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In January, the Nebraska legislature will reconvene to begin the 2020 Legislative Session. In the first few weeks of session, bills will be introduced and debated in different committees and on the floor of the legislature; before that happens, however, I want to share some of the studies I have conducted and work my staff and I have done in preparation for the next legislative session.
During the legislative interim my staff researched several different topics, including health concerns and current state laws related to vaping, Nebraska’s involvement in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (MIPRC), and the level of funding and programming utilized at the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Centers (YRTCs) in Geneva and Kearney, NE. I introduced these interim studies several different hearings throughout the state. We will be moving forward on these topics in hopes that we can create and pass legislation that addresses some of the most important issues in District 35 and in Nebraska overall.
I also spent time at meetings, hearings, and conferences to better understand how I can serve my district and ensure that it continues to thrive. For example, I was able to attend the CSG National Conference this year During the conference I met with legislators around the country and learned more about disability employment policy, tools and resources for states to grow their economy through trade and investment, and how to use data to improve policies on children’s well-being. As a legislator, it’s important that I continue to expand my knowledge about a variety of topics that affect Nebraskans; in this way the conference was beneficial because it gave me new information about existing issues in our state. I hope to take all that I’ve learned during the interim and let it inform my decision making process during the upcoming session.
Senators will be debating many important issues next year, including property tax relief, state school aid and university funding, prison reform, and Medicaid expansion. There will be plenty of difficult and contentious discussions to be had over these topics, but I am looking forward to the 2020 Legislative Session and collaborating with my colleagues to create positive, long-lasting change for all Nebraskans. Until then, I want to hear from you. If you have questions or concerns you’d like to share with me, feel free to contact me at (402) 471-2617 or email@example.com.
(Pictured: Republic of Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives Peter Munya and me)
CELEBRATING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT THE ZABUNI COFFEE AUCTION
On November 19th I had the privilege of attending the Zabuni Specialty Coffee Auction in Grand Island. Created by Laban and Cora Njuguna, the auction changes the way specialty coffee is supplied and traded by allowing coffee makers to create direct trade connections with buyers. Premium coffee beans are sourced from small family farmers in Kenya and are then sold to coffee roasters, who roast the beans and sell them to customers in Grand Island.
This event, which spanned over two days, provided a wonderful opportunity for local businesses and customers to buy premium coffee beans while supporting and creating connections with small Kenyan farmers. I highly enjoyed meeting with the Njugunas and members of the Kenyan Parliament, and I look forward to seeing the Zabuni Specialty Coffee Auction grow and become a long-term, established business in our town.
(Pictured: Co-chairs Sen. Tony Vargas and State Court Administrator Corey Steel, me, and other members of Nebraska JDAI)
A PLAN IN THE WORKS: REDUCING JUVENILE DETENTION
Every month I attend a meeting hosted by the Nebraska Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The goal of Nebraska JDAI is to find ways to reduce the use of juvenile detention while providing alternative, more effective interventions. Youth who are placed in detention centers (rather than at home or in an alternative supervision program) prior to their court date are more likely to be found delinquent by a judge. Sending a juvenile to a detention center before they go to court can have very serious impacts on their success as engaged, hardworking citizens in their communities; which is why we need a better solution.
At this month’s meeting, the Nebraska JDAI team unveiled and implemented their 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. I am eager to see how the plan will unfold, and I want to thank the co-chairs and Nebraska JDAI members for their hard work. Their plan will go a long way in improving the juvenile justice system in Nebraska overall.
HONORING OUR VETERANS
On November 11th, we took time to honor the individuals who sacrifice everything to keep our country free and safe. While Veteran’s Day has passed, it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t take just one day to honor our servicemen and women. By volunteering, endorsing causes that support veterans and veteran-owned companies, or simply taking a private moment to be proud of our country, we have multiple opportunities everyday to pay tribute to our veterans.
I understand the importance of making sure veterans are supported as they reenter their communities; that is why I have endorsed legislation in the past that provides them with the assistance. Last year I voted ‘yes’ on bills such as LB223, which provided a state-sponsored life insurance program for members of the NE National Guard, and LB6, which changed residency provisions for those on active duty and their dependents for college tuition purposes. I will continue to support our veterans in both a personal and professional capacity, and encourage all of us to find ways to give back to those who fight so that we may live in freedom.
(Pictured: President of the Holland Children’s Institute and Movement, Andy Holland, and me at the Honor Roll Awards)
ATTENDING THE HOLLAND HONOR ROLL AWARDS
The Holland Children’s Movement is an organization that aims to ensure Nebraskan children and families are included in the state’s budget and policy decisions. In October, I attended their Honor Roll Awards ceremony, which pays tribute to state senators. According to the organization’s 2019 Legislative Scorecard, I earned a 100% score in support of children and families. The score is based on votes I took on bills that pertained to early childhood education, quality health care, and economic opportunity.
I am looking forward to crafting and introducing legislation this session that serves Nebraskan families. Until then, I want to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at (402) 471-2617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,
LR200 HEARINGS: MORE PROGRAMMING AND STAFF NEEDED
On October 2nd and 3rd I introduced my interim study, LR200, at hearings with the legislative Health and Human Services committee. The goal of this study is to analyze the current programming at the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Centers (YRTCs) in Geneva and Kearney. As of right now YRTC juvelines have access to limited programming, and the treatment facilities are experiencing detrimental staff shortages. Something must be done to improve the quality of life in these facilities for both the youth and staff.
Over the past few weeks I have heard from YRTC staff, public officials, and others who have had experience with YRTC youth. The consensus is clear: providing programming will give youth the opportunity to foster the skills and tools they need to successfully reenter their communities. Additional funding will also benefit staff at these treatment facilities, ensuring that YRTC staff remain safe while giving support to those who need it the most. I look forward to moving along with this study and supporting legislation to benefit YRTC youth and staff.
If you have experience with the YRTCs in Geneva and Kearney and would like to share your story, please feel free to contact me at (402) 471-2617 or at email@example.com.
(Pictured: DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith, DHHS staff, YRTC administration, members of the HHS committee, and myself after a tour of YRTC facilities)
Currently I am working on four interim studies to learn more about issues facing Nebraska:
LR173: Study to examine health concerns related to the public use of/secondhand exposure to electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other similar products.
LR184: Study to examine how to provide a sustainable and adequate stream of state funds to local public health departments to ensure they meet their core responsibilities.
LR190: Study to examine Nebraska’s involvement in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.
LR200: Study to examine programming at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Geneva and Kearney.
LR173 HEARING: ADDING ENDS DEVICES TO THE CLEAN AIR ACT
Towards the end of September I attended a hearing to discuss LR173, my interim study that looks at the effects of secondhand smoke from electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other devices. The study also examines the possibility of including these devices in Nebraska’s Clean Air Act.
Currently, the Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in public spaces and places of employment to protect people from secondhand smoke. At least 20 states and 600 cities have already included ENDS devices in their smoke-free laws.
Our research has found that the vapor created by ENDS devices releases nicotine and other harmful chemicals in to the air, which is especially dangerous to children. Several public health officials testified at the hearing and agreed with this assessment. We will continue to move forward with our study in an effort to keep public spaces completely smoke free.
INTRODUCING A NEW TEAM MEMBER
I am pleased to share that we have welcomed a new member to my staff.
Katie Esters started as my Administrative Aide on September 23rd. She is recent graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received a B.A. in Political Science and English. When she’s not in the office you can find her reading at the downtown Lincoln library, grabbing a cup of joe at the Foundry coffee shop, or attending local community events.
Some of Katie’s responsibilities include maintaining my schedule, helping me communicate with constituents, and distributing important information to staffers, the press, and members of District 35. She is happy to speak with anyone who comes in to my office and can answer questions you may have at (402) 471-2617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,
LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS SINE DIE
On Friday, May 31, the Legislature adjourned sine die, which means that we have concluded the First Session of the 106th Legislature and will reconvene next January for the Second Session.
This session, your 49 state senators were able to come together and enact important legislation related to regulating the hemp industry, medication abortion notification, and telephone “spoofing” investigations. We also passed a budget which includes more property tax relief funding. Although we were unable to advance substantive property tax relief, I am optimistic that my colleagues on the Revenue Committee will continue to work over the interim to find the best path forward that represents true tax relief and not a tax shift.
I look forward to staying busy over the interim conducting interim studies (listed below) and preparing legislation for the next session, as well as interacting with all of you in Grand Island. If you have any comments, concerns or questions, please call my office at 402-471-2617 or email me at email@example.com. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to reach out to me over the past several months, and I look forward to continue working with you and for you.
I have introduced and will be working on four interim studies to help inform legislation for the next session. They are:
LR173 – Interim study to examine health concerns related to the public use of and secondhand exposure to electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other products
LR184 – Interim study to examine how to provide a sustainable and adequate stream of state funds to local public health departments to ensure they are able to meet their core responsibilities
LR190 – Interim study to examine Nebraska’s history of involvement in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact
LR200 – Interim study to examine programming provided at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Geneva and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney and the need for additional programming
JOURNEY OF HOPE
On Tuesday, July 9, I met with Journey of Hope bicyclists and Arc of Central Nebraska members. The Journey of Hope team is a group of cyclists traveling from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., from June 4 to August 10, and each participant raised at least $6,000 for people with disabilities. I appreciated visiting with this team of young people from across the United States who are riding to bring awareness to people with disabilities.
April has been another busy and productive month at the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature. The last afternoon committee hearings were held at the end of March, so we have now started full-day legislative debate on the floor.
My personal priority bill, LB149, was advanced out of the General Affairs Committee. LB149 increases the age of purchase for all tobacco and vapor products to 19 years of age and requires retailers to be licensed in order to sell electronic nicotine delivery systems. Vapor products have become a major issue for schools and are being used by children at surprising rates, and this bill works to proactively address this problem. It passed its first round of debate on April 30.
Another one of my bills, LB424, was prioritized by Sen. Stinner of Gering and started its first round of debate this month. LB424 would allow cities across the state to create and join land banks. A land bank is a useful tool for communities to clean up problem properties and put homes back on our tax roles.
This month I had the honor to tour the SkillsUSA Nebraska Leadership and Skills Conference with other state officials and representatives here in Grand Island. SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. Students competed in over 100 areas of career and technical education, including CNC Milling, Turning, Tech and Carpentry.
I’m glad I was able to attend and learn more about SkillsUSA, and I’m proud of Grand Island for hosting the state championships!
A SPECIAL GUEST!
One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting with fourth graders visiting the Capitol and sharing with them what makes the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature so unique. This month I welcomed a very special visitor to the Capitol: my granddaughter Amaya, who was touring with her fourth grade class from St. Pius X/St. Leo Elementary in Omaha.
SAFE DIGGING POSTER CONTEST
This month I enjoyed meeting Leo, winner of the 2019 Safe Digging Poster Contest from Knickrehm Elementary. The contest helped to promote Nebraska 811, a free and easy service that should be called before the public excavates or digs to ensure safety.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2019
Senator Quick invites students to Unicameral Youth Legislature
Statement from Senator Quick
High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 9-12. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.
The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.
“The only way you can make change is to get involved,” said Sen. Dan Quick. “The Unicameral Youth Legislature helps educate young Nebraskans on how the Legislature works to create positive change, whether it is for your school, community or elsewhere.”
Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.
The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.
To learn more about the program, go to www.nebraskalegislature.gov/uyl or call 402-471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15.
NEBRASKA’S HISTORIC FLOODING
I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to all of the Nebraskans impacted by the flooding and blizzard conditions this month. I am grateful for all of the hard work, generosity, and compassion from our first responders, our Nebraska National Guard, and the citizens who stepped up to volunteer their time, talent, and treasure. I also want to thank Governor Ricketts and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their work, and I stand ready with my colleagues in the Legislature to provide assistance. I know that Nebraskans are resilient, and we will rebuild.
I introduced LB160 this session to add early childhood infrastructure development to the list of projects available for economic development grants or loans. The bill passed in the legislature on March 15 and was approved by the governor on March 21. Early childhood care and education programs are important tools for communities. They can be utilized to attract new families in addition to ensuring parents have a safe place to take their kids in order to work.
NEBRASKA “KICK BUTTS” DAY
This month, I met with a group of impressive students from Grand Island representing No Limits, Nebraska’s first youth-led tobacco prevention movement, and I was honored to be a keynote speaker for their concluding rally. Thank you to No Limits for giving me the chance to hear a youth perspective on the problem of tobacco and vapor product use in our schools.
LB149 PRIORITIZED TO ADDRESS RISE IN TEENAGE USE OF TOBACCO AND VAPOR PRODUCTS
Due to the large number of bills submitted at the start of the legislative session, each senator gets to prioritize one bill in order to help get important issues to the legislative floor.
This year I prioritized my bill, LB149, in order to reduce the amount of young people who are using and becoming addicted to nicotine products. After working with Grand Island Public Schools, LB149 as advanced would raise the age of purchase and use of tobacco and e-cigarette nicotine products, would require retailers of these products to be licensed, and would include these e-cigarette products in the Clean Indoor Air Act so they couldn’t be used in public places or places of employment. Raising the age and licensing retailers will help keep these dangerously addictive nicotine products out of our children’s hands, and I think it is important to talk about on the floor this year.
Despite a decline in teen tobacco usage over the past two decades, recent reports show that e-cigarette and vapor product usage has rapidly grown among young people. A 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that e-cigarette usage from 2011 to 2017 increased by 680% among high school students and by 450% among middle school students.
In addition to being highly addictive, the nicotine contained in vapor products can have many harmful effects on young people specifically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine can harm the development of parts of the brain that help regulate adolescents’ attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
Unlike cigarettes, the vapor produced from an e-cigarette can be odorless, and e-cigarettes can come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can make them difficult to detect. Teachers and administrators across the state have brought attention to the growing problem of students using vapor products on school grounds. Grand Island Central Catholic recently banned students from bringing USB flash drives to school, due to the similar appearance flash drives share with certain vapor products.
We are facing the disturbing possibility of an entire generation of kids developing nicotine addiction that will last throughout their lives.
The time to act on this problem is now.
I spent much of the interim working with various stakeholders to make this legislation. I have continued to engage with these groups and the General Affairs committee which held the hearing for LB149, and I will fight for the strongest bill to advance to the governor to be signed into law.
LB149 was the first bill that I introduced this legislative session. I prioritized this piece of legislation because I do not believe the legislature can delay any longer to combat adolescent vapor product usage.
LB424 PRIORITIZED TO GIVE NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES AUTHORITY TO CREATE AND JOIN LAND BANKS
My colleague, Senator John Stinner of Gering, prioritized another one of my bills, LB424. LB424 would amend the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act to allow cities across the state to create and join land banks. A land bank is an important tool to empower our cities to clean up problem properties and put homes back on our tax rolls, and I appreciate Senator Stinner’s help in advancing this bill.
February has been a busy and productive month for the legislature, with many bills debated on the legislative floor in the morning and committee hearings in the afternoon. When Nebraska first changed from a two-house system to its current one-house Unicameral, many safeguards were put in place to prevent hasty legislation and to ensure transparency. All bills in Nebraska can contain only one subject, and each bill introduced in the legislature must have a public hearing. If a bill makes it out of committee following a hearing, it must then pass three rounds of debate in front of the entire legislature and be signed by the governor before becoming law.
This month, my bill, LB160, advanced out of the Urban Affairs Committee and successfully passed its first round of floor debate. LB160 would add early childhood education to the list of projects available for Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act funds. Many constituents have told me about the challenges of accessing early childhood care for their children, and a lack of early childhood education programming can prevent young families from moving to a new community. This bill would allow municipalities to choose whether or not early childhood infrastructure is needed for their community and to access these already existing economic development funds to develop these resources.
Furthermore, five of my bills had public hearings this month. LB424, which would broaden the authority to create or join a land bank to any municipality in the state, had its hearing in front of the Urban Affairs Committee. Land banks are governmental entities or non-profit organizations which focus on converting vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties into productive use according to the needs and priorities of the community. We heard supporting testimony from people representing communities across the state, and the bill currently has 25 senators signed on as co-sponsors. The state needs to address problem properties plaguing our communities, and I am proud to introduce LB424 as an effective tool for communities to use.
LB383, which would provide for an annual adjustment to the minimum wage, was heard in front of the Business and Labor Committee. In 2014, Nebraskans voted to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour over a two year period. That led to a 10.34% raise in its first year and a 12.5% raise in its second year. LB383 would adjust the state minimum wage to reflect the average annual percentage change in the consumer price index for the most recent five-year period, and the increase cannot exceed 3.5%. This would allow for more gradual and manageable adjustments for businesses, while also allowing the minimum wage to adjust as Nebraska’s cost of living changes.
Additional bill hearings included: LB348 (Urban Affairs Committee), which would update state building code from the 2012 publication of the International Code Council to the 2018 edition; LB579 (Judiciary Committee), which would change the issuance of ignition interlock permits to be consistent with other offenses; and LB596 (Executive Board), which would create the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Public Health to oversee investigations, audits, inspections, and other reviews of state-owned facilities providing health care and state-licensed health care facilities.
GRAND ISLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE “COFFEE WITH YOUR SENATORS” EVENT
On Friday, February 15, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Coffee With Your Senators” event at The Chocolate Bar. Senator Halloran and I reviewed the current legislative session.
I talked about three of my bills, LB149, which would change provisions relating to vapor products; LB160, which would redefine terms under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act to include early childhood infrastructure development and early childhood care and education programs; and LB424, which would broaden the authority to create or join a land bank to any municipality in the state.
We also answered constituents’ questions on a wide variety of topics. We had a discussion on property tax relief and some of the bills introduced this session to address this pressing issue, and we talked about additional bills introduced by other senators about which constituents had questions or concerns.
I appreciate the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event and all of the folks who came out to participate in an engaging and productive discussion on our legislative process.
2019 BILLS INTRODUCED
Senators have the first 10 days of each legislative session to introduce bills in the Nebraska Unicameral. This session, I have introduced 15 bills that address a wide variety of issues that I campaigned on and that were brought to me by constituents. I plan to speak more in depth on each of these bills as session continues, but for now I have included a listing of each bill’s number, a brief description, and a link to the bill on the Nebraska Legislature’s website to learn more.
LB149: Change provisions relating to vapor products
LB160: Redefine terms under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act to include early childhood infrastructure development and quality early childhood care and education programs for certain cities and villages
LB225: Appropriate funds to the Nebraska State Historical Society to fund the Nebraska Main Street Network
LB226: State intent relating to appropriations for the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Geneva
LB287: Change and provide duties for the Game and Parks Commission and change provisions relating to stamps, permits, fees, and hunter orange display requirements as prescribed
LB326: Appropriate funds to the Department of Health and Human Services
LB348: Adopt changes to the state building code
LB364: Change provisions relating to a limit on fees under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act
LB383: Provide for an annual adjustment to the minimum wage
LB401: Adopt the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact
LB408: Change provisions relating to compensation paid upon the death on an employee under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act
LB424: Change the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act
LB480: State intent relating to appropriations to local public health departments
LB579: Authorize issuance of ignition interlock permits to persons who caused serious bodily injury while driving under the influence
LB596: Adopt the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Public Health Act
Committee hearings began on Tuesday, January 22. This year, I will continue to serve on the Natural Resources Committee, which meets on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons. I have also been assigned to serve on the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee, which meets on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. I have appreciated the last two years serving on the General Affairs and Urban Affairs committees, and I look forward to the upcoming opportunities.
GOVERNOR’S INAUGURAL BALL
Alice and I enjoyed attending the Governor’s Inaugural Ball on Saturday, January 12. It was an amazing event, and it was great to see everyone come together to celebrate Nebraska!
This month, I helped host a legislative luncheon in partnership with ProRail Nebraska and SMART labor union regarding Nebraska’s adoption of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (MIPRC). MIPRC brings together state leaders from nine Midwestern states to advocate for passenger rail improvements. As members of MIPRC, Nebraska gains a seat at the table to advocate for passenger rail improvements in Nebraska. Nebraska’s membership is set to expire this summer, and I introduced LB401 to continue Nebraska’s involvement in the compact.
During the luncheon, I joined other state senators and staff to hear from Laura Kliewer, MIPRC Director, and Tim Hoeffner, Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Rail Director and MIPRC Vice-Chair. It was a great opportunity to discuss the benefits of MIPRC membership and of developing intercity and interstate passenger rail travel.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2019
Senator Quick introduces bill to provide for an annual adjustment to the state minimum wage
Statement from Senator Quick
LINCOLN, NE – Fulfilling a campaign promise to be a voice for working families, today Senator Dan Quick introduced LB383, which would require an annual adjustment in the state minimum wage. Under this bill, beginning in 2020, the State Treasurer would adjust the minimum wage each year to reflect the average annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the most recent five-year period.
“I have experience working with employers to adjust wages using the Consumer Price Index, and I think it’s the best way to keep up with the cost of living for our state minimum wage,” said Senator Quick.
“If we adjust the minimum wage to keep up with inflation each year, we’ll make smaller adjustments that won’t be as painful for businesses instead of having to make big adjustments every few years. In fact, under this bill the changes would be automatic and we wouldn’t have to address the minimum wage again, and it would automatically keep up with the cost of living.”
The CPI is already used to adjust Social Security payments and to automatically provide cost-of-living wage adjustments to millions of workers and military and Federal Civil Service retirees. Rather than having a dramatic increase in minimum wage every few years as a result of a ballot initiative, this proposal will allow for a gradual increase that is tied more closely to the cost of living, allowing for less harm to businesses and more benefits for our working families.
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