and the position of Director of Broadband. For administrative purposes, the Nebraska Broadband Office shall be located in the Nebraska Department of Transportation. The Director of Broadband is appointed and serves at the pleasure of the Governor and shall be subject to Legislative confirmation. The Nebraska Broadband Office shall provide outreach and collaboration of state and local officials; develop the strategic broadband plan; coordinate state broadband efforts; conduct state advocacy on broadband issues at the federal level; and provide for public education, resources, and outreach. This bill amends current law and directs that the Nebraska Broadband Office shall take over and be responsible for the creation and maintenance of the State Broadband Map.
  • LB63 prohibits a telecommunications company from using Nebraska Universal Service Funds if the company is using or providing communications equipment or service that pose a threat to national security.
  • LB122 authorizes the State Fire Marshal to investigate alleged violations of Nebraska’s One-Call Notification System, beginning September 1, 2024. This bill also creates the State Fire Marshal to determine if a violation has occurred and provide for civil penalties of up to $10,000.
  • LB124 extends the termination date of the County Bridge Match Program from June 30, 2023 to June 30, 2029.
  • LB155 changes provisions regarding the applicability of the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.
  • LB359 removes an annual grant application deadline under the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act and allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish new deadlines.
  • LB412 allows grants for broadband deployment from the ARPA Capital Projects Fund in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District to be deployed in an entire exchange area that includes a city of the second class or a village. This change would allow Capital Project grants to provide high-speed broadband services in rural areas not within the municipalities, which are unserved or underserved locations.
  • LB722 clarifies that the PSC cannot require a competitive provider to accept or receive support from the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund; impose eligible telecommunications carrier responsibilities or carrier of last resort obligations relating to the fund on a competitive provider in any deployment project area where the incumbent carrier or competitive provider is not actually receiving support from the fund; or impose eligible telecommunications carrier responsibilities or carrier of last resort obligations on an incumbent carrier that do not exist as of the date of final payment made. (Portions of this taken from “Session Review: Transportation and Telecommunications”. Unicameral Update. July 21, 2023.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–September 29, 2023
September 29th, 2023

Columbus Day will be celebrated this year on Monday, October 9th. Columbus Day is a United States holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century, but did not become a federal holiday until 1937. ( authors. “Columbus Day 2023”. 28, September, 2023. In 2021, Nebraska celebrated its first Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a result of the passage of LB848, proposed by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, which was signed into law in 2020 by Governor Pete Ricketts. LB848 designates the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. (Merza, Sarah. “Nebraska celebrates first Indigenous Peoples’ Day”. 28 September, 2023.,year%20as%20Indigenous%20Peoples’%20Day.)

This week I will finish sharing with you portions of LB92 which was a Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee priority bill that amended thirteen other bills into it to become an omnibus bill.

  • LB68 increases the amount of liability coverage that must be carried by physicians, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and hospitals in order to qualify for Excess Liability Fund coverage under the Nebraska Hospital-Medical Liability Act. The increase would be from $500,000 to $1 million as the minimum amount of proof of financial responsibility of medical malpractice liability for healthcare providers beginning January 1, 2024, and increase professional liability insurance from $1 million to $3 million for aggregate limits for physicians and CRNAs.
  • LB145 expands health insurance coverage to include new forms of diagnostic imaging, lowers the age of insured annual breast examinations, and empowers physicians to set the frequency and type of annual breast examinations for women with a family history of breast cancer who are younger than 40 years old beginning January 1, 2024.
  • LB383 requires coverage of at-home colorectal cancer screening kits and prohibits imposition of a deductible, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing requirement for screening colonoscopies, including those performed as a result of a positive non-colonoscopy, stool-based preventive screening.
  • LB392 allows for employers, employee organizations, or the trustees of an employment association sponsoring a health benefit plan to consent to electronic document delivery on behalf of their represented employees. This consent is contingent upon the sponsors meeting required criteria for e-delivery and allowing employee opt-out.
  • LB779 specifies that if there were a national shortage of an insulin drug, a covered individual would be ensured access to insulin at a maximum of $35 per 30-day supply until such time the national shortage ends to prevent disruptions in patient access.
  • LB669 was introduced at the request of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance to allow the department to prescribe conditions on certain financial institutions as a part of any order, decision, or determination required under the statutes governing those institutions.
  • LB674 updates state law that governs digital asset depository institutions and digital asset departments within banks to improve regulation and make technical corrections.
  • LB616 aligns business incentives to the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America in order to give Nebraska-based applicants for federal investment the greatest chance of a successful application with the United States Department of Commerce.
  • LB617 creates the Economic Development Cash Fund within the Department of Economic Development to provide matching grants to a Nebraska-based covenant entity that qualifies under the federal CHIPS of America Act.
    (Portions of this taken from “Banking regulation bill broadened, advanced from first round after cloture”. Unicameral Update. April 19, 2023.

With October being designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would like you to “Fill up with Purpose”. The Nebraska Ethanol Board released a press release talking about their Fuel the Cure campaign. You can join this campaign at your local participating gas stations and make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. This is how it works:

  • Choose Ethanol Blends: Opt for higher ethanol blends, such as E15 to flex fuel E85, available at gas stations listed at
  • Your Fill-Up Makes an Impact: For every gallon of higher ethanol blend sold between October 1-31, nearly 50 Nebraska fuel retailers will donate 3 cents toward cancer research and services within the state.
  • Look for Pink: Identifying the retailers supporting this vital cause is easy; just look for the pink Fuel the Cure signate at the pump, on the windows, and at the counter. Since 2018, Nebraska’s Fuel the cure campaigns have raised over $45,000 for cancer research, primarily benefiting the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha.
    (Rucker, Amber. “Fill Up with Purpose: Your Gas Tank Can Help Fund Cancer Research”. Nebraska Ethanol Board press release. 28 September, 2023. 29 September, 2023.)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–September 22, 2023
September 22nd, 2023

On Friday, September 15th Governor Pillen signed a proclamation marking September as National Preparedness Month in Nebraska. He is reminding all Nebraskans how important it is for individuals, families, and communities to prepare for disasters and emergencies. “Working together, we can build a prepared and resilient Nebraska,” said Governor Pillen. While it’s important for all of us to be ready when disaster strikes, this year, the National Preparedness Month campaign is focused on providing information and resources to empower older adults as they make their preparations.” “Plans should include where to meet if a home is destroyed and how family members would contact each other should phone service be out,” said NEMA (Nebraska Emergency Management Agency) Assistant Director Erv Portis. “For instance, texting often works when phone calls don’t.” Emergency managers recommend that individuals be prepared to shelter in place for a minimum of three days. Emergency workers may have a large number of people to reach in a disaster and the health of everyone could very well depend on the kit or plan Nebraskans have developed before a major disaster occurs. Visit NEMA’s website at for a checklist of items to include in your Family Preparedness Kit. (Strimple, Laura. “Governor Pillen Declares September as National Preparedness Month in Nebraska.” Governor Pillen Press Release. 19 September, 2023. Accessed 21 September, 2023.)

This week I will begin sharing with you portions of LB92 which would eliminate an onsite review requirement for title insurance agents. Under current law, title insurers are required to conduct an onsite annual review of a title insurance agent’s practices. Senator Julie Slama introduced this bill and said the COVID-19 pandemic made clear that the annual review could successfully be conducted remotely rather than in person. This bill was a Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee priority bill that amended thirteen other bills into it to become an omnibus bill.

  • LB3 changes provisions for tax levies for bonds issued by political subdivisions. This bill sets a deadline for reporting bond elections to county assessors that mirrors the deadlines for reporting annexations, for the purpose of allowing assessors ample time to build a new tax district in the case of a recent bond initiative.
  • LB93 updates requirements regarding security deposits made by insurers for the benefit of policyholders to include creditors in the same manner as policyholders. This allows insurers that are required to maintain mandatory security deposits with the Department of Insurance to name either the policyholder or the policyholder and creditors as the beneficiary of the security.
  • LB207 allows a sale of trust property under the Nebraska Trust Deeds Act to occur at a public building where county offices are located within the county in which the property to be sold–or some of it–is located.
  • LB214 updates various Nebraska Statutes and the Uniform Commercial Code in order to adopt updates to federal law relating to banking and finance.
  • LB437 changes the renewal priority for business entity licenses under the Insurance Producers Licensing Act from annual to biennial beginning April 30, 2024.
  • LB536 removes the requirement that insurers are only allowed to invest in the stock of a corporation having retained earnings of not less than one million dollars.
  • LB587 creates a regulatory sandbox program under the Department of Insurance which allows a participant to temporarily test innovative insurance products or services on a limited and supervised basis without otherwise being licensed or authorized to act under the laws of the state.
  • LB278 requires the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority and the state Department of Economic Development to use their best efforts to obtain state and federal grants to build safe, affordable and accessible housing for individuals with disabilities and collaborate with the state Department of Health and Human Services to obtain such grants.

I would like to send congratulations to Pender High School and Elementary School on receiving the National Blue Ribbon Schools award for 2023. Pender is only one of four public schools in Nebraska to repeat this honor. This recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student groups.”We want to congratulate and celebrate the four Nebraska schools that have earned the Blue Ribbon Schools Award,” said Nebraska Commissioner of Education Brian Maher. “These schools are amazing examples of hard work, focus, and the desire for excellence. They represent diverse groups and populations across our state and provide a model for all of Nebraska.” (Jespersen, David. “National Blue Ribbon Honors Awarded to Four Nebraska Schools.” Nebraska Department of Education News Release. 19 September, 2023. Accessed 22, September, 2023.)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–September 15, 2023
September 15th, 2023

On Thursday, September 14th, Governor Pillen appointed Senator Tom Briese as state treasurer. Briese will assume the duties of the office on November 1, 2023. He will complete the remaining term of John Murante who will become director of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems (NPERS). “Senator Briese has the respect of his peers and has been a great representative for District 41 in the Legislature,” said Governor Pillen. “He’s a proven leader on tax reform policy reform, which will serve him well in his role as treasurer.” “I am honored to be selected by Governor Pillen to serve Nebraskans as treasurer,” said Senator Briese. “I have truly enjoyed my time in the Legislature and am proud of the accomplishments achieved during my tenure, as well as the relationships that were forged. I look forward to this new opportunity and continuing to serve the people of our great state.” I want to congratulate Senator Briese on his new position and wish him well. It has been a pleasure and honor to serve with him in the Legislature. (Strimple, Laura. “Governor Appoints Briese as State Treasurer,” Governor Pillen Press Release. 14 September, 2023. Accessed 14 September, 2023.)

This week I would like to finish sharing with you the final portions of LB227 which was the Health and Human Services Committee priority bill.

  • LB245 increases the per diem reimbursement for members of the Board of Barber Examiners from $75 to $150.
  • LB261 changes the requirements of a split apprenticeship for individuals studying mortuary science by allowing the apprentice license to be completed while attending a mortuary science school.
  • LB286 provides confidentiality to physicians who participate in a wellness program unless a peer coach determines that the physician’s condition constitutes a danger to public health and safety.
  • LB84 extends eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP eligibility in Nebraska is currently set at 165% of the federal poverty level (FPL), but was scheduled to drop to 135% of FPL on October 1, 2023. This bill extends the sunset date for expanded SNAP eligibility to October 1, 2025.
  • LB75 grants the state’s Child and Maternal Death Review Team the authority to conduct reviews of the rates, trends, and causes of severe maternal morbidity in the state.
  • LB419 expands Medicaid coverage for postpartum women from 60 days to at least 6 months. DHHS may submit a state plan amendment for 12 months. Senator Ben Hansen, chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee, spoke in support of the amendment. “One of the underlying things I hear from [my constituents] is ‘what are we doing to take care of those who are having babies in the state of Nebraska,’” Hansen said. “I think this is a big step forward to address that concern.”
  • LB765 eliminates the regional trauma advisory boards and replaces them with regional trauma committees and updates definitions.
  • LB570 creates the Overdose Fatality Review Teams Act to design a regulatory framework for establishing county level multidisciplinary teams to collect data related to opioid overdose deaths in Nebraska. The state Department of Health and Human Services would develop regulations to carry out the act and teams would begin providing annual de-identified data on local incidents, causes, and contributing factors of opioid deaths by June 1, 2024.
    (Portions of this taken from “Health services package amended, returned to final reading”. Unicameral Update. May 25, 2023.

Congratulations to Judge Sara Bauer from Fremont on her appointment as County Court Judge for the Sixth Judicial District. Governor Pillen appointed her on Thursday, September 14th to fill the judicial vacancy due to the resignation of Judge Douglas L. Luebe. Bauer is currently an assistant city attorney in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She has worked in numerous firms, particularly in Omaha; and helped establish and grow the local office for Gurstel Law Firm P. C. She has a strong background in civil law. During her time as an associate at Copple & Rockey P. C. in Norfolk, she handled juvenile, criminal, and domestic law cases, as well as civil issues. I wish her all the best as she begins this new role of Sixth Judicial Court Judge. (Strimple, Laura. “Governor Pillen Appoints Bauer as County Court Judge in Sixth Judicial District.” Governor Pillen Press Release. 14 September, 2023. Accessed 14 September, 2023.)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–September 8, 2023
September 8th, 2023

Constitution Day is coming up on September 17th. Constitution Day is a federal observance that commemorates the U. S. Constitution. Constitution Day was established by law in 2004 and observed on the day the Constitution was signed in 1787. The Constitution:

  • Creates a government that puts the power in the hands of the people.
  • Separates the powers of government into three branches: the legislative branch, which makes the laws; the executive branch, which executes the laws; and the judicial branch, which interprets the laws.
  • Sets up a system of checks and balances that ensures no one branch has too much power.
  • Divides power between the states and the federal government.
  • Describes the purposes and duties of the government.
  • Defines the scope and limit of government power.
  • Prescribes the system for electing representatives.
  • Establishes the process for the document’s ratification and amendment.
  • Outlines many rights and freedoms of the people.
    (Taken from “Constituition FAQs”. National Constitution Center – 6 September, 2023.)

This week I would like to continue sharing with you portions of LB227 which was the Health and Human Services Committee priority bill.

  • LB181 specifies that a prescription remains valid despite the prescribing practitioner’s subsequent death or retirement, or their suspension or revocation of the prescribing practitioner’s credential, and allows a pharmacist to use their professional judgment to fill or refill a prescription which has sufficient fills remaining.
  • LB202 allows certified and trained pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines to individuals over 3 years of age if the vaccine is verified by a supervising pharmacist on site.
  • LB458 allows a pharmacy to deliver to a patient on behalf of a dispensing pharmacy if both pharmacies are under common ownership.
  • LB548 removes a requirement that a pharmacist licensure applicant obtain a grade of 75 on the pharmacy jurisprudence examination and requires anyone authorized to compound to comply with the U. S. Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary existing on January 1, 2023.
  • LB611 changes drug administration requirements for a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or health care practitioner facility to allow any unused portion of a certain topical medication to be offered to a patient upon discharge if required for continued treatment.
  • LB35 extends the sunset date for transitional child care assistance under the federal Child Care Subsidy program and cash assistance to families who have not achieved economic self-sufficiency to October 1, 2026.
  • LB586 requires the Nebraska Center for Nursing Board to provide for the expansion of clinical training sites for nurses throughout the state. Preference shall be given to areas that have lower numbers of registered nurses per capita compared to the state average. It is the intent of the Legislature to appropriate funds in the amount of $3 million from the General Fund for the next two fiscal years.
  • LB431 authorizes the Nebraska State Patrol to submit health professional licensure applicants’ fingerprints to the F. B. I. for national criminal history record information checks.
  • LB572 updates the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act by making terminology consistent and providing a pathway to licensure for certified nutrition specialists.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–September 1, 2023
September 1st, 2023

This week I would like to begin sharing with you portions of LB227 which requires the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide Medicaid reimbursement to a hospital at 100% of the statewide average nursing facility per diem rate if a Medicaid enrollee has been admitted as an inpatient to the hospital; is eligible for discharge after receiving care in such hospital; requires a nursing facility level of care upon discharge; and is unable to be transferred to a nursing facility due to a lack of available beds or requires a public guardian but one is unable to be appointed. This bill was the Health and Human Services Committee priority bill and ended up having over 20 bills amended into it. Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing what is in this bill.

  • LB434 requires DHHS to enroll long-term care hospitals in Nebraska as providers eligible to receive Medicaid funding. No later than July 1, 2023, DHHS shall submit a state plan amendment or waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide coverage under the Medicaid program for long-term acute care hospitals.
  • LB219 requires DHHS to provide for rebasing inpatient interim per diem rates for critical access hospitals. DHHS shall rebase the rates every two years and the most recent audited Medicare cost report shall be used as the basis for the rebasing process within 90 days after receiving the cost report.
  • LB590 increases the standard of need for eligible aged, blind, and disabled persons from at least $60 to $75 per month for a personal needs allowance if they reside in an alternative living arrangement. The personal needs allowance–which can be used for items such as greeting cards, postage, toiletries, and cell phone bills–has not increased since 2015. Increasing the allowance for individuals in nursing homes, long-term care, and assisted living facilities will help residents maintain a level of independence and dignity.
  • LB517 requires DHHS to implement a pilot program to facilitate the transfer of patients with complex health needs from eligible acute care hospitals to appropriate post-acute care settings. The amendment also states legislative intent to appropriate $1 million to carry out the pilot program. Senator Hansen, chairperson of the committee, said the underlying bill and amendment would address an issue facing hospitals across the state–patients who can’t be moved from acute health care facilities to more appropriate facilities for a variety of reasons.
  • LB345 defines palliative care as specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness that carries a high risk of mortality or negatively impacts quality of life. Palliative care is a team-based approach to care or treatment, providing essential support at any age and stage of a serious illness and can be provided across care settings and along with curative treatment. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the patient’s family or care partner.
  • LB402 specifies that the definition of a home health agency does not include a person or entity that engages only in social work practice.
  • LB357 increases the maximum monthly support allowable under the Disabled Persons and Family Support Act from $300 to a maximum of $400 for eligible individuals and from $150 to $200 for an additional disabled family member.
  • LB123 requires behavior analysts to obtain a credential under the Uniform Credentialing Act and creates a Board of Behavior Analysts to establish licensure standards and adopt a code of conduct.
    (Portions of this taken from “Medicaid reimbursement bill expanded, advanced”. Unicameral Update. April 17, 2023.

Update from Governor Pillen’s office
     On Friday, August 25th, Governor Pillen announced that payments to Nebraska cattle producers who have suffered weather-related losses, will be compensated at a higher rate. Governor Pillen thanked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for answering his call to boost the livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) payment rate, in response to his urgent request on behalf of Nebraska cattle producers.
      As a result of the adjustment, the LIP payment increased from $1,244 per head to $1,618, an increase of $374 per head, The LIP is administered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). It provides assistance to producers who experience excessive livestock losses, usually due to adverse weather events.
     The updated LIP payment rate is effective immediately and will be applied retroactively to January 1, 2023, for all eligible causes of loss including excessive heat, tornado, winter storms, and other qualifying adverse weather events. Producers who have already received LIP payments for losses this calendar year will receive an additional payment, if applicable, commensurate with the updated rate. Details about eligibility and payment rates are available on the most recent LIP fact sheet.
     Governor Pillen continues to urge producers to do their part and report losses to their county FSA offices. Losses that occurred within the past month should be reported as soon as possible. A notice of loss is required to be documented and reported to the local FSA within 30 days of the loss becoming apparent.
     “While there is no way to get a complete accounting of how many cattle were lost this summer, this rate increase will go a long way toward helping producers recover,” said Governor Pillen. “At the time this weather event occurred, animals were ready for market, which means they were more valuable. Owners are deserving of a higher rate of compensation.” (Strimple, Laura. “USDA Answers Gov. Pillen’s Call to Boost Producer LIP Payment Rate.” Governor Pillen Press Release. 25 August, 2023. Accessed 30 August, 2023.)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–August 25, 2023
August 24th, 2023

Now that school has begun, the end of summer is approaching as we get ready to enjoy Labor Day. Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. (“History of Labor Day”. August 23, 2023. U. S. Department of Labor. Many of you will take the time to celebrate with trips to the lake, barbecues, time with family and friends, and taking time to relax. Remember to enjoy the day and stay safe as you celebrate.

The Support Our Schools petition drive to repeal LB753, Opportunity Scholarships Act has until August 30th to submit the required number of signatures to get this on the November, 2024 ballot for a vote. According to the Keep Kids First website, “a repeal of the Opportunity Scholarships Act would be catastrophic for parents and kids who need more education flexibility. This program creates a tax credit scholarship program for students from lower-income families, students with special needs, students who experience bullying, students from military families, students in foster care, and students who are denied option enrollment. A repeal takes this all away.” (“Why Decline to Sign?”. Keep Kids First Decline to Sign. August 23, 2023. If you feel that you signed this petition in error, you can go to and find out how to remove your name from the petition.

Thursday, August 24th, Governor Pillen hosted his first meeting of the Property Tax Working Group. This was the first of four meetings scheduled during interim. I was tasked to be a member of this working group along with Governor Pillen (chair), members of the Governor’s Policy and Research team, a number of senators, League of Nebraska Municipalities, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Association of County Officials, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Realtors Association, and Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and many business leaders throughout the state of Nebraska. We are studying the history of valuations in Nebraska, discussing the vision and goals for this working group, identifying the problem and coming up with possible solutions to be sent to the Legislature in the upcoming session.

I want to encourage you all to drive safely as farmers are beginning the process of harvesting hay and moving farm equipment. Over the past several weeks, there have been several accidents in Nebraska where vehicles have driven into farm equipment and people have been killed. School is now in session as well so there is extra traffic with school buses and student drivers out on the roads in the morning and afternoon. Taking extra time to get where you are going, being aware of traffic on the roads, and using defensive driving skills is always a good idea while traveling the roads of Nebraska.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–August 18, 2023
August 21st, 2023

This past weekend I was reminded of how small communities come together in times of need. I attended a fundraising event in Pender for a baby boy who needed a liver transplant. The miracle came in the form of a family friend who was a match and able to give a part of her liver to save this little boy’s life. The community event was a time of celebration as surrounding communities gather to do what small communities do best–rally around neighbors in need. “We feel the love,” his mother said. “We feel like our story has touched so many lives. There’s so much good in this world. Words can’t explain how thankful we are.” This event reminds me of how small communities all throughout Nebraska come together to support their neighbors in need. I am always reminded of why Nebraska is referred to as “Nebraska Nice”. (Portions of this taken from Sturek, Jason. “Family, friends and faith triumph”. Pender Times. August 17, 2023.)

Congratulations to the Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska and all the volunteers for raising $2,112,857.56 during their event June 2-3, 2023 at the Weborg farm near Pender! Ninety percent goes to the Buffett Cancer Center UNMC in Omaha for cancer research. The remaining 10% will be given to 17 organizations among 13 area communities.

Update on Support Our Schools petition to repeal school choice
This summer the Support Our Schools petition drive to repeal LB753 has been in full swing as they have been found at county fairs and other public events around the state. Support our Schools has until August 30th to collect their signatures to block school choice in Nebraska. Recently, Nebraska became the 49th state to pass a school choice law. LB753, the Opportunity Scholarships Act, gives parents the opportunity to choose the best education setting for their child. If you feel that you signed this petition in error and would like to take your name off the petition, you can go to to find a form to download and print. This form must be signed in the presence of a county election official (County Clerk or Election Commissioner) or a notary. If you need any assistance or help finding a Notary Public in your area, please email

Update on LB574—Let Them Grow lawsuit
Over the past several months, you may have seen the news about LB574 (Let Them Grow Act) being taken to court by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Dr. Sarah Trexler and represented by the ACLU. LB574 was amended to ban gender affirming surgeries for individuals under the age of 19, allowed the Chief Medical Officer and the state Department of Health and Human Services to establish the regulations around the use of hormone therapy and puberty blockers for minors, allowed individuals who had begun gender affirming care prior to the bill’s effective date to continue treatment and included a 12-week abortion ban. The lawsuit sought a court order to block enforcement of the new restrictions and declare LB574 unconstitutional on the basis that it violates the single-subject rule for legislation. (Stoddard, Martha. “Abortion, trans law faces legal challenge”. Omaha World Herald. May 31, 2023.) On Friday, August 11th, Judge Lori Maret sided with the State of Nebraska and said LB574 fell under the single category of healthcare. Her decision keeps abortion restrictions in place. Last week, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed an appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court. It currently does not have a hearing date. Even though I was not happy with twelve week abortion ban, it is better than the 20 weeks we had prior to LB574 being passed. I will continue to stand firm on fighting for the babies of Nebraska.

News from Governor Pillen’s Office
     On August 8-9, I attended Governor Pillen’s Ag and Economic Development Summit in Kearney, NE. This event was co-hosted by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). The Governor’s Summit is the state’s premier economic development forum, convening leaders from across Nebraska to discuss how to grow the Good Life. This is the third consecutive year the Summit has had an agricultural focus.
     This year’s event included a focus on Nebraska’s highway, water, and broadband infrastructures and their importance to the state’s long-term prosperity. The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) headed sessions to highlight how improvements to the state’s transit system and expansion of Nebraska’s broadband networks, are creating opportunities for businesses to grow. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) led panel discussions on the potential of artificial intelligence and data management tools to benefit agricultural operations through greater water use efficiency, reduced energy costs, and optimal chemical use for water treatment.
     Governor Pillen was a panel leader for two sessions at the Summit, focused on value-added agriculture. The Aksarben Foundation has launched an initiative highlighting efforts around sustainability and stewardship by Nebraska farmers and ranchers. The idea is to track data and ensure compensation for those initiatives.
     “When our kids grow up and graduate, we want them to enter the most competitive economy in America–right here in Nebraska,” said Governor Pillen. “This begins with strengthening our top industry of agriculture. It also involves developing quality infrastructure, reliable broadband access, a modern highway network, and a world-class system of water management. Together, we can grow Nebraska, and this Summit is the key to unifying our efforts.” (“Gov. Pillen Hosts Ag and Economic Development Summit”. Strimple, Laura. August 14, 2023.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–August 11, 2023
August 11th, 2023

County Fairs have finished and school has begun. I would like to wish all students and staff good luck as they begin school this week. Please make sure you keep your eyes open for students and school buses as school gets into full swing.

This week I will conclude going over the Education Committee priority bill LB705 which provides, changes, transfers, and eliminates provisions relating to education.

  • LB516 states legislative intent to appropriate $870,000 in state general funds to the state Department of Education to administer the Safe2HelpNE report line, beginning with fiscal year 2024-2025. The amendment requires the commissioner of education to administer a grant program to provide funding for security-related infrastructure projects including surveillance equipment, door-locking systems, and double-entry doors for school buildings. The proposed amendment would transfer $10 million from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to a new School Safety and Security Fund which would be used to provide the grants. It also requires the department to provide an annual report that includes the number of schools that received grant funding, how the grant funds were used, and other information.
  • LB632 prohibits the suspension of students in prekindergarten through second grade unless they bring a deadly weapon on school grounds. This bill also requires school districts to develop a policy that includes disciplinary measures inside the school as an alternative to suspension.
  • LB774 makes several changes to the hearing process related to long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment of public school students. This proposal would allow the student’s parent or guardian to request a hearing examiner other than the one recommended by the superintendent and would require school districts to give suspended students an opportunity to complete classwork and homework missed during the suspension.
  • LB201 provides a high school graduation requirement that requires all public high school students to complete the FAFSA prior to graduation beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. A student’s parent or legal guardian, or the school principal or the principal’s designee, could sign a form authorizing the student to decline to complete and submit a FAFSA.
  • LB585 expands a current requirement that certain school personnel receive suicide awareness and prevention training each year. This bill requires that all school employees who interact with students receive at least one hour of behavioral and mental health training annually with a focus on suicide awareness and prevention.
  • LB356 further defines what qualifies as “located in Nebraska” under the Nebraska Opportunity Grant act. This bill also updates a federal definition change from “expected family contribution” to “student aid index”.
  • LB648 provides for the development of a workforce diploma program through the Department of Education. The program shall offer adult dropout recovery services, including recruitment and learning plan development, and provide proactive coaching and mentoring culminating in qualification for a high school diploma to eligible individuals.
  • LB698 grants residency and education benefits to veterans of the United States Space Force who enroll in a public college or university in Nebraska.
  • LB703 allows Nebraska state colleges and the University of Nebraska to manage the liquidation of surplus property.
  • LB708 requires the state Department of Education, the state Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Probation Administration, and the State Court Administrator to enter into a memorandum of understanding for data sharing to improve educational opportunities for students who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
  • LB222 prohibits a publicly funded college or university, as part of its student application and admission process, from inquiring about criminal history or juvenile court records except as otherwise specifically required by state or federal law or when such information is offered voluntarily by an applicant.

(Portions of this taken from “Education lottery allocation bill expanded, advanced”. Unicameral Update. May 4, 2023.

News from Governor Pillen’s Office
Governor Pillen had a phone call the week of July 31st with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to inform him of livestock losses recently experienced by cattle producers. Governor Pillen is requesting Secretary Vilsack’s help in ensuring producers receive timely and appropriate federal support through existing disaster assistance programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). The LIP provides financial benefits to producers who suffer excessive livestock losses due to adverse weather. All losses or injuries must be documented within 30 days, making reporting of those situations time sensitive. “The weather situation only lasted a few days, but some Nebraska producers were significantly impacted. Connecting affected producers with emergency resources available to them is important,” said Governor Pillen. “I appreciate the time Secretary Vilsack took to understand what our cattle producers experienced, and I am hopeful he will be able to assist in this unique situation.” Governor Pillen urged producers to do their part and report losses to their county Farm Service Agencies (FSA). (“Governor Pillen Advocates for Cattle Producers Following Heat Loss Event”. Laura Strimple. August 4, 2023.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Weekly News–August 4, 2023
August 7th, 2023

This week I will continue going over portions of the Education Committee priority bill LB705 which provides, changes, transfers, and eliminates provisions relating to education.

  • The new College Pathway Program Cash Fund would receive 2% of the lottery funds. Under this new program, the Department of Education would provide grants to qualifying service providers that help low-income and underrepresented students graduate from high school, apply to college, and complete the requirements to receive an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  • Under another new program, the coordinating Commission for Post-Secondary Education would provide up to $250,000 in grants each year to teachers enrolled in education pathways leading to qualification to teach dual-credit and career and technical education courses.
  • One percent of the funds would be allocated to the new Door to College Scholarship Act, under which the commission would provide grants of up to $5,000 annually to eligible students for their educational expenses at public or private postsecondary educational institutions in Nebraska. Eligible students would have to receive a high school diploma from an accredited education program at a youth rehabilitation and treatment center or from a public, private, denominational, or parochial school within one year of being discharged from a Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC).
  • Under the amended provisions of LB385 (Adopt the Nebraska Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act), this bill creates a tyrant program administered by the state Department of Education intended to recruit and retain Nebraska elementary and high school teachers. Under this bill, teachers who have signed a contract to complete their second, fourth, or sixth year of full-time employment as a teacher at a Nebraska school could apply for a $2,500 grant. Teachers who obtain an endorsement in special education, mathematics, science, technology, or dual credit could apply for a $5,000 grant.
  • Under the amended provisions of LB603, this bill would incentivize the recruitment of public school teachers by allowing alternative means for teaching certification. Persons who possess a bachelor’s degree, have been certified to teach through alternative organizations, and meet other criteria may be certified to teach in Nebraska. Alternative certificate holders would have to participate in a school district clinical experience during their first semester of employment as a teacher.
  • LB724 no longer requires applicants for an entry-level teaching permit or a temporary certificate to teach on a full-time basis to demonstrate basic proficiency in reading, writing, and math by passing a standardized test designated by the State Board of Education.
  • LB762 requires the State Board of Education to create a program intended to help paraprofessionals and paraeducators become certified teachers. Under the program, those individuals could apply to the department for a grant not to exceed $3,000 for expenses related to training or education required to obtain a Nebraska teaching certificate.
  • LB647 changes provisions relating to the purchase and loan of textbooks for children enrolled in kindergarten to twelfth grade of a private school. This bill creates updates and efficiencies to the Textbook Loan Program by centralizing the process at the Nebraska Department of Education. The department would be required to purchase and loan textbooks–including digital, electronic, or online resources–to children enrolled in kindergarten to twelfth grade of an approved private school.
  • Under amended provisions of LB787, the State Board of Education is to establish an innovation grant program to procure or purchase an annual license for a three-dimensional, game-based learning platform to engage middle and high school students in coursework and careers in science, technology engineering, entrepreneurship, and mathematics.
  • LB805 would require each school district to allow a representative of certain youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, to provide information, services, and activities to students in a school building or on school grounds at least once during each school year. A representative would be subject to a background check and could provide oral information to students only during non-instructional time.

(Portions of this taken from “Education lottery allocation bill expanded, advanced”. Unicameral Update. May 4, 2023.

The Wayne County Fair finished up on July 30th. From bull riding as well as bullfighting and bubble soccer on Thursday to a dual track tractor pull on Friday and two performers on Saturday, it was another great showing for the Wayne County Fair. Plenty of 4-H/FFA shows were on full display along with a lot of activities for the kids. This year’s fair was a huge success. I would like to congratulate all the participants on a job well done and thank you for participating in this year’s fair. Without you, the fair would not be what it is. (Portions of this taken from Scheffler, Aaron. “Highlights from Wayne County Demolition Derby, Another Packed Crowd”. Wayne Daily News, July 31, 2023. August 3, 2023)

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me by calling (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 1404
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
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