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Nebraska State Senators advanced LB 1067 to Select File this week. LB 1067 eliminates the Learning Community’s Common Property Tax Levy, reduces transportation costs for schools and includes provisions to allow schools to move boundaries. The bill retains Learning Community programs that specifically target improving learning outcomes for low-income children in Douglas and Sarpy counties.
I am pleased that we have gotten this far with a bill to eliminate the common levy and address school boundaries and that we continue our commitment to the learning community programs that focus on bolstering education outcomes for low-income children throughout our metro area. While there is still work to be done, I am grateful for the leadership of my fellow Sarpy County Senators and of Senator Sullivan, Chair of the Education Committee, that has gotten us further than we have any in any previous session.
Governor Signs Budget Bills, Including Critical Levee Funding
Governor Ricketts signed off on the state budget package this week. The budget package includes critical funding for the Missouri River levee project to protect Offutt Air Force Base as well as properties and development south of the base. This funding allows completion of the levee recertification, which is critical to the economic vitality of Bellevue and the entire state.
Department of Roads Informational Meeting
I have heard from constituents who have questions and concerns about the construction in the Normandy Hills and Fairview Road area. As a result, I reached out to officials from the Nebraska Department of Roads (DOR) and they agreed to participate in an informational meeting with residents of the affected area. This will be a great opportunity for residents to talk directly with DOR. I want to thank the Department of Roads for agreeing to participate in this informational meeting. Details of this event are in the flier below. Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you know who might be interested in attending.
Governor Signs Assisting Caregiver Transitions Act
Governor Ricketts signed the Assisting Caregiver Transitions Act this week as part of LB 698, a package of consumer protection bills for seniors and their families. LB 698 provides for a Home Health Care Consumer Bill of Rights and Alzheimer’s Special Care Disclosure, among other protections. LB 698 was amended to include LB 849 (The Assisting Caregiver Transitions Act). I introduced LB 849 to allow hospital patients to designate a caregiver who would then receive instructions from the hospital at discharge so that the caregivers know how to safely look after loved ones and help them heal.
An AARP Nebraska study conducted in 2015 showed 73% of caregivers say their loved one was admitted to the hospital at some point and 95% said it would be important for them to receive instruction if their loved one was being discharged from the hospital. The Assisting Caregiver Transitions Act will make it easier for caregivers to take care of their loved ones.
This Week in Urban Affairs
This session, a total of four bills heard by the Urban Affairs Committee received a priority designation. The last of those four bills, LB 1012, was advanced to Select File this week. LB 1012 would adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act.
PACE is a financing mechanism that allows local governments to help finance the up-front costs of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on commercial and residential properties. Examples of improvements that could be eligible for PACE financing include energy efficient windows and doors, upgraded HVAC systems, weather stripping, and energy efficient light fixtures.
Under LB 1012, municipalities would be authorized to create clean energy assessment districts, which are similar in nature to assessment districts for streets, sewers, and other forms of municipal infrastructure. Property owners could opt in to participate in the PACE program, and the loan, including interest and administrative fees, would be repaid through a special assessment on the property owner’s property tax bill over a set period of time.
While energy efficiency improvements can significantly decrease a property’s energy use, and thus help property owners save money on their utility bills, they often require high up-front costs to install. PACE helps to eliminate this barrier by allowing property owners to pay for energy efficiency improvements over time through their property tax bill. Because the PACE assessment transfers with the property when it is sold, the costs associated with the energy efficiency improvement will be repaid over time by the person benefiting from the improvement.
Legislation authorizing municipalities to establish PACE programs has been passed in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and there are currently 2,059 municipalities with active PACE programs.
Survey on Mass Transit in Sarpy County
This week, staff from my office attended the last of three public meetings to examine mass transit services in Sarpy County. These meetings, which were hosted by the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), were designed to solicit input on short-term and long-term transportation options in the County.
For those who were unable to attend one of the meetings, a survey on transportation needs in Sarpy County is available athttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SarpyCountyTransit
Central Elementary 4th Graders Visit Capitol
I had a lot of fun speaking to Central Elementary 4th graders this week on their visit to the Capitol. My sons went to Central, so it was especially good to see the Central Cougars this week!
All my best,