Committees Prioritize Interim Study Resolutions
Earlier this month, committees published their lists of prioritized interim study resolutions under their jurisdiction. A copy of this list can be found in the Interim Study Resolutions report, beginning on page 12: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/reports/interim/2014_interim_study.pdf
As mentioned in previous updates, interim study resolutions are a type of legislative resolution introduced during session. Interim study resolutions are in-depth policy analyses conducted by senators and legislative staff. The format of these resolutions can vary depending on the topic and the introducing senator; however, at a minimum they include meetings with interested parties and can result in hearings in the fall. Committee staff can also submit reports on the resolutions to the Clerk’s office at the end of the year.
It is common for the interim study discussions to lead to bills that get introduced in the next legislative session. For example, last year the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on LR 201, an interim study resolution I introduced during the 2013 session to examine policy options available to Nebraska to support our military installations as well as our military members, veterans, and their families. Out of this interim study came three bills I introduced during this past session related to military and veteran issues: LB 740, LB 769 and LB 902.
This year our interim studies are:
LR 433: Examine issues surrounding compassionate waivers for the use of CBD oil for treatment of children with epilepsy whose seizures are not treated by current available drugs.
LR 533: Investigate health insurance eligibility for former foster youth who were not adopted or under a legal guardianship when they became an adult.
LR 555: Examine how cities and villages provide services to residents located in sanitary improvement districts of cities.
LR 582: Study of unfunded and underfunded mandates to Nebraska counties and their impact on property tax rates
LR 583: Assess the behavioral health and mental health needs of K-12 students and available resources to meet those needs.
Several of my interim studies received a high priority on the committee’s ranking. These include LR 582, LR 533, and LR 555. I anticipate hearings in the fall for several, if not all, of these priority resolutions. More details to follow later this summer as hearings are scheduled.
Effective, Engaged, and Evidence-Driven: A Vision for Our Work
In May my office spent a day evaluating last session and discussing ideas to strengthen our work as well as planning for the future. One result of this discussion was a statement of our focus to be effective, engaged and evidence driven. I am grateful for the hard work of my staff that helps us to meet these goals and for the openness of so many in the community that makes being engaged enjoyable and productive.
Already preparing for the next legislative session at an office workday at Fontenelle Forest.
Part of our newsletters over the next few months will focus on my values and perspective as state senator as well as the responsibilities and roles I see as fundamental to my service as a state senator. This month, our newsletter will focus on engagement.
In a representative democracy like ours, it is extremely important that citizens engage in the legislative process. This engagement can occur in a variety of ways–voting, contacting an elected official about an issue important to you, providing written or oral testimony at a bill or regulation hearing, and staying up-to-date on the issues at the city, county, state and federal level.
As a senator, I so appreciate the personal stories from those impacted by the legislation. As we draft policy, it is important to consider how the bills we pass here in Lincoln will work on the ground in communities across Nebraska. These personal stories help us when considering different policy options and weigh the consequences for passing–or failing to pass–legislation.
Engagement is a two-way street, however. As important as it is for citizens to engage in the legislative process, it is equally important for senators to engage and interact with their constituents. Our office strives to engage constituents in a variety of formats, including school visits, town halls, our e-newsletter, mailings, social media and email. I also try to attend as many community events in Bellevue as I can and am always happy to answer questions about the legislative process.
Ways to Connect, Engage with Our Office
I always appreciate and welcome hearing from constituents and fellow Nebraskans. There are many ways to contact my office if you have a question, concern, or comment. Of course, you can always call my office at (402)471-2615 or email me at email@example.com.
I also engage with the community through town hall meetings. Here, I update attendees on what’s happening in the legislature and then set aside time for meeting with constituents one-on-one. This past year, we held town hall meetings at Bellevue University’s Military Veterans Services Center, Richmont Village, and Mission Middle School. Stay tuned for information about my next town hall meeting later this summer.
One of my favorite ways to connect with the community is by visiting classrooms throughout the district to help teach students about the Legislature. I usually open with a short introduction then allow time for questions from students. The Unicameral Information Office also offers many resources for teachers and students that I would be happy to connect you with. Contact Courtney in my office at (402)471-2615 to schedule a school visit or to take advantage of these materials.
Another option to stay up to date is to follow me on social media. You can “like” my facebook page at fb.com/SenatorCrawford and follow me on Twitter @SenCrawford and Instagram at instagram.com/sencrawford. I also post often to my senate website at news.legislature.ne.gov/dist45. The website includes copies of my e-newsletters, as well as press releases, and other updates about the Legislature.
Interim Intern Hired
This summer, we hired a legislative research intern to assist with research on our interim studies and potential legislation for next session.
Addison Fairchild will be a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Political Science and Public Policy. She was raised in Lincoln where she attended Lincoln Southwest. There, she participated in Student Council, National Honor Society and music. At the University, she is a member of the Honors program and Kappa Alpha Theta. Upon graduation in the Spring of 2016, she hopes to have made a decision whether to attend law school or to pursue a Masters in Public Administration. She looks forward to her time spent working as a research intern this summer and is excited to see what the 2015 session holds.
While the internship is for the summer months, our intention is that Addison attend bill hearings, meet with stakeholders and follow floor debate next session as the research she works on becomes legislation introduced next session. While she lives in Lincoln, this internship is also a good fit for students in Sarpy or Douglas County because many of the tasks can be completed remotely.
We will begin the hiring process for next session’s interns in November or December. If you know someone who is interested in an internship with our office for next session or next summer, please contact Courtney in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vets4Vets Creative Workshop
Join Vets4Vets in June and July for a series of creative workshops at Bellevue University’s Military Veterans Service Center. Vets4Vets, part of the At Ease program, is a peer support group open to all active and former military members and their loved ones. The workshops will run on Wednesday nights from 6:00-9:00 PM and include the following topics:
June 11-Design your own wearable “tattoo” design shirt
June 18- Abstract painting bootcamp
June 25-Playwriting for stage or screen
July 2-Drum Circle
July 16-Draw and bring to life your own 3-D minature character with plaster gauze and acrylic paint
July 23-Dada art madness
To register, please visit https://v4vworkshops.eventbrite.com. For more information, please contact Evan Downey at (402) 292-9105.
All the best,