NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sue Crawford

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45

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

This resource page shares information and resources regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. My office will update this page with new information as it becomes available.

COVID-19 General Information

Visit the UNMC webpage and the DHHS website for the most updated information about COVID-19 in our state. The Sarpy/Cass Health Department is also maintaining their webpage, linked here, with local information and resources.

For local disaster recovery resources and information for those who were also impacted by the flood, visit Sarpy Disaster Recovery here.

For federal updates, visit the following websites:

CDC website – for official health information

Spanish Language resource page with CDC guidelines

USA.gov – for information about the government’s response

FEMA – for information about rumors and myths surrounding the virus

World Health Organization website – for public advice and technical guidance

Important Information for Small Businesses

Small Business Administration Loans: Small business guidance and loan resources are available at the SBA website. The loans and programs include, but are not limited to, the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and SBA Express Bridge Loans. Follow this link to the SBA coronavirus page for more information.

Small Business Debt Relief Program: This program covers principal, interest and fee payments on current non-disaster SBA loans for six months as well as all payments on new loans taken out within the next six months.

Employee Tax Retention Credits: These tax credits are available to any employer that is not receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans and is either fully or partially suspended due to a governmental order related to coronavirus OR experiences a reduction of at least 50% in gross receipts from the same quarter in 2019. These credits cover up to 50% of wages paid by eligible employers during the crisis through December 2020.

Grants: The CARES Act provides for emergency grants for small businesses with less than 500 employees of up to $10,000. These are considered economic injury disaster loans but do not need to be paid back.The $10,000 may be used to maintain payroll, cover paid sick leave and service other debt obligations. This also applies to sole proprietors, those without employees and independent contractors. Information about these grants is available at the SBA website as well.

Helpful Websites: The Sarpy Chamber, Bellevue Chamber, and Greater Omaha Chamber are updating their websites regularly with relevant information, news and resources for business owners. The National Council of Nonprofits has also published helpful information on their website about the CARES Act.

The Department of Economic Development website is partnering with the Governor to keep businesses informed about the pandemic and assist them when possible. Their website is frequently being updated with available information and resources.

The Nebraska Business Development Center has published a webpage with business resiliency resources here.

Important Information for Individuals

Federal Aid: Stimulus checks of $1,200 (plus an additional $500 for each dependent under 17) are being distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Please note that some seniors or others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. More details about eligibility and payments are available at this link. If you have questions about your stimulus check, the IRS has a helpline up and running at 800-919-9835.

Unemployment: Claims can be filed at NEworks.nebraska.gov or on the free NEworks app. Work requirements and the one week long waiting period has been waived. Unemployment benefits will be available for the self-employed and gig workers who usually don’t qualify.  The webpage linked here has detailed information about how to file claims and information about special programs. The Department of Labor continues to experience high call volumes due to the influx in applications. For this reason, it is encouraged that you call and leave a callback number or that you utilize the online resources.

Taxes: The Federal and State Income Tax Day has moved from April 15th to July 15th. This provides individuals and businesses with additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties for federal or state taxes. Governor Ricketts’ announcement about the tax filing deadline can be found here.

Housing:

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield signed a declaration at the beginning of September determining that evictions could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. This puts into effect a nationwide moratorium on evictions from September 4th to December 31st. The protections under this moratorium are not automatic, a tenant must prove they meet certain eligibility requirements by filling out a declaration form and presenting it to their landlord. These requirements include: making less than $99,000/year or $198,000/year if you file jointly; being unable to make full rent due to loss of wages; making an effort to pay timely, partial rent payments; seeking and applying for rental assistance programs to the best of your ability; and being at risk of homelessness or having to live in cramped or close quarters if you were evicted. Visit the CDC website here for more information or to fill out the declaration form . If you are seeking legal guidance, Legal Aid of Nebraska is a wonderful resource and can be reached by phone at 402-435-2161.

Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to waive the strict legal timeline for evictions that is currently in law in March. That executive order did not cancel rent payments, but it did defer a landlord’s right to a trial in an eviction action for non-payment of rent until May 31st when the nonpayment of rent is due to COVID-19. Though the Governor did not choose to extend the eviction moratorium,  $20 million dollars in federal funding is being allocated to community collaboratives (like our own Lift Up Sarpy County) for housing assistance. If you are in need of housing assistance, Lift Up Sarpy County and the Bellevue Housing Authority are two great housing resources in my district.

P-EBT Program: DHHS and the Department of Education have announced their plan to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT), a new program which provides additional assistance to families of children who are eligible for free or reduced meals and have been impacted by schools closing. The P-EBT program is a supplemental food purchasing addition to current SNAP participants and is a new EBT benefit to other eligible households who are not participating in SNAP. Only families and children who were eligible for free or reduced meals at their school for the 2019-2020 school year are eligible for the P-EBT program. Families who are already participating in SNAP do not need to apply and will have their benefits automatically placed on their EBT card. Families who are not currently participating in SNAP but have been deemed eligible by their school will need to apply here and will receive a specific P-EBT card. The application period runs from June 22 to July 19. Families who do not have internet access can call the ACCESSNebraska hotline at 800-383-4278.

Child Care: Contact your child care provider for information about their plans. The Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidance for providers. Lastly, if you still need to work but need care for your child you may be eligible for child care assistance. Contact DHHS at 402-595-1258 for help determining your eligibility.

Fraud/Scams: If you think you are the victim of a coronavirus fraud or scam, file a consumer complaint through the Nebraska attorney general’s website or send an email to ago.consumer@nebraska.gov. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Information is available on their website here.

Local Resources

The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office has established a helpline for the sick, elderly or caretakers who need assistance picking up prescriptions, groceries or other necessities.The number to call is 402-593-1593. Requests can be made Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Requests received after 4 p.m. will be addressed the following business day.

Heartland Workforce Solutions may be able to assist youth 14-24 with job applications,  questions about student loans, housing and other community supports. See their website for more information.

The Bellevue Housing Authority (BHA) has a special change form for families that have lost employment. For more information about these forms or how to complete them, contact Monica at monica@sarpyhousing.org or by phone at 402-502-8778.

Teachers are now delivering lessons to students stuck at home. The programming is available on cable TV (Cox Channel 1116, News Channel Nebraska) or can be streamed online at any time in English here or in Spanish here.

A list of online Sarpy County services are available here including an online portal so you can pay your property taxes and access to DMV services.

See the Food Bank for the Heartland website for information about upcoming mobile pantries. 

The Bellevue Food Pantry will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-noon and 1-4PM. Individuals must provide a photo ID and proof of residence as a piece of printed mail (like a utility bill) received within the past 30 days.

The Kim Foundation website is maintaining a page specifically for COVID-19 mental health resources which includes a list of telehealth providers.

The Nebraska Children and Families Foundation website has information about utility disconnection, food security, housing and more.

General Resources

A Better Balance has published an FAQ page about COVID-19, pregnancy and workplace rights here. They also have a general FAQ page about paid leave. Another resource through their organization is a toll-free number where people can call for information on federal paid leave policies. That phone number is  1-833-633-3222.

Legal Assistance

Nebraska Free Legal Answers (NFLA) is providing legal assistance to those impacted by COVID-19. Please see their website here to see if you are eligible for their services. You must be a Nebraska resident, at least 18 years of age and meet low-income eligibility requirements.

Legal Aid of Nebraska may also be able to provide assistance dependent on your situation and what resources are available. Their website has more in depth information about how their offices can help here.

UPDATE: Legal Aid of Nebraska has established a FREE COVID-19 LEGAL HELP HOTLINE.  You can reach that Hotline at 1-844-268-5627

Information Hotlines

The DHHS COVID-19 information line is available 8:00am – 8:00pm, 7 days a week, at 402-552-6645. If you have questions about Nebraska cases, how to protect yourself or others, or Nebraska’s response to the virus please give them a call. 

If you have questions about resources or services, call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

All the best,

Welcome
January 8th, 2020

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 45th 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.

Sincerely,
Sen. Sue Crawford

FREE COVID-19 LEGAL HELP HOTLINE

Legal Aid of Nebraska has established a free legal help hotline available for those affected by COVID-19. Nebraskans facing legal issues related to the virus can reach this Hotline during the following times: Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.

HOTLINE NUMBER: 1-844-268-5627

More information on these legal issues and ways you can directly help yourself are available at LegalAidofNebraska.org.

All Passed Legislation
August 28th, 2020

Bills Passed Since 2013

My legislative aide recently put together a list of all the bills I have passed in the past 8 years. We included a version of this in our last newsletter but have since updated it. The most recent version is included below.

It has been an honor serving District 45 and working on this legislation.

All the best,

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building. We have safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

 

Legislative Update

This Legislative Update is my last one.  I am so grateful for my staff who have helped me to pull together these updates every week during session for 8 years and every month in each interim. A special thanks to Lillian Butler-Hale who also helped to pull together weekly updates with critical information during the COVID crisis this year.  We will continue to post information on COVID resources on my website and occasionally post information on our Facebook page. I will miss these weekly “chats” and I appreciate all of you who have been newsletter readers over these years.  

Although my last session is over, I will still be in office until January 2021. Our office remains open to help with constituent concerns.  Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns. Over this interim our office will continue to conduct research on paid leave issues. LR 391 outlines our interim research agenda on paid leave. As I transition to more academic research at Creighton, my first research project there also examines paid sick leave.   

My colleagues and I as incoming senators 8 years ago! From left: Senator Al Davis, Senator Kate Bolz, Senator Rick Kolowiski, me, Senator Bill Kintner, Senator Sara Howard, and Speaker Jim Scheer.

A photo of outgoing senators this week courtesy of the Information Office. From left: Speaker Jim Scheer, me, Senator Kate Bolz, Senator Sara Howard and Senator Rick Kolowski.

Sine Die Adjournment

On August 13th we adjourned “Sine die,” a Latin phrase that translates to “without day.” We adjourn in the regular manner at the end of each session day, but always with a specific fixed time to re-convene (the next day, Monday after the weekend, or when the Speaker sees fit otherwise). When we adjourn Sine Die at the end of each session, we do so without that fixed re-convening point – literally, without a day in mind to resume our official business. Technically, we know that our state constitution dictates the first day of each session and the first session of the 107th Legislature will begin on January 13, 2021.

Usually at Sine die we have receptions and events to celebrate.  This year with COVID those events were all cancelled.  However, we still did have our tradition of allowing the outgoing Senators to make a brief farewell address.  I appreciated the opportunity to thank the people of LD 45, my family, my Creighton family, my church family, legislative staff, and fellow and previous senators.  I posted a copy of my statement on my website. Please know how grateful I am for all of you who have supported me and worked with me in various ways – including emails to let me know your views on important state bills.

Giving my farewell address on our last day.

Crawford Bills Passed in 2020

This session I introduced a total of 10 new bills. Along with three carryover bills from last year, five of those bills have been signed into law:

LB 833  provides that Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE Programs, are exempt from state licensure requirements. Currently, these programs are subject to four separate state facility licensing requirements. LB 833 passed as part of LB 1053.

LB 322 allows the use of minors in tobacco compliance checks just as we do for alcohol compliance checks. LB 322 was amended into LB 1064.

LB 933 changes provisions relating to the discontinuation of utility services. This bill will protect customers with medical needs from having their utilities disconnected. LB 933 passed as part of LB 632.

LB 236 allows the Department of Revenue to provide sales tax reports on the Nebraska Advantage Transformational Tourism and Redevelopment Act (NATTRA) to cities who participate in one of their economic development incentive programs in a secure electronic manner.

LB 983 eliminates the one point penalty for speeding violations up to five miles per hour, was amended into this bill. LB 983 passed as part of the Transportation and Telecommunications committee priority package, LB 944.

LB 870, introduced by me and prioritized by Senator Rob Clements, allows cities and municipalities to borrow directly from banks in the event of a natural disaster. LB 870 was approved by the Governor on July 24th.

LB 1061 was my priority bill for this year. LB 1061 authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to continue using an alternative response approach within the child welfare system. It was approved by the Governor on July 24th.

LB 323 is a bill I introduced last year to make it easier for people with disabilities to work and make more money while still having access to Medicaid benefits. The bill passed this week on Wednesday.

Military and Veteran Policy Progress

LB 153, the military retiree tax relief bill passes 46-0!  One of my areas of focus has been support for military families and veterans.  In my first year here I sponsored a study to identify key steps that the state needed to take to become more military friendly.  We identified 11 priorities from that study and started keeping track of our progress on those fronts.  Over the years, we have made progress on each of the identified priorities and now with the passage of LB 153, all of the objectives have been met.   An overview of these priorities and our progress on these priorities is posted on my legislative website.

Overview of Bills Passed

As I leave this year, I am grateful for all of the work that I have been able to do with so many Senators and community members to pass bills that improve the lives of Nebraskans. I have worked to further economic development especially in our community; to protect workers, including police officers; to increase access to healthcare; to streamline regulation; and to support individuals with disabilities. The table below summarizes the bills that I have passed in my 8 years.

 

Mobile Food Pantry

A reminder that this Saturday, August 15th, there will be a mobile food pantry from 11:00 to 1:00 at First Baptist Church of Bellevue (112 E 23rd Avenue). No appointment is needed and on-site SNAP assistance is available. A list of mobile food pantries through the end of August is available on the Food Bank of the Heartland website here. In addition, ENCAP is looking to provide personal care and hygiene items. Fresh produce will be available from Catholic Charities.

For the next two Tuesdays (August 18th and 25th) from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, ENCAP will have additional food support for distribution at their office at 1908 Hancock Street. Families have a selection of three different pre-packaged boxes – a produce box, a protein box and a dairy box are available. This is first come, first served.

Thank You

I wish all of you a healthy fall.  As we begin course work for students at all levels of education, I wish all of our teachers and students a productive and safe year ahead.  Thank you teachers for your creativity and commitment.

Again, our office will remain open to constituent questions and concerns until January 13, 2021.  On that day, the new senator for LD 45 will be sworn into office.  

Thank you for the honor of serving you!

All the best,

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building. We have safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

Legislative Update

Throughout the last interim all through this session, and through our pause in the session, senators have been discussing property tax relief and economic development incentive proposals. On Wednesday a compromise bill, LB 1107 advanced from General File.  Several of us are working over the weekend and Monday on amendments to shore up the fiscal guardrails in the plan.  It creates a property tax refund that is distributed more fairly than the current property tax credit fund.  The current fund pays based on valuation, The new refund will pay based on how much you pay in school taxes, so it is fairer to people in districts like ours that have a higher school levy.  The new fund will come as an income tax rebate instead of a credit on your property tax bill.  Unfortunately we were not able to get all of the property tax relief funds distributed in this fairer way, but these new dollars will be.  The property tax relief policies are packaged with a set of economic development incentive programs that range from a large basic incentive program to special programs that target specific industries that we hope to grow in Nebraska.  The negotiations have been tough, but I am doing my best to try to ensure that we have policies that meet our goals, but do so in a manner that is as fiscally sustainable as possible.  

Next week is the last week of session, and my last session week as a senator.  My priority bill for the session, reforms to the child welfare system, has already passed.  I have several bills that I hope will get through to the finish line in our last three days including bills to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to work and pay into Medicaid; to add protections for individuals facing utility shut offs, especially those with life threatening conditions; to streamline licensure for interprofessional senior care; and to clarify tobacco compliance check law.  Those are just my bills that are left.  Our agenda will be quite full!  One other bill I expect on the agenda next week will be the military retiree tax bill, LB 153 that I know is a priority to many in my district.

The George W. Norris Chamber looks different as we approach the end of this session. Plexiglass dividers are between desks and we have changed our procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Photo Credit: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World Herald.

LB 1064 Advances

On Monday, Senator Briese’s LB 1064 advanced to Final Reading. This is a bill to change the state tobacco age to 21 so that the state can be in compliance with federal law. It also includes provisions from my LB 322. LB 322, which I introduced at the beginning of last session, was requested by the Bellevue Police Department who expressed concerns about having clear legal language that governs tobacco compliance checks with minors. This statute would allow the use of minors in tobacco compliance checks just as we do for alcohol compliance checks.

Business and Labor Hearing

On Thursday the Business and Labor Committee held a hearing on Senator Vargas’ AM 3238 to LB 667. Since Senators can only introduce new bills in the first 10 days of session, efforts to address any of the issues that have arisen with COVID have had to be introduced in other ways.  One way a new idea can be introduced is as an amendment to an existing bill.  This is the path that Senator Vargas took to introduce legislation with safety and data transparency measures for meatpacking workers.  Since the amendment substantially differs from the policy that was discussed at the original hearing for the bill, the new amendment needed a hearing before potentially coming to the floor. I appreciate Chairman Hansen’s thoughtful decision to hold this hearing and all those that came from across the state to testify.  We spent over 3 hours listening to people tell heart wrenching stories of friends and family who work in meatpacking who have passed away and testimonies and evidence about safety concerns in the plants.  Although some of the meatpacking companies sent letters in opposition, none took the time to come and participate in the hearing to tell their side of the story and answer our questions. 

Senator Tony Vargas introducing AM 3238. Photo Credit: Nebraska’s Unicameral Update.

T.E.A.M. Honors

At the end of last month, Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands (T.E.A.M.) honored area groups for taking action and addressing the impacts of tobacco. The coalition has done a wonderful job of keeping Sarpy County safe and healthy throughout my tenure in the Legislature. I was honored to be named one of T.E.A.M.’s 2020 Advocates of the Year alongside Michael Lennen, program coordinator for the Papillion’s Recreation Department. The full World Herald article detailing T.E.A.M.’s advocacy work is linked here

Photo Credit: Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands.

Mobile Food Pantry

Next Saturday, August 15th, there will be a mobile food pantry from 11:00 to 1:00 at First Baptist Church of Bellevue (112 E 23rd Avenue). No appointment is needed and on-site SNAP assistance is available. A list of mobile food pantries through the end of August is available on the Food Bank of the Heartland website here.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building. We have safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Legislative Update

We are now just 7 session days away from reaching Day 60, the last day of this short session. On Friday we had a full morning of voting bills on final reading, which is the last round of voting.  All of the bills that pass become state law.  We had 50 bills on final reading on Friday.  The first set of bills were the budget bills, which all passed.  Several other bills that we passed on Friday make notable changes in state law.  I highlight just a few of these bills to illustrate the work of the legislature despite the pandemic. 

LB 43 is Senator Bolz’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which guarantees rights for survivors of sexual assault during medical care, in interactions with law enforcement and prosecutors, throughout the processing of evidence and in court proceedings. The bill also ensures that survivors are aware of their right to an advocate, a free medical exam and to be informed about the legal process.

LB 760 was on our list of bills responding to the pandemic. Senator Kolterman’s bill provides that dermatology services conducted through telemedicine must be covered by a patient’s individual health insurance. This means that beginning January 2021, asynchronous review that is deemed medically necessary can’t be excluded from a health insurance policy solely because it is delivered in that manner.

LB 780 is Senator Stinner’s bill to change the budgeting process of the Nebraska Arts Council and authorize creative districts. Senator Hunt’s amendment to the bill added provisions of her LB 943, which requires the Nebraska Arts Council to devise a plan for creative districts throughout the state. This provides a path for this innovative way to encourage arts-based economic development in Nebraska.

A set of bills – LB 1140, 1144, 1188, 1148 – make needed reforms to our Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center programs in the state. This includes provisions to require a careful plan before youth services are moved from one facility to another. I appreciate the hard work of the HHS committee to build a bipartisan package to strengthen these programs and protect our youth and communities.

LB 924e was included in a list of bills that responded to racial justice issues in my newsletter two weeks ago. Senator Chambers’ bill strengthens enforcement of the state’s ban on racial profiling by law enforcement. It requires each law enforcement agency in Nebraska to implement an anti-bias and implicit bias training policy to combat apparent or actual racial profiling practices. 

Business and Labor Hearing Next Week

Senator Tony Vargas introduced a motion on Wednesday to suspend the rules and introduce a bill about protections for meat packing plant workers. The motion received 28 votes but needed 30 to pass. Next week, the Business and Labor Committee will have a hearing on AM 3238, an amendment that Senator Vargas introduced to LB 667 with the same provisions. The hearing will be on Thursday, August 6th at 1:30pm in Room 1525. Letters for the record can be submitted to mhansen@leg.ne.gov prior to 5:00pm the day before the hearing.

LB 1053 and LB 323 Advance

LB 1053 is an HHS committee bill which contained my LB 833, a bill that exempts Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE Programs, from state licensure requirements. LB 1053 advanced to Select File on Tuesday.

LB 323 is a bill I introduced last year to make it easier for people with disabilities to work and make more money while still having access to Medicaid benefits. The bill was returned to Select File on Wednesday so an amendment could be adopted that pushes out the implementation date and General Fund impact. LBs 323 and 323A are now on Final Reading.

Heritage Health Medicaid Expansion Program

Beginning on August 1, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services will begin accepting applications from Nebraskans who will be eligible for the Heritage Health Adult Medicaid expansion program. Eligible adults are Nebraska residents ages 19-64 who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level (about $17,000 per individual). In the past, lower income adults eligible for Medicaid either had to have children or special medical needs. Expanded Medicaid will launch at the beginning of October 2020.

Individuals can apply online, by phone at 855-632-7633 or at their local DHHS office.

LB 1222 Hearing

After the body adjourned on Friday, I joined my colleagues on the Urban Affairs committee for the hearing on LB 1222. LB 1222 is Senator Justin Wayne’s bill to adopt the Municipal Police Oversight Act. Since the bill’s introduction I have had conversations with the Bellevue Police Department and the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office to hear their concerns and hear about their oversight processes in place. I have received many emails from citizens, advocacy groups and cities. One of the concerns raised by groups that represent crime victims was whether a victim’s identity could be protected.

Paid Leave Interim Study Resolution

This week I introduced an interim study to research the impact of paid sick leave policies on pandemic spread in several different states and industries. LR 391 is supplemental to work I will already be doing at Creighton on this topic. With the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 looming, it is critical that we are aware of the paid leave policies that we can put in place to support Nebraskans and their families.

General Election Vote By Mail

Sarpy County Election Commission will be mailing early mail-in ballot request forms to registered voters in late September. For those that live outside Nebraska’s three largest counties (Sarpy, Douglas or Lancaster), you may need to request an early mail-in ballot. If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, you can check your status here and register here. The Sarpy County Election Commission has additional information on their website, including the early ballot request form.

Believe in Bellevue Giving Day

August 4th is the first annual Believe in Bellevue online fundraising event. Similar to Omaha Gives!, Believe in Bellevue is a way to raise support and awareness for community nonprofits. Visit the website to see more information about local nonprofits and to donate. Thank you to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Bellevue Community Foundation and Bellevue Public Schools Foundation for putting this event together.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building. We have safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Back in Session

We returned to the Capitol this week to wrap up our last 17 days of legislative business and my final session days in office. Senators are eager to make the most of our limited time over the next few weeks.  For me it will be my last few days in session for my career.  

Although logjams in the property tax proposal dominate much of the news, it is important that you know that there are still many of us working behind the scenes to continue to push for a compromise to move forward on the issue in a way that is fiscally responsible and committed to high quality education for our students across the state.  Also, on the floor everyday we are passing many bills to improve the lives of Nebraskans with unanimous support.  Those bills don’t make headlines, but I want you to know that most of what we do is collaborative and tackles everyday issues that Nebraskans face. 

Our office is continuing to assist people who are struggling to receive unemployment benefits or file a claim. My staff is available at 402-471-2615 to answer questions about the reinstated work search requirements, claiming benefits when you are on reduced hours or any other concerns you may have.

LB 870, LB 1061, LB 632 Advance

Early this week two of my bills passed on Final Reading and another bill of mine advanced as part of the Natural Resources priority package.

 LB 870 introduced by me and prioritized by Senator Rob Clements would allow cities and municipalities to borrow directly from banks in the event of a natural disaster. LB 870 is an important bill to pass this session in the case that Nebraskans experience flooding like that of last year in the future.

LB 1061 makes a number of changes to Nebraska’s Child Protection and Family Safety Act. Thank you to the child welfare advocates that testified in support of this bill that will protect parents, children and caregivers.

My LB 933 was amended into the Natural Resources priority package, LB 632, before the session was indefinitely postponed in mid-March. The package passed the General File round of debate on Wednesday. My portion of this bill would prevent customers with medical needs from being disconnected from utilities on which they depend.

Nebraska Legislators Press Conference

On Monday I hosted a press conference to discuss key legislation we will be focusing on over the next few weeks and the economic impact of COVID-19. I appreciate Senators McCollister, Cavanaugh, Blood, Hansen, Vargas, Hunt, Wishart, Morfeld, DeBoer and Howard for their dedication to helping Nebraskans through the pandemic.

The full press conference can be accessed by clicking this link.

Police Oversight Bill Introduced

On Thursday the body debated a motion by Senator Wayne to suspend the rules and introduce a new bill. Without a suspension of the rules, bills can only be introduced in the first 10 days of session. The motion passed with 32 votes and Senator Wayne introduced LB 1222, a bill about police citizen oversight boards. Under the bill, members of the Citizen Police Oversight Board would be selected by the Mayor and City Council of the municipality to monitor police standards and practices.

Nebraska’s Economic Forecast

On Thursday the OpenSky Policy Institute held a webinar about Nebraska’s current fiscal picture and our expectations going forward. The Revenue Committee then met that evening for a briefing of the Nebraska Economic Forecast. The changes in the original forecast for fiscal year 2020-2021 include the shift in income taxes due to the filing deadline shift, economic conditions and revenue losses due to the provisions of the CARES Act. The forecast was more optimistic than most expected it to be.  It opens the door for resources to be spent if necessary this year.  However, as Senator Stinner, the Chair of Appropriations, has stated, we want to be very cautious and supplement our rainy day fund to weather possible rough waters ahead.

Page Applications Open

The Clerk’s Office sent out a reminder this week that page applications and letters of recommendation for the 2021 legislative session will be accepted no later than Friday, October 2nd at 5:00pm. Pages are college students who assist senators and the Clerk of the Legislature with various tasks. It is a paid part-time position, and many students receive college internship credit for their work. The page selection committee will meet in October to select the individuals that will fill the available positions. The online application can be found here.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building. We have safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Session Resumes

For the past several months, my staff and I have been working mostly from home. This upcoming Monday we return to the capitol to complete the last 17 days of session.  Much has changed since we left in March.  Many of our neighbors suffer from the economic impacts of the pandemic, the pandemic makes the need for electronic means to justice clear, and we have been reminded of the need to actively fight for racial justice.  Since we are past the first 10 days of session, it is not possible to introduce new bills to address these issues.  However, several bills that are already in the works will move our state forward on these fronts.  I discuss several of the bills that tackle racial justice below.  We also have bills in process with priorities that open up access to the courts through electronic means such as Senator Lathrop’s LB 1028 that allows small claims court actions to be filed electronically and Senator Brandt’s LB 912 that broadens provisions for remote testifying in civil cases.  I look forward to working on these bills and more during my last 17 days of session.   

The legislative calendar for the remaining days can be found here and Monday’s agenda can be found here.

Office Procedure

In an effort to keep Capitol visitors and staff safe and healthy, changes are being made to our usual Chamber procedures. Several of these changes include temperatures being taken as we enter, a cleaning crew sanitizing our work areas each evening after we adjourn and limiting staff allowed on the floor.

My office will also have new safety procedures in place. We are requiring visitors to wear masks in the office and limiting traffic to three visitors at a time to allow for social distancing. The easiest way to schedule a meeting or get in touch with me or my office during this time is by phone or email. Please call 402-471-2615 or email me at scrawford@leg.ne.gov.

P-EBT Application Deadline

This Sunday, July 19th, is the last day to apply for Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT). This program provides additional assistance to families of children who are eligible for free or reduced meals and have been impacted by schools closing. Only families and children who were eligible for free or reduced meals at their school for the 2019-2020 school year are eligible. Families who are already participating in SNAP do not need to apply and will have their benefits automatically placed on their EBT card. Families who are not currently participating in SNAP but have been deemed eligible by their school will need to complete the online application linked here. Families who do not have internet access can call the ACCESSNebraska hotline at 800-383-4278 to apply.

Racial Justice Bills on Select and Final Reading

As we return to session, I look forward to having serious discussions with my colleagues about the very pressing issues of racial injustice, systemic racism and police brutality.  While these issues are not new, I am hopeful that the renewed sense of urgency inspired by recent events will be a catalyst for real and lasting change in the direction of racial justice.  I have been continuing to educate myself on these issues and am committed to continuing to learn about how I may contribute to dismantling systems of oppression. It is my hope that my colleagues and I will hear the cries of communities of color and act in ways that will advance equity not just in this moment but in the long term.  

My office compiled an analysis of the widely circulated “8 Can’t Wait” campaign, a set of policy strategies proven to reduce police violence, and an analysis of how these policies might fit into Nebraska state law.  We circulated this analysis to members of the Judiciary committee and I am hopeful that some measures to that effect will be introduced next year.  Since I am termed out after this session, I am unable to introduce any new legislation.  

However, several important bills that address racial justice currently sit on select or final reading. The good news for all of these bills is that they have already passed the first round of voting, so they are on their way to becoming law.  I look forward to continuing to support these measures and to push for their passage into law in Nebraska.

LB 924 (Chambers) Last year, the ACLU of Nebraska released a report that revealed racial biases in traffic stops in Nebraska.  Following this report, my staff researched this issue and I discussed the results of the report with the Bellevue Police.  Senator Chambers ended up introducing legislation on this subject. LB 924 requires that all law enforcement agencies in the state conduct regular anti-bias training for officers and adopt policies preventing traffic stops based on racial profiling. It is on Final Reading and has strong bipartisan support. I hope to see it pass and I am grateful for Senator Chambers’ decades of service as the leading legislative voice on racial justice issues.  

LB 254 (McCollister) – LB 254 would help enable job seekers who were formerly incarcerated to get a job interview if they are qualified.  It would require any employer who asks applicants to disclose their criminal record on a job application to provide the applicant with an opportunity to explain their criminal history, the circumstances surrounding any convictions, and any progress they have made in rehabilitation since the incident(s).  By giving applicants a chance to explain, the employer will get a more fair and balanced picture of the applicant’s past and what they have done to improve themselves following a conviction.  This bill would advance racial justice by providing more employment opportunities to people of color, who are disproportionately incarcerated.  In NE, Black inmates make up 27% of the prison system, while Black citizens make up only 4.6% of the population. 

LB 219 (Wishart) – LB 219 would contribute to racial justice by providing that children in foster care need not meet any more requirements in applying for a driver’s license than children who are not involved in the system.  Children of color are disproportionately represented in the Nebraska foster care system, and a driver’s license is an essential component of enabling independence for foster children, allowing them to drive to school, activities, or a job.  

LB 515 (Vargas) – LB 515 would enact a number of changes in the Student Discipline act designed to keep at-risk students connected to their school and engaged in their education when charged with disciplinary violations, including suspensions.  It would provide consistency and a more equitable process in student discipline hearings, which would help prevent students from being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.  Black and Latinx students are consistently punished more severely than white students for the same violations, and are far more likely to be referred to law enforcement or arrested for school-based offenses than white students.  

LB 918 (Wayne) – This bill would create a commission made up of African American Nebraskans to identify actions that could enhance the rights of Black Nebraskans and to develop possible solutions.  The Commission would promote legislation beneficial to the Black community, work with the Governor and other government agencies to keep them apprised of challenges in the Black community, and coordinate programs to address issues faced by Black Nebraskans.  Black people, historically and at present, have not been well represented in our state government.  This would create an official seat at the table for Black leaders in Nebraska government.  

LB 1061 (Crawford) – This is my priority bill for this year.  LB 1061 authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to continue using an alternative response approach within the child welfare system.  I passed a bill several years ago to authorize alternative response as a pilot program.  Since then, the program has demonstrated positive outcomes for children and families.  It is an alternative to traditional response, which involves Child Protective Services, law enforcement, and court involvement.  Under alternative response, children that are deemed safe to do so may stay with their family while the family receives social work services.  Keeping families together following reports of abuse and neglect, when determined safe, has been shown to reduce long-lasting trauma to children that is usually associated with out-of-home placement.

LB 1061 also establishes safety guidelines and clearer protections for children, families, and caregivers involved in non-court child welfare cases.  This bill has a potential racial justice impact, given that children and families of color are overrepresented in our child welfare system, and that Black children are disproportionately removed from the home following reports of abuse.  Once involved in the child welfare system, children of color are more likely to spend longer periods of time in out-of-home placement, be separated from siblings, and receive multiple placements– all of which exacerbate trauma.  Families of color face additional challenges of systemic racism, including poverty, access to childcare and education, all of which may contribute to their being more likely to get reported for abuse or neglect.  It is on Final Reading and I look forward to its passage.

Policy Maker Listening Sessions

On Tuesday I joined several of my colleagues for a listening session hosted by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh. The topic for this week’s listening session was healthcare, housing and food security.  It gave community leaders the opportunity to discuss how federal dollars are being used to support Nebraskans during the COVID-19 crisis and the needs that still persist and require additional dollars and action. I appreciate Senator Cavanaugh facilitating these discussions.

COVID-19 Update

Sarpy County is currently in Phase 3 of the reopening plan, meaning that some but not all restrictions have been lifted. In Phase 3, our current directed health measure (DHM) still requires masks in settings like hair salons or tattoo parlors where it is impossible to receive services at the recommended six foot distance. Gatherings are also limited at this time. The implementation date for Phase 4 is yet to be determined based on the risk of infection throughout this phase and if we continue to see an uptick in positive cases. The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department regularly updates its webpage with news and helpful resources.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Legislative Update

I hope you and yours had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend.  It was rainy but relaxing for our household.  I am looking forward to sunny days ahead.  

Last week ten of my colleagues and I sent a letter to the Governor requesting that he spend some of the CARES Act funds provided to our state to focus on rental relief as the eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of this month. On Wednesday, Governor Ricketts announced that $20 million of the CARES Act funding received by that state would be directed towards community collaborations to address needs such as housing.  This was encouraging news and I am glad that our community collaborative in Sarpy should be able to expand their efforts with the funding.  Lift Up Sarpy has been working hard with community partners to help families in need stay in their homes and apartments during this crisis.  

This week the Governor announced plans for spending most of the CARES Act funds that have come to the state for distribution to address COVID needs. He is reserving nearly $500 million in case Congress acts to allow states to use any of the funds for revenue loss.  At this point, the funds can only be used for new additional expenses, however, efforts are underway to push for more flexibility with this funding. Our Appropriations Chair estimates that we’ll face a $500 shortfall.  This week we received a report from the Department of Revenue outlining the additional revenue losses that will come from changes in the tax law in the COVID federal packages, over $200 million over the next three years.

May is mental health awareness month.  You’ll see several new resources related to mental health at the bottom of this newsletter. Thanks to Lillian for her work to pull these resources together. 

This will be our last weekly newsletter until we begin session again in mid-July.  We will continue to post information about new resources on our webpage and post information on our Facebook page.  We usually only send weekly updates during session.  During this COVID emergency we felt it was important to keep up the weekly newsletters to provide information as the situation was unfolding rapidly.  At this point we expect fewer urgent updates.  If we feel that we need to get out information before the end of June, we’ll send out a special newsletter.  

Unemployment Update

As some begin to return to work, the Nebraska Department of Labor reminds unemployment applicants that they must certify their eligibility every week that they continue to be unemployed by logging into their NEworks account and filing a weekly claim. Even while your claim is being processed, you must certify your eligibility weekly.

If your claim is older than 28 days and you have not received payment, you may contact ndol.unemploymenthelp@nebraska.gov. You may also contact my office at scrawford@leg.ne.gov with questions.

Governor’s Executive Orders & Announcements

Extending Licenses for Seniors

At his press conference on Tuesday, Governor Ricketts announced a new Executive Order extending Driver’s Licenses for all Nebraskans 72 and older with expiration dates between now and the end of 2020. These extensions are good for one year and are meant to lessen public traffic at DMV offices, which in turn will mitigate the spread of the virus.

Additional DMV Updates

Rhonda Lahm, Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, announced that drive tests will resume this week in courthouses that are open to walk-in traffic. DMV offices will open when local officials make a determination that it is safe to do so. Across the state, new staff has been hired and trained to handle the influx of scheduled tests they are expecting. If you would like to make an appointment to take a drive test, contact the Bellevue DMV office at 402-292-0141.

June 1st Directed Health Measure Information

This upcoming Monday marks the beginning of a new month and the expiration of the April/May DHM. Last week, I shared an announcement about the DHM changing as Sarpy County is moving toward “Phase II” of our COVID-19 response. This week I am sharing more specific details for consumers and business owners as facilities reopen.

Statewide Guidelines

Starting June 1st, only individuals returning from international travel will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon coming back to Nebraska. Limited and non-contact team sports, for both youth and adults, may resume practices on June 1st and games on June 18th. Contact sports like basketball, tackle football, soccer, and wrestling remain prohibited. Rodeos may also begin on June 1st. Rodeo events will be treated as “gatherings” under the new DHMs.

Sarpy Guidelines

Gatherings will be limited to 25 people or 25% of rated occupancy, not to exceed 3,000. Restaurants remain open for dine-in and bars can reopen. Bars and restaurants are limited to 50% of the rated occupancy, with a maximum of six people per table. Gyms, salons, barber shops, massage therapy services and tattoo parlors will be limited to 25 people or 50% of rated occupancy. Workers and patrons in these facilities are required to wear masks under the DHM. Wedding and funeral reception venues will be limited to either 25 people or 50% of rated occupancy. Self-serve buffets and salad bars are prohibited. No dances or other social events that require guests to gather outside of their respective tables are permitted. For full details of the “Phase II” DHMs that include Sarpy County, click here.

Sarpy Chamber Business Grant

Applications for small business grants through the Sarpy Chamber Foundation will be available on June 1st. Small businesses must have 50 employees or less to be eligible. Grants are open to Sarpy Chamber members and non-members if the business is located within Sarpy County, and small businesses outside of Sarpy County must be Sarpy Chamber members.

Mobile Food Pantry at Mission Middle School

Foodbank for the Heartland & Bellevue Public Schools have partnered to host a mobile food pantry on the third Wednesday of every month from 5:00pm – 6:30pm at Mission Middle School, 2202 Washington Street. The next Mobile Food Pantry at Mission Middle School will be June 17th, but there are other mobile pantries around the state. A full schedule of these pantries can be found here.

Resources

General Resources

Nebraskans in need of legal assistance can call Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Free COVID-19 Disaster Relief Hotline at 844-269-5627. They also have a page on their website with COVID information for those with legal questions about employment, debt, domestic violence, housing or stimulus payments.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development website has been updated to include information about reopening, banking resources and other state agencies that can offer assistance to businesses throughout the pandemic. 

Mental Health Resources and Family Resources 

Right Direction is a great mental health resource for both individuals and employers. Resources like fact sheets, guides, posters, presentation templates, handouts, and articles are available at their website. Information can be accessed for free after creating an account.

Mental Health America is providing screening tools to screen for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. Screening tools are also available in Spanish and for children, parents, and caregivers.

Download the COVID-19 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Tipsheet here, and learn more about topics like coping with the coronavirus crisis, telehealth, autism and coronavirus, managing anxiety, discipline and behavior, remote learning, and dealing with loss.

Ivy’s Library helps teach children emotional literacy by understanding their emotions. A list of over 20 helpful children books is available online at their website, along with other recommendations for Child Mental Health Month.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has extended a special challenge to encourage children and families to get outside: spot five birds and record your sightings. Sign their challenge commitment form and they’ll send free birding materials.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Legislative Update

This week the Speaker announced that we would be returning to finish our Legislative Session on July 20, assuming that no spikes in outbreaks occur.  The Speaker and our legislative staff have been hard at work with the Lancaster County Department of Public Health to devise ways to make the Chamber safer for us to return.  This includes provisions like plastic shields between the rows, spreading out our seating arrangement and providing masks.  Meanwhile, as Rules Chair I have been involved in discussions about whether we could also incorporate remote participation for those at greatest risk.  

When we return, we have 17 legislative days left.  By the end of July we will hopefully be in a safer space and we also should know more about the economic impact of COVID on our tax receipts for the year. When we return, we will have the same bills on the agenda as when we left.  Any changes in laws that may be critical to address issues related to the pandemic will need to be considered as amendments onto existing bills or approved for debate by a suspension of the rules.  By our rules, all new bills must be introduced in the first ten days of session.

While the bills may be the same, the economic conditions clearly are not what we anticipated when we introduced these bills in January.  Many of us are spending hours during this break from the legislature talking about how to move forward on some of the policy concerns, like property taxes and economic development incentives, given the drop we expect in revenue for the year and the likelihood that we will experience at least two years of economic downturn from this pandemic.    

While we are not in session, the Governor has addressed several issues related to the pandemic through executive orders.  He also has broad discretion to spend many of the CARES Act dollars.  Consequently, much of our efforts to directly address pandemic concerns in the immediate term have been through advocating the Governor to act.  For example, early in the pandemic several of the Senators urged the Governor to issue an executive order to reduce the threat of evictions.  We appreciate that he did issue such an order, which is now set to expire May 31.  Some of us urged him to expand the order, but he chose not to do so.  On Friday, I sent a letter to the Governor, along with ten other co-signing Senators, urging him to use some CARES Act dollars on rental assistance to help stabilize the rental market and avoid an eviction cliff that we expect will otherwise occur after the executive order is lifted.  This is just one example of how the CARES Act dollars could be spent to help Nebraskans.  Ongoing conversations have been occurring over how the funding could be used including helping to fund front line services in our cities and counties, providing small business relief and providing pandemic property tax relief to forestall foreclosures.  

The Governor proclaimed this week National Emergency Medical Services Week in Nebraska. First responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics have been on the front lines of the COVID crisis and we are grateful to them for their hard work.

As we approach Memorial Day weekend, it is just as important as ever to continue practicing safe social distancing and staying connected to one another. Thank you for doing your part to stay safe and healthy. On Monday our legislative office will be closed.  Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Memorial Day Virtual Ceremony

Though an in-person ceremony is not possible this year, there will be a Memorial Day ceremony streamed live from the Capitol Rotunda on NET all day long on Monday, May 25.

Mental Health and Child Mental Health Month

May is National Mental Health and Child Mental Health Month in Nebraska. Over 20% of Nebraskans deal with mental health issues. The Department of Health and Human Services and Governor Ricketts worked this week to bring attention to some of the resources that are available for Nebraskans that are in need of support and to normalize the conversation around mental health.

Sheri Dawson, Director of Behavioral Health for DHHS, spoke on Wednesday about what we can do to best care for ourselves and our mental health during the pandemic. She recommended taking time for self care, getting sufficient sleep and exercise and having a support system in place. The Red Cross is offering a free psychological first aid class for those who want to learn strategies for supporting themselves and others during the COVID crisis.

The focus of DHHS’s Facebook Live event this week was on child mental health and coping skills. Nathan Busch with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation stressed the importance of checking in with children, establishing a routine when possible and monitoring mood swings. Children may have physical responses to stress or a change in routine as well, like stomach aches or headaches. An important tip he shares with families is to utilize video conferencing services like Zoom to help children make a safe face-to-face connection with friends and family. As always, the Nebraska Family Helpline is available to help and answer questions for parents and guardians at 1-888-866-8660.

If you or someone you know is struggling, the Nebraska Family Helpline mentioned above, Community Action Partnerships and United Way all have professionals who are happy to provide support. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or you can find the online chat option here.

Governor’s Executive Orders and Announcements

DHM Updates Announced

At his press conference on Thursday, Governor Ricketts announced the new directed health measures that will be put in place at the beginning of June. These changes include but are not limited to: bars being able to open at 50% rated capacity, and fitness facilities, salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and massage therapy services being able to open with a limit of 25 people or 50% of rated occupancy. Though these facilities are allowed to open at the beginning of the month, the expectation that people will maintain six foot distance from each other and wear masks whenever possible is still in place.

These updates apply to 89 Nebraska counties.  The Central and Dakota Public Health Districts will not be loosening restrictions for the time being. Specifics about the loosening restrictions and DHMs can be found here.

FHA Order Update

In mid-March, we shared information about a federal order that was issued regarding a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for borrowers with FHA-backed single family mortgages. On May 14th that order was extended through June 30. More information about this extension is available here.

Reopening Resources for Businesses

The Bellevue Chamber shared a number of great resources for businesses reopening in the coming weeks that we share below.  Also this week the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce released their guidance for area businesses reopening.

Reopening guidelines published by DHHS can be found here.

The Small Business Administration’s debt relief options are published on their website, with Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness applications here.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce website has posted articles with information about technology, human resources, and business financing.

If you have questions about your business, the Nebraska Business Development Center is happy to help. Their phone number is 402-554-6232.

Other Resources

The Nebraska National Guard has provided incredible support to Nebraskans at testing sites and food banks throughout the COVID crisis. For those who would like to see what they have been up to the past several months, the Nebraska National Guard frequently updates an online photo album at this link.

The Women’s Fund of Omaha highlights helpful resources for women during the pandemic. Information for those that are experiencing domestic violence, struggling to pay bills, or seeking a support network can be found at their website.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Legislative Update

This week the Governor signed a proclamation recognizing our police forces in Nebraska during this National Police Week.  We extend our gratitude to our police who have also had to respond in new ways during this COVID crisis.  It is also National Skilled Nursing Care week.  Long term care nurses continue to provide quality care to the most vulnerable in our state throughout the pandemic. If you know a team member at a long-term care facility, be sure to thank them for their hard work.

Thank you to all who made the primary elections a success this year.  There was very high turnout.  Great job requesting those ballots and getting them turned in! 

This week, First Lady Susanne Shore discussed the work of Nebraska Impact and its COVID-19 Relief Fund. The organization has raised more than $340,000 to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in Nebraska and has distributed more than $250,000 worth of food thus far to people in some of Nebraska’s hardest hit communities. Money donated to the Nebraska Impact COVID19 Relief Fund is being directed through the statewide Community Collaboratives, like our own Lift Up Sarpy, that are part of Bring Up Nebraska, a program administered by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. Funds are helping individual communities meet their needs for food, rent, and utility assistance, as well as school supplies for students from low-income families now studying from home. To donate to the fund, visit https://neimpact.org/.

If you are interested in sewing and donating cloth face masks to Nebraska’s vulnerable populations, visit this link. Masks can be mailed to Nebraska Impact, 201 N 8th St., Suite 215, Lincoln, NE 68508 or you can arrange a pickup in the Lincoln or Omaha area by emailing masks@neimpact.org.

This upcoming Wednesday is Omaha Gives! 2020. This will be the 8th annual Omaha Gives, a one-day online fundraising event to support local nonprofits. This year financial support is even more crucial to keeping these organizations running and serving Omaha-area residents. 

For a list of all Sarpy County nonprofits that are seeking donations on May 20th, click here.

For a list of Bellevue nonprofits that are seeking donations on May 20th, click here.

Thank you for all that you are doing to stay safe and help one another during this time!

Governor’s Announcements

Youth Baseball and Softball

Governor Ricketts announced this week that youth baseball and softball practices will be allowed beginning June 1 with games beginning June 18. Players will need to use their own helmets, gloves and bats as much as possible. Fans will be limited to only household members who must bring their own chairs and stay six feet apart from other fans. That said, practices are still not allowed for group sports at this time.

DHHS Dashboard

The Department of Health and Human Services recently updated its COVID-19 dashboard to include death data by county and added data related to hospital capacity. To view county specific data, just click on the county within the Nebraska map. Additionally, on the hospital capacity tab, there is now the number of Nebraska hospital beds available and total hospital beds, the number of ICU beds available and the total number of ICU beds, and the number of ventilators available and the total number of ventilators in the state.

Virtual Memorial Day Celebration

Because of the COVID-19, many Memorial Day events have been cancelled. In order to celebrate these veterans, NET will broadcast a virtual observance at 8 a.m on May 25 from the Capitol Rotunda. The Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs website also has a plethora of resources available on their page for those that may be seeking help during the COVID outbreak. Click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see their full list of resources.

Resources

Reopening Guidelines

Several new guidance documents are available under the Reopening Guidelines section including: recommended best practices for barbershops and salons, massage therapist, body art shops; recommended office re-opening protocols from the Nebraska Dental Association; guidelines for conduct of faith-based services including weddings and funerals; restaurant dining room reopening guidelines.

FEMA has also released planning considerations for organizations that plan to reopen in the coming weeks. Their recommendations are available here.

Mental Health Resource

The Munroe-Meyer Institute Psychology Department at UNMC is offering free behavioral telehealth consultations to individuals and families, regardless of insurance coverage. Consultation services are offered via Zoom or by phone. To schedule and appointment, call 402-559-6408.

For Children and Families

Boys Town has updated their library of parenting information and articles at their website. This library includes downloadable resources that can help families get through the 

Bellevue Public Schools P.E. teachers worked to create a fun video to wish students a happy summer (while still appropriately social distancing). If you have a BPS student who is missing their classmates and teachers, the video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts8HhgCVeEM and may boost their mood.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford).
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402) 471-2615.

All the best,

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45
Room 1012
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2615
Email: scrawford@leg.ne.gov
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