First Hearings of the Session Scheduled
Bill introduction continued this week as committees began scheduling hearings for the new legislation. Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature has a public hearing and anyone is allowed to offer testimony in support or opposition or offer neutral testimony. Several committee rooms now have video conferencing capabilities with 15 remote sites across the state. Next week, four of our bills will have their public hearings.
On Tuesday at 1:30 PM, the Education Committee will hear testimony regarding LB 740, a bill I introduced to grant residency for the purposes of in-state tuition to recently separated veterans, their spouses and dependents. Current requirements deter veterans from using their GI benefits to attend one of our public universities or require a delay their education to qualify.
On Wednesday at 1:30 PM, we will testify in front of the Judiciary Committee on LB 786, a bill I introduced to allow military parents with shared custody to delegate this parenting time with a close relative or trusted adult during deployment.
We will end our week with hearings on Friday in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, also at 1:30 PM. These bills are two I mentioned last week regarding the rules and regulations process. LB 718 focuses on the beginning of the process by requiring agencies to publish semi annually their agenda for rules under development for revision. LB 719 addresses the middle of the rulemaking process–the public comment period–by making comments on proposed rules and agency’s responses to these comments a required part of the public record.
Tips on Testifying
You are warmly welcome to testify on one of the bills highlighted above, or another bill before the Legislature this year. Hearing notices are published as they become available at the following link: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/calendar/hearings_range.php
Here are a few tips as you prepare your testimony:
- Personal stories are often the most powerful. If you or someone you know is impacted by a bill and you feel comfortable sharing your experiences, tell the personal story.
- Committees often ask testifiers to keep their comments under 5 minutes. Make sure your key points fit within five minutes. Start to speak as soon as you are recognized to get the full time window.
- Bring 15 copies of your testimony if possible.
- During the hearing, you may see senators come and go during testimony. This is not because they do not care about the testimony offered; rather, it means they need to present on one of their bills at another hearing during that time.
If you need an auxiliary aid or other accommodation, please call the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature at (402) 471-2271. Translators and interpreters are also available through the Ombudsman’s Office at (402) 471-2035. Please note that a week’s notice is requested for translators and interpreters.
New Committee Assignments
On Wednesday, I was elected as Vice Chair of the Urban Affairs Committee. I am honored to accept the position and look forward to serving in that capacity. I also begin serving on the General Affairs Committee with hearings for both these committees next week.
As a senator from the third largest city in Nebraska and fastest growing county in Nebraska, I am excited to work through the Urban Affairs Committee on issues to help our cities and counties thrive. This is important work, especially in light of the news that over half of the state’s population now lives in Sarpy, Douglas, and Lancaster counties.
One example of the type of legislation heard in this committee is a bill I introduced this session, LB 915. LB 915 creates a process for cities to work with banks when a home is foreclosed upon due to missed mortgage payments or unpaid property taxes and in need of maintenance. Without frequent care, vacant, foreclosed properties can fall into disrepair. This bill creates a tool for cities and banks to be proactive about addressing some of these problems early on before they become larger, more serious concerns.
In addition to these new committee assignments, I continue to serve on the Health and Human Services Committee and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact Commission.
Summary of Our Agenda
This session, we have introduced bills on a variety of issues ranging from increased transparency in our regulatory process to helping municipalities tackle the issue of vacant and foreclosed properties. Below is a brief summary of the bills I have introduced so far:
✓ LB 718: Brings greater transparency to the rulemaking process.
✓ LB 719: Creates a tool to assess the responsiveness of an agency during rulemaking.
✓ LB 720: Provides a mechanism to streamline regulations and a process to push for reconsideration and revision of regulations that have become out of date or redundant.
✓ LB 740: Grants residency for in-state tuition for veterans, their spouses and dependents.
✓ LB 769: Allows military parents to share their parenting time with a close family member during deployment.
✓ LB 786: Creates an emergency contact registry to reunite families sooner following a car accident, natural disaster or other emergency situation.
✓ LB 852: Changes provisions relating to asbestos regulation
✓ LB 902: Exempts military retirement income from state income taxation
✓ LB 915: Creates a tool for cities and banks to combat maintenance issues in vacant, foreclosed properties.
✓ LB 916: Removes the integrated practice agreement for nurse practitioners to better allow them to offer high quality, cost-effective health care, particularly to underserved populations.
Next week we will feature a few bills you might not have heard about yet as well as an update from the first week of public hearings. Stay tuned for more information!
Town Hall Meeting Scheduled
Please join me for my next town hall meeting, scheduled for February 25th from 7:00-9:00 pm at Richmont Village located at 702 Fort Crook Rd. South, Bellevue, NE 68005. I will be going over what has happened so far in the legislative session followed by an informal meet-and-greet with those in attendance. I look forward to seeing everyone there!