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Town Hall Meeting Planned
My next town hall meeting will take place Thursday, November 21st from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Military-Veteran Services Center located on the west end of the Bellevue University campus. Topics will include an update on interim studies, ideas for next session, and a Q and A. This event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
Interim Study Hearings Update
On the last Friday of October the Health and Human Services Committee held a full day of interim hearings. The first hearing also included the Appropriations Committee because it examined how the state spends money designated for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. We asked tough questions and had some frank discussions about future directions for the funding to improve family self-sufficiency and government efficiency.
Directors Tom Pristow and Vivianne Chaumont from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, among others, briefed the committee regarding ACCESS Nebraska, the state’s online application program for Nebraskans seeking assistance. Sen. Annette Dubas called for this hearing as part of her long-standing push for improvements in ACCESS Nebraska. I was encouraged to hear that call wait times for the program dropped substantially last month as key changes went into place. We will continue to monitor the program to ensure that Nebraskans get the help they need in a timely manner.
Director Pristow also updated the committee on progress in improvements to our foster care system. Before I was elected, the Health and Human Services Committee, under the leadership of Sen. Kathy Campbell, identified specific changes needed to turn the foster care system around. Last session we passed most of the remaining changes that required a change in law. Director Pristow discussed progress on specific administration changes required by legislation, including a successful waiver application to provide more flexibility in our response to children in crisis.
On Friday November 8th, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on LR 201, a resolution I introduced last session to examine support for Nebraska’s military and veteran families as well as state support for military installations and missions. I will brief the committee on findings from our work over the summer and fall. We invited a few key stakeholders to testify as well. The hearing begins at 9:00 AM in room 1507 and is open to the public. All are welcome to attend and to testify on this topic.
On Saturday, November 9th, at 10:00, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce will honor our nation’s veterans with a parade. I hope to see many of you there! Stop by the Chili Feed at Mission Middle School after the parade to hear the great jazz bands from our three Bellevue middle schools.
Recap: Crawford Bills 2013
Last session, two of the six bills that I introduced became law and a third passed as part of another bill. The other three bills I introduced are still in committee and will carry over into next session. All of the bills respond to promises that I made on the campaign trail to work for good jobs and good government in Nebraska.
LB 429 brings increased government accountability and transparency to the state contracting process by requiring all contracts be publicly available online and searchable by agency, vendor and dollar amount.
LB 368 creates a new workforce development incentive for small businesses looking to expand while creating new job opportunities for low-income Nebraska families.
LB 553, which incorporates a bill I introduced (LB 321), clarifies state statute regarding the spend down of sick leave when a police officer is temporarily disabled as a result of an on-the-job injury.
Recap: Bellevue-State Partnership
One of my priorities in the Legislature is to ensure that decisions made in Lincoln work well in Bellevue. It is important to me that the state government acts as a good partner to Bellevue and other communities across Nebraska. Several bills passed this session provide cities and counties with additional tools they need to do their jobs well. Below I highlight just two of the bills important to Bellevue that I supported.
LB 112 streamlines financial reporting work in the city of Bellevue and other communities across the state. Bellevue City Clerk Kay Dammast testified in support of the bill.
LB 298 bans several new synthetic drug substances and provides additional tools for Bellevue police officers to combat the abuse of these drugs. Bellevue Police testified in favor of this bill.
Recap: Military-Veteran Family Bills
The Legislature also passed several bills that provide support and assistance to Nebraska’s veteran and military families. I was happy to support these bills.
LB 432 appropriates additional funding to support Nebraska’s Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.
LB 224 establishes disabled veterans bidding preferences that will allow veterans to better compete for state contracts.
LB 93 allows veterans the option to obtain a veteran designation on their Nebraska driver’s license or state identification card. It also creates an online database operated by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that will allow the state to better serve our Nebraskan veterans.
We are hard at work preparing for next session which begins in January.
In addition to work on bills, my staff does a great job answering questions people have about state government and services. Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions or concerns.