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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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2019
Senator Quick introduces bill to provide restrictions relating to the sale and use of vapor products and flavored liquids
Statement from Senator Quick
LINCOLN, NE – Today, Senator Dan Quick introduced LB149, which would provide restrictions relating to the sale and use of vapor products and flavored liquids.
“Although many people may think that the use of vaping and e-cigarettes is primarily as a smoking cessation device for adults, the reality is that many teenagers and children are accessing e-cigarettes with nicotine and using them at alarming rates,” said Senator Quick.
“LB149 will combat this public health issue by restricting the purchase and use of vapor products and flavored liquids for youth under the age of 21. It will also license e-cigarette distributors the same way as traditional cigarette sellers and will add vapor products to the Clean Indoor Air Act. These changes are an important way to reduce the access to these harmful devices by our children.”
The legislation will ensure that vapor product retailers are licensed in the same manner as traditional nicotine products retailers. It will raise the age of purchase for e-cigarettes and vapor products to 21 and will prohibit those under 21 from being able to purchase flavored nicotine liquids used in e-cigarette and vapor products. It will also add these products to the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act, which will prohibit vaping and e-cigarette use in public spaces and workplaces.
Today marks the beginning of the 106th Legislature–First Session, and I am just as honored and humbled to serve the people of Grand Island as your state senator as I was when I took the oath of office two years ago to represent District 35 in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
Since then, I have been fortunate to grow and learn many valuable lessons with the help of my fellow senators and with the help of constituents who have taken the time to reach out and share their views with me.
In my two years in the Legislature, I have learned about a lot of issues affecting the lives of Nebraskans, and I have worked to address a broad range of topics, such as the state budget, child welfare, water rights, and public power.
I have also learned the importance of working together. The Unicameral is unique as a nonpartisan body, and I firmly believe that our top priority as legislators is not to serve the partisan interests of one political party over another, but rather to serve the hardworking people of the state. Although we may not agree on every issue, it is essential that we remain willing to listen, to learn, and to keep an open mind.
If not, we won’t be able to address pressing issues, such as finding realistic and effective ways to address property tax relief, to support public education, to improve child welfare and access to healthcare, to provide support for working families, and to encourage job growth in Nebraska, in addition to many other important policy issues.
This session, I plan on introducing legislation to address abandoned properties that have plagued communities across Nebraska by enabling them to create land banks. Over the summer, the Urban Affairs Committee heard testimony in support of land banks, which are a common sense solution to fix abandoned and dilapidated properties in the state. Land banks can help make properties and neighborhoods safer, and they are an important tool to increase affordable and workforce housing. During the hearings, we heard about Habitat for Humanity’s support to expand land banks, and I have also met with private developers, such as the Central Nebraska Home Builders Association, to discuss this legislation.
I also will be working this session to address the current lack of quality early childhood education programs. In addition to providing children with important opportunities to grow in social and intellectual development, early childhood education programs give working families a safe and trusted place to take their children.
Finally, recent reports and news articles have made it clear that there is a troubling rise in youth usage of e-cigarette and vapor products, including within our schools. I plan to introduce a bill that will work to limit the availability of these products to youth.
The start of the new year and the new session is a great opportunity to reflect on goals for the future and ways in which Nebraska’s state senators can collaborate to pursue practical and innovative solutions to the challenges the state faces. I begin this session feeling confident and hopeful for what’s in store for the future. I hope you will reach out to me or my staff and share your thoughts this session as we work together to help Nebraska.
Note: This opinion was also published in The Grand Island Independent on January 9, 2019.
Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 35th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.
You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.
Sen. Dan Quick
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