NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

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Towards the end of each legislative session is the time for bill signing ceremonies by the Governor, attended by the sponsoring Senators. It is a good time to explain to the public the “why” and the “how” the legislation will affect their lives. I was recently involved in a couple of those signings

LB944; adjustment to the 2017 biennium mainline budget. Tuesday, I attended the Governor’s North Platte appearance for a signing ceremony. Because of a continuing state tax-receipts shortfall, we had to adjust present spending increases down and rob the cash funds (hotel tourism occupation tax for example) to pay necessary general fund expenses. No, we did not cut spending; we slowed down the increases to a half of a percent annually. To the majority of Nebraskans, the big accomplishment included in this bill was to clarify in state statute what federal law already states in the Title-X family health grant program, that no grants will be given to health clinics that includes abortion as a recommendation for family planning. I took some political heat last year when I helped defeat similar language because it endangered critical federal funding that rural family clinics were presently receiving, such as North Platte’s Peoples Health Clinic. The new budget language, which I shared a part in, will now protect the Title-X funding for those clinics that were adhering to the intent of the law.

LB1081; the Education Committee priority bill. Every year I try to introduce legislation that includes a reduction in spending, LB1081 includes the removal of redundant reporting requirement for Poverty and Limited English plans by the Omaha area learning community schools and the Department of Education, saving state taxpayers $75,000.

We also worked with Senator Lou Ann Linehan to include an amended version of her LB651, the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act (NRIA). NRIA can be summed up by an old education saying “the first years of a child’s education, through third grade, is spent teaching a child to read, so during the remainder of a child’s lifelong education, they can read to learn”. The Act requires schools to administer, three times each school year, an assessment of reading skills to all students in Kindergarten through third grade. Testing three times is critical to inform the teacher, parent and student of the student’s progress.  Students already assessed and receiving special instruction through limited English and special education programs are exempted. Parents or guardians of a student identified as having a reading deficiency must be notified by written correspondence and the school is to include parents in the individual reading improvement plan designed for the struggling student.

Senator Linehan agreed with us to make sure we did not mandate additional cost to the schools. Therefore, we only mandated the assessments, the parental reporting and the creation of individual reading plans but made the bill’s recommendations of how they achieved results voluntary. With a few tweaks and refocusing, the NRIA should fit into most schools’ existing reading programs and the requirement to offer a summertime program can be incorporated into existing public library programs. With the passage of LB1081, the Legislature has now made it clear in law, the public’s intent and what all good teachers already know: the critical importance that good reading skills accompanied by a vast vocabulary is essential to gaining a passport to success in America.

It was good to see that Lincoln County Community Development Corporation received $159,750 and the North Platte Area Development Corporation received $383,400 from the newly created Nebraska Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act created by Senator Williams’ LB518. I supported his efforts to transfer an existing $7.3 million, created from fees paid on property deed transfers, from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  This program gives the grants to the home builder and most importantly, any new housing project using the grant money will remain on the property tax rolls.

It is not yet clear why the property tax petition effort was halted by the sponsor. No matter, the issue remains. Next week I may give some insight into where the effort can go from here.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Education Hearing 3/22/2018

March 15th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 12:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
Appointment Von Behren, Paul – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Ohles, Frederik – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission
Appointment Baxter, Nicholas – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB1033 Murante Eliminate learning communities
LB1125 Groene Change school finance base limitation and local effort rate provisions

 

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education Committee Hearing 2/20

February 15th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LR285CA Murante Constitutional amendment to eliminate the State Board of Education
LR291 Kolowski Recommend that school administrators, teachers, parents, and students be educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks
Appointment May, Lisa – Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission
Appointment Kobza, Robert – Board of Educational Lands and Funds
Appointment Simmons, Joyce – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Frison, Deborah – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Appointment Bernthal, John – Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

Education Hearings 2/13/2018

February 7th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB999 Vargas Change provisions relating to the Student Discipline Act
LB1110 Vargas Require annual reporting of school performance scores and classifications
LB1116 Linehan Create the Quality Education Accountability Commission and the Quality Education Accountability Office
LB1052 Pansing Brooks Require instruction and teacher education related to dyslexia

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Education Hearings 2/12/2018

February 7th, 2018

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB801 Stinner Adopt the Panhandle Beginnings Act to provide certain services to school-age children
LB998 Walz Create the Collaborative School Behavioral and Mental Health Program
LB1081 Education Committee Change education provisions regarding reporting, penalties, residency, boundaries, priority schools, subpoena authority, poverty, and limited English proficiency

 

Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings

If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

*Education Committee Policy Change*

If you are NOT testifying in person on a bill and want to submit a letter to be included in the official hearing record, the deadline to submit to the Committee Chair’s office is 5:00 p.m. the business day before the hearing.   Also, you must include your name and address and note in your letter that you would like it to be made part of the official record.

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB888 Wayne Require schools to post the child abuse and neglect toll-free telephone number
LB912 McCollister Provide for posting by public schools of a toll-free telephone number set up to report child abuse and neglect
LB898 Howard Require public postsecondary educational institutions to conduct an annual sexual assault climate survey
LR270CA Kolowski Constitutional amendment to reduce the minimum age in the constitutional requirement to provide free instruction

Education
Location: Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB783 Vargas Define “educational interpreter” for purposes of students eligible for special education as prescribed
LB803 Stinner Change provisions related to kindergarten, early childhood education, and the Step Up to Quality Childcare Act
LB851 Linehan Limit superintendent and educational service unit administrator compensation
LB779 Groene Change provisions relating to learning communities

Education
Location: Capitol Building, Room 1525
Time: 1:30 PM

Document Introducer Description
LB737 Lindstrom Adopt the First Responder Education Act
LB857 Morfeld Adopt the Campus Confidentiality Act
LB771 Walz Adopt the Child Hunger and Workforce Readiness Act
LB778 Groene Require voter approval for school district building fund levies

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1107
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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