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Due to the Legislature’s holiday break last weekend, this legislative update will focus on events from the weeks of March 25-29th and April 1-5th. Last week the body adjourned on Thursday afternoon and returned Tuesday which allowed senators to travel home and spend Easter weekend with their families. We began again in earnest Tuesday morning and learned from the Speaker that debate will continue until 6:30 PM–or later–until adjournment in June. This will allow for time to consider more of the 200 or so bills still remaining on the agenda.
LB 429 Advances
I am happy to report that my personal priority bill this session, LB 429, advanced to Final Reading Friday morning. If passed, the bill requires all state agencies and boards to post current contracts online on one website in a format that is easily viewable and searchable. Currently these contracts are largely unavailable on line or if they are available, they are not easily accessible to the public. There will be one more round of voting before LB 429 is sent to the Governor for his signature.
Last week we had several visitors in the Capitol, including Avery Elementary School, community leaders as part of Bellevue Leadership’s Legislative Day and many guests who attended the Bellevue reception at the Governor’s Mansion. This week it was good to see Mayor Sanders, Phil Davidson and Abby Highland who were in Lincoln to discuss Community Development Block Grants.
Throughout the year, the Capitol hosts school groups of all ages. We often have fourth grade students visiting as part of their Nebraska history curriculum. So far this session, two schools from the district, St. Mary’s School and Avery Elementary, have visited the Capitol. I also visited with Logan Fontenelle Middle School students during their visit earlier this session. I enjoyed meeting with all of the students and hope to meet with many more students in the weeks ahead.
On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon with social work students and their professors. It was great to see fellow Blue Jays and several students from the district who attend Nebraska Wesleyan and UNO.
Last Wednesday, we hosted Bellevue Leadership’s Legislative Day. The group, which includes local business and community leaders, met with Governor Heineman, Treasurer Stenberg, Speaker Adams and others before attending an evening reception in the Governor’s Residence. I was able to speak to the group briefly over the lunch hour and enjoyed getting to visit with them more at the reception. Thank you to the Bellevue Chamber for helping to organize the event and to all of the Bellevue Leadership participants for spending the day with us!
During the first months of the legislative session, committees meet each afternoon for hearings. All bills get a hearing and anyone who wishes can speak during the hearing. This is one example of the ways in which the Unicameral is structured to encourage the people of Nebraska to serve as the “second house.”
In March all committees finished all hearings on bills. Committees now only meet occasionally for other committee business. Our work in the Health and Human Services committee for the rest of the session includes our responsibility to review recent child welfare system changes and make recommendations. If you have experience with the child welfare system, please contact me if you have input to share as we evaluate these recent reforms.
As the body continues full day floor debate, we are continuing to work on our bills that advanced out of committee thus far, including LB 429 and LB 368. We are hopeful that our bills will be discussed on the floor again soon.
If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to like my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SenatorCrawford) and follow me on Twitter (@SenCrawford). We often post photos and other updates–like when our bills are scheduled for debate–as they happen. These social media tools are another great way to stay connected during the session.
You can also watch floor debate live on NET across the state as well as online here.
All my best,