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Earlier this month, the Health and Human Service Committee held a hearing on LR 185, an interim study resolution I introduced to examine issues and challenges facing Nebraska’s behavioral health workforce. Throughout the interim we met with providers from a variety of disciplines as well as Magellan, the contractor who currently operates Nebraska’s Medicaid program, to try to identify barriers facing this key workforce.
The hearing provided an opportunity for providers from several disciplines to share their challenges with committee members. The issues discussed included difficulties with licensing entities and processing times for new licenses, limits on the ability of new practitioners, or provisionally licensed practitioners, to practice in Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster counties, and the need for a greater behavioral health workforce presence in Nebraska’s rural areas. We appreciate the professionals who took time to testify at the hearing or submitted written comments for the committee’s consideration. We have already begun follow up discussions to address the issues raised.
Urban Affairs Committee Wraps Up Interim Work
This month, members of the Urban Affairs Committee wrapped up the committee’s interim study hearings with a road trip to Norfolk. Legislative committees will often travel outside of the Capitol during the interim, and this hearing was the first outside of Lincoln for the Urban Affairs Committee since 2013.
In Norfolk, the committee held a second set of hearings on two economic development-related interim studies, LR 152 and LR 155. The first study, LR 152, examined the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, commonly referred to as LB 840. Passed in 1991, LB 840 allows municipalities to collect and appropriate local tax dollars for economic development purposes, if approved by local voters. Approximately 70 municipalities have voted to create an LB 840 program, including the City of Bellevue.
The second study, LR 155, is a comprehensive review of current and potential economic development tools available to Nebraska municipalities. In addition to LB 840 plans, LR 155 examined tax-increment financing (TIF) and a variety of other programs in state law, as well as economic development tools currently available to municipalities in other states. The committee will be publishing an interim study report on LR 155 later this year.
In addition to the interim study hearings, my office also hosted a stakeholders meeting for LR 159, an interim study to examine Nebraska’s handicapped parking statutes. While handicapped parking permits are issued by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, enforcement of handicapped parking statutes is handled predominantly at the local level, so the Urban Affairs Committee has historically heard bills related to handicapped parking. I appreciate the feedback from the various disability advocacy organizations that attended the meeting, and expect that the committee will hear legislation to update our handicapped parking statutes in the upcoming session.
Farewell Wishes to Courtney
Monday, November 30th marks Courtney’s last day with our office as she has accepted a position as grant coordinator at Nebraska Appleseed. Our office recently hired a new administrative aide/committee clerk. Stay tuned for more information about our new hire in next month’s newsletter!
During Courtney’s two years in our office, we saw an expansion of our internship program, the start of summer legislative surveys, a complete revamping of Urban Affairs Committee hearing procedures, several successful Bellevue Leadership days at the Capitol and much more. She was an energetic and vital member of my staff who will be greatly missed. Please join me and the rest of my staff in thanking Courtney for her service to District 45 and the State of Nebraska.
I am currently seeking interns for the 2016 Legislative Session. The internship requires approximately 10 hours/week, mostly at the Capitol. It runs from the beginning of January through the end of April. Qualified applicants must possess strong writing skills, the ability to maintain confidentiality and professionalism at all times, and a desire to learn more about the legislative process. The position is unpaid but can be taken for college credit. Interested individuals should send a cover letter, resume, and a list of references to Kaitlin Reece at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call (402) 471-2615 with questions.
Learning Community Forum held at Springfield Platteview
On November 10, Senator Baker, a member of the Education Committee, joined me and Senator Kintner at a discussion in Springfield regarding the common levy. Superintendent Brett Richards presented data regarding how the common levy impacts Springfield-Platteview School District. His report showed that a 26% loss in revenue last year in Springfield-Platteview yielded less than a half percent gain in Omaha Public Schools (OPS). It is clear that helping students in poverty in OPS and across the state requires a different solution.
2016 Legislative Survey Now Available until December 1st
I invite you to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey to submit feedback on upcoming issues in the Nebraska Legislature. The information you provide helps me prepare for the upcoming legislative session that begins January 6th. Access the survey by clicking HERE.
I look forward to reading all of your input!
All my best,