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 email@example.com
July 24, 2020
The Legislature has convened to complete the last 17 days remaining in the session. As expected, the debate has been robust, even heated at times, since the issues waiting since March have certainly not lessened in importance.
We have been able to move a number of bills through final reading, including my priority bill, LB1014. This bill would provide that an association of employers that sponsors a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) may include self-employed individuals in their health insurance plan. For example, a farm organization or local co-op could offer health insurance to member farmers and ranchers. This bill passed on a 48-0 vote, and the senator who had to be absent for the vote indicated in the record that he would have also voted yes. Providing more options for ag producers to find health insurance will be good for the district and the state.
Also related to health care, LB 997 was passed this week on final reading. This bill helps consumers avoid being subjected to “surprise billing” in emergency situations by out-of-network providers or facilities.
Another beneficial bill was passed as well, LB 996 will expand broadband coverage across the state. The past few months have revealed quite vividly the need for better broadband in our area. The purpose of LB 996 is to complement broadband data submitted by service providers, improve Nebraska’s broadband map, and to encourage Nebraskans to participate in crowdsourcing efforts to improve the map, resulting in better funding and meeting these needs.
Discussion began on bills that were in earlier stages of debate this week as well. On Wednesday, we took up LB 1106, the property tax bill; and LB 720, the business incentive bill. Neither one received a vote that day, and now each bill sponsor will need to show the Speaker a count of 33 votes in favor of the bill to continue discussion on either. They had until Friday to do this. If neither one has 33 votes, then negotiations between the introducers, or changes to the bills, will need to happen to continue discussion.
The Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB) met on Thursday to review and update their forecast for FY2020-21. Changes in their forecast can be attributed to three main factors: the shift in income tax receipts from April to July; revenue losses due to parts of the federal CARES Act; and of course, current economic conditions.
The Legislative Fiscal Office also estimates economic growth and conditions and produces an average based on their own calculations and those of the Nebraska Department of Revenue. This is a new methodology, implemented due to the pandemic situation.
In February, the NEFAB and Fiscal Office estimated growth to be 5.2%. The July figure was reduced to 4.3%. However, in the fiscal years out to 2023, those numbers are substantially lower. Appropriations Committee Chair, Sen. Stinner cautioned that the Legislature will need to be very careful and thoughtful with the budget in the months ahead. The NEFAB will meet again in just three months to revisit and potentially revise these numbers.
The next couple of weeks promise to be intense and busy. Please feel free to contact my office at any time via email or phone. 402-471-2620 firstname.lastname@example.org