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This week begins the first week of full day debates. All committees have completed their hearings with just a few executive sessions left for committees to decide whether any additional bills will be advanced to general file. Of the 667 bills introduced, 33 have been passed by the legislature and 31 have been indefinitely postponed or withdrawn. We currently have 230 bills in various stages of debate, understanding we will not act on all of these bills before the session ends. Of legislation I introduced, this past week LB 566 which adopts the Wildlife Violator Compact was presented to the floor and advanced to select file. I am hopeful the same will happen this week with LB 182 which would change powers and duties of the Department of Environmental Quality under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Act. Speaker Scheer has requested all senators show their vote counts to him on their priority bills. This is to ensure that we keep a steady pace and get through the less controversial bills and not get bogged down on the more contentious issues, before the session ends.
Of local importance, LB 518 was advanced this past week. LB 518 adopts the Rural Workforce House Investment Act and transfers funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This bill would create grants to support the development of workforce housing necessary to recruit and retain employees in rural and underserved communities. Competitive grants would be awarded to nonprofit development organizations in areas with demonstrated housing needs, low unemployment, and the ability to complete projects within two years. The grants would require a dollar-for-dollar local match and all unmatched grant funds would be returned to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund on June 30, 2021. The Department of Economic Development would administer the grant program. Finally, LB 518 would transfer unallocated funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to the Rural Workforce Hosing Investment Fund.
In order to keep our youth informed about agriculture, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) puts on a five-day program called the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). It will be held July 10-14 in Lincoln. The program is designed to teach current high school juniors and seniors about the agriculture industry and all the career possibilities available within it. NAYI is the longest running ag youth event of its kind in the county and is free of charge to the participants. NDA is currently accepting applications to NAYI. The application is available online at nda.nebraska.gov/nayi.