NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Matt Hansen

Sen. Matt Hansen

District 26

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 mhansen@leg.ne.gov

News for the 26th

January 31st, 2017

Greetings Northeast Lincoln!

Happy New Year! The One Hundred Fifth Legislature officially began on January 4th, 2017.


all-senators

The First Session of the 105th Legislature officially began on Wednesday, January 4th, as ordered in the state constitution, “commencing at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January of each year.” The 17 new members of the Legislature were sworn in, along with the eight re-elected members, and committee chairs were elected. The next 10 days of session were filled with introducing legislation and the start of committee hearings. I was appointed to serve on the Business and Labor Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Urban Affairs Committee. During the last session, I served on the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, the General Affairs Committee, and the Urban Affairs Committee, so I am looking forward to learning about the new issues and challenges facing our state. I am also honored to announce that I was elected to be vice-chairperson of the Urban Affairs Committee, as well as appointed to the Planning Committee.

door-shopped

We’ve moved!

Our office moved into a new space at the beginning of session. We are now located in room 1017, in the northwest corner of the Capitol.

How the Legislature Works: A Brief Look

unicam-process

During the first ten days of the legislative session, senators can introduce bills, and these bills are referred to various committees. Once a bill is in committee, it has a hearing, and is voted on by the senators on the committee after the hearing. If a bill makes it out of the committee, it is placed onto general file. During the general file stage, senators consider amendments proposed both by committees and individual senators. A majority vote of the Legislature, or 25 votes, is needed to move a bill from general file to the next stage of debate, called select file. Select file is the second debating and voting stage where additional amendments can be added and voted upon. Once a bill is approved on select file, it moves to final reading, where it cannot be amended further, and is constitutionally required to be read aloud in its entirety by the Clerk of the Legislature. A proposed constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths vote of the elected members (30) to place it on the general election ballot and a four-fifths vote (40) to place it on a primary or special election ballot. A bill with an emergency clause requires a vote of two-thirds (33 members) of the Legislature. All other bills without an emergency clause require a simple majority vote before going to the governor. After the Legislature passes a bill on final reading, it goes to the governor for consideration. The governor has five days, not including Sundays, to decide what to do with a bill. If the governor signs a bill or declines to act on it, the bill becomes a state law. The governor may veto a bill, and he has the authority to strike specific budget appropriations (line-item veto). The Legislature may override any gubernatorial veto, although it takes a vote of 30 senators to do so.

Information from the Nebraska Legislature webpage, www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Bills Introduced

The following legislative bills are those I have introduced this session. You can find more information about the bills I and other senators have introduced on the Nebraska legislature website, www.nebraskalegislature.gov or by clicking on the bill title. Feel free to reach out to our office if you’re having trouble navigating the website.

I will provide more in-depth coverage as session goes on.

  • LB64-Adopt the Adrenal Insufficiency Diagnosis Information and Support Act
  • LB65-Provide income tax credits for caregivers
  • LB66-Change provisions relating to stacking of coverage under the Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Act
  • LB93-Adopt the Automatic License Plate Reader Privacy Act
  • LB111-Provide for nonpartisan election of county officers
  • LB112-Permit registered voters moving within Nebraska without re-registering to vote provisionally
  • LB113-Change population threshold provisions relating to municipalities and eliminate obsolete provisions
  • LB145-Provide for a hearing to determine financial ability to pay fines and costs and traffic citations and provide for community service
  • LB146-Provide for set-asides of convictions for infractions
  • LB147-Change workers’ compensation provisions relating to waiting time, termination of compensation, and attorney’s fees
  • LB211Change the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuities
  • LB212-Adopt the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act
  • LB213-Add an unfair claims settlement practice under the Unfair Insurance Claims Settlement Practices Act
  • LB258-Provide opportunity for inmates to obtain state identification card or driver’s license before discharge
  • LB259Provide for competency determinations in cases pending before county courts
  • LB260-Provide for a state food insecurity nutrition incentive grant program and state intent regarding appropriations
  • LB261Adopt the Nebraska Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
  • LB363-Change the Conveyance Safety Act
  • LB519-Change Employment Security Law provisions relating to employers’ experience and reimbursement accounts
  • LB520-Require notification when persons prohibited by state or federal law obtain a handgun or concealed carry permit
matt-fam

My wife and parents joined me for the first day of session.

Meet My Staff

Joey Adler Legislative Aide jadler@leg.ne.gov

Joey Adler
Legislative Aide
jadler@leg.ne.gov

Sarah Wagelie Administrative Assistant swagelie@leg.ne.gov

Sarah Wagelie
Administrative Assistant
swagelie@leg.ne.gov

 

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. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (402) 471-2610 or email us at mhansen@leg.ne.gov. We look forward to hearing from you! As always, thanks for reading.

News for the 26th

May 2nd, 2016

Second Session Ends, Sine Die

The 104th legislative session comes to a close, eleven senators say goodbye.

As the session comes to an end, Senators must say goodbye to eleven colleagues, including Speaker Galen Hadley, all of whom are pictured on the next page.

During this short session, the legislature passed 216 bills, including prison reform legislation, funding for roads, and property tax relief. Nearly all priority bills were debated, and 76 were passed into law. This includes my priority bill, LB947, the details of which are also on the next page, including a quote from my first floor speech on the bill.

 

Election Bill Passes

Early this month, my bill, LB741 was amended into Senator John Murante’s LB874. LB874 will make several changes to Nebraska’s election laws. The original bill makes the process for filling vacancies on school boards consistent statewide with the stipulation that an appointee will fill a vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term.

As passed, LB874 includes provisions of four additional bills, including my bill. LB741 removes from the list of banned electioneering practices the display of yard signs on private property within 200 feet of a polling place. However, this does not include properties that are under common ownership with the polling place.

Other additions include provisions from Senator Adam Morfeld allowing for ballot selfies, and Senator Joni Craighead changing the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot.

LB874 was passed by the legislature with a 45-0 vote.

 

LB947 Passes, Notwithstanding Objections from the Governor

On the final day of session, the legislature debated LB947: a bill to provide for the issuance of professional or commercial licenses for DACA recipients. After having passed LB947 on Final Reading with 33 affirmative votes, the bill was returned to the legislature on day 60 without approval from the governor.

To qualify for the federal DACA program, residents must have: lived in the US since June, 2007; been no older than 31 as of June, 2012; entered the country before turning sixteen; attended school, earned a diploma, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces; and not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.

On day 60, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Heath Mello, offered a motion to override the governor’s veto. To override a veto, the affirmative. After two hours of debate, the body voted 31-13 to override the veto of LB947.

 

“Time and time again we’ve heard about the importance of workforce development, and its critical connection to the future growth of our state… With LB947, we have an opportunity to ensure that young Nebraskans have the full opportunity to obtain a professional license to join their ideal profession.”

 

I chose LB947 as my personal priority bill to address the inability of so many Nebraskans to become professionals. Throughout session, my office received dozens of emails and phone calls in support of this legislation. I’m happy we were successful in passing LB947, because I believe our state supports DACA recipients making a life in Nebraska, supporting their families, and supporting their community.

 

ELEVEN SENATORS TERM-LIMITED OUT:

Sen. Mello, Sen. Cook, Sen. Bloomfield, Sen. Haar, Sen. Campbell, Sen. Coash, Sen. Gloor, Speaker Hadley, Sen. McCoy, Sen. Sullivan, and Sen. Schilz.

 

Next Session

The 105th Legislative Session will begin January 4th, 2017 for a 90 day session.

As always, thanks for reading!

News for the 26th

April 4th, 2016

The Final Ten

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! We’ve just begun the final ten days of session. Upon adjournment sine die on April 20th, all bills that were not passed will be cleared from the agenda.

Budget Adjustments Advance

Last week, the body passed three bills to adjust the biennial budget. The state budget is passed during odd-numbered years with adjustments made during even-numbered years. These second session bills address the gap between projections and the $8.7 billion budget passed in 2015: LB956 makes adjustments based on a downward revision in tax receipt forecasting and increases to state aid, LB957 makes transfers from the Cash Reserve Fund, and LB981 approves agency write- offs and claims against the state.

Unicam Process

Speaker Priority

LB742, my bill to change county population thresholds, was chosen as a speaker priority. As a speaker priority, LB742 receives priority status behind senator priority bills, and is considered ahead of other bills in debate. LB742 is based on the findings of LR196, an interim study conducted last year by the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, and is currently on the agenda on Select File.

LB808: Change provisions relating to economic development program under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act

My bill, LB808, has been amended into LB1059. LB1059 also changes provisions of the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, in addition to the Community Development law. This bill was introduced by Senator Crawford, and prioritized by the Urban Affairs committee. LB1059 was passed by the Legislature last week, pending the Governor’s approval.

LR403Hansen2-29-16a

Legislative update-Sen. Hansen introduces LR403 to the body.

Special Committee Appointments

Earlier this session, LR403, my election technology resolution, was adopted. It established the Election Technology Committee which will study the longevity of technology used by election commissioners and county clerks, and the feasibility of updating or replacing Nebraska’s election technology.

Those appointed to the committee include myself, Senator Robert Hilkemann of Omaha, Senator Dan Hughes of Venango, Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha, Senator Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, and Senator John Stinner of Gering. As the Chairperson of the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator John Murante of Gretna is also the Chairperson of the Election Technology Committee.

The ACCESSNebraska Oversight committee has replaced the ACCESSNebraska Special Investigative Committee. ACCESSNebraska is the public benefits delivery system developed and implemented by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The Special Investigative Committee was established to investigate an array of problems including long wait times for callers, high worker turnover rates, and lost paperwork. The Oversight Committee was authorized by the Legislature in February with the adoption of LR418 to continue communication with the ACCESSNebraska system.

Those appointed to the Committee include Senator Al Davis of Hyannis, Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell, Senator John McCollister of Omaha, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, and Senator John Stinner of Gering. Senator Sara Howard of Omaha is the Chairperson, and I have been selected as the Vice- Chairperson.

In Other News…

Congratulations to the Lincoln Northeast High School Star Strutters for winning the Nebraska State Dance championship in the Class A High Kick Division!


St Patricks

My fiancé and I celebrating St. Patrick’s day!

Canada Day

We also enjoyed attending the Canada Day Reception, honoring the Canada-Nebraska relationship.


If you have questions of concerns about legislation or the legislative process, call (402) 471-2610 or e-mail mhansen@leg.ne.gov; our office is always happy to help.

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

Designating Priority Bills

February 26th, 2016

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! The Legislature has just finished a week of priority bill designations. Each senator has the opportunity to choose one bill, each committee two bills, and the Speaker up to 25 bills to prioritize in a single session.

This year, my priority bill is LB947, which declares all work-authorized persons eligible to obtain a professional or commercial operating license. Those affected by LB947 are the same population granted eligibility to obtain a drivers license through LB623, a bill passed last session.

Senator Hansen and Union members at the AFL-CIO Luncheon on the February snow day.

Senator Hansen and Union members at the AFL-CIO Luncheon on the February snow day.

2016 Legislation

Last month, I wrote about LB808, relating to the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, and LB831, relating to automatic license plate readers. Both bills have advanced from the Urban Affairs committee and Judiciary committee, respectively, and have been placed on General File.

LR403: Election Technology

LR403 would create an Election Technology Committee as a special committee of the Legislature to address Nebraska’s aging election technology and equipment. The special committee would study the longevity of technology used by election commissioners and county clerks to conduct elections, and the feasibility of updating or replacing this technology.

LB1089: Tipped Minimum Wage

LB1089 would incrementally increase the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuity from the current $2.13 per hour to $4.50 per hour by January, 2017, or 50 percent of the standard minimum wage.

While the state minimum wage was increased last year through a ballot initiative, the tipped minimum wage has not changed since 1991. In 1991, it was uncoupled from the standard minimum wage which was set at $4.25.

31 states have a higher tipped minimum wage than Nebraska. Increasing Nebraska’s tipped minimum wage would set us in line with Iowa ($4.35 per hour), Colorado ($4.98 per hour), and other neighboring states.

LB1090: NICS Denials Notification (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)

LB1090’s hearing is scheduled for March 3rd, before the Judiciary committee. This bill would require notification of law enforcement by the Nebraska State Patrol of denials of certificates to purchase, lease, rent, or receive transfer of handgyns.

LB1090 would also require an annual written report to the Nebraska State Patrol from state or local law enforcement agencies that have received notifications. The report would include information on certificate denials, the status of any open investigations, and explanations of denials that did not lead to investigations.

This bill is intended to provide law enforcement with the information they need to help prevent the next crime from happening, and to keep our families and communities safe.

Earlier this month…

Two LPS high school students interested in a career in politics shadowed me for a day. They were able to sit in on the morning floor debate and an afternoon committee hearing.

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This month, I introduced LB945 before the Agriculture committee. LB945 is the Healthy Food Financing Initiative Act, aimed at alleviating the prevalence of food deserts.

Sen Hansen Food Deserts

Unicameral Update- LB945

If we haven’t heard from you yet, we hope this newsletter will serve as a reminder to contact us with any questions, concerns, or support regarding state legislation.

As always, thanks for reading!

The 2016 Second Session Begins

January 29th, 2016

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! We’ve just completed the sixteenth day of session, with bill introductions ending and committee hearings beginning. For a list of new bills and hearing schedules, visit NebraskaLegislature.gov. Continue reading for information about our newly introduced bills.

Photo from Unicameral Update- Hall of Fame

Photo from Unicameral Update- Hall of Fame

LB945: Healthy Food Financing Initiative

With the closing of Hy-Vee Mainstreet nearly a year ago, many Northeast Lincoln residents are now living in a ‘food desert.’ This term was popularized in 2006 in a study done by Mari Gallagher. Food deserts are defined as low income areas with low access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods. Today, 18% of Nebraskans live in food deserts, affecting both rural and urban populations, and now many in my district.

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative establishes a source of funding in the form of loans, grants, and interest rate assistance, on a competitive, one-time basis, to projects committed to providing regular offerings of healthy and affordable foods in food desert areas. LB945 has been referenced to the Agriculture Committee; a  hearing date has not been set.

LB1031: Railroad Transportation Safety

This bill changes the levy authority of Railroad Transportation Safety Districts (RTSDs). We’ve introduced this bill to encourage the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County to work together to increase the safety of railroad crossings. Two crossings that may be affected are 33rd and Cornhusker Streets, and 35th and Adams Streets.

This bill has been referenced to the Revenue Committee; a hearing date has not been set.

LB896: Longevity Pay

This bill requires pay increases for state employees to recognize length of service and their commitment to the State of Nebraska. These pay increases will be in addition to any other pay increases provided for in state law or in any collective bargaining agreement.

The introduced longevity raise is similar to legislation introduced in other Midwestern states. We hope to establish longevity raises as a permanent component of the Nebraska state employees system. This bill has been referenced to the Business and Labor Committee.

Photo from the ACLU of Nebraska

Photo from the ACLU of Nebraska

LB831- “Today I’m not only standing up for the privacy of all Nebraskans, I’m standing for wise use of our tax payer funds”

Meet Our New Interns!

Please welcome our new interns: Sarah Wagelie and Joe Gruber. Sarah is in her final year at UNL, and will graduate in May with a degree in Political Science and a Public Policy Analysis Certificate. She is joining us from Nebraskans for Civic Reform. Joe is a sophomore at UNL, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Community and Regional Planning. Joe thinks state government is pretty cool, which effectively sums up how we feel about our new interns!

Until next time…

If you have questions or concerns about legislation or the legislative process, please let us know! Our office is always happy to help.

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

Preparing for Session

December 11th, 2015

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! This month I had the pleasure of attending the Wreaths Across America ceremony in the Warned Chamber. I was presented with a wreath honoring veterans, and accepted it on behalf of the Nebraska Legislature.

The tradition of laying wreaths began in 1992, when the Worcester Wreath Company in Maine donated 5,000 wreaths to be placed on headstones at the Arlington Cemetery. As part of the program, Wreaths Across America sends a wreath to each state capitol to honor veterans during the holiday season. Over 1,000 locations around the nation participate in this event. This was the sixth year that Lincoln has participated.

On Saturday, December 12th, Wyuka Cemetery will host another ceremony, where over 600 wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans in the Soldier Circle.

Wreaths Across America

Honoring veterans at the Wreaths Across America ceremony, with Diane Bartels, Ralph Bierman, and Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley.

The 2016 Session

The 2016 Legislative Session will begin on Wednesday, January 6th. The Nebraska Constitution requires that the Legislature convene annually on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January. Sessions in odd-numbered years last 90 days, and those in even-numbered years last 60.

During this short session, the first three days will consist mainly of bill introductions. Additionally, on the first day of session, the Legislature will elect a Retirement Committee Chair, a position that became vacant with the resignation of Senator Nordquist.

While there has been some rearranging of committee positions, I remain on the General Affairs committee; Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs committee and the Urban Affairs committee.

ACCESSNebraska Report

The ACCESSNebraska Special Investigative Committee has made its final report to the Legislature for the year. The committee finds that ACCESSNebraska has seen significant improvement over the last several months.

Many changes made to the system under the new administration should be attributable to these improvements; recognition by officials of the operational challenges plaguing ACCESSNebraska allowed DHHS to make necessary modifications. These include the creation of targeted lists and work groups which have helped the system rise from the critical stage it was formerly in. Additionally, allowing for the cross-sharing of documents between Economic Assistance and Medicaid and Long-Term Care has enabled clients to cut down on the amount of paperwork they must complete. It’s also important to recognize ACCESSNebraska’s long-term employees, who have continued to work hard through additional training and overtime hours, and continue to advocate for the ACCESSNebraska program.

The committee recommends that ACCESNebraska officials continue to explore funding opportunities that would allow the system to update its technology, to support the changing needs of social assistance programs. The committee does not recommend any related legislation, but does recommend at least one more year of legislative oversight.

Hansen Foley Christmas Tree

Fifth and sixth grade students from McPhee Elementary School attended the Wreaths Across America ceremony with their principal.

With the start of the new year, our office will begin sending out newsletters at the end of the month rather than the beginning, as we’ve done in the past.

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

 

Interim Activities- Keeping Busy

September 11th, 2015

News for the 26th

Greetings Northeast Lincoln! This September, the capitol tower will shine red for Hunger Action Month. The tower lighting was sponsored by the Food Bank for the Heartland and Lincoln, a non-profit organization that delivers food to schools, pantries, and shelters from Nebraska to Western Iowa. The office of the Capitol Commission invites you to view Lincoln’s changing colors from the tower’s observation decks. They are open during public hours, and are accessible via the northeast elevator. To see the capitol’s public hours, go to capitol.nebraska.gov.

Over the course of the summer, I had the pleasure of attending two legislative conferences. The Council for State Governments (CGS) held it’s Midwest Meeting at the event center in Bismarck, North Dakota, and the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) Summit was held in Seattle, Washington. NCSL is a bipartisan organization that provides research and technical assistance to legislators and staff. Prior to the Summit, I was appointed to NCSL’s Legislative Effectiveness standing committee to examine practices, procedures, and strategies promoting effectiveness among legislatures. The committee’s next meeting will be this December in Washington, D.C.

sen hansen new americans

Senator Hansen addresses issues facing New Americans at the Center For People In Need in August

Committee Hearings

Interim hearings have been scheduled for General and Urban Affairs Committees. General Affairs will meet on September 25th and October 23rd. In September, the committee will hear LR288 and LR290, examining issues related to public libraries, and LR307, examining issues that fall under General Affairs’ jurisdiction. In October, the committee will review LR287, examining licensure of craft breweries, and LR289, examining UNL alcohol policies.

The Urban Affairs committee has scheduled hearings on September 25th, October 23rd, and November 5th. The first hearing will address two resolutions: LR512, examining the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act of 1991, and LR155, examining potential economic development tools for municipalities. In October, the committee will hear LR278, examining tools for municipalities to encourage neighborhood revitalization, and LR174, examining issues surrounding the Nebraska Energy Code. The third hearing will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

The Government committee has not yet scheduled any fall hearings. However, two of my interim studies will be addressed in this committee. LR196 examines current statutes governing population thresholds while LR335 examines the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s latest report.

ACCESSNebraska

ACCESSNebraska’s first hearing of the session was held on July 17th. At the hearing, DHHS shared ACCESSNebraska performance metrics for the months of May and June. The metric program began recording in April to measure the system’s functionality. More recently, DHHS shared performance metrics for the month of July.

July’s metrics show that most categories have seen performance improvements since April. On the Economic Assistance (EA) side, both expedited and non-expedited applications are meeting federal standards of processing timeliness. Also on the EA side, metrics show a major decrease in average call wait times since June- from 23 minutes and 10 seconds to 15 minutes and 51 seconds. Call wait times have not been this short since October of 2014.

In addition to these successes, the number of Nebraskans enrolled in SNAP has increased in number of households and number of individuals for the last three months.

On the Medicaid side, application timeliness for Children and Families, and the Aged and Disabled has improved to exceed federal standards. However, Medicaid has seen continual decreases in total enrollment, Children and Families enrollment, and Aged and disabled enrollment for the last four months.

The next special investigative committee hearing has not yet been scheduled.

News Bulletin:

On August 18th, Nicole Fox was sworn in to office by Governor Ricketts. Appointed by the Governor, she will represent LD 7, effectively replacing Jeremy Nordquist.. Senator Fox has been assigned to two committees: Health and Human Services, and Banking, Commerce & Insurance.

Don’t miss the last University Place Community Market of the season on Wednesday, September 16th. The market will have produce, food, and crafts, from 3-7pm at 48th and Madison streets.

On September 19th, Speak Truth to Sexual Violence is sponsoring an Assault Awareness Rally at noon on the North Plaza.

The Nebraska Legislature is seeking Legislative Pages for the upcoming session. Call the Clerk’s office at (402) 471-5100 to request an application. Applications will be due by Wednesday, September 30th.

Senator Hansen’s office is seeking an intern for the upcoming session. Please e-mail mhansen@leg.ne.gov for more information.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sen. Matt Hansen

District 26
Room #1017
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2610
Email: mhansen@leg.ne.gov
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