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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.