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Lincoln, NE (December 1, 2016) — The Legislature’s Behavioral and Mental Health Task Force released a set of recommendations today following its examination of Nebraska’s behavioral health system’s adequacy to provide services to individuals.
The report contains 18 recommendations in the areas of sustainability, workforce development needs, high needs populations, community support, and specific needs populations.
“The recommendations of the Behavioral and Mental Health Task Force are aimed at reducing gaps in coverage, increasing availability of services in community based settings, and creating more preventative and cost-effective responses to mental and behavioral health needs,” said Senator Kate Bolz, chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force came to its recommendations following meetings with government agencies, behavioral health service providers, consumers of behavioral health services, rural advocates for behavioral health, advocates for those experiencing disabilities and representatives from hospitals. Additionally, a public hearing was held on June 28th.
The Behavioral and Mental Health Task Force was created by the legislature in the spring of 2016 by LR413. The resolution was introduced following a recommendation from the Legislative Performance Audit Committee that the legislature create ongoing oversight of the state’s behavioral and mental health system.
The Task Force includes the following members of the the Legislature:
Senator Kate Bolz, District #29, Chair
Senator Sara Howard, District #9, Vice-Chair
Senator Sue Crawford, District #45
Senator John McCollister, District 20
Senator Heath Mello, District 5
Senator Jim Scheer, District 19
Senator Les Seiler, District 33
I’ve enjoyed meeting with many of you throughout the fall and summer. As session nears, I’m excited to join returning and newly elected senators to get back to work on balancing the budget and protecting your priorities.
The 2017 Legislative Session starts on January 4 and runs through June 1. In Nebraska, our legislature operates on a two year biennium budget cycle. In odd-numbered years, we have a 90 day session where we enact the next budget. On even-numbered years, the legislature has a shorter 60 day session.
If you would like to follow the session closely, the Clerk of the Legislature’s office produces the Unicameral Update, an online news source that gives information legislative activity, floor discussion, and committee hearings. Additionally, you can watch committee hearings and floor debate using NET’s state government streaming website.
I look forward to continuing our work for District 29 in the next session, and am always interested in hearing your legislative priorities. If you would like to share your thoughts on the next legislative session with me, you can reach my office at (402) 471-2724 or at email@example.com.
Thank you to all who completed the District #29 Legislative Survey!
While the interim session survey is now complete, you are always welcome to call my office at (402) 471-2743 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your legislative priorities.
Sincerely, Senator Kate Bolz
Our state has many boards and commissions that provide Nebraskans a voice in state government and the chance to make a difference.
Openings include those on the ServeNebraska/Volunteer Service Commission, the Motor Vehicle Licensing Board, Children’s Commission, and Library Commission. Additionally, openings exist on new boards created by the legislature, such as the Nebraska Craft Brewery Board and the Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs. The full list of vacancies are sorted by positions that have been open since January of this year, those that have been vacant since last year, and those that are expected to become vacant through the end of 2016.
If you’re interested in being considered for an appointment to a board or commission, you can complete a printable Application for Executive Appointment form, or fill out the online form on the Governor’s website.
For additional questions about this process you can contact Kathleen Dolezal by calling (402) 471-1971 or by emailing her at email@example.com.
As always, if you have any questions or input on state government in general, you are always welcome to call my office at (402) 471-2734.
Over the summer, Highway 2 is undergoing resurfacing and repair. While this may cause a temporary inconvenience for many of us in District 29, the project will help Highway 2 remain a viable option for transportation through Lincoln and to its surrounding towns. The project starts just south of the intersection of Highway 2 and Van Dorn Street, and extends to 56th St.
To help ease congestion, highway closure for resurfacing will take place during non-peak hours from 7 PM to 6 AM Monday through Friday, and from 6 AM Saturday morning through 6 AM Monday morning. It is expected that the resurfacing will be complete by the fall.
During this time, a detour is being provided for through traffic, which utilizes I-80, Highway 6, and 84th St. Additionally, the 14th, 27th, 33rd, 40th, 48th and 56th cross streets will still be available for traffic.
For additional information on the project, you can visit the Department of Roads Frequently Asked Questions document. Any questions or comments can be sent to Sarah Kugler, the Public Involvement Manager at the Nebraska Department of Roads. She can be reached by email at sara.kugler@Nebraska.gov or telephone at (402) 479-4871.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the Highway 2 project, or any state issues, you can contact my office at (402) 471-2734 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and Drive Safely!
During my time in the Legislature, I have focused on children, education, seniors, jobs, public safety and taxes. Here is a short list of legislation from the 2015-2016 biennium which works to build a stronger Nebraska by implementing solutions for specific needs across the state.
I introduced the Nebraska ABLE Act, which allows families to set up tax-exempt 529A savings accounts for disability-related expenses. The legislature overwhelming passed LB591. Launching sometime this summer, the ABLE program will help families shoulder the costs associated with disabilities. If you are interested in the program, Nebraska’s program, titled “Enable” can be found at https://enablenebraska.com/.
All kids in our state deserve stable and supportive households. With this in mind, I introduced LB243, which created a statewide project for Family Finding services for children in foster care. Research consistently proves that children do better in family-based settings than out of home care. The family finding model finds relatives for children who are in out of home care, with the goal of finding lifelong connections to families and permanent homes. The legislature passed LB243 on a 35-9 vote.
After school programing provides kids with opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom. In 2015, I introduced LB379, which provides funding for expanded after school and out of school programing through school-community partnership grants. In addition to funding for existing learning centers, LB379 provides expanded learning opportunity programs in areas of the state with a high percentage of at risk children. LB397 was amended into a broader bill on school funding, LB519, and passed by the legislature.
As Nebraska’s population ages, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias is increasing. By 2025 it is expected that over 40,000 Nebraskans will be diagnosed with these diseases. I introduced LB708, which creates a high quality standard endorsement for assisted living facilities that want to serve individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The optional endorsement would reflect a facility’s commitment to high-quality staffing, programming, safety and other factors, and helps provide a greater degree of information for those seeking to find care for their loved ones. LB708 was amended into LB698, and passed by the Legislature.
Many times, people that wish to obtain noncollege professional certificates cannot afford the programs needed to find work. Not only does this restrict opportunities for Nebraskans to find quality jobs, it also makes it increasingly challenging for employers to find qualified employees to fill their openings. LB36, which I introduced in 2015 created the Community College Gap Assistance Program. The program provides financial aid to low-income students for professional certificate programs, filling a gap in skills for many Nebraskans seeking employment. The Community College Gap Assistance Program provisions were amended into LB519, which was passed by the Legislature.
LB592 and LB910
As part of a continuing effort to increase public safety, it’s important that there is an independent parole board structure. Following recommendations from the LR424 Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee, I introduced LB592 and LB910, which provides the Board of Parole with the tools it needs to be the independent body that it must be to oversee of the process in which those in the correctional system are paroled into our communities. LB592 was passed by the legislature in 2015, and LB910 was amended into LB1094, which was passed by Legislature this year.
LB931 Amendment (2016)
People with serious mental health issues often have a difficult time finding stable housing. I introduced LB931, a bill to expand a program for people who are very low income and who have serious mental health problems. When people have a safe place to call home, they are more likely to comply with their doctor’s recommendations, and to lead productive lives. Failure to address housing for those with mental illnesses can lead to greater incarceration of them. Significant portions of LB931 were included in this year’s budget.
One of my goals while in the legislature has been to shape our state’s tax discussion to include the burden that property taxes have on residential property taxpayers. Last year, I introduced LB186 to provide a “circuit-break” in the event that property taxes take a certain amount of a person’s income. While this legislation did not advance, it’s my hope that the continued discussion on property tax will include the real and serious effect that rising property taxes have on working families.
As your State Senator, focusing on the priorities that matter most to my constituents is important to me. These priorities include education, job creation, tax fairness, and serving children and seniors. Based on previous surveys, I have successfully promoted home and community based services for seniors, advocated for property tax relief, and improved afterschool education programs. I will examine the results over the 2016 interim to inform my policy decisions in the next legislative session and into the future.
Please share your thoughts by filling out the survey at the link below.
Thank you for taking the time to respond. Your suggestions, ideas, and concerns are important to me! You are also welcome to call my office at (402) 471-2743 or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for your input!
Senator Kate Bolz
In Nebraska, each senator may select one bill to receive a priority designation, which generally moves the bill ahead of others in debate. In order to develop a workforce that can compete in the global economy, it’s important to make smart decisions that maximize the efficiency of our educational investments. With this in mind, I am excited about my priority designation for the 2016 session, LB371, which was originally introduced by Senator Kate Sullivan.
LB371 creates a holistic approach to education by establishing the Nebraska Council for Educational Success, a twenty-one member council that will make recommendations to the legislature and educational governing bodies with the goal of strengthening collaboration of publicly funded programs from early childhood through post-secondary education.
By creating a more cohesive plan that focuses on student success and giving the Nebraska Council for Education Success the tools to monitor progress, we can ensure that Nebraskans’ tax dollars are being well spent.
If you have thoughts on this bill, or others that are being considered by the legislature, please do not hesitate to call my office at (402) 471-2734, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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