NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Suzanne Geist

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at sgeist@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 8th, 2020

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 25th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Suzanne Geist

The Legislature was officially called back into session on Monday after the Speaker paused the Legislature on March 25th.

On Tuesday evening, we debated my motion to pull my priority bill out of the Judiciary Committee so that the whole Legislature could debate the bill. I would like to share with you a little about my priority bill and why I filed a pull motion.

LB814 is a bill that would ban the practice of pulling apart a living human being in the womb (weeks 12-24 of pregnancy) limb by limb, until it bleeds to death and is removed from the womb piece by piece. This is often referred to as a dismemberment abortion. At the stage of development when this procedure is performed, a preborn baby has a beating heart, fully developed arms and legs, and can swallow, yawn, hiccup, and smile.

Though not very common in Nebraska, this is the most common method of second trimester abortion in the country. However, in Nebraska in 2019, there were 6 dismemberment abortions performed in Nebraska out of 181 second trimester abortions.

Unfortunately, despite compelling testimony and broad support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the Judiciary committee was at an impasse. There were not enough votes to send the bill to the floor or enough votes to kill the bill. After discussion with the committee chairman, Senator Steve Lathrop, I decided to file a Pull Motion. A Pull Motion requires 25 votes, and if successfully passed would allow the bill to be debated on the floor of the Legislature. Out of respect to the chairman and the committee process, I informed Senator Lathrop of my motion. Pull Motions are not very common, and should not be common. But this was the perfect instance for me to use a pull motion.

The debate on the pull motion went on for over 2 hours and at the end of the debate, my pull motion passed with 30 votes in favor of debating my bill on the floor. Hopefully, we will be able to debate my bill on the floor early next week.

On a less positive note, some of my colleagues have not been very collegial this week. There were many accusations and insinuations that were not true and very disrespectful. We have been debating some contentious issues, but we all must continue to treat each other with respect. Speaker Scheer adjourned early today so that we could all go home and take time with our families. Hopefully, we can come back next week rested and ready to treat each other with the respect that each one of us deserves.

We continued to debate Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bills this week.

I would like to share an update with you on my priority bill, LB814 which would ban the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortions during the second trimester. On Wednesday, I filed a motion to pull my bill out of the Judiciary Committee so that we could discuss it on the floor. A pull motion is a way for a Senator to request that the Legislature decide a bill that is stuck at an impasse in Committee will be debated by the Legislature.

I respect the Judiciary Committee and did not want to have to file a pull motion. After talking with the committee chair, I learned that the committee was at an impasse and they did not have the votes needed to pass my bill out of committee and they did not have the votes to kill my bill in committee. LB814 is my priority bill and I would like to see the Legislature discuss it on the floor. I also believe the citizens of Nebraska deserve to hear the details of my bill. I will need 25 votes to pass the pull motion and I will continue to keep you updated on the progress of LB814.

My bill, LB1017 which appropriates funds to the Supreme Court to create a pilot program for a mental health court was added to this year’s budget. We debated the budget yesterday for many hours and I am happy to say that the budget passed the first round of debate with my bill included in it.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

We continued to debate Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bills this week. There were quite a few filibusters again this week, but we passed a few bills that I strongly support.

Yesterday, my bill LB944 which makes changes to the provisions relating to motor vehicles was passed on Select File. The Transportation and Telecommunications committee had chosen my bill as the committee priority bill. Now that it was passed on select file, it will move to final reading before it is sent to the Governor for his approval.

On Thursday, we discussed Senator Albrecht’s priority bill. LB1186 requires salary to be paid to injured school employees as prescribed. The bill will allow schools to provide injury leave to employees if they are physically injured and have to miss school. Currently, a teacher or employee is required to use vacation time to see a doctor if they are assaulted during the school day. The injury leave will cover the gap between when an employee was assaulted and when worker’s compensation benefits starts.

We debated Senator Bostelman’s bill, LB832 on Wednesday. LB832 will provide immunity from civil liability for entering a vehicle to remove a child. This bill was a Speaker priority bill.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week is officially the half way point of session and it was the last week of Committee hearings. This is the point in session when we start debating Senator, Committee and Speaker priority bills. We start all day debate on Tuesday.

The week was filled with many filibusters. We debated LB963 introduced by Senator Brewer to change provisions relating to workers’ compensation for injuries to first responders and frontline state employees. Senator McDonnell prioritized this bill and we debated it on February 26th. First responders have a very hard and difficult job. I am grateful for each and every first responder and I was happy to vote in support of LB963 to help provide an option for first responders who are needing and asking for mental health treatment.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

Legislative Update: February 22
February 22nd, 2020

This week, Senators and Committees had to declare their priority bills to the Speaker of the Legislature by noon on Friday.

We debated LB974 which would change taxation and school funding provisions. I listened to the debate on this bill and it was debated for the three hour time limit before we moved on to debating the next bill. Negotiations are continuing on this bill and I am hoping we can arrive at a compromise that provides our Ag, residential and business communities property tax relief, while providing new State aid to public schools.

The hearing for my priority bill, LB814 to ban the brutal and barbaric method of dismemberment abortions during the second trimester of pregnancy was Thursday in the Judiciary Committee. I would like to thank everyone who came in to support my bill, testified in favor of it or wrote a letter of support. I do believe it’s possible to find some agreement in this controversial issue that no living human being should be torn apart limb by limb

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.Legislative Update: February 21, 2020

This week we continued to debate bills that are Senator Priority bills, Committee Priority bills and non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

More Senators are declaring their priority bills for this session. I decided to prioritize my bill, LB814 which would ban the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortions during the second trimester.

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee chose my bill, LB944 to be one of the two committee priority bills. We debated LB944 that changes provisions relating to motor vehicles this week. The committee added an amendment which added a couple other bills from the transportation committee into the bill. I am happy to say that LB944 was passed on General File with 42 yes votes and will move to the second round of debate soon.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week we have been debating bills that are Senator Priority bills, Committee Priority bills and non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

The hearing for my bill, LB1017 which will provide funding to the Supreme Court to fund a pilot program for mental health courts was Wednesday afternoon in the Appropriations Committee. I am happy to say that there were no opponents to my bill. I brought this bill because throughout my time serving as a state senator, I have learned about drug courts and how they have changed the lives of so many people. My interest in drug and specialty courts in Nebraska led me to learn about mental health courts. The purpose of mental health courts is to provide an alternative for people who have mental health issues and have committed a crime that stemmed from their mental illness. Rather than incarcerating this individual they can be redirected to Mental Health Courts. This court will give the judge the ability to give this person a second chance by allowing them to go through strict programming that would help get them the medication, education, programming and services they need. This will not be easy option and the program will last for two years. If the person does not comply with the rules and regulations of the program they would end up being sent to jail to serve their sentence. The Supreme Court has meticulously worked on standards that are to be followed by judges and the mental health courts. This is a small, but important tool that helps address the needs of those who suffer from severe mental illness in our communities.

There were many filibusters during floor debate in the mornings this week and we did not pass many bills. We were able to pass a few bills on final reading before we adjourned for the week on Thursday.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week we continued to debate non-prioritized bills that were on General File. There were quite a few filibusters.

The hearing for my bill, LB944 that will change provisions relating to motor vehicles was in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Monday afternoon. I introduced the bill on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles. I want to highlight a couple of things that the bill does. The bill will add natural disaster as a reason for issuing a refund of unused registration fees and taxes when loss of possession of a vehicle occurs. This will be important if a person loses a car due to flooding in their area. It also allows for the potential in the future to have the ability to use an electronic driver’s license and providing for the chance to have remote knowledge testing under certain circumstances for a driver’s license.

The hearing for my bill, LB975 that will bring the state of Nebraska into compliance with federal regulations regarding Child Protective Services/Adult Protective Services and provides immunity for people who provide information or assistance (such as medical evaluations or consultations) in cases of alleged abuse and neglect on Friday. Nebraska will risk losing over $500,000 in Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act funding each fiscal year until we amend our statutes. I brought this bill on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week we started committee hearings in the afternoons. We debated non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

The hearing for my bill, LB879 which would eliminate funding for the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act and change the termination date for applications. The bill will sunset a program that is not used very much and provide funding to expand the Business Innovation Act.

This past Fall, one of my constituents, Annie Crimmins, invited me to an Invest Nebraska networking event. Annie and her husband are co-founders of a startup called CanaryBox. CanaryBox integrates music with data to help reduce the risk of distraction in the operating room and provides alerts when a critical event happens. CanaryBox received funding from Invest Nebraska through the Business Innovation Act and Annie shared their story with me. Her enthusiasm inspired me to learn more about Invest Nebraska and tour a couple of startup businesses that have received funding. All of the companies have inspirational stories to share. The companies have worked to recruit, plan to recruit Nebraskans or have helped draw employees from other states to live in Nebraska. One of my favorite stories has come out of a company called Matma here in Lincoln. Matma was able to recruit an employee to move from New Jersey and she was able to convince her parents and her sister to eventually move to Nebraska.

According to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, the overall economic impact from the startups was $ 284.3 million a year and the state has only invested $19.9 million in the program since 2012. This is a great return on our investment as a state. Invest Nebraska conducts it’s due diligence on each company to decide if they will move the company forward in the investment process.

These companies are creating high wage jobs in areas where there may not be the opportunity for students to stay in Nebraska. Invest Nebraska ran out of funding in November of last year and I believe that the extra funding would be very helpful in decreasing the brain drain and also will encourage others to move to Nebraska.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

This week we have been having all day floor debate. We have been debating bills that are Senator Priority bills and non-prioritized bills on General File that we did not debate last session.

I introduced LB975 that will change provisions relating to reports of child abuse or neglect. The federal government changed their regulations regarding reports of child abuse and neglect and adult abuse and neglect. Nebraska was not in compliance with these regulations and my bill would bring the state into compliance so that we would not risk losing funding from the federal government.

Throughout my time serving as a state senator, I have learned about drug courts and how they have changed the lives of so many people. My interest in drug and specialty courts in Nebraska led me to learn about mental health courts. I introduced a bill this week, LB1017 which will provide funding to the Supreme Court to fund a pilot program for mental health courts. The purpose of mental health courts is to provide an alternative for people who have mental health issues and have committed a crime that stemmed from their mental illness. Rather than incarcerating this individual they can be redirected to Mental Health Courts. This court will give the judge the ability to give this person a second chance by allowing them to go through strict programming that would help get them the medication, education, programming and services they need. This will not be easy option and the program will last for two years. If the person does not comply with the rules and regulations of the program they would end up being sent to jail to serve their sentence. The Supreme Court has meticulously worked on standards that are to be followed by judges and the mental health courts. This is a small, but important tool that helps address the needs of those who suffer from severe mental illness in our communities.

As always, feel free to contact my office. My office phone number is 402-471-2731 and my email is sgeist@leg.ne.gov.

Sen. Suzanne Geist

District 25
Room #2000
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2731
Email: sgeist@leg.ne.gov
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