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The past few months, all of us have faced varying degrees of challenges and adjustments to our lives. Through this, we’ve seen many essential workers and first responders continue to do incredible work the face of unprecedented uncertainty. I’ve been proud of the work that our state government has done in helping Nebraskans get through this difficult time. We are here to help as well. You can still call and email us at (402) 471-2734 and email@example.com. We are working remotely, but checking in regularly.
In March my office compiled a list of frequently asked questions about Coronavirus, and places Nebraskans can go for more information. We’ve recently updated this document, and have added new information on unemployment insurance, elder care, crisis hotlines and small business assistance. To view the May 1 update of the COVID-19 resources Q&A, you can do so here.
Last week week, I shared my thoughts in the Lincoln Journal Star on how to best navigate the challenging budget circumstances that our state faces.
There will be some economic pain ahead as state revenue declines, however, our state a stronger economic position than many others, and now is the time for us to maximize our state resources by addressing emergency needs (including ongoing assistance for flooding recovery and support for healthcare providers), family economic stability, helping businesses and nonprofits move forward, getting people back to work, retaining government institutions, and supporting local governments. If you’d like to read my full editorial, you can do so here.
Reopening Healthcare Exchanges
In the Legislature, we’ve been looking at ways to provide additional help to Nebraskans. Last month, members of the Legislature sent correspondence to our Federal Delegation asking the federal healthcare exchange to be reopened in response to the virus.
For those with short term coverage, opening the marketplace would provide an insurance option for individuals throughout this pandemic, a crucial step to enhancing our community’s general health and ability to control the spread of COVID. To read the letter, click here.
Frontline Worker Safety
Additionally, we’ve sent a letter to Governor Ricketts outlining suggestions for how we can utilize state government resources to help essential workers. This included adding grocery store workers, pharmacy workers, and food production workers the state definition of essential workers.
The past week, we’ve seen this crisis explode at food production sites, and these employees need the same protections that we’ve given to other industries of essential workers. Doing this is critical to the safety of employees, but also to maintain food security statewide.
We’ve also requested that where possible, state employees work remotely and the state expand social distancing at workplaces where remote work is not possible. If you’d like to read the full letter, you can do so here.
Because of the high number of unemployment claims that have been filed with the Nebraska Department of Labor, some claims have taken a long time to be processed. If you’ve waited a significant amount of time for unemployment payments to begin, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can work with the Department of Labor to see when you can expect payments to begin.
Recently, the Nebraska Department of Insurance issued guidance to insurance companies, clarifying that they are allowed to relax notice of loss requirements, premium payment provisions, and cancelation for non-renewal in response to COVID-19, as long as these policies are standardized and applied on a fair and consistent basis across all policies. Each insurance company is responding to consumer challenges meeting policy payments individually, but if you have questions about this, you should contact your insurance company directly.
Furthermore, the federal government offers the following information for individuals with lapsed coverage and those whose insurance is provided through the Marketplace at https://www.healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/health-insurance-grace-period/
On Tuesday, May 28 at 6:00 PM, I’ll be part of a Southeast Lincoln Listening Session at the Union College Krueger Center Lang Amphitheater. At the listening session, myself, LPS Board Member Don Mayhew, Lincoln City Council Member Jane Raybould and Lancaster County Commissioner Roma Amundson will be discussing city, state, and local topics relevant to Southeast Lincoln. We will also be having time for a question and answer session. To RSVP to the listening session, click here.
For a map of Union College’s campus, click here. The Krueger Center is building #7.
We hope to see you on May 28!
Our state has many boards and commissions that provide Nebraskans a voice in state government and the chance to make a difference. Currently, a number of vacancies have opened on these boards, offer new opportunities to get involved. For the list of vacant positions on Nebraska’s Governor appointed boards and commissions, you can visit this link. Additionally, here’s a description of the duties associated with each board and commission.
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 welcome to call my office at (402) 471-2734, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Immediate Release
January 9, 2017
Workforce Development Legislation Introduced by Senator Bolz
Lincoln, NE: State Senator Kate Bolz introduced a package of bills today promoting workforce development for Nebraska. The bills address job quality, career education, access to child care, and retention of trained workers.
The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce reports that a survey of Nebraska’s business leaders found that eight in ten respondents said their community or business faced a workforce shortage, with skilled labor being highest in demand. A report commissioned by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development entitled “Nebraska’s Next Economy” outlined workforce challenges slowing our economy including statewide workforce shortages, acute workforce shortages in higher skilled occupations, and failure to integrate underserved populations into the worker pipeline, among others.
“Workforce development is the number one priority for economic growth in Nebraska,” states Bolz, “This package of bills represents a vision for investing in our workers, job quality, and career education and training to grow Nebraska and compete successfully in a global economy, using one of our states greatest assets, our people.”
The bills include:
A comprehensive bill investing $15 million dollars per year in career education and training, internship programs, student loan tax credits, and child care tax credits.
A bill to develop and fund the Integrated Education and Training Grant Program to fund efforts in community colleges to develop fast track career education programs that integrate developmental education and workforce preparation and training.
A bill defining job quality in Nebraska economic development programs as jobs paying 150% of the Nebraska average weekly wage and providing health care benefits.
A bill to expand the existing GAP tuition assistance program, which covers the educational costs of low-income students enrolling in programs that lead to industry recognized credentials and in-demand jobs, to include more eligible educational programs.
A bill to increase the value of the child care tax credit for working families.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation recently announced an upcoming public hearing regarding the Lincoln South Beltway Project. The hearing will be at the Sesostris Shrine Center at 1050 Saltillo Road on Tuesday, October 3 from 6:00pm to 6:30pm.
For more information on the South Beltway Project, or to submit comments to the department on the project, visit http://dot.nebraska.gov/lincoln-south-beltway/
For more information on the public hearing, please see the Department of Transportation’s event advisory below:
Public Hearing October 3 for Lincoln South Beltway
September 7, 2017 (Lincoln, Neb.) — The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, October 3, regarding the proposed Lincoln South Beltway project in Lancaster County. The hearing, held at the Sesostris Shrine Center, 1050 Saltillo Road (northwest of intersection at Saltillo Road and US-77), will include an open house from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., a panel presentation at 6:00 p.m., followed by a public forum from 6:20 to 7:30 p.m.
The proposed Lincoln South Beltway project would construct a new 11-mile east-west freeway south of the City of Lincoln, located between US-77 on the west and N-2 on the east, approximately 0.5 miles south of Saltillo Road. The purpose is to improve east-west connectivity for regional and interstate travel through Nebraska, and to reduce conflicts between local and through traffic, including heavy truck traffic, in Lincoln. NDOT has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) to evaluate the potential effects of the project. The public hearing will present information regarding the DEA analysis and provide the public with the formal opportunity to comment on the project. The DEA is available on NDOT’s website athttp://dot.nebraska.gov/lincoln-south-beltway and comments will be collected through October 7, 2017.
Contact: Tom Goodbarn, District 1 Engineer, Lincoln, (402) 471-0850″
Last week, Lancaster County released their new preliminary property values report, which will be the basis for property tax bills in 2018. Because of increasing home values, many residents of LD29 will see an increase in home valuation, and subsequent property tax bill. In order to see your new assessed value, you can visit the Lancaster County Assessor’s website at http://orion.lancaster.ne.gov/Appraisal/PublicAccess/.
If you believe that your home value has been improperly assessed, the staff of the Lancaster County assessor’s office is available through March 1 to receive requests for a lower valuation before the current figures are finalized. To schedule an informal meeting to discuss valuations, you can go to your property value detail sheet from the County Assessor’s website and click the “Appeal” button (pictured below), or call (402) 441-7463. Homeowners have until February 1 to schedule a meeting. If you are having any trouble finding this site, feel free to call my office at (402) 471-2734 for further assistance.
On March 25, the finalized valuation changes will be posted on the Lancaster County Assessor website. At this point, if you feel that your protest was not properly evaluated, there is a formal appeals process through the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission that is outlined in this document. The formal complaint must be filed by June 1. You can also contact the Tax Equalization and Review Commission directly at (402) 471-2842 if you have specific questions about this process. As always, you can contact my office at (402) 471-2734 for other questions.
One of my goals while in the legislature has been to shape our state’s tax discussion to include the effect that property taxes have on residential property taxpayers. As a member of the appropriations committee, I have supported increases in the Property Tax Cash Fund, a dedicated fund that directly reduces the property taxes you pay. Additionally, in 2015 I introduced LB186, a bill to create a property tax “circuit breaker” which provides a tax credit in the event that property taxes increase significantly compared to a person’s income.
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 email@example.com.
Thank you and Drive Safely!
A Note From Kate
During the interim session, I had the privilege of being the Chairperson of the Aging Nebraskans Task Force, which was created by LB690 during the 2014 Legislative Session to better understand how our state can serve the aging population. The final report for this Task Force, complete with recommendations, is can be viewed below in PDF format. Also available is the final report from the LR424 Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee, which is also linked below. I welcome your comments and questions on both of the reports. Please contact my office at 402-471-2734 with any feedback.
Senator Kate Bolz
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