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Legislative Update, March 15
This week, senators and committees selected their priority bills for the session. Each Senator has the ability to select one bill each session as a priority bill. Committees choose two bills from the various bills discussed in their specific committees this session as their priority bills. The deadline for these selections was Friday at 12:00 PM.
The Speaker of the Legislature will also select 25 bills as Speaker priority bills. These final selections will be made in the next few weeks. Priority bills, whether they are introduced by a senator, committee or Speaker Adams, receive priority consideration when scheduled for floor debate. A list of priority bills can be found at http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/session/priority.php.
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee Priority Bills
Among those bills prioritized this week, the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee introduced LB 205 and LB 568 as Committee priority bills this session.
LB 205 was one of several bills I discussed in last week’s update. This bill allows small businesses and entrepreneurs access to start up capital and could be used by businesses as varied as community grocery stores and local co-ops. LB 568 establishes a process for the Department of Insurance to license and monitor insurance navigators created by the Affordable Care Act.
Health and Human Services Priority Bills
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee introduced LB 216 as one of their Committee priority bills this session. LB 216 would help former foster care youth as they age out of the system. The bill would provide voluntary services for these young adults up to age 21 as they transition to adulthood and learn the skills necessary to be independent and self-sufficient members of society.
The other priority bill introduced by the HHS Committee this session is LB 269. LB 269 continues the child welfare and juvenile justice reform efforts in the state of Nebraska. This review includes securing a policy analyst to help the Nebraska Children’s Commission analyze state policy in these areas.
LB 429 Debated on the Floor
I reported last week in the weekly update that I selected LB 429 as my personal priority bill this session. LB 429 provides that all contracts that are a basis of state funds shall be posted on the Department of Administrative Services website in a user-friendly format. Citizens already have the ability to review state expenditures through a website operated by the State Treasurer’s office, www.NebraskaSpending.gov.
On Thursday, the bill came up on General File and the body debated the bill on the floor for the first time. Happily, the bill advanced to Select FIle with a 37-0 vote. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to bringing meaningful transparency to state contracts.
Next week marks our last public hearing for bills I introduced this session. On Wednesday, March 20 I will present LB 581 to the Revenue Committee. LB 581 changes state laws relating to motor vehicle sales tax collection. Nebraskan counties collect these taxes for the state and keep a small percentage as a commission for this collection. LB 581 increases the amount of the commission counties are permitted to collect, which will better reflect the cost to counties in collecting these taxes.