NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Sue Crawford

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at scrawford@leg.ne.gov

On Wednesday, I joined six of my colleagues for a press conference highlighting a legislative agenda focused on veterans and their families.  Later that morning, I introduced LB 272 , a bill authorizing the creation of a voluntary hiring preference for private companies seeking to employ veterans.  This bill complements the work of the Legislature last year for public sector employers, that established a preference for veterans.  Under the bill, businesses can elect to offer a hiring preference for veterans and spouses of 100% disabled veterans.

 

Standing with Senators: Nordquist, Morfeld, Garrett, Schnoor, Bloomfield, and Riepe at Wednesday’s press conference on veterans legislation

Other veteran initiatives highlighted at the press conference include a wage subsidy program for unemployed veterans (LB 251), tax exemptions for military retirees (LBs 20 and 267), and better recognition of military education, training and experience for professional licenses (LB 264).     

First Hearings Scheduled

Next week marks the end of bill introduction and the start of public hearings on legislation.  In Nebraska, unlike in many states, every bill receives a public hearing and anyone is allowed to testify.  Committees stay, sometimes late into the night, until all who wish to testify are heard.  Two of my bills, LB 107 and LB 163, are scheduled for public hearings next week.  LB 107, a bill I highlighted last week, eliminates the integrated practice agreement for nurse practitioners.   The hearing for LB 107 is on Thursday, January 22 at 1:30 PM in room 1510 of the State Capitol. 

LB 163 establishes an emergency management registry operated by the Nebraska EmergencyManagement Agency.  The registry is voluntary and the information provided by members of the public will be made available to 911 call centers, emergency management agencies and law enforcement.  Citizens can input a variety of information into the registry, including emergency contact information, medical conditions and allergies, location of “safe places” for hiding or sheltering in place, and primary language indicator.  This registry ensures law enforcement and other first responders have vital information at their fingertips in an emergency.  North Platte, NE is one of many communities across the country to utilize this type of registry.  The hearing for LB 163 is on Thursday, January 22 at 1:30 PM in room 1507 of the State Capitol.      

Council of State Government holds briefing on Justice Reinvestment Working Group Report

On Wednesday, members of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group held a briefing regarding the Council of State Government’s Justice Center report on Nebraska prisons.  The Council of State Governments, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, provides staff and resources to states like Nebraska who demonstrate bipartisan, interbranch support for justice reinvestment.  Nebraska is currently one of three states going through the process.  

Nebraska’s prisons are currently at 158% of capacity and are projected to grow to 170% of capacity by 2020 if no changes are made.  Nebraska law allows the Governor to declare a state of emergency once prisons reach 140% capacity.  This high rate puts our state at risk for court invention.  This growing prison population is in spite of the fact  that crime rates and arrests have declined over the past 9 years.  The report focused on 3 key challenges facing Nebraska’s criminal justice system and made a series of recommendations to address these challenges.  The challenges the report identified are:

  1. Non-violent, low-level offenses are overrepresented in our prisons.

  2. Too many people with felony convictions leave prison without supervision and without paying restitution to victims’ families.

  3. Nebraska’s parole system needs improvement.  For example, parole has not fully implemented evidence-based practices and parole officers often do not have swift and sure sanctions available to them, short of revoking parole.

Future e-newsletters will highlight more about the report’s recommendations–and legislation to address these challenges.  

Town Hall Meeting Announcement

I will be holding a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 12th at 6:30 pm at Bellevue University at the John B. Muller Administration Services Building (lower level symposium room), located at 1000 Galvin Road South.  Please join me as we discuss legislation from this year’s session and answer any questions or concerns you may have.  I also enjoy setting aside time to speak with constituents one-on-one after the main presentation. See you there!  

Meet Our Spring 2015 Interns

This session we will welcome two interns to our office.  Qingye “Isabella” Li is a senior Psychology major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with minors in Business Administration and Criminal Justice. She is from China, but came to the United States to study two years ago. She has interned for Lancaster County’s Community Corrections and Public Defender’s offices, worked on the UNL Human Trafficking Conference planning team, and currently works as a tutor at UNL Athletic Department. She hopes to attend law school or to pursue an MBA upon graduation this May.

Billy is currently a senior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln double majoring in History and Psychology. His interests include public policy, public health issues, and of course, all things history.  He is involved with student government and serves on its Government Liaison Committee, who helped to get LB740 passed (a bill granting in-state tuition to qualifying veterans and their families).  He plans on attending law school in the fall of next year.

We look forward to having Isabella and Billy join our team!  

LINCOLN— Wednesday morning, State Senator Sue Crawford will join at least four other state senators to discuss a legislative agenda focused on veterans and their families. The agenda features several workforce development initiatives including the creation of a voluntary hiring preference for private companies, a wage subsidy program for unemployed veterans, tax exemptions for military retirees, and better recognition of military education, training and experience for professional licenses. The agenda also includes legislation to create additional health care choices for Nebraska veterans.

In 2014, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska’s community colleges and several employers to create “The Good Life for Veterans” initiative. Its aim: to recruit veterans leaving the military to Nebraska as they begin their post-military careers. Since its creation, “The Good Life for Veterans” has had a presence at three career fairs at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Carson, Colorado, reaching over 1,000 veterans and military members. What: Press conference on legislation targeting veterans and their families

What: Press conference on legislation targeting veterans and their families

Where: Nebraska State Capitol Rotunda

When: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 8:45 AM

Speakers include:
State Senator Sue Crawford (District 45)
State Senator Jeremy Nordquist (District 7)
State Senator Tommy Garrett (District 3)
State Senator Adam Morfeld (District 46)
State Senator Merv Riepe (District 12)
Jamie Karl, Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce

 

104th Legislature Convenes and Bill Introduction Begins

On Wednesday, the 104th Legislature convened.  As I mentioned in previous newsletters, in Nebraska legislation must be introduced during the first ten days of session.  This year, due to the election of leadership and other agenda items, bill introduction started on Day 2 (Thursday, January 8).  

This week, I introduced several bills, including LB 107.  LB 107 is a bill to eliminate the integrative practice agreement from nurse practitioner statutes.  The bill is identical to LB 916, a bill the Legislature passed last year by an overwhelming margin of 43-0 before being vetoed by then-Governor Dave Heineman.  70% of new psychiatric nurse practitioners leave Nebraska each year, citing integrative practice agreements as a key reason for their departure.  These agreements do not improve patient safety or outcomes; however, they clearly stand in the way of recruiting and retaining the healthcare workforce we need.

How To Navigate NebraskaLegislature.gov

The Nebraska Legislature’s website has a wealth of information available for citizens interested in reading and tracking legislation.  For example, did you know that you can sign up to receive free daily alerts regarding bills of interest?  Bill Tracker (found here: http://www.nebraska.gov/billtracker/ ) allows you to track up to 15 bills and even receive daily email alerts when there is action on the bill.  

The Nebraska Legislature’s website allows you to view a variety of things from committee assignments to senators’ web pages and contact information.  It also allows you to look up legislation by bill number, senator, or subject matter.  You are also able to look up legislation from previous years based on bill number or subject matter.

To demonstrate how to navigate the website, let’s use LB 740 (2014) as an example.  Beginning on the nebraskalegislature.gov’s homepage, click on “Search Past Legislation” in the upper right hand corner.  From this next page, you can search by bill number (LB 740) or by subject term (residency veteran).  If you know the year it was introduced, you can narrow the search by year or else conduct a search for all legislative sessions. 

Once you pull up the bill page, you are able to view several things including statement of intent, fiscal note, committee statement, floor votes and transcripts from the bill hearing and floor debate.  The introducing senator must publish a statement of intent, or summary of the bill, 24 hours before the bill’s hearing.   Similarly, each bill generates a fiscal note drafted by the Legislative Fiscal Office.  Fiscal notes are published online approximately 24-48 hours before the bill’s hearing.

If a bill advances out of committee, the committee will produce a committee statement.  This document contains a list of organizations and/or individuals who testified either in support, opposition or in a neutral capacity at the bill’s hearing, as well as a summary of the bill and committee amendments, if any.  These documents are available in the right hand corner of the bill page.  

The bottom left hand corner contains links to transcripts that mention the bill in question.  Because this can include any mention of the bill, including when the bill is introduced or referred to committee, it can be helpful to check the transcript dates against the bill’s history.  This allows you to pinpoint transcripts from the day of the hearing or when the bill is first debated on General File.  Typically, bills are placed on General File several days to weeks (or longer) before appearing on an agenda for discussion.  One way to determine quickly if a transcript contains floor debate is to look for transcripts that correspond with dates in which amendments were adopted or failed.  This is not a hard and fast rule but it can help you locate relevant information quickly.  

The links to the Legislative Journal (third column under Bill History heading) are particularly helpful when you want to view floor votes.  Using LB 740 again as our example, you can view floor votes on General File and Final Reading on pages 539 and 1017 of the Legislative Journal.    Stay tuned for more how to’s this session, including how to read fiscal notes and committee statements.

Committee Assignments
On Wednesday morning, the Legislature elected the Speaker, Chairperson of the Executive Board and Chairs of the 14 standing committees.  I am honored to announce that my colleagues elected me chair of the Urban Affairs Committee.  I look forward to working with municipalities across the state, including of course, Bellevue, to ensure that state policies empower local communities to thrive.  

Members of the my staff, from left: Courtney Breitkreutz, Trevor Fitzgerald, myself, and Kaitlin Reece

Also on Wednesday, the Committee on Committees met to determine committee membership for all 49 members.  This year I will serve on Business and Labor (Monday), Urban Affairs (Tuesday) and Health and Human Services Committees (WednesdayThursdayFriday).  

Office Relocating
Each biennium as term-limited senators leave, new senators arrive and committee chairs are elected, offices change and relocate within the Capitol.  Legislative offices are located on the first two floors of the Capitol building.  Each of the 14 standing committees has a designated office location set by the Executive Board.  Committee chairs are the first to move offices.  Senators then select from the available offices based on length of life-time service.   This process began Wednesday afternoon following committee chair elections and finished the next day with the last freshman senators moving into their offices.  Phone numbers and PO Boxes follow the senator–or in the case of a new senator–the seat.  We can be found in the Urban Affairs Committee office, room 1212.  New room numbers for the other senators can be found here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/senators/roster.pdf

Townhall Announcement
I will be holding a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 12th at 6:30 pm at Bellevue University at the John B. Muller Administration Services Building (lower level symposium room), located at 1000 Galvin Road South.  Please join me as we discuss legislation from this year’s session and answer any questions or concerns you may have.  I also enjoy setting aside time to speak with constituents one-on-one after the main presentation. See you there!

All my Best,

Sue

Lincoln, NE–Today State Senator Sue Crawford (District 45, Bellevue) introduced LB 166, a bill to bring additional accountability and transparency to campaign funds.

Under the bill, each campaign committee must submit an end-of-the-year balance statement to the Accountability and Disclosure Commission.  This statement will be compared against campaign committees’ end of year statements by Accountability and Disclosure Commission staff during the auditing process.  LB 166 also prohibits loans from campaign funds, increases penalties for violations of the Accountability and Disclosure Act, and adds enforcement power for the commission to require restitution as a consequence of a violation.

“LB 166 is a bill designed to safeguard the public’s trust and confidence in government,” explained Senator Sue Crawford.  “Nebraskans trust that when they make a contribution to a candidate, candidates will not misrepresent their balance or use these funds to make personal loans.”

“What’s more, current law does not provide a second check against fraud using campaign funds.” Senator Crawford shared.  “Right now, the balance in a campaign account provided to the Accountability and Disclosure Commission is whatever the candidate committee says it is.  LB 166 provides an important tool to ensure campaign funds are used as reported by the candidates.”

“It is important that the Unicameral protects the integrity of campaign contributions.”  added Jack Gould, Issues Chair for Common Cause Nebraska. “The public can not be expected to financially support candidates for public office unless they can be sure their contributions are used for actual campaigning.”

“The Accountability and Disclosure Commission welcomes the introduction of LB 166” said Executive Director Frank Daley. “When adopted, its provisions will facilitate the efficient administration of Nebraska’s campaign finance disclosure laws.”

Lincoln, NE: Today, State Senator Sue Crawford (District 45, Bellevue) introduced LB 107, a bill to eliminate the integrative practice agreement from nurse practitioner statutes. The bill is identical to LB 916, a bill the Legislature passed last year by an overwhelming margin of 44-0 before being vetoed by then-Governor Dave Heineman.

“Since the disappointing veto by Governor Heineman at the end of last session, I spent the summer and fall speaking with returning senators and senators-elect regarding my intent to reintroduce legislation to eliminate integrative practice agreements once and for all,” stated Senator Sue Crawford. “I am confident from those discussions we will finish what we started last year.”

“Study after study confirms that restrictions on Nurse Practitioners like our current Integrated Practice Agreement create a restriction of trade that limits competition and access to our health care system that is simply not supported by any credible evidence related to health quality or health outcomes,” Senator Crawford further explained. “This is why the Federal Trade Commission, National Governor’s Association and the Institute of Medicine have all called for the elimination of such agreements.”

“We are so pleased that Senator Crawford has agreed to reintroduce this important piece of legislation this session,” shared LaDonna Hart, President of the Nebraska Nurse Practitioners. “By removing the antiquated integrated practice agreement language, nurse practitioners across the state can focus fully on providing crucial access to cost-effective, high-quality health care services to patients and their families. The passage of this bill will not only remove “red-tape” and practice barriers for nurse practitioners currently in Nebraska, but will assist in the recruitment and retention of graduates leaving the state for more equitable practice environments. We are excited to work with Governor Ricketts, Senator Crawford and our other supporters to remove unnecessary government regulation and ensure better access to health care services for all Nebraskans.”

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45
Room #1012
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2615
Email: scrawford@leg.ne.gov
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