NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Kate Bolz

Sen. Kate Bolz

District 29

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I have just returned from China as a part of a delegation with the China-United States Exchange Foundation https://www.cusef.org.hk/ .  I wanted to share with you a few take-aways from this experience and the position of Nebraska in a global economy.

First, China has a large population and a growing middle class.  This represents a significant opportunity to continue to develop a beneficial economic relationship.  China has a great workforce and a thriving manufacturing sector. The United States and Nebraska have strengths in the agricultural industry, innovation and development, and more.  With thoughtful work, we can maximize the strengths of both countries – and create new opportunities for American workers. I give the Nebraska credit for working on this approach: https://journalstar.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nebraska-aiming-for-greater-trade-opportunities-global-engagement/article_0c0a1d83-275d-55f8-9150-48b337cd7484.html

Second, we have much to learn from China’s approach to being a part of a global, interconnected economy.  Many businesses illustrate a vision for an interconnected, intelligent world. Nebraska should continue to work to update our economic policy to build on opportunities in digital technologies, agribusiness, and more.

Third, China’s businesses are increasingly incorporating the international human development goals and environmental sustainability into their long term plans.  Specifically, they embrace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/   U.S. businesses may be inspired by the triple bottom line approach used by corporations such as Pingdoudou and others to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and do good business.

Fundamentally, I found China to be growing and thriving, with rich history and culture to share, welcoming, open people and traditions that are rooted in community values. Many thanks to the China United States Exchange Foundation for an enlightening and productive experience!  

Interim Session

July 27th, 2018

Over the interim, legislators file interim study resolutions to formally study policy areas and issues to better inform legislation next session. Among the topics I’m looking at this interim are how we can reduce violence in our communities and the ways that we can make Nebraska’s business incentives work better for our state economy.

LR390: Office of Violence Prevention

During my time in the Legislature there has been an ongoing discussion of how we can effectively reduce violence in our communities. I consider keeping Lincoln and Nebraska safe to be among my highest priorities, which is why I introduced LR390, which looks at how we can expand the Office of Violence Prevention and improve its effectiveness. Since 2009, Nebraska’s Office of Violence Prevention has offered ways for cities and nonprofits to effectively target violence our communities. This resolution will study how we can build on the success of this program, and expand its impact on the state.

LR388: Evaluating Nebraska Advantage

The largest program designed to grow businesses in our state, the Nebraska Advantage Act, expires in 2020. This gives us the opportunity to look at how effective this program is in creating new jobs in Nebraska, and how we can continue to improve and compete in a global economy. I introduced LR388 to examine the best practices to increasing economic growth in our state and find ways to utilize the Nebraska Advantage Act in a manner that best promotes the creation of good jobs for Nebraskans.

 

2018 Session Review

June 5th, 2018

Budget

Between the 2017 and 2018 sessions, the state’s revenue came in short of initial projections, which led us to reduce state spending beyond what was initially planned in our original two-year budget cycle. As the vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, it was important to me that we did this while protecting our state’s investments in kids, seniors, education, public safety, and job creation.

The 2018 budget adjustments contained necessary cuts as well as funding for state priorities. Among the priorities in the budget were services in child welfare, property tax relief for seniors and individuals with disabilities through the homestead exemption,  funding to developmental disability providers to make up for lost federal funds, needed resources for school funding, and dollars needed to shore up Medicaid services to respond to changes on the federal level. I’m also pleased that we were able to reduce the significant cuts to higher education that were proposed by the administration.

Medical Surrogacy

I introduced LB104 to establish a process to declare a medical surrogate to make healthcare decisions for those incapable or incapacitated, but who do not have a guardianship in place or medical power of attorney. The current guardianship system will remain in place, but LB104 offers a less restrictive option that allows those with a medical surrogate to maintain their general independence, and avoid the expensive guardianship process, which can often cost up to $5,000. LB104 passed unanimously, and was signed into law by the Governor.

Aging and Disability Resource Centers

Helping seniors and individuals with disabilities find their way to information and services is critical in making sure they receive the care they need. Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC), connect patients, families, caregivers, and advocates with referral and options counseling services to connect those in need with the correct long-term services and supports. The success of the pilot program led me to introduce LB1004 makes the state’s ADRC program permanent. LB1004 was passed and signed into law.

Corrections Reform Package

The Legislature also took steps to address Nebraska’s prison overcrowding and safety issues by passing a corrections reform package that included a number of pieces of legislation, including LB852 legislation I brought forward to establish a protocol for parole of terminally ill offenders that no longer pose a threat to the public, as well as policy changes to promote access to employment and mental health treatment through the parole administration. The corrections reform package includes legislation that requires the Department of Corrections to outline how they will respond to a prison overcrowding emergency, conduct a staffing analysis and authorize the department to utilize additional substance abuse evaluations and treatments. These reforms will help the Department safely and responsibly make prisons safer, while reducing recidivism.

Nebraska Budget Summary

March 29th, 2018
LB 944 passed select file debate on to final reading on March 28, 2018.  The bill contains important funding for child welfare, property tax relief, funding for developmental disabilities, higher education, and much more.

Important funding priorities were included in the budget this year.  $55 million dollars in funding for services to meet demand in child welfare are appropriated.  The budget provides funding for property tax relief for seniors and individuals with disabilities through the homestead exemption.  The bill provides funding to developmental disability providers to make up for lost federal funds, needed resources for school funding, and dollars needed to shore up Medicaid services to respond to changes on the federal level.

Moreover, the budget bill pulls back significant cuts to higher education proposed by the Administration.  While I would have liked to avoid cuts to higher education entirely, the changes made by the Appropriations Committee help to protect the missions of our University system, State College system, and community colleges into the future.

The bill passed after considerable debate on Title X federal family planning funds.  A compromise was negotiated to move the important budget package forward. Title X funds provide important services to 28,000 Nebraskans including preventative health care, cancer screenings, and prenatal care.  LB 944 contains changes to the distribution of these funds.  Some existing providers will have to change to comply with these changes which require legal, financial, and physical separation between organizations providing abortions and those providing Title X services.  Other providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, will continue to be able to provide services in the same manner they have previously.

In my work on the budget, I have done by best to balance the important priorities in the budget, the interests of multiple constituents, the value of higher education, the importance of ensuring that Title X services will be able to continue in Nebraska, and the long term fiscal sustainability of the state, and I appreciate the constituent correspondence on all of these issues.

A New Session

January 4th, 2018

As we begin the 2018 Nebraska Unicameral Legislative session, you, my constituents, are on the top of my mind.  It is important to me to continue to stay in touch with you to let you know about the work that I am doing to represent District #29 as well as to hear your thoughts and ideas.

As the session moves forward, please feel free to contact me at (402) 471-2734.  You can also reach me via email at kbolz@leg.ne.gov.  At the end of session, I expect to have another legislative issues forum, where we can walk through the major legislative changes that were enacted and you can give me your input on our district’s priorities moving forward.

This session, some of my priorities include:

  • Balancing the state budget: Our state faces a significant budget shortfall which must be balanced this session.  I will work to protect your priorities, such as education, while making tough decisions about expenditures.  I welcome your input.
  • Public safety:  As you know, the state’s correctional system has faced challenges in recent years.  We must continue to address our overcrowded institutions while maintaining public safety by using parole options and by providing resources to make our institutions more safe and civil.
  • Jobs: Workforce development continues to be a major challenge for Nebraska businesses.  I will be proposing several pieces of legislation that promote job creation and job quality in our state.

I look forward to working with you and my colleagues to build a stronger Nebraska for all of us. I wish you the best in 2018.

Sincerely,

Senator Kate Bolz
Legislative District #29

The following opinion editorial ran in the Omaha-World Herald on November 19, 2017:

Midlands Voices Nov 19, 2017

Howard, of Omaha, represents District 9 in the Nebraska Legislature. Bolz, of Lincoln, represents District 29.

In Nebraska, the Department of Health and Human Services is trusted with the responsibility to protect children from harm.

As state senators serving on the Health and Human Services and Appropriations Committees, we take our role in providing oversight for children’s safety very seriously. We applaud the caseworkers, foster parents, extended families and others who are working hard to make Nebraska children safe and families successful.

Recently, however, the Department of Health and Human Services submitted documents to the Legislature showing that resources for the Division of Children and Family Services will fall a total of $61.5 million short for fiscal 2018 and 2019.

This follows a session in which the division testified to the Legislature that it did not require additional resources and could take on more responsibilities for kinship care and training.

After a gubernatorial veto that cut child welfare service provider rates, it is now more difficult than ever to guarantee that Nebraska will have the services, and providers, to ensure the safety of children.

Let’s cut to the heart of the matter: The Department of Health and Human Services deserves credit for examining ways to do things more effectively, and we respect the decision to ask for needed funding.

However, there must be a new commitment from both the Legislature and the administration to fund and support the child welfare system moving forward in a way that achieves our child welfare goals of prevention of maltreatment and stability for families.

As a state, we have work to do. The most recent report of the inspector general of child welfare cites nine reports of death or serious injury to a child in the custody of our state foster care system. It further notes a disturbing increase in sexual abuse cases and a need for an investigation into mental health needs and suicide attempts by state wards.

Also, while our state succeeds on some federal benchmarks, we fall short on measures relating to timeliness to reunification of children with family members and preventing recurring maltreatment in foster care.

As state senators, we are also mindful of the long-running problem of an overburdened protection and safety workforce. High caseloads, staff turnover and vacancies remain a source of stress for our child welfare system.

Finally, we know that parental substance use is a challenge in our child welfare system, and we need to look at opportunities for our child welfare system and our behavioral health system to partner in prevention and treatment.

As a state, we must do our part to prevent tragedies for children in the first place. The most pressing and obvious strategy is to provide adequate resources to serve the children entering the system and to ensure that there are enough caseworkers to appropriately support families.

Another is not to over-promise the ability and capacity of our current system or to underestimate future needs.

Specifically, we urge this administration to invest in a strong and efficient protection and safety workforce, to review data in order to accurately predict utilization and to embrace focused public-private partnerships that help serve children. This may mean investing more in caseworkers, reworking existing contracts and building stronger partnerships with service providers and the Divisions of Behavioral Health and Medicaid.

We also call on our colleagues in the Legislature. In this time of fiscal shortfall, the Legislature has an extraordinarily tough job of deciding who must do more with less. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services should not be on that list.

As the adults entrusted with responsibility for our kids, let’s rebuild our commitment to partnership, budget reality and problem-solving in our child welfare system.

Howard, of Omaha, represents District 9 in the Nebraska Legislature. Bolz, of Lincoln, represents District 29.

With Halloween coming up on Tuesday, now is a great time to brush up on the following safety tips provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:

Keep the ‘Happy’ in Happy Halloween With These Safety Tips

In addition to pumpkins, decorations, costumes and treats, make sure safety is part of your Halloween plan. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers the following tips to help ensure Nebraskans have a safe and happy Halloween:

Be present – children and adults are reminded to put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.

Use extra caution – when driving, slow down and watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.

Go together – older kids who are going trick-or-treating with friends should stick to a predetermined route, while young children should go with a trusted adult. Never enter a stranger’s home

Be visible – use reflective tape on their costumes and bags. Kids can carry glow sticks or flashlights to be more visible to others and drivers.

Clear vision – wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

Save your treats – parents should inspect candy and treats to make sure they are sealed and show no signs of tampering.

Flame-resistant – be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes and don’t walk near lit candles or luminaries. Keep jack-o’-lanterns lit with candles away from doorsteps and walkways, and consider using glow sticks instead of candles.

For more Halloween safety tips, go to http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/, http://www.safekids.org/halloween and https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/100.pdf.

2017 District #29 Survey

August 29th, 2017

District #29 Survey Link

As your State Senator, focusing on the priorities that matter most you is important to me. These priorities include education, job creation, tax fairness, and serving children and seniors. As we prepare for the 2018 Legislative Session, I will examine survey results to inform my policy decisions in the next session and into the future.

Please share your thoughts by filling out this survey: District #29 Survey Link

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 kbolz@leg.ne.gov.

Thank you for your input!
Sincerely,

Senator Kate Bolz

Apply to be a Legislative Page

August 23rd, 2017

If you are a Nebraska college student who is looking to get involved in the legislature, I encourage you to apply for a legislative page position. Pages perform a variety duties to help the legislature function, including responding to requests from senators on the floor, running errands, delivering messages, photocopying materials, assisting the presiding officer, and assisting committee staff with hearings. These positions are a great way to learn about the legislative process and supplement what you’ve learned in the classroom with job experience.

Applications are available at the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office, Room 2018, State Capitol, 1445 K Street. If you currently live in legislative district #29 or lived in the district in high school, I would be happy to assist with a letter of recommendation. To get in contact with me, please email kbolz@leg.ne.gov. To find your legislative district, you can use the legislature’s “find my senator” tool. Applications are open through 5:00 PM on Friday, September 29, 2017.

For further questions on the page program, you can reach out to my office at 402-471-2734, or the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at (402) 471-2271.

Requirements: “Pages must be high school graduates who are currently enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. They must be able to work 20 hours a week during session. It is preferred that they work the same four-hour shift each day. The legislative session will begin January 3, 2018 and end in April 2018. This is a paid position and you may also be able to receive credit hours through your college. First year pages will earn approximately $10.37 per hour and second year pages approximately $10.78 per hour.”

2017 District 29 Survey

July 26th, 2017

District #29 Survey Link

As your State Senator, focusing on the priorities that matter most you is important to me. These priorities include education, job creation, tax fairness, and serving children and seniors. As we prepare for the 2018 Legislative Session, I will examine survey results to inform my policy decisions in the next session and into the future.

Please share your thoughts by filling out this survey: District #29 Survey Link

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 kbolz@leg.ne.gov.

Thank you for your input!
Sincerely,

Senator Kate Bolz

Sen. Kate Bolz

District 29
Room #1015
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2734
Email: kbolz@leg.ne.gov
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