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Last Thursday marked the 52nd day of the 105th Nebraska Legislature. With eight days left in this short session, we only have four days left to debate bills on General File. Bills that do not advance from General File by Friday, April 6th, would be dead unless they were amended onto another piece of legislation. The next four legislative days – and nights – will be very busy.
My staff and I have been very busy this session working to pass meaningful legislation. I thought I would provide an update on the bills I introduced and prioritized.
Two of my bills have advanced to Final Reading as well as my priority bill LB439. My priority bill that Senator Anna Wishart introduced would allow a nurse employed by an assisted-living facility to provide healthcare services to residents. I believe this will improve the delivery of long-term health care services in Nebraska. On a side note, LB439 would be my first personal priority bill to become law.
My second bill on Final Reading is LB702. This is the bill that I introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services updating Nebraska’s Child Support Enforcement Program to comply with new federal regulations. Failing to enact this legislation would cost Nebraska $81 million in federal funding.
And finally, LB1005 is the legislation that I introduced and then prioritized as Chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee that addresses the withdrawal of an employer from the County or School retirement plans. This legislation ensures that the withdrawing entity would be financially responsible for all costs to the plan so those costs do not fall on state taxpayers or other plan members or employers.
In case you are not familiar with the legislative process, Final Reading is the last round of debate in the Legislature. Once the Legislature passes a bill on Final Reading, it heads to Governor Pete Ricketts’ desk for his signature and then it becomes a law.
Last Monday and Tuesday, we debated bills on the General File consent calendar agenda. Bills on the consent calendar are noncontroversial bills that are considered and quickly advanced to Select File. Debate on each bill is limited to 15 minutes and three Senators can remove it from the agenda. For these reasons, Speaker Jim Scheer only included bills on the agenda that had no opposing testimony presented during its hearing and advanced unanimously out of the committee. I was grateful that Speaker Scheer included two of my bills on the consent calendar agenda. First, LB701 updates statutes to support existing telehealth practices in Nebraska. The other bill, LB799 cleans up a couple of items in the Surplus Lines Insurance Act. Surplus lines insurance is insurance for specialized risk that cannot be found on the admitted market in Nebraska.
I introduced two other bills, LB703 and LB704 that would have qualified for the consent calendar agenda, but were not included. LB703 amends the Medicine and Surgery Act (MSA) to clarify that physicians licensed in another state who accompany a team to Nebraska for an athletic competition or event are lawfully practicing medicine. LB704 also amends the MSA to reduce the period of board approved post-graduate medical education requirements for graduates of foreign medical schools. I drafted an amendment to LB1034 that includes both bills. This will be considered a friendly amendment since I received approval from Senator Merv Riepe who introduced LB1034. I am hopeful that these two bills will be considered during the debate next week.
Last Thursday, the Legislature amended and advanced the mainline budget, LB944, thanks to a compromise on Title X provisions that ended a filibuster. This would not have been possible without Senators Sara Howard, Mike Hilgers, Kate Bolz, Dan Watermeier, and Burke Harr and the leadership of the Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner. Thanks to their hard work, we were able to advance the budget with a 44-4 vote.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Todd and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance.