Sen. Matt Hansen
District 26

Welcome!

January 7th, 2015

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 26th 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. Matt Hansen

Session Ends but Work Continues

June 12th, 2015

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! The 104th Nebraska Legislature has adjourned sine die. Over 600 bills were introduced this session, and over 240 were passed and approved by the governor. After several weeks of late night debate, the legislature was able to adjourn one day early, saving the state a total of $10,203.

To adjourn sine die means to adjourn without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing. To adjourn sine die is to adjourn for an indefinite period. 

I’m extremely proud of what the Legislature has been able to accomplish this session. We passed a strong budget that includes a $60 million per year increase in the amount transferred to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. We passed a bill with broad bipartisan support to allow for the issuance of drivers licenses to Dreamers, giving thousands of Nebraskans a new sense of independence.

Unicameral Update- George W. Norris Chamber

Unicameral Update- George W. Norris Chamber

I’m also thankful for the passage of three of my bills: LB 240, LB 304, and LB 314.

LB 240, a bill relating to behavioral health; to extend the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot program an additional two years, and to allow for more clinics to serve as sites for the program. 

LB 304, a bill relating to cities and villages; to adopt the Municipal Custodianship for Dissolved Homeowners Associations Act; and to provide a duty for the Revisor of Statutes. 

LB 314, a bill relating to county courts; to state matters subject to the jurisdiction of county courts.

Interim Studies

This session, I introduced three successful Legislative Resolutions.      LR 196 will examine current state statutes governing population thresholds for Nebraska counties. Lancaster county has recently exceeded the 300,000 population threshold, and this study will examine the projected population of Nebraska counties and whether legislation is needed to update current statutes.

LR 335 will examine election law, namely the most recent report published by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The commission’s recommendations will be explored to determine what steps Nebraska must take to be in compliance.

Finally, LR 336 will examine the appropriation of funds to the State Department of Education to implement mentor teacher programs. This study will examine mentor teacher programs in other states and how those programs are funded.

ACCESSNebraska

ACCESSNebraska has struggled for many years to keep up with it’s workload. It has consistently struggled to provide benefits to Nebraskans in an efficient and effective manner. Problems include long wait times, lost documentation, the adequacy of staffing and training, and the adequacy of the technology used within the system.

The ACCESSNebraska Special Investigative Committee was established with the passage of LR 400 in 2014 by former Senator Annette Dubas. It is the committee’s job to study and investigate the effectiveness of the ACCESSNebraska system. The committee consists of seven members of the Legislature, a legal counsel, and a committee clerk. We will hold hearings and issue subpoenas as deemed necessary. Our first hearing will be held on Friday, July 17th at 1:30 pm.

ACCESSNebraska is Nebraska’s public benefits delivery system and was adopted in 2008 in attempts to modernize the former delivery system.

The End of Session

Now that we have reached the interim, our office will not be sending out a monthly newsletter, but we will continue to keep you up-to date with less frequent newsletters. My staff will continue to be available to you during normal business hours.

We look forward to hearing from you! As always, thanks for reading.

Hansen learns the ropes

May 8th, 2015
 
Published May 7, 2015
Unicameral Update

Sen. Matt Hansen is the Legislature’s youngest senator, having graduated from Lincoln Southwest High School in 2006. He continued on to the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science. Later as a law student there, he specialized in alternative dispute resolution—not knowing how quickly the skill would serve him as a state senator.

“If you had asked me even five years ago, I don’t know if I would have predicted this office,” he said.

Getting involved in his northeast Lincoln neighborhood of University Place, he saw how issues affected the people in his community. This inspired him to run for office.

After his election, he learned his status as the youngest senator in the body traditionally deems him the chairperson of the Legislature’s smallest committee—the Enrollment and Review Committee.

A committee of one, legislative rules indicate that the E&R chairperson is to: report bills which have been engrossed, correct the spelling of words and the erroneous division and hyphenation of words, capitalize or decapitalize words, convert masculine or feminine referents to neutral gender when appropriate and change numbers from words to figures or from figures to words in legislation.

Good thing Hansen likes details. As his tenure continues, he looks forward to applying his mediation experience to good use with his legislative colleagues.

“I’ve always been interested in problem solving,” he said. “I’m a details guy. I like getting down to the nitty gritty of an issue.”

Before his new role as a senator, that attention to detail drew Hansen to the theater. He takes special pleasure in working backstage for Lincoln Community Playhouse productions. He operated the light board for their 2013 run of “Little Women” and again for “Miss Nelson is Missing” this spring.

But don’t expect to see this soft-spoken senator commanding center stage any time soon. He much prefers to work behind-the-scenes.

“I resent people who think the technical side of theater is for actors who didn’t get cast,” he said with a grin.

Like all new senators, Hansen is tasked with learning about a number of diverse issues in a very short time period. Luckily, he’s been able to lean on his colleagues.

“It’s a strange experience to go from candidate to full-blown senator overnight,” he said. “I really appreciated the orientation process and having the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge as possible from current and former senators.”

Behavioral health pilot program extended

May 8th, 2015
 
Published May 7, 2015
Unicameral Update

The termination date for a children’s behavioral health screening and referral program was extended May 7.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, extends the program’s termination date to Sept. 6, 2017.

The bill passed 36-9.

Expansion of behavioral health program removed from bill

May 4th, 2015
 
Published April 29, 2015
Unicameral Update

A bill seeking to make a children’s behavioral health screening and referral program permanent was amended April 29 to terminate in 2015.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would remove the Sept. 6, 2015, termination date for the program and an existing cap on the number of clinic sites.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher offered an amendment during select file debate that would change the 2015 termination date to 2017.  The pilot project was poorly structured, he said, and too many questions remain unanswered regarding the success of the program.

“I think it’s perfectly obvious … that this pilot program is inconclusive and hasn’t given us the kind of data we need to make it a permanent program,” Schumacher said.

Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston supported the amendment, saying the pilot program lacked the proper metrics to evaluate its success.

“As we all know, [once] an item or a program is enacted into law, it is very, very difficult to back out of that situation,” he said.

Hansen opposed the amendment. The pilot program has proven to be an important tool in bridging the gap between screening and treatment, he said, and should be available across the state.

“The real issue at hand is the efficacy of this program,” he said.

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell also opposed the amendment, saying the pilot program grew out of the state’s safe haven “debacle” in 2008. In the years following passage of the law, she said, it became clear that Nebraska needed to do more to identify and treat behavioral health disorders in young people.

“This is not a new rodeo,” Campbell said. “This is an extension of a program that has been very successful.”

The Schumacher amendment was adopted 26-9.

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield offered a motion to bracket the bill until June 5, saying senators should have access to more data before making a decision on the fate of the pilot program.

“The bill would still be alive next session when we would have the required information,” he said.

The bracket motion failed 14-31. Lawmakers voted 26-14 to advance the amended bill to final reading.

 

Late Nights & the Beginning of the Budget

May 1st, 2015

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! Spring has sprung and the legislature is gearing up to spend more and more time in-doors.  With only five weeks left of Session, we will be working long hours to make sure our bills are heard by the body.

Legislative Update

Legislative Update

Late Nights & the Beginning of the Budget

The first round of debate on the biennial budget bills began last week. The Appropriations committee voted unanimously to advance from committee the 8 budget bills that are now on General file. The budget funds programs such as correctional services, property tax credits and schools like Southeast Community College, which would receive a general 3% increase under this budget. The proposed budget can be found here:

Nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/reports/fiscal/2015budget.pdf

Consent Calendar

Last Wednesday, we debated 36 bills that were placed on the Consent Calendar. The Consent Calendar represents a portion of the agenda carrying noncontroversial bills. A bill on this calendar should not be debated for more than 15 minutes, and should advance somewhat quickly. Most bills change or update provisions or restrictions. If any three members of the Legislature believe a bill to be controversial, they can request that the bill be removed from the consent calendar.

BHECN & other Bills

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at UNMC to address children’s behavioral health needs that were not being met. This year, I introduced LB 240 to remove the program’s termination date and allow for more clinic sites. Out of the 1,900 children screened since the program’s inception, approximately a quarter of those screened positive for a behavioral health concern. There is a need in our state to identify and treat disorders such as depression and anxiety among young people, and LB 240 seeks to meet that need. After advancing from General file to Select file, an amendment was adopted that will sunset the program in September of 2017. Last Wednesday, LB 240 advanced to Final Reading. By extending BHECN, we are bridging the gap between screening and treatment, investing in happy and healthy youth, and preventing fatalities related to behavioral health.

After the advancement of BHECN, there were several hours of late-night debate on LB 599, a bill to lower the minimum wage for certain young student workers. I fought against the advancement of this bill with many of my colleagues, unsuccessfully However, the legislature will have one more opportunity to vote on LB 599 before it’s sent to the Governor. As the youngest member of the legislature, I feel compelled to maintain the rights of Nebraska’s youth. The value of our young people cannot be exaggerated.

Since last month, many bills have advanced, and many have failed to advance. The following bills are ones that I co-sponsored. LB 472, the Medicaid Redesign Act, introduced by Senator Campbell, was bracketed until June 5, 2015. LB627, a bill to change provisions relating to pregnancy and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, introduced by Senator Mello, was approved by the Governor. Finally, Senator Chambers’ LB 268, a bill to repeal the death penalty, advanced to Select file with 30 votes.

The pie chart below represents the concerns shared with our office by constituents. The healthcare category is over-arching, and includes medicaid expansion, women’s health, child welfare, and behavioral health. The Ag Issues category includes animal rights and livestock markets.

Percentage of constituents who shared opinions in corresponding represented category

Percentage of constituents who shared opinions in corresponding represented category

April Events

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with several different groups. I was able to tour Gateway Vista, a retirement and assisted living facility in the district, with a healthcare administrator to see the facility and to talk about the healthcare process. I spoke to the Meadowlane Area Residence Association at their annual meeting about this session’s most important legislation. Most recently, I attended the Stand Up For Kids Carnival with several other Lincoln leaders to give tips on protecting our children. I was also able to meet with the NU’s President Hank Bounds.

Since the last newsletter, two LD 26 schools have visited us- Trinity Lutheran and Faith Lutheran. Thank you to all the students who have come to visit your Nebraska Legislature! We look forward to receiving Trinity Lutheran’s seventh and eighth graders this week.

Announcement

The Nebraska Youth Legislature will be held June 7-10, 2015 and is open to all high school students. Registration includes lodging, meals, and daily transportation from East Campus to the Legislature. The deadline to register is May 15 and the fee is $350. Scholarships available. For more information visit NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl

Thanks to everyone who has called, sent letters, e-mailed, or stopped by our office to share your views! We hope you’ll continue to let us know what is important to you. As always, thanks for reading.

Senator Hansen invites students to youth legislature

April 16th, 2015

LINCOLN, NE – High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 7-10. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.

The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-0764. The deadline for registration is May 15.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 16th, 2015

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Ami Johnson
Nebraska Legislature
Unicameral Information Office
(402) 471-0764
ajohnson@leg.ne.gov

Extension of behavioral health program advanced

April 13th, 2015
 
Published April 7, 2015
Unicameral Update

Lawmakers gave first-round approval April 7 to a bill that would extend a behavioral health screening and referral program.

In 2013, the Legislature created the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to develop ways to address unmet children’s behavioral health needs that could be replicated statewide.

LB240, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would remove the Sept. 6, 2015, termination date for the program and an existing cap on the number of clinic sites.

Hansen said the program screened over 1,900 young people during visits to family health providers since its inception in November 2013. Approximately 23 percent of those children screened positive for a behavioral health concern, he said.

“It has been a successful program and one I feel that we, as a state, should continue,” Hansen said. “Effectively, [LB240] will continue the program and make it permanent.”

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell supported the bill, saying the pilot program grew out of the state’s safe haven “debacle” in 2008. In the years following passage of the law, she said, it became clear that Nebraska needed to do more to identify and treat behavioral health disorders in young people.

Campbell said carrying on the work established by the pilot program is critical to early detection of depression, anxiety and other disorders.
“We need to move this program from a pilot situation to making sure that it exists all across the state of Nebraska,” she said.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher questioned the efficacy of the pilot program, saying more data regarding its success should be offered before removing the sunset date.

Senators needs to know what form of treatment children received, how it was paid for and how effective it was, he said—as well as how those results compare to children who were not screened or treated.

“As a pilot program, we should learn something before we ‘un-pilot’ it and make it a permanent program,” Schumacher said. “Our only result from this two years is that kids were screened.”

Senators voted 32-11 to advance the bill to select file.

 

Dissolved HOA bill approved

April 7th, 2015
 
Published April 2, 2015
Unicameral Update

Lawmakers gave final approval April 2 to a bill that provides a mechanism for a dissolved Home Owners Association (HOA) to achieve reinstatement.

LB304, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, adopts the Municipal Custodianship for Dissolved Homeowners Associations Act. The bill allows a municipality to be appointed custodian over a dissolved HOA.

The bill establishes a $100 fee for an HOA seeking reinstatement after being dissolved for more than five years and applies only to HOAs located within the city limits of a municipality.

The bill passed 45-0.

All Day Session Begins

March 30th, 2015

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! As March brings us the first day of spring, it has brought me many firsts in the Nebraska Legislature. For they first time, one of our bills was signed into law by the Governor. For the first time, one of our bills was prioritized by the Speaker. And for the first time, I was appointed to one of the Legislature’s three special investigative committees. But the most exciting first that March has brought occurred outside of the legislature; my beautiful girlfriend, Jane, and I became engaged!

Matt and Jane

Priority Bills

Upon the completion of afternoon committee hearings in mid-March, the legislature began all-day session. We will now spend mornings and afternoons discussing and advancing bills on the floor. Also in mid-March, the Speaker, Senators and committees designated priority bills. Pursuant to the rules of the Nebraska Legislature, each senator can designate one priority bill, each chairperson two committee priority bills, and the speaker 25 speaker priority bills. This session, my priority bill is LB494. This bill seeks to change the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuities. Currently, the tipped wage is $2.13 per hour. LB494 would increase the tipped wage incrementally, and has a compromise committee amendment attached. I’m very pleased that the Speaker has designated my bill, LB240, as a priority. LB240 continues funding for the Behavioral Health Screening and Referral Pilot Program. All priority bills can be found under “Priority Bill Listing” on the main page of the Nebraska Legislature’s website.

My Bills

LB314, a bill relating to county court jurisdiction, was passed on final reading and has been signed into law by the Governor!

LB304, a bill relating to Homeowners Associations, has advanced from General file to Select file, and has been placed on Final Reading.

LB227, a bill relating to the Educational Bridge Program, has made it out of the Education committee and has been placed on General file.

LB240, a bill relating to the Behavioral Health Pilot Program, has made it out of the Health and Human Services committee and has been placed on General file.

Extended Debate Ensues

Several bills this session have seen extended debate. LB31 is a bill to eliminate motorcycle and moped helmet requirements. After eight hours of debate, the motion for cloture on LB31 failed. The helmet law repeal will be put on hold for another year. A bill to increase the dry bean check off from ten to fifteen cents, was also intensely debated. In addition, LB242 attempted to remove the refund provision for the check off. Because the Dry Bean Commission is a board of appointed members, the bill was filibuster on the basis of taxation without representation. LB242 has been placed on final reading and will likely be passed this session. LB10, a bill to reinstate the winner-take-all system for electing presidential candidates, brought up big questions: which electoral system is closest to what our constitution suggests? and What electoral system will bring Nebraska the most national attention? LB10, two votes short on a cloture motion, was killed for the session.

Special Committees

As previously mentioned, I was appointed to the ACCESS Nebraska Special Investigative Committee. ACCESS Nebraska is a public benefit delivery system established in 2008 and implemented by the Health and Human Services Committee. Since it’s implementation, the system has been plagued with issues like long wait times and high error rates. For this reason, the ACCESS Nebraska Special Investigative Committee was established in 2014. I look forward to the opportunity to work with my colleagues to improve this system.

March Events

This month I had the pleasure of joining the Nebraska Art Teachers Association in honoring young artists. Students k-12 were able to display their own artwork on the first floor of the capitol. I was proud to speak to these students about the importance of art in cultivating creativity and innovation. Also this month, we had our first school visit from 4th graders at Saint John’s Elementary! They were able to tour the capitol and were introduced in the chamber during morning session. Students and both 4th grade teachers are pictured on top of the first page. We look forward to welcoming 4th graders from St Lutheran Elementary later this week! As always, thanks for reading.

Appointments Made to Three Special Committees

March 20th, 2015

Published: Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Unicameral Update

The Executive Board of the Legislature announced appointments to three special investigative committees March 9.

The Developmental Disabilities Special Investigative Committee has been providing ongoing oversight of the placement and care of the developmentally disabled in Nebraska since 2008.

The committee was reauthorized Feb. 27 with the adoption of LR32. Appointed to the committee are:
• Lincoln Sen. Roy Baker;
• Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz;
• Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash (chairperson);
• Hyannis Sen. Al Davis;
• Omaha Sen. Burke Harr;
• Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann; and
• Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson.

The ACCESSNebraska Special Investigative Committee was established in 2014. ACCESSNebraska is an online and call center system developed and implemented by the state Department of Health and Human Services to determine public benefit eligibility and deliver benefits to clients.

The committee originally was established in 2014 to investigate an array of problems including long wait times for callers, high worker turnover and lost paperwork. The adoption of LR33 on Feb. 27 authorized continuation of the committee’s oversight of the ACCESSNebraska system.

Appointed to the committee are:
• Omaha Sen. Joni Craighead;
• Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford;
• Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen;
• Omaha Sen. Sara Howard (chairperson);
• Omaha Sen. John McCollister;
• Ralston Sen. Merv Riepe; and
• Gering Sen. John Stinner.

The Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee was established in 2014, and was authorized to study the administration of good time laws, policies relating to inmate segregation and the availability of rehabilitative and mental health programs.

LR34, adopted on Feb. 27, reauthorized the committee. Appointed are:
• Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz;
• Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers;
• Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash;
• Crete Sen. Laura Ebke;
• Omaha Sen. Bob Krist;
• Omaha Sen. Heath Mello;
• Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld;
• Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks;
• Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher;
• Omaha Sen. Les Seiler (chairperson); and
• Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams.