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Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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Wekly News–March 29, 2024
March 28th, 2024

Last weekend was the celebration of Easter. I hope you were able to enjoy time with your family during the Easter weekend. I know I sure enjoyed time to get away and enjoy Easter with mine.

Bill Updates
     Last week we debated the budget bill on Final Reading. This is the Appropriations Committee’s mid-biennium budget adjustment package as we approved the biennial budget last session. The state budget is structured on a two-year basis, with the budget enacted during legislative sessions held in odd-numbered years. Adjustments are made during sessions held in even-numbered years. The committee’s proposed adjustments to the state’s $10 billion budget would result in a $904 million balance in the state’s Cash Reserve Fund, also known as the “rainy day” fund. The proposal reflects a 3.1% increase in state spending and would leave approximately $23 million to fund legislative proposals this year.
     LB1413, introduced by Speaker John Arch of LaVista at the request of the Governor, would provide for the transfer of funds and create and change the use and distribution of funds. The governor’s proposal called for a sweep of funds from 31 different agencies, transferring those dollars to the state General Fund. At the bill’s public hearing, the state budget director described this as an attempt to “kick start” the revenue necessary to provide a 40% reduction in property taxes. Committee chairperson Senator Robert Clements of Elmwood said 11 transfers from Pillen’s original request ultimately were deemed “not appropriate” by the committee and were not included in the adjustment package. Clements said the transfers outlined in the amendment, totaling $244 million, would help fund the state’s budget for the next two years while also bolstering the rainy day fund. The Cash Reserve Fund balance at the end of the biennium would be 16.6% of annual expenses, which he said is the committee’s target funding level.
     LB1412, also introduced by Speaker John Arch at the request of the governor, is the main line budget bill. The proposal would provide, change and eliminate appropriations for the operation of state government, postsecondary education, state aid, capital construction and federal funds allocated to the state from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Clements said the committee started with the governor’s recommendations and made minor adjustments based on information gleaned from agency heads and the public. In addition, the committee held hearings on 59 bills introduced by senators that included $250 million of new general fund spending requests and approximately $108 million in federal ARPA requests. The only significant changes from the governor’s original recommendation, Clements said, was a $30.1 million increase in funding for the state’s homestead exemption program over the biennium and a $94.1 million increase in Nebraska Tax Equity and Education Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) funding. He said a “recalculation” of the state school funding formula in January indicated the need for additional dollars. (“Budget advances with minor adjustments, more changes likely”. Unicameral Update. 15 March, 2024.
     Final debate on the two budget proposals took place on March 26th. LB1412 reflects a 3.1% increase in state spending and leaves approximately $20 million to fund legislative proposals this year. The bill passed with a 42-6 vote and took effect immediately. LB1413 passed with a 37-8 vote and took effect immediately. The governor has five calendar days, excluding Sunday, to sign, veto, or line-item veto appropriations within the budget bills. If budget bills are returned to the legislature with line-item vetoes, the Appropriations Committee must report on the fiscal impact of the vetoes within one day and may offer a motion to override any or all of them. Thirty votes are required to override a veto. (“Budget adjustment package passed”. Unicameral Update. 26 March, 2024.

LB43, sponsored by Senator Rita Sanders from Bellevue, is an omnibus measure aimed at furthering open government and transparency. This bill would direct hearing officers and judges not to rely on a state agency’s interpretation of state laws or regulations in contest cases under the Administrative Procedures Act. During Select File, Senator Brewer amended my bill, LB637, into LB43. Provisions of LB637 would require a public body to allow members of the public an opportunity to speak at every meeting except for closed sessions related to personnel matters, investigations regarding allegations of criminal conduct, or other purposes already exempted under state law. I say it is important for local elected officials to make the time to listen to their constituents and for residents to know that they have the opportunity to make their voices heard. Many government agencies currently don’t put a public comment item on their agenda for every meeting, despite state law requiring that constituents have that opportunity. LB43 passed with a vote of 39-0 on March 21st and took effect immediately. Governor Pillen signed this bill into law on March 27th. (“Government reform bill amended, advanced”. Unicameral Update. 4 March, 2024.

LB1087, introduced by Senator Mike Jacobson of North Platte, would require the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a state plan amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approval to impose an assessment on Nebraska hospitals. Under the bill, every Nebraska hospital would pay an assessment fee based on their quarterly net patient revenue. The total statewide assessment amount would equal the state share of payments authorized by CMS plus an administration fee, which could not exceed 2% of the assessment amount. The complete assessment total could not exceed 6% of the total net patient revenue of all assessed hospitals. The bill would also require DHHS to partner with a statewide hospital association to establish Medicaid quality improvement metrics and track progress on those metrics. Senator Jacobson said Nebraska would join 43 other states and the District of Columbia in using the program, which he estimated would draw nearly $1 billion in federal funds to the state’s hospitals. (“Hospital assessment program considered”. Unicameral Update. 2 February, 2024. LB1087 passed 45-0 and took effect immediately.

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

Sen. Joni Albrecht

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