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In this week’s column, I want to highlight bills of mine that were discussed in committee last week. On Tuesday, March 12, I introduced three bills, LB 379, a bill that changes provisions under the Delayed Deposit Services Licensing Act and the Nebraska Installment Loan Act, LB 27, a bill that changes provisions related to the budgetary process of community colleges, and LB 669 which would appropriate $15 million dollars to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for the sole purpose of pancreatic cancer research.
LB 379 was introduced to address two issues identified following the adoption of LB 194, a bill to reform the delayed deposit services industry last year. LB 379 requires delayed deposit service operators to license under the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Under current law, licensed delayed deposit companies are the only entities that are not required to use this system when licensing with the State.
Secondly, the bill allows for delayed deposit services online, with an additional licensing fee, as long as that licensee has at least one principle place of business within the state. Consumers want to access credit online, and the reality is our constituents are already accessing these loans online, just through a lender that is not licensed and regulated by this state. LB 379 allows Nebraskans a safe, regulated source for that short term, small dollar credit.
LB 379 advanced from the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and has been named a priority bill by the Speaker of the Legislature.
LB 27 was introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Community College Association. LB 27 would allow community colleges to have greater flexibility in their budgeting process by removing the 2 cent capitol levy distinction and merging that fund with their general fund. This would allow for dollars currently allocated for general fund use to be used for capital improvements or for money currently allocated for capital improvements to be used for general fund purposes. LB 27 simply allows for greater flexibility. LB 27 did not receive any opposition during the hearing, but remains in the Education Committee.
Finally, I want to address LB 669, a bill that means a lot to me. LB 669 is a bill that allocates $15 million dollars from the Health Care Cash Fund to create a Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska Medical Center that would focus on pancreatic cancer research. Before any state dollars are appropriated from the cash fund, the University must raise $15 million dollars in private funds for this same purpose, thus creating a public/private partnership to research this terrible disease.
My involvement in this proposal is unfortunately based on personal experience. I lost my beautiful wife Suzanne to pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago. Her diagnosis came without warning, as she was the picture of health until she began noticing symptoms. This made a huge impact on our lives and continues to impact them daily. In visiting with medical professionals on how to screen for this cancer, it quickly became evident that there is no such screening available and that there is little they can do to prevent the onset.
LB 669 has been endorsed by the Board of Regents and now we are working on funding the Center. This can’t bring Suzanne back, but it’s my hope that it will help many in the generations to come as UNMC focuses on pancreatic cancer research and treatments. Our goal is that one day they will discover a screening that can prevent and prepare families for this type of situation.
The reality is that currently there is inadequate focus on this specific type of cancer and it is considered underfunded in research, largely because of how rare it is and its high mortality rate. The Nebraska Legislature sadly learned this lesson this week. On Wednesday, the Legislature lost a true icon who had been with the institution for fifty years to pancreatic cancer. During her tenure, she mentored over 1200 college students who signed up for the Legislative Page program, some of whom have gone on to do great things and some who have become state senators or even members of the United States House of Representatives. All of us at the Legislature will miss her dearly.
We should think about Suzanne, the former Mayor of Seward, Bob Elwell, and our fellow citizens who are facing this disease and undergoing treatment. I believe in UNMC and the work they are doing and I wish them the best as they look for a screening, new treatments, and maybe someday, a cure and I pray the Appropriations Committee incorporates LB 669 into the budget.
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. Tyler 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. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.