NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Sue Crawford

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45

Budget Veto Override Efforts

Wednesday May 17th was a tough day for those of us who were seeking to override the Governor’s line item reductions in funding in our budget. Those reductions will affect Medicaid, Behavioral Health services, services for individuals with Developmental Disabilities, parole, and our problem solving courts (Drug Courts and Veteran Courts). The Appropriations Committee usually brings a package of proposals to the floor of Governor reductions they ask the Legislature to override. Often this package gets approved by the body. This year that did not happen. In addition to the override package from the Appropriations Committee, individual senators can move to override specific line item reductions. This year a few senators not on the Appropriations Committee identified other specific items to attempt to restore back to the level of the budget that was passed by the Legislature. We had individual motions to restore cuts in university funding, child welfare funding, juvenile justice services, and problem solving courts. I brought a motion to overturn the $1.2 million dollar cut in Child Welfare Services. During our debate we received a communication from the Division of Family Services that they expected to save $1 million dollars through a new drug testing program that would allow the $1.2 million cut to not reduce other Child Welfare Services. Although we are skeptical of these numbers on their face, we put on the record this expectation and the expectation that members of the Appropriations Committee and Health and Human Services Committee would be watching to make sure that this cut did not impact Group Homes and Family Services. In the end, none of the veto overrides were successful.

One of the most disappointing patterns I have noticed during this difficult session is the refusal of the Governor and many other senators to take a more balanced approach to the state budget during these tough economic times. Instead of considering new sources of revenue, they have continued to rely only on budget cuts. These cuts are targeted at our most vulnerable citizens and the hard-working providers who valiantly serve these families day after day for fees that do not cover their costs. It was heartbreaking that none of the veto overrides, which would have only kept these provider fees flat, succeeded. As I noted on the floor, surely the safety of our children who have been subject to abuse and neglect, those with disabilities, and those who are ill is a core government function.

You can read the World Herald article about our floor debate on these cuts here.

Final Final Reading

On Thursday May 18th we heard the last batch of bills on Final Reading for this session. This included two bills that generated much controversy and rigorous debate over the session. LB415 was a package of bills from the Retirement Committee. This bill came to the floor with draconian restrictions on the activities of retired teachers after retirement. After much discussion on the floor and off the floor about the rights of retired teachers and the substitute teacher needs of schools, the final version of this bill eliminated all changes to policies for the volunteer and paid work activities of teachers after retirement. This bill passed 46-0-2 during final reading.

Another bill that consumed much of my time over the session was LB333. This was originally a bill to eliminate the State Disability Program. I pushed hard against this policy change. The State Disability Program provides a bridge for newly disabled individuals between the first six months of their disability, when they must rely on local and family resources, and their twelfth month when they can qualify for federal assistance. The state program helps provide support during this 6-12 month window. Once individuals qualify for federal assistance, we (the state) get reimbursed for some of our expenses paid out to these individuals during this timeframe. There is a net cost to the state for this program because not all newly disabled individuals qualify for federal support and some newly disabled individuals are only temporarily disabled and so they don’t need the support past the 12th month. The small savings to the state budget for cutting this program, though, would cut a much larger amount of services to families in our communities and put those families and our local safety nets and hospitals under an additional strain. The chair of the Health and Human Services Committee put a committee priority on LB333. Since this bill had a priority, it had a path to the floor. It was then used as a vehicle to get two other bills related to services for individuals with disabilities. However, by final reading, we were successful in getting this part of the bill pulled out of the bill, so our State Disability Program remains in place.

One of the bills included in the LB333 package was LB495. As this bill was originally written it would have eliminated our existing law that ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities who receive services in our high schools continue to receive day services upon graduation. This maintains continuity of services to young adults with developmental disabilities in our state. This policy creating an entitlement for these high school graduates was originally put in law in the 1990s, however, the Division of Developmental Disabilities was recently notified that they needed to make changes to how the program is administered to be in compliance with federal funding rules. In order to maintain our current federal funding that we receive for our programs it is required that those with the most immediate needs (like those experiencing homelessness or hunger) are given first priority status by law. After many hours of hard work and meetings, we were able to pass an amendment that adjusted the language in our statutes that allows the Division to use the required prioritization needed to meet federal funding requirements while retaining our commitment to providing services to these high school graduate. LB333 also included a provision that was originally found in LB417 to eliminate Quality Review Teams. QRTs were developed to allow families and advocates to give input on the quality of services being provided to individuals with developmental disabilities. After being amended on the floor, the final version of this language requires the Division to report their plan for replacing QRTs with a new review and input process by September and then report to the Legislature on their progress in implementing this process in December and again in March. This reporting timeframe gives us a chance to tackle this issue again next year during our session if needed. I am willing to give the Division a chance to develop and present their plan for an updated version of quality control for these important services.

Appointments to Commissions and Boards

The first thing we did on Thursday was address a large number of Confirmation Reports. In Nebraska, the Governor has the power to appoint leaders for many of the state agencies, boards, and commissions. Those organizations may be as large as DHHS and the Department of Education, or as small as the Brand Committee and the Boiler Safety Code Advisory Board. Each time the Governor makes such an appointment or reappointment, the person’s application must be sent to the Legislature to be confirmed. Confirmation hearings are held by the standing committees, and follow the same process as bills: the appointee appears either in person or by phone to answer questions from senators on the committee, after which members of the public are invited to testify in support, opposition, or a neutral position on the appointment. The committee then votes on whether to send the appointment to the full Legislature, which must vote on final confirmation. Most appointments are approved with little fuss, as those appointed are generally well-qualified for their roles. Still, it is an opportunity for the Legislature to vet executive appointees and for the public to weigh in on the people who will lead the state agencies and organizations with whom they interact. This week we had a flurry of last minute confirmation hearings. I had two over lunch on Wednesday and one in the morning before session on Thursday.

Appointing individuals to serve on these boards and commissions is an important way to allow citizens across the state to bring their expertise to bear on policies and decisions made by our state government. I encourage you to consider serving, and to occasionally check the Governor’s webpage to see if there is an opening that is a good fit for you. A list of current vacancies and the application form can be found here.

Interim studies and Special Committees

Though the Legislature will end the 2017 session next week, we will not be idle over the interim. Between now and January, when the 2018 session begins, two types of work will take priority: interim studies and special committees.

As I mentioned last week, interim studies are an opportunity for senators to learn more about specific issues. Formal interim studies have several advantages over a senator simply looking into an issue on their own. For one thing, the list of interim studies is published; that means that people can learn about the study more easily, which can draw in a wider range of expertise. Experts in a subject can reach out to the introducing senator independently, which they would not know to do without the study being shared. That is beneficial because many interim studies will prompt new legislation, and it’s helpful to have potential problems or improvements pointed out before a bill is introduced. My three interim studies this year address training and retention of legislative committee staff (LR199); demolition of condemned properties and the impact on municipalities (LR138); and state immunization rates (LR147). I encourage you to look over the interim studies to see if there are issues on which you would like to be engaged over the interim (you can find the full list here).

Special committees are a related but distinct way to study an issue. The special committee structure is useful for more complex issues that may be too large for a single senator or a single committee to undertake successfully. For example, I was appointed to the Economic Development Task Force earlier this week. That committee will study Nebraska’s economic development challenges and opportunities. The Economic Development Task Force brings together leadership from various committees that all relate to economic development (Revenue, Banking and Commerce, Urban Affairs, Education) as well as three other senators, one from each congressional district. I am pleased to have been appointed to serve on this taskforce as the CD 1 representative. Special committees can last more than one interim, so they can take a more long-term approach to their target issue. One recent example of a multi-year committee that has impacted policy in the state is the Intergenerational Poverty Task Force.

The legislature can also create investigative committees to oversee specific state agencies and projects. Previous investigative committees have looked into ACCESSNebraska, developmental disabilities, and corrections, to name a few. This year Senator Bob Krist has introduced a resolution to reform a Corrections special oversight committee, known as the Nebraska Justice System Special Investigative Committee (LR127). The Executive Board voted to send LR127 to the full legislature, where it needed to receive 25 votes in order to be created. On Thursday morning we voted to amend this to an Oversight Committee as opposed to a Special Investigative Committee. The resolution passed 28-11-9, so this committee will be working on these issues over the interim.

Sine Die – The Fun Part

One of the Sine Die traditions in Nebraska is a fun event near the end of session in which staff and senators poke fun at themselves with skits, video clips, and songs. This year this event was Thursday night. It is a fun tradition and a good way for us to realize that no matter how intense debate gets day to day, we are all in this together–and we all have plenty of quirks and bloopers.

Bellevue Farmer’s Market

I am proud to be a sponsor of our Bellevue Farmer’s Market. This Saturday is the first week of the market, which will run through mid-September. The market takes place in Washington Park. You can learn more about the market’s many products and vendors here.


Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Farmer’s Market Facebook page

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

 

Early Sine Die Announced

On Tuesday the Speaker made a surprise announcement that the Legislature will end its work early this year, on May 23rd. Nebraska’s constitution dictates that the Legislature cannot meet for more than 90 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years, but it is the Speaker’s prerogative to set the calendar within those parameters. Thus, he determined that this year we will adjourn Sine Die (Latin for “without day”, meaning we adjourn at the end of the year without a set date to come back) on the 86th day of the 2017 session.

The Speaker’s primary reason for ending the session early is that we will have discussed every priority bill (except those held in committee) by the 23rd, and will have finalized the budget. An additional benefit of adjourning early is that it does save money. Though the Speaker did not address that issue in his public explanation, it is certainly a bonus in this difficult budget year.

Budget Passes

On Monday and Tuesday the Legislature voted to advance the budget bills to the Governor’s desk.  In Nebraska, the Governor has line item veto power for budget bills. This means that the Governor does not have to decide whether to accept or reject the entire budget, like the President does. Instead, the Governor can pick out specific items to strike or to reduce. So, the Governor really has line item editing power on budget bills. The Governor, however, can only adjust the spending amounts down, and cannot authorize more funds to be appropriated than the Legislature approves. Governor Ricketts will either sign the budget as is or deliver it, with his line-item vetoes, back to the Legislature next week. At that point, if necessary, we will assess what actions he took and determine whether veto override efforts should proceed.

Status of My Bills

This session I introduced a total of 29 bills. Seven of those bills (LB74; LB425, amended into LB88; LB590; LB225; LB97; LB253 and LB255) have been signed into law and two (LB280 and LB371) have been approved by the Legislature and are currently waiting for the Governor’s signature. Considering the rocky start to this session and the limited number of bills that were heard on the floor, I am glad that I was able to get these bills signed into law by Sine Die. As for my remaining bills: four have been advanced to General File by the relevant committee and 16 are still being held in committee. Although we will not be able to debate them this session, these bills will roll over into the 2018 session.  After session we analyze which of these carry over bills we should try to push through in current form next year, which are unlikely to succeed any further, and which may need to be changed enough to warrant introducing a new bill to address the issue in the next year.   

Military Spouse Luncheon

On Friday I had the honor of joining the spouses of approximately 70 other Offutt leaders for a Military Leadership Spouse Appreciation event. Military spouses shoulder enormous burdens while their loved ones serve, but frequently receive little recognition or thanks for their personal sacrifices. This event was set up so the whole community could come together to show our gratitude.

Angie Bacon, who organized the event, asked the elected officials in attendance to be servers on the buffet line. This was both a service to the spouses and an opportunity to speak to and thank each of them personally. Nebraska’s First Lady Susanne Shore, Senator Carol Blood, Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders, Angie, and Angie’s husband Representative Don Bacon (L-R above) all joined me on the line. Entertainment was provided by country singer Jimmy Weber.

Governor’s Signatures

The Legislature passed a large number of bills to Governor Ricketts this week, and he added his signature to all of them. There will likely be one more wave of signatures (and potentially vetoes) next week.

Among the bills Governor Ricketts approved this week was LB478, which allows felons to own bows and arrows and hunting knives for recreational purposes. That approval comes hot on the heels of his veto of LB75 last week, which would have restored voting rights for felons immediately after the completion of all court ordered probation and parole.

LB20, introduced by Senator Kolterman, will simplify the certification process for veterans with disabilities who receive a homestead exemptions. Currently, veterans who are totally disabled by a non-service accident after separating from the military are required to annually submit certification outlining their total disability to the county assessor in order to qualify for a homestead exemption. LB20 will make it so this classification of veterans do not need a new certification annually so long as no change in medical condition has occurred.

LB645, introduced by Senator Pansing Brooks, adds dyslexia to the list of covered disabilities under Nebraska’s Special Education Act. This ensures that students with dyslexia are being fully recognized and served in schools across our state.

LB223 makes some tweaks to Nebraska’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which was established last year by Senator Howard’s LB471. PDMP is a statewide tool to help address the opioid addiction crisis in a way that focuses on patient safety. Over the 2016 interim a task force was created to make sure veterinarians prescribers would not be unduly harmed PDMP’s reporting requirements and restrictions. LB223 is the result of those efforts as well as further work by Senator Howard to protect Nebraskans and make the program as effective as possible.

LB323, introduced by Senator Kolterman, creates the Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program. Under this program, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide information on their website about palliative care in order to assist interested health care providers in locating training resources and to connect families with educational resources so that they can learn about palliative care options and how they can secure this type of care for a loved one. Palliative care provides ongoing support to individuals with serious health conditions with the hope of relieving stress and providing comfort in a way that improves their overall quality of life.

LB481 will allow pharmacists to substitute interchangeable biological products for prescribed biological products (you can learn more about the technical aspects of interchangeables here). In practice, this bill allows biological products to be treated and interchanged in the same way as name-brand and prescription drugs are. The bill requires that pharmacists, the patient, and prescribing doctors work together to ensure patient safety and preferences are considered.

Interim Studies Introduced

Wednesday was the deadline for senators to introduce interim study resolutions. Interim studies can be introduced by individual senators or by committees, and like regular bills are referred to one of the 11 standing committees. They are an opportunity to gather information about a particular topic in a more formalized way. Sometimes the studies are completed by the standing committees to which they’re assigned, which means that committee staff are more involved in research and information-gathering wand a public hearing is more likely.  Other times, because so many studies are introduced annually (126 this session alone), individual senators and staff  conduct the study.  The interim study resolutions give citizens an opportunity to see the issues being considered for future legislation early in the process.

This year I introduced three resolutions. LR138 is an interim study to examine the current mechanisms and funding sources available to municipalities to condemn or take down vacant and abandoned buildings. This session I introduced LB371, a bill that clarifies the role of the State Fire Marshal in the municipal condemnation process. During the debate on this issue, Senator Schumacher highlighted some of the obstacles municipalities face when dealing with vacant and dilapidated buildings. During this study, we will further explore challenges of the current process and opportunities to improve resources available to municipalities.

LR147 is a study of the Nebraska State Immunization Information System. During this study, the Health and Human Services committee will explore opportunities to increase the rate of immunizations reported to the system across the state. This system currently helps school nurses and other health care providers to track immunization records.

LR199 will further explore the staff structure here at the Legislature. One of the challenges of term limits has been continuity of committee staff. Committee chairs change frequently, and in our current system, committee chairs select the staff for the committee. While some chairs recognize the importance of retaining experienced staff, other chairs have not followed that model. Committee staff play an important role in ensuring that Senators on committees have sound legal advice and the research necessary for the committee to carry out its critical roles of screening bills and preparing bills for floor debate. LR 199 will explore training processes and possible opportunities for staff restructuring to ensure continuity, expertise and institutional knowledge of legislative committee staff.

Last Ag Breakfast

One of the regular events for senators is a bi-monthly Ag Breakfast. This Thursday was the last Ag Breakfast of the session. Usually only rural senators attend, but I attended two of these breakfast events this year to continue to build relationships across the state and with other senators. At each of these breakfasts those who attend receive a flower; if you watch the legislature regularly, you might have noticed that several of the senators are wearing carnations on their lapels on some days. Senator Howard and I attended this week’s breakfast, so we were among those wearing flowers on Thursday.

Events in the District

The Renaissance Festival of Nebraska, a fun annual event for the whole family, takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the Bellevue Berry Farm (11001 S. 48th St). Activities start at 11 a.m. each day and go until to 6 p.m. You can learn more about the event and order tickets here.

The Sarpy County Chamber’s State of the County event will be held on Tuesday March 16th from 7:30 – 10:30 am at the Beardmore Event Center. Speakers from a variety of disciplines will discuss county transportation, Offutt, county sewer development (including my LB253), economic projects, and other items relevant to Sarpy residents. To learn more and register, visit the Sarpy County Chamber’s website here.

Crisis Response Initiative Launched

Crisis response, previously provided in pockets across the state, is now available statewide through a $12-million, four-year grant awarded to DHHS in 2016 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The initiative should deliver more coordinated and supportive services. In a recent press release, DHHS Division of Behavioral Health Director Sheri Dawson explained that “Crisis Response brings a much-needed service to Nebraska families. It will allow youth and families immediate access to behavioral health interventions in their most critical time of need. Crisis response provides for early intervention and referral to treatment and supports. We want families to be served in their communities and not in higher levels of care whenever possible.” For the Metro area, which includes Cass, Sarpy, Dodge, Douglas, and Washington Counties, families can reach the crisis hotline at 888-866-8660.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Bills Signed by the Governor

This week two of my bills, LB225 (my personal priority) and LB590, were signed into law by the Governor. The passage of these two bills will continue to help families across the state access critical services. LB 590 eliminates new stricter building code regulations from our most recent state building code update that would jeopardize many of our in-home daycare businesses.  LB225 contained a package of bills to improve our child welfare system through enhanced data collection and strengthened programs.

Signatures and Vetoes

Three more of my bills, LB253 (Sarpy Sewers), LB97 (Riverfront Development), and LB255 (Dialysis Patient Care Technician Registration), were advanced in the final round of debate and have been presented to the Governor. Other important bills also found their way the Governor’s desk this week including LB427 which provides accommodations for pregnant and parenting students to help them successfully navigate school and LB 300 which eliminates the civil statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault involving children. Each of these bills will now go to the Governor for his signature. Under Nebraska law, Governor Ricketts will have five days (not including Sundays), to decide what he’d like to do with a bill after it is presented to him. If he signs a bill or chooses not to act on it, the bill becomes state law.

The Governor can also choose to veto a bill; if that happens, the bill is returned to the Legislature with an explanation of why he chose to veto the bill. The Legislature can override any gubernatorial veto with 30 votes.  Though looking at the Final Reading vote count from the Legislature can give you a good idea of number of senators who will vote for or against an override, that is not always the case. Sometimes senators who voted for the bill will choose not to support an override because they feel the Governor has made a good argument in his veto letter, or else they are uncomfortable voting openly against the Governor’s decision. Other times, though more rarely, a senator who did not support the bill originally will decide to support a veto override because he or she feels the Legislature has made a decision, and that the Governor should not be overturning that decision. Either way, veto override votes tend to be closely watched.

Next week we will take up the first bill that Governor Ricketts vetoed this year. LB75 removes the existing two year waiting period for felons who have completed their sentence and any probation and parole to restore their voting rights. The bill was introduced and prioritized by Senator Justin Wayne. This week, one of our bills that passed on final reading allows former felons to possess knives and hunting archery equipment. Senator Wayne noted on the floor after that vote that if 44 Senators were willing to give former felons butcher knives and deadly arrows, they should be willing to give former felons the right to vote. I agree.

Teacher Retirement Proposals

The Legislature spent a couple of days this week debating LB415, the Retirement Committee’s priority bill for this session. As an omnibus bill, it contains a large number of proposals and provisions rolled into one bill. Many of those proposals are important policies that will strengthen our public retirement systems. However, some provisions of the bill sparked an outpouring of opposition from teachers, administrators, and school staff. Our office received many emails and calls. Among those controversial proposals were plans to restrict the ability of retired teachers to substitute teach soon after retirement and a three year waiting period for teachers who accept voluntary separation to work or even volunteer in our schools. After many intense meetings over the past two days and a contentious floor debate this morning, I think we have a compromise to protect our retired teachers and our retirement plans. On that understanding, we voted to advance the bill and to work out the details of the compromise before the bill comes back on Select File.  

Late nights and Budget Status

We also spent much time this week debating the budget bills. Many of these conversations went into the late night hours  While we have had to make tough decisions, we have worked hard to protect key investments in our state’s future. Next Tuesday the budget is up for its final vote.  The main budget bill needs 33 votes to pass with an emergency clause, which is important to allow agency spending to continue without any delay.  Several senators have been arguing against the budget, but none of the opposing senators have offered specific spending cuts as amendments during our debate on the floor.  Senator Erdman came the closest with an amendment to adopt last year’s budget, which would have cut some spending.  Senator Stinner, the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, offered an opportunity for the three opposing senators from the Appropriations Committee (Sen. Kuehn, Sen. Clements, and Sen. Watermeier) to offer specific cuts to the last version of the budget before it came to the floor.  None of these members proposed additional specific cuts for the committee to consider. Much of our work behind the scenes this past week has been building support so that by next Tuesday there will be 33 greens for this important vote.  

Sarpy Sundaes

On the afternoon of Thursday May 4th the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce hosted Sarpy Sundaes, a beloved event at the Capitol where senators and staff are invited to join Sarpy Chamber staff for ice cream and conversation. This event is always well-attended; it provides a break from the rancor of the legislative session, and of course it’s much easier to be friends when ice cream is involved!


Gretna City Councilwoman Angie Lauritsen and Bellevue City Administrator Joe Mangiamelli scoop ice cream at Sarpy Sundaes

Celebrations in Bellevue

On Sunday April 30th I joined Senator Carol Blood to help hand out Environment Champion Awards at the Sarpy County Earth Day ceremony. The event was founded to honor and recognize individuals and groups that help keep Sarpy County healthy and beautiful, and to provide residents with a fun and informative way to learn about environmental issues. It was a pleasure to participate this year!


At the Sarpy County Earth Day celebration

On Tuesday May 2nd Bellevue Public Schools held its annual celebration in honor of all the educators and staff who will retire at the end of this school year. Each year my office asks the Governor to appoint BPS retirees as Admirals in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska, a serious recognition of merit with a tongue-in-cheek format (you can learn more about our Admirals and the Nebraska Navy here). This year my Legislative Aide, Shayna, was at the ceremony to present the Admiralty certificates and celebrate with the retirees.

I am so grateful for the long years of service and dedication these retirees have given to BPS, and wish them all the best in their retirement. Their talent and expertise will certainly be missed – but they have earned it!

Mayor’s State of the Town Address

Next week, on Tuesday May 9, the Mayors of Bellevue, LaVista, Papillion, and Plattsmouth will come together for the Mayor’s State of the Town Address at the BPS Lied Activity Center. Running from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, the event will feature the four mayors discussing both developments over the last year and plans for the future. There will also be a question and answer session. To register for this event, co-hosted by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, visit their website here.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Arbor Day

Happy Arbor Day! This holiday, first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, was originally promoted by Nebraska resident J Sterling Morton. It is a day to celebrate nature, and the many ecological benefits of trees in particular. If you want to learn more about the history of Arbor Day, you can read about it here.

Late Nights Begin

Wednesday April 26th was our first scheduled late night for this session. As we come closer to the end of the session, the Speaker typically sets out specific days as designated late nights. Assigning those days ahead of time allows senators to clear their evening schedules so that the bills taken up in evening sessions get debated fairly. This year there are 10 late nights scheduled.

If you tune in on NET TV or on the web stream, you may notice that it gets quite dark in the Chamber. While it looks darker on TV than it actually is – especially since we all have personal lamps at our desks – it is true that the original lighting rigs, installed during the Capitol’s construction in the mid-1930s, do not cast particularly strong light. The dim lighting adds to the special atmosphere of those late night sessions.

This week’s late night was devoted to discussion of the 2017-18 biennial budget. Unfortunately, instead of talking about the money being spent and cut in various categories, we ended up spending hours on controversial language that was put into the budget bill concerning how Title X federal money gets distributed to health facilities in the state. This language is similar to language that in previous years was submitted as an actual legislative bill and debated as a policy bill, where it would get full vetting and debate. This year it was put into the budget bill and consequently took time away from important discussions about the tradeoffs and choices in our funding for all agencies in the state. At 9:00 pm the Speaker called for cloture and the main budget bill moved to the next round. There was recognition that we will have some major changes to debate in the next round already because on that same day the new budget forecast came with more bad news. We now have $55 million more shortfall to fill.

On April 27th, I and other members of the Executive Board voted unanimously to give Speaker Scheer “Speaker Major Proposal” authority on our four major budget bills. This authority allows the speaker to order the amendments and motions on the bill.  So, someone cannot prevent an amendment from being heard by filing motions nor prevent amendments that the body wants to consider by having a host of previously filed amendments.  The rules allow a speaker to designate 5 such bills each year. This is the first time I have seen the rule used, but it is an appropriate use of the rule given the challenging budget situation and the tough politics of this session.  

Bill Signing Ceremonies

On Tuesday April 25th I joined a number of senators, stakeholders, and veterans for a bill signing ceremony with Governor Ricketts. Most bills are signed privately by the Governor in his office, and do not receive a particular ceremony. Occasionally, however, the Governor will choose to give special attention to bills that he wants to highlight. In those cases, the Governor invites sponsoring senators and their staff, state agency leaders, interested members of the public, and the media to his office for a signing ceremony. On Tuesday he signed three bills – LB88, LB340e, and LB639 – that will benefit veterans and their families.

LB88 is Senator Carol Blood’s bill to tackle occupational licensing issues, particularly as they relate to spouses of servicemembers; LB639 extends veteran preference hiring rules to include military spouses as well. Finally, LB340e is the bill to transfer administration of the state’s veterans homes from the Department of Health & Human Services to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. DVA Director John Hilgert, National Guard Adjutant General Daryl Bohac, and a number of veteran organization representatives were present for the ceremony. I want to thank all of them for their service to our state and our nation.


Senators and spectators gathered in the Governor’s hearing room for the signing ceremony

Bellevue Art Show Judging

On April 23rd I had the honor of helping to judge entries at the 15th annual AC Lofton Bellevue High School Art Show. The event, which was open to students from any of Bellevue’s four high schools, was co-sponsored by the Bellevue Artist Association. It was a pleasure to see so many talented artists displaying their hard work – the hardest part of judging was not being able to award every single one of them! You can learn more about this annual event at this excellent Bellevue Leader profile here.

Events This Week

This week I was able to attend several excellent events. On Wednesday April 26th I joined University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds and Lunch with Hank Bounds and the University Advisory Council (UAC) for lunch at Innovation Campus. The UAC is a group of community representatives from across Nebraska who come together on a biannual basis to discuss the University’s activities and initiative. Particularly in this budget climate, it was extremely helpful to talk with the UAC and discuss some of the priorities, challenges, and opportunities faced by the University and all of its staff and students.

Friday April 28th was a busy day. At 7:30 am I attended the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Legislative Coffee. Together with several of my fellow Sarpy County senators, we took questions from the attendees and discussed the budget, pending tax proposals, and many of the other important issues facing the state.

In the afternoon I joined Creighton students and alumni for a Java for Jays meeting. The informal event is based around a public service theme, and was an opportunity to discuss potential career paths, trends and research in the field, and any other questions the students may have. It’s a great chance to talk with students who are interested in public service and give them an inside look into what a public service career entails.

Finally, in the evening I attended the USSTRATCOM Annual Awards. This event is a chance to honor both military members and civilians for outstanding support to the command’s global strategic missions. This gala event showcases some of the outstanding men and women who support USSTRATCOM’s work at home and abroad.

Happening in the District

There are a number of events taking place in Bellevue on Sunday April 30th. First is the Sarpy County Earth Day Celebration & Expo, an annual event to raise awareness of environmental principles and honor Earth-friendly efforts in the community. This year the Expo will be held at the BPS Lied Activity Center at 2700 Arboretum Drive. The event runs 12:00-4:00 pm; full details of the day’s activities can be found here.

Second is the Sarpy County Museum’s Famous Nebraskans and the Great War event. Running 2:00-3:30 pm with free admission, the event will feature Peru State College professor and historian Spencer Davis. He will discuss the ways William Jennings Bryan, George Norris, and Willa Cather reacted to the outbreak of World War I. You can find full details of this event here.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Taxes, Guns & Drugs

Over the past two weeks we have debated several of the controversial bills that have been prioritized for debate this year including taxes [LB461], funding for rural schools [LB640], guns [LB68], medical marijuana [LB622]. Each of these bills has passionate defenders and passionate opponents. I have been impressed with the depth of our debate on these important issues. In past years, each of these bills with a sizable opposition, but shy of a majority opposition that can kill a bill outright, would run for 8 or 6 hours to a cloture vote that would kill the bill. This year the Speaker has instituted a different system for these bills. The bills run for 3 hours of debate so that each side has a chance to lay out their argument and to persuade other senators. If the bill is still alive after 3 hours and the 3 hours of debate indicate that the senators are still very divided on the issue, then the Speaker asks the proponents of the bill to determine if they have 33 senators who will vote for cloture. The Speaker, then, only schedules the bill for the remaining 3-5 hours of debate if he is confident that there is a good chance that a cloture motion at the end of that debate would be successful. Sometimes the break after the first three hours provides an opportunity for Senators on the two sides to come up with a compromise before the bill hits the floor again. This approach allows more of these controversial bills to be heard in the limited time we have to debate. It does not provide closure or a vote on those issues that do not meet the 33-vote threshold. We have yet to see how this process unfolds as we move through the end of the session and into the following year, as those bills will all still be alive in the next year. If the Speaker follows past practices, these bills that do not get sufficient votes for cloture would need a new priority designation next year to come back to the floor.

We ended the week with an extensive debate on LB461, which is a package of income and property tax changes advocated by Governor Ricketts. I appreciate those of you who contacted me with your views on the bill. The calls and emails to my office on the bill were overwhelmingly against the bill. Below is a copy of my floor statement on the tax bill.

“LB461 brings some interesting property and income tax reform ideas to the floor for debate and I commend all of those who have been involved in these discussions and who brought other Revenue reform bills this year.  Most of us in this room understand the need to make our income tax more competitive and fair and the need to consider what the state’s role can be in helping to pull down property tax burdens in the state that are out of line with other states.  I understand the frustration with past inaction and the impatience to just pass something to “at least get started.”  However, while LB461 includes some components that are good starting points for income and property tax reform, as it stands now, it also includes fiscally irresponsible and unfair measures and it fails to address our current need to restore our cash fund and address funding shortfalls in our current tough economic situation.

I grew up on a farm during the 1980’s farm crisis so I appreciate the disconnect between farm land prices and family income to pay property taxes.  I understand that farm land is purchased for ag production and so its value is more fairly assessed by considering its production value instead of its resale value.  So, I appreciate the work of Senator Brasch and Senator Erdman to push for a change in our ag property valuation to make it more dependent on the income production potential of the land and less reliant on the sale prices.  This seems to be a fair and an appropriate component of ag land tax reform. However, LB461 also includes an arbitrary cap on valuation growth and a provision to pull ag land valuation down to 55-65% of value, which does not seem fair to other landowners who pay property taxes or fair to our other Nebraskans who earn income in other ways.  As we discussed extensively last year when we debated a bill to pull valuation down to 65%, this shift simply shifts the property tax burden in counties where it can be shifted and raises levies in counties where it cannot be shifted.  

I appreciate the efforts of Sen. Smith and the State Chamber and the Greater Omaha Chambers’ to push us to pull down our top income tax rate and corporate tax rate to make our state more competitive.  Although our effective top income rate is really around 4%, if someone looks up our actually top income rate it does not look good in comparison to other states and it is made worse by the fact that our top rate kicks in for our middle income taxpayers.   I appreciate that LB461 includes components to begin to restructure the brackets and that it includes provisions to shield lower income taxpayers from being harmed from those provisions and that it includes a freezing of two exemptions to pay for a corporate income tax cut.   However, the bill uses fiscally irresponsible triggers to cut income tax rates in the future rather than taking the responsibility to pay for those tax cuts right now – and it also ignores the responsibility that we have to use some revenue policy changes to help with our fiscal shortfall.  Those same Nebraskans who get very little from the existing provisions in LB461 are the same families that will suffer the most from our appropriations cuts that lead to higher tuition rates, higher child care rates, and higher fees for school activities.  Triggers in general pass the buck to future lawmakers, but the triggers in LB461 are particularly troublesome because they are based on revenue projections, not actual revenue and only have a 1 year lookback instead of a more stable baseline.  There are millions of dollars of tax exemptions and exceptions that are on the table from various bills before the Revenue committee from several senators in this room that could be used to pull down top tax rates and reduce the cuts in our budget to our investments in our children and the future of our state.  

We cannot accept the risks in LB461 out of frustration to do something.  If we want to do something this year we need to pull out the unfair and fiscally irresponsible components of the bill – or use this debate this year as the launch for an effort next year to pull together a fiscally responsible and fair package that works for all of our Nebraska families and doesn’t threaten the future of our state.”

Consent Calendar

On Thursday the Legislature took up the Consent Calendar, which is a unique feature of the Unicameral that allows the body to move quickly on non controversial bills. There is a strict 15-minute limit on debate for each Consent Calendar bill, after which point a vote is automatically taken. Three of my bills got Consent Calendar designation and advanced from General File on Thursday.

This year the Speaker Jim Scheer put 43 bills on the Consent Calendar.  In order for a bill to be considered for the Consent Calendar, senators must send a letter to the Speaker making the case for inclusion. It is up to the Speaker to decide which bills get this special designation and how many bills get this designation.  Any three senators who disagree with a bill’s inclusion can submit a letter to the Speaker to remove the bill from the Consent Calendar.  One of the bills did get removed from the Consent agenda this year.

Although the Speaker decides which bills fit on the Consent Calendar, there are some rules for the kinds of bills that can be considered.  Bills must be non-controversial (which means either no opponent testifiers spoke at the public hearing, or else any opposition has been addressed by a committee amendment); the general topic must also be non-controversial (so for example a bill that makes a non-controversial change to a gun law would not be eligible for inclusion); the bill cannot make a lot of changes; it must have no general fund impact, but can have a cash fund appropriation; and it must have been voted out of committee, almost always unanimously. In other words, Consent Calendar is reserved for bills that are simple, unlikely to raise objections from anyone, and do not expend the state’s tax funds. This is one of the few ways for a bill to receive consideration without a formal priority designation, and is designed in part to allow seemingly minor issues, which may not rise to the level of priority compared to other bills but are still important to the state, to be dealt with.

Three of this year’s 43 Consent Calendar bills were mine. First was LB255, which creates the Dialysis Patient Care Technician Registration Act. The bill establishes a registry for Dialysis Patient Care Technicians (PCTs). PCTs work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse who is required to be at the dialysis facility. The registered nurse is responsible for making decisions and providing guidance any time the treatment varies from normal parameters or the patient’s condition becomes unstable. Conversations about how to ensure safe and cost-effective utilization of dialysis patient care technicians in the administration of hemodialysis led to the decision to maintain an updated record of registered Dialysis PTC’s in the state. LB255 ensures that PCTs can enter the workforce and advance their training and certification safely on the job, that practicing PCTs maintain their certification, and that PCTs can continue to serve Nebraskans receiving dialysis in a safe and effective way.

The second, LB371, was introduced on behalf of the State Fire Marshal. This bill repeals statutory sections that lay out the requirements and procedures for the State Fire Marshal Agency to condemn properties. The State Fire Marshal has not utilized these statutes for many years.


Listening to Senator Schumacher (standing, far right) during debate on LB371

LB280, which makes a change to the Secretary of State’s Address Confidentiality Act was my final bill on the consent agenda. The purpose of the program is to provide victims of abuse, stalking, and sexual assault with a substitute address that they can use when interacting with state and local agencies. The program also provides them with a new mailing address to ensure that their actual mailing address remains confidential. This program is critical in ensuring the safety of many victims. When victims and survivors move to a new address that is unknown to their abuser, the address confidentiality program ensures that they can fill out any necessary applications with government departments, register to vote, and receive mail without fear that their address will become searchable to the public. Although some victims of human trafficking also experience sexual assault or abuse and may therefore qualify for the program already, LB280 explicitly states that all victims of human trafficking, including those who are victims of debt bondage and labor trafficking, can utilize the address confidentiality program.

One of the other bills on the consent agenda, that I was pleased to see pass, was LB20.  This bill streamlines the homestead exemption process for disabled veterans by eliminating the current requirement that disabled veterans prove their disability each year, even when the disability is a permanent one.  I look forward to this bill passing on final reading and simplifying the homestead exemption process in our counties.

Former Senators’ Day

On Wednesday a number of former senators returned to the Legislature at the invitation of Speaker Scheer. Former senators come to the Capitol as guests of the Legislature, watch debate, and are brought to the front of the Chamber and recognized for their years of work. We had some senators attending who were in office as recently as last year, and some who finished their legislative service decades ago. 

As a fairly informal event, the day is a wonderful opportunity to speak with those who have experienced the Legislature in different eras, and who understand some of the unique quirks that come with the territory of being a state senator. Many thanks to the senators who attended this year!

Budget Debate Begins Next Week

Next week we turn to our budget debate. You can find a full copy of the Appropriations Committee’s biennial budget recommendation here. Feel free to send me your comments and concerns about the budget.  It is a tough budget year, and so there are tough decisions ahead.  I would appreciate your comments. Recall from our earlier newsletter that there is broad support across the state (over 70% support) for a tobacco tax increase in the state to to reduce the need for some of these cuts. I am disappointed that we have not had a chance to discuss revenue as well as spending solutions to our budget shortfall. The Governor has threatened to veto any bill that will increase revenue to address our budget shortfall (or to reform our tax structure). This has kept important discussions of meaningful tax reform and appropriate balanced discussions of spending and revenue to address our budget shortfall off of the table in this critical year.

Elementary Visits

This was a busy week for visiting Bellevue students. Four different schools toured the Capitol this week, and happily I was able to meet with all of them. On Tuesday I met with 4th graders from Bellaire Elementary. They asked great questions about how senators get elected and whether it’s difficult to get to know all of my colleagues. We also talked about how important it is to communicate and have good relationships with the people around you – whether they’re senators, classmates, friends, or neighbors.


Belleaire Elementary students in the Supreme Court chamber

Birchcrest Elementary visited on Wednesday. This group was excited and engaged. We talked about some of the things that are unique about Nebraska’s Unicameral, and how we make the laws that impact all Nebraskans.


Birchcrest students in the central Hall of Fame portion of the Capitol

Central and Bertha Barber Elementaries visited on Thursday. We talked about some of the skills needed to be a good leader, then sent them on their way to tour their marvelous Capitol building.


Bertha Barber and Central students sitting in the entrance hall of the Capitol

Events this week

There were a number of organizations visiting the Capitol this week for their annual legislative advocacy days. On Tuesday the Lincoln and Metro-area Homebuilders held a joint lunch to allow their members to meet with senators and staff about their work.

On Wednesday I attended three events. First was an informal event with Senator Deb Fischer, who was in Nebraska during the Senate’s Easter recess. Senator Fischer was at the Capitol Wednesday to share coffee and talk with us, and also to meet some of the senators who were newly elected in January. Over lunch I had two events: the Greater Nebraska Schools Association, which I attended with Bellevue Superintendent Dr. Jeff Rippe, and the Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association.

On Thursday a number of students from ASUN, UNL’s student government, hosted a breakfast at the Capitol. It was an opportunity for these emerging young leaders to discuss their experiences.

On Friday, I joined other Senators and the Governor for lunch. Governor Ricketts has continued a long-standing tradition of inviting Senators to come over to the Governor’s residence for lunch about once a month, with the explicit rule that we do not talk politics while we’re there. This lunch provides a chance for us to get to know one another and build the strong personal relationships that help us to do our work together better.  

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Sarpy County Sewer Bill Advances

On Thursday April 13th we debated LB253 during the first round of consideration. LB253 is a bill I introduced to give Sarpy County and the cities within it the legal authority to work cooperatively to develop and fund a regional wastewater system. This regional sewer system will provide the infrastructure necessary to support economic development in the county as it continues to grow. One great example of the challenges our lack of existing infrastructure poses to that growth is the the newly announced Facebook project. Although we were able to bring them to Sarpy County, the development requires an expensive pumping station to pump sewage over the ridgeline and an acre for acre commitment to defer land from development because the existing sewer system north of the ridgeline is nearing capacity. A regional sewer system will ensure that more businesses and residents will be able to locate in Sarpy County and utilize land with more cost-efficient and sustainable sewage services. The county and cities have worked with HDR to develop a careful, staged plan so that the sewer system can be built in phases as development expands to maximize the ability of the sewer and development fees to cover the costs. LB253 was advanced successfully to Select File for the next round of debate. An Omaha World Herald article on LB253 can be found here.


A few of the Sarpy folks who worked hard to make LB253 successful: Mike Rodgers, Scott Bovick, Brian Zuger, Fred Uhe, and Tim Gay

Local Firearm Ordinance Bill

On Wednesday, LB68 was advanced to Select File. LB68 is a bill that would preempt local ordinances by eliminating the authority of political subdivisions to regulate firearms. When LB68 was introduced, it was portrayed as a bill that would eliminate confusion about the patchwork of regulations for those carrying concealed weapons by creating uniform regulations across the state. However, LB68 as amended, allows different rules for cities of the metropolitan class. The only metropolitan class city in the state is Omaha. As a result of these changes, residents in Bellevue will continue to face the same issues LB68 was supposed to solve whenever we drive into Omaha. The bill as it is now drafted also does not allow cities to restrict open carry guns in public places like parks and public buildings and it has a liability provision that opens cities up to expensive legal suits. Although I am opposed to LB68, especially as it now stands, I understand the concerns expressed to me about conveyance issues and I am willing to work on those issues. There is an amendment to LB68 that solves this issue that is important to gun owners across the state much more effectively. Should that amendment get adopted, I would be in support of the bill.

Senator Chambers Residency Challenge

For several months I have served on a special committee assigned to consider a formal challenge to Senator Chamber’s residency status. The rules of the legislature allow an unsuccessful candidate in a legislative race to file a challenge if they have evidence that the newly elected senator is not a legal resident of their district. According to the Nebraska Constitution, candidates for a legislative seat must meet three requirements: be at least 21 years old, be registered to vote, and be a resident of the district they’re running to represent for at least one year prior to the election date. In this case, the challenger alleged that Senator Chambers, who represents District 11 in north Omaha, was not a resident of that district.

On Friday April 7th the special committee held a public meeting to hear several hours of testimony and to consider evidence from the challenger and Senator Chambers. Only testimony from the challenger, Senator Chambers and his attorney, and other witnesses invited by the two sides was allowed; in other words, it was not a public hearing like those often held at the Capitol, where anyone is invited to testify. As in a court case, the only evidence allowed to be considered was evidence submitted by the two parties. After considering all the evidence presented to us, the committee voted unanimously to recommend dismissal of the challenge. This week the committee also voted unanimously to adopt a report that explains the legal reasoning for our decision to dismiss the challenge. In these residency challenge cases the burden of proof rests with the challenger. The report stresses that the challenger in this case was not able to produce sound admissible evidence; that the law on residency puts special emphasis on a person’s voting record and intent to return regardless of where he or she may be spending his or her time; and that Senator Chambers produced strong evidence on these fronts. The report now goes to the full Legislature, which must vote to confirm or reject our recommendation. For more coverage of this story, you can read the Journal Star’s summary here.

Tobacco Tax Poll Results

Thanks to all of you who took my informal poll about the tobacco tax! Though it’s a small sample, it’s always interesting to hear from you. Similar to the results for the Nebraska population in general, in which over 70% favor increasing this tax, over 80% of this small sample supports increasing the tobacco tax (over 70% strongly in favor and over 10% moderately in favor).

If you did not participate in the poll last week and would still like to, the link is here. For background on the topic, check out last week’s Legislative Update here.

Events This Week

This was a wonderfully full week for meeting with constituents and other Nebraskans. On Tuesday morning the Autism Society of Nebraska held their legislative breakfast, bringing together autistic Nebraskans, their families and care attendants, and senators to talk about the opportunities and challenges they experience every day. On Tuesday evening Humanities Nebraska hosted a reception. Humanities Nebraska supports artistic and cultural events throughout the state.

On Wednesday the Nebraska Association of Social Workers held its annual legislative day. Over 100 social work students, instructors, and practitioners from across the state came to the capitol. I enjoyed speaking to the group and eating lunch with a table full of Creighton social work students who are already working with hospital patients, school children, sex trafficking victims and clinic patients in our area. After lunch the chamber balcony benches were full of social workers and social work students watching the gun bill debate.

On Thursday morning a small group of AmeriCorps volunteers came to visit my office. Several of them are serving in Bellevue Public Schools with College Possible, a program that helps students prepare and succeed in college. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet with these volunteers and to hear about their work in the Bellevue schools.


Meeting with AmeriCorps students in my office

Unicameral Youth Legislature

I invite all Bellevue high schoolers to apply for the annual Unicameral Youth Legislature, which this year will run June 11-14. High school students will take on the role of state senators at the State Capitol: participants will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will get to learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff. Scholarships are available; you can get more details about the program here, or you can call the Unicameral Information Office at 402-471-2788. The deadline to register is May 15.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Manic Monday: 3 Bills Advance to Final Reading

Monday was a big day for my 2017 legislative agenda, as three bills were advanced to the final round of debate in one day. The first, LB590, is the bill to protect our in-home daycare centers from being required to conform to non-residential building code regulations; next was LB425 (amended into Senator Blood’s LB88), which streamlines and reduces regulations for nurse practitioners; and third was my personal priority bill, LB225, which reauthorizes the Alternative Response pilot program at DHHS and includes provisions to reduce the risk of sex trafficking for our juvenile youths and to improve our ability to analyze what program work for kids across our various departments. All three of these bills improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our state laws and I am pleased the legislature has chosen to support them to Final Reading.

Where Do We Find $1 Billion?  

We entered this session with over a $900 million founding shortfall. This financial situation has loomed over the session. Whatever other bills are tackled, by the end of the session we need to close this funding shortfall. Unlike the federal government, we must balance our budget each session. We started this process with LB22, which found approximately $160 million in savings for the 2017 fiscal year. The Appropriations Committee has been hard at work for months, assessing possible budget cuts and deciding when to hold the line.

The governor’s proposal for the FY2017-18 budget seeks to close the shortfall and cut taxes, primarily through spending cuts that hit our working and low income families the hardest. Instead, we should be tackling the budget shortfall by considering both parts of the budget picture: revenue policies and spending policies.  A balanced approach to addressing the shortfall would consider both sides of the ledger.  

Efforts to close the funding shortfall need to involve efforts by both the Revenue Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Some senators have offered bills to rethink some of our tax credit, tax cut, and tax exemption policies, such as Senators Krist (LB467 and LB468), Scheer (LB63), Schumacher (LB373) and Briese (LB312 and LB313). Another proposal on the table is a bill by Senator Howard to increase the cigarette tax. This proposal would help the budget shortfall and have public health benefits. Youth are particularly sensitive to price increases and less likely to start smoking as cigarette taxes increase. Nebraska currently has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates (41st at $.64) and spends $162.3 million in Medicaid costs per year related to smoking. Recent polling data shows broad support from Nebraskans for a cigarette tax as the most popular way to reduce the budget shortfall. This support exists across party lines. Now, a cigarette tax increase will not solve the entire budget shortfall, but it would yield over $100 million a year.

How do you feel about raising taxes on cigarettes? Take the poll below or send an email to let me know what you think.

Take the poll here!

Bills of Interest This Week

The Legislature had a productive week overall, debating and advancing a number of important bills. My LB97, which would allow creation of Riverfront Development Districts in the state, was debated Wednesday and voted to the second round of debate. The bill was amended to remove any impact to the state’s revenue stream (important when we are facing such a shortfall), but should still allow cities with riverfront areas to more fully take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by our state’s many beautiful waterways.

On Tuesday we debated and advanced several other interesting bills. One, Senator Vargas’ LB427, directs schools to ensure pregnant and breastfeeding students have access to appropriate accommodations to help them continue their education. Under the best of circumstances, becoming pregnant and becoming a parent while going to school is difficult. When, as often happened, the circumstances aren’t ideal, prospective or new parents may be forced to delay their education or drop out altogether. Though many schools do an excellent job working with these students and keeping them on track to complete their degree, many schools do not have clear and consistent policies in place to support and accommodate the unique situations new or expecting student parents may encounter.

Another bill which had significant, in-depth debate was Senator Krist’s LB300. As currently written, Nebraska law requires civil suits based on alleged sexual assault of a child be brought within 12 years of the victim’s 21st birthday. LB300, as originally written, would eliminate that statute of limitations on civil action. An amendment to this bill that we debated on the floor contains a provision to retroactively revoke the statute of limitations for cases for which that time limit has already passed. That brought up important constitutional and justice questions about whether the state can retroactively open up civil liability. Clearly we cannot retroactively make an act criminal, but the questions are not as clear for civil liability. It turns out that this issue will be considered in the Doe vs McCoy case before the Nebraska Supreme Court later this month. So, a decision was made to adopt a severability clause that allows the rest of the bill to stand if one part is found unconstitutional, and to also adopt the amendment. The vote was very close though, so I expect us to continue to debate this question on the next round.  

Elementary Visitors

This week four different Bellevue schools visited the Legislature. On Monday I met with the students of Two Springs Elementary in the Supreme Court chamber, where they asked me lots of great questions, including how I got this job. They thought it was pretty weird that I knocked on strangers’ doors to ask them to vote for me day after day. I always use these opportunities to encourage the kids to look for ways that they can help in their schools and neighborhoods now and to consider being on a school board, city council, or state legislature when they are older.  


Two Springs Elementary students at the Capitol

On Friday three schools visited, but unfortunately I was tied up in meetings for the challenge to Senator Chambers’ residency almost all day. My staff met with the teachers from Betz Elementary and met and spoke with students from St. Mary’s and St. Matthew’s over the lunch hour.


St. Mary’s & St. Matthew’s 4th graders

Events with Constituents and Students

This week I was able to attend several events with constituents and others who have an interest in the Legislature. At the 2017 Sophomore Pilgrimage, which occurred on Wednesday this week, I spent lunch talking to students from Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Thayer Central, and Wilber-Claytonia at the Governor’s Residence.
Tuesday night was the annual Chiropractors’ Association legislative reception, where I enjoyed visiting with chiropractors from Bellevue and across the state. And on Thursday I participated in Creighton’s Take Back the Night event, where students rallied to support sexual assault survivors and learn about some of the policies the Unicameral is considering to assist survivors. Each of these events was filled with a diverse range of Nebraskan voices, and it was an honor to hear them all.


At Take Back the Night 2017 with a few of the student participants

Bellevue: Tree City USA

On Wednesday the City of Bellevue’s Tree Board received an award from the Tree City USA organization. The award recognized Bellevue’s commitment to planting and caring for trees in our community.

Nebraska Birthday Cards

Wake Robin Elementary School’s Kid’s Time program made cards to celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday over spring break and sent them to my office. I distributed the cards to my colleagues here at the Legislature, where they were very well received. Thank you to the students at Wake Robin for designing such beautiful cards!

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

40 Bills in First Week of All-Day Debate

This week we shifted into full-day debate schedule. Most committees only meet occasionally from now on to decide on remaining bills in the committee. Our Appropriations Committee and our Revenue Committee are key exceptions; they continue to meet to hammer out a budget proposal and tax proposals, both tougher jobs in this year with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

About 40 bills on the agenda were heard in this first week of debate. However, we ended up debating even more that that number because some of the bills have other bills amended into them. For example, a bill that we debated to increase penalties for sex trafficking now also includes provisions from a bill to improve our process for renewing protection orders, a bill to prohibit the purchase of a deadly weapon by someone subject to a domestic violence protection order, and a bill to allow the termination of parental rights of a person convicted of sexual assault to the child born out of that assault. This bill advanced to the next round after a long debate about the implications of the longer prison sentences in the underlying sex trafficking bill and discussions of language that Senators, including me, wanted to be made more precise so that the bill clearly targeted sex trafficking.

On the afternoon of Wednesday March 29th, I helped to lead extended debate on a bill that bankers have had a senator introduce over the past few sessions. The bill in its various forms seeks to ensure that in the case of a governmental bankruptcy, the bond holder would be guaranteed to be first in line. I argued that we should not put bond holders, who receive interest for their risk and tax benefits from government bonds, ahead of taxpayers, government services, government employees and retirees. The bankers are a powerful group, so they usually have many senators on their side. Our main tool to fight back on this bill has been extended debate that requires a cloture motion.

On Friday March 31st we advanced LB 75. Currently Nebraska has a two year waiting period before felons who have completed their sentences can restore their right to vote. LB75 removes this waiting period so that citizens who have served their time can participate in our democracy. The bill was introduced and prioritized by Senator Justin Wayne. He noted the symbolism of advancing this bill in this sesquicentennial year for Nebraska. A heated issue in Nebraska’s statehood was a provision that required that the state ensure the enfranchisement of its citizens regardless of race. Our state was founded on a key principle of ensuring that citizens can vote and our constitution has strong provisions to protect the right to a free and unencumbered right to vote. LB 75 strengthens our voting rights consistent with these Nebraska values.

Most states restore rights after a felon completes his or her sentence. We are one of only two states that has a waiting period for those who have paid their debt to society.

 

Bellevue Leadership Day

The annual Bellevue Leadership Day was held on Thursday March 30th, and was a great success. Members of this year’s Leadership Bellevue program, sponsored by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, spent the day in Lincoln to experience state government firsthand. The group met with Governor Ricketts and Treasurer Don Stenburg, Appellate Court Justice Riko Bishop (herself a Bellevue native), Speaker Jim Scheer, Senators Carol Blood, Jim Smith, and John Murante, and several other senators.


Leadership Bellevue participants with Governor Ricketts

Each of the officials they spoke to discussed their ideas about leadership, and were wonderfully open to answering questions about their experiences at the Capitol. Each speaker contributed something unique to the Leadership Bellevue group’s knowledge. Following the day’s program, the group moved over to the Governor’s Residence for an evening reception. I very much enjoyed speaking with the group in a more informal atmosphere. Each Leadership Day is different, and this year’s group are wonderful examples of the great people we have in Bellevue.


Speaking with the Leadership Bellevue group over lunch

The Bellevue Chamber also delivered delicious cupcakes from the Cake Specialist around the Capitol on the morning of Wednesday March 29th. These treats are always well-received by senators and legislative staff alike!


UNL Research Day

Thursday March 30th was UNL Research Day at the Capitol, an event for students in the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) program to share their work with senators and staff. UCARE is a great program, in which undergraduates get the opportunity to work directly with faculty on research or creative projects. One participant in this year’s Research Day was Megan Manheim, a Bellevue resident whose research with Michelle Haikalis and Dr. David DiLillo looks at the effects of alcohol intoxication and bystander training on the acceptance of the myths surrounding campus rape.


Research partners Michelle Haikalis and Megan Manheim presenting their work at the Capitol

UNMC/Army partnership event

On Monday March 27th I joined Senator Blood, Mayor Rita Sanders, and representatives of Nebraska Medicine and the US Army for the announcement of a new partnership. The Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program is a strategic partnership between the Army and various private and public institutions to help soldiers prepare for a career after the Army. PaYS connects service members with companies and organizations that understand the benefits veterans can bring to the table, as well as the challenges they may face transitioning back to civilian life. The Nebraska Medicine PaYS Program is an exciting development for our warriors, and an excellent opportunity for Bellevue.


L to R: Frank Venuto, Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders, Antonio Johnson, Senator Blood, and Captain Renata Russo

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Last Week of Hearings

This week committees held their final public bill hearings for the year. Our last bill hearing in Health and Human Services was a bill sponsored by Senator John Kuehn to make important updates to our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Senator Sara Howard, who worked tirelessly to pass a bill to establish a strong PDMP system in the state last year, has selected the bill as her priority bill. PDMP programs provide pharmacists and health care providers with access to information that helps them to identify and address opioid addiction and abuse in patients.

Starting Tuesday we will begin all-day debate. Monday will be a recess day, as Friday was; on recess days the Legislature does not convene. Especially as we get later in the legislative session, it is common for the Speaker to schedule recess days bookending the weekend like this, so that senators from the western end of the state have time to get back and spend time in their districts. Senator Tom Brewer, for example, has a 6 ½ hour drive to get home to Gordon. Even for those of us whose districts are closer to Lincoln, recess days are an opportunity to work outside the capitol. For me, they are an opportunity to meet with my students at Creighton, hold meetings in the district, and attend events around town. Hopefully I will see you around town!

Bellevue Library and Sarpy Chamber Legislative Coffees

This week I participated in two Legislative Coffee events. On Saturday the 18th I joined Senator Carol Blood at the Bellevue Public Library, and on Friday the 24th Senator Smith, Senator Clements and I attended the Sarpy County Chamber’s Legislative Coffee at CLAAS of America. We had a great crowd at the Bellevue Library Coffee on Saturday and a good number of people at the Coffee on Friday morning. I appreciate these opportunities to update people on happens in the legislature in person and to hear their questions and concerns. At the Bellevue session several people talked about the importance of protecting public education and making smart budgeting decisions.

At the Friday session, Senator Clements talked about how the Appropriations Committee process works in a year with a budget shortfall and Senator Smith discussed proposals being discussed in the Revenue Committee for tax changes. I discussed the Sarpy Sewer bill, workforce and licensure bills, and child protection bills. There were several questions about the different property tax proposals and how they would impact Sarpy and schools in Sarpy as well as questions about the Sewer bill.

Priority Bills Advanced

This was a productive week for the bills on my legislative agenda. On Tuesday LB590, which was designated an Urban Affairs Committee priority bill, advanced to the second round of debate. This bill addresses conflicts between the state building code and current regulations relating to in-home daycares and in-home care set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services. LB590 makes an exception to newer stricter requirements to allow residential day care centers to operate with twelve or fewer children as they currently do under DHHS regulations, rather than imposing strict new limits on this number as would otherwise be required by the state building code. This bill will ensure that licensed in-home daycares that provide much needed care can continue to do so under an appropriate residential classification.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week we debated my personal priority bill, LB225. The committee amendment to the bill was adopted and LB 225 was advanced to Select File. The amendment to LB 225 contained a package of bills pertaining to our child welfare system that will work to improve our ability to collect data across departments and programs in order to make informed, evidence-based decisions to better protect children and families and strengthen the child welfare services we offer in our state.

Also on Thursday, the Legislature advanced two bills that will benefit our state’s servicemembers and veterans. LB340, introduced by Senator John Murante, will transfer responsibility for the state’s four Veterans’ Homes from the Department of Health & Human Services to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This bill will protect the residential services offered to veterans in Bellevue and across the state, while alleviating pressure on DHHS and giving an agency with more experience and expertise in veterans’ issues ultimate responsibility for our retired warriors.

The second bill, LB88, was introduced by Senator Blood. Her bill allows spouses of active duty military members stationed in Nebraska to receive temporary professional credentials if they have a licence in good standing from another state. 77% of military spouses report that they would like to be employed, but difficulties transferring existing credentials for teachers, physicians and nurses, and other professions pose a high barrier. Since military members and spouses have little say in where and when they are transferred, seeking Nebraska licensure before a move is not always possible. LB88 provides for a temporary credentialing process for these spouses, so that they can practice their trade in Nebraska while they seek a permanent state license.

My bill, LB425, also advanced as part of an amendment package to LB88. This bill is a technical follow-up to LB107 from 2015, which allowed Nurse Practitioners to practice without an integrated practice agreement and put into place a transition-to-practice protocol. LB425 includes regulatory cleanup language that is necessary to ensure the appropriate implementation of LB107, and ensure that NPs who have experience in other states prior to the passage of LB107 have that experience recognized in the application for licensure.

Finally, LB253, which is the Sarpy Sewer bill that we discussed in the update last week, was successfully voted out of committee. Senator Jim Smith, also from Sarpy, is chair of the Revenue Committee and has been a valuable ally in building support for the bill. Our next step will be meeting with senators to secure the votes needed to pass the bill on the floor.

Cornerstone Christian School Visit

4th graders from Cornerstone Christian School in Bellevue visited the Unicameral on Wednesday to take a tour and learn about our state’s unique government. It was wonderful to meet them all!


TeenPact Student Meeting

On Thursday I met with a group of bright young students who visited the Capitol as part of the TeenPact program. TeenPact is a 4-day Christian leadership program for middle- and highschool students who are homeschooled or enrolled in private parochial schools, and as part of the program students take a deep dive into the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of state government. Several of this year’s participants were from Bellevue and the surrounding areas, and it was a pleasure to spend some time discussing the bills they found particularly interesting, as well as their overall experiences in the program.


A few of the TeenPact students I spoke with: Katie Seitz, Jacob Seitz, Isaac Seitz, and TJ Wilson

Unicameral Youth Legislature

I invite all Bellevue high schoolers to apply for the annual Unicameral Youth Legislature, which this year will run June 11-14. High school students will take on the role of state senators at the State Capitol: participants will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will get to learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff. Scholarships are available; you can get more details about the program here, or you can call the Unicameral Information Office at 402-471-2788. The deadline to register is May 15.

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Permanent Rules Adopted

On Friday, Day 49 of this session, the Legislature finally adopted permanent rules to guide our work for the rest of this year. Ultimately, the body agreed to adopt the rules as they existed at the beginning of the year. That means the amendments we had provisionally adopted after the Rules Committee made its recommendations in January were not incorporated in the permanent rules we adopted today. Even so, having permanent rules is important to the Unicameral’s ability to function as smoothly as possible, and I am pleased that the rules we adopted do not infringe on the ability of minority coalitions in the Legislature to function.

Speaker Priority Bills Announced

On Monday Speaker Scheer announced his 25 selections for speaker priority. Two of my economic development bills were selected: LB97 which allows municipalities to create Riverfront Development Districts in order to promote development along their riverfronts, and LB253 which will allow Sarpy county and cities within the county to collaboratively establish a regional sewer system south of the ridgeline to accommodate future development and growth. Several other important bills received Speaker priority designations, including Senator Krist’s LB300, which eliminates the statute of limitations on civil action for sexual assault of a child; LB481, which allows pharmacists to approve substitutions of FDA-approved interchangeable biological products for prescribed biologics, similar to the way in which they can substitute generic medications for brand-name prescriptions; and LB323, which would adopt the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Act. You can see the full list of all priority bills this session – senators’ personal priorities, committee priorities, and Speaker priorities – here.

LD45 Town Hall

On Tuesday I hosted a town hall at the Bellevue Public Library. Town halls are an opportunity to meet and hear from constituents, share information about what’s happening in the Legislature, and answer questions about state agencies and policies.

I appreciate everyone who was able to attend on Tuesday; and if you were not able to make it, you can of course contact my office any time.

Bill Hearings This Week

This week we had the final two hearings on our bills for the year. The first, LB592, is a bill to amend the Nebraska Advantage Act (NAA) and was heard in the Revenue Committee on Thursday. The NAA allows businesses with qualifying projects and investments to receive tax incentives, which largely come in the form of tax credits that can be applied to a number of different tax liabilities, including local option sales taxes. Local option sales taxes are approved by the voters of a municipality for a variety of specific projects such as, street improvements, irrigation systems, swimming pools, and other projects the voters believe to be necessary for their communities. Municipalities across the state have reported budget and planning issues for these projects that were the result of a significant loss of their local option sales tax revenues due to refunds under NAA. I introduced LB 592 so we as a Legislature can think critically about whether or not it is appropriate for state incentives to withhold a municipalities local option sales tax revenues that were approved by the voters for a specific purpose.


Testifiers and supporters of LB592 after the hearing

The second bill hearing was held in the Government, Military & Veterans Affairs Committee on Friday. LB139 would allow the voters of a county to decide if a nonpartisan election for county officers makes more sense in their own county. The county positions that voters could decide to elect on nonpartisan ballots include: county clerk, register of deeds, county assessor, sheriff, treasurer, county attorney, public defender, clerk of the district court, and county surveyor. Currently, citizens who register as nonpartisans cannot vote in the primary phase of these partisan county officer elections, and they cannot help to narrow the candidates. In Sarpy county, that is 23% of the registered voters. When all the candidates for a position are from the same party, these elections are decided in the primary phase and this results in the registered voters of one party selecting the officer that will represent all the residents of the county. The concept of allowing counties to hold nonpartisan elections for county offices has bipartisan support, and I trust the committee will give LB139 their fullest consideration.

Unicameral Youth Legislature

I invite all Bellevue high schoolers to apply for the annual Unicameral Youth Legislature, which this year will run June 11-14. High school students will take on the role of state senators at the State Capitol: participants will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral. The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will get to learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff. Scholarships are available; you can get more details about the program here, or you can call the Unicameral Information Office at 402-471-2788. The deadline to register is May 15.

Kick Butts Day Student Meeting

On Wednesday No Limits Nebraska, an anti-tobacco organization, held its annual Kick Butts Day event here at the Capitol. As part of that event, small groups of high school students spoke to senators about their work to convince their peers not to smoke or use other tobacco products. The three students I spoke to were passionate and effective advocates for keeping tobacco out of the hands of teens, and meeting with them was a pleasure.


Avery Elementary Capitol Visit

I always enjoy speaking to 4th graders when they visit the Unicameral. On Thursday morning students from Avery Elementary took a tour and were recognized in the Chamber. It was wonderful to meet them all and welcome them to their state capitol!


St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Thursday was the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration for senators and legislative staff. These after-hours events are certainly fun, but they are also an important part of building relationships with colleagues. Spending time with other senators outside the Unicameral helps remind everyone that we have far more in common with one another than our voting records might suggest. It is much easier to work cooperatively and effectively together when those relationships exist.


At the St. Patrick’s Day celebration with Senators Matt Williams and Lynne Walz

Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My new office is room 1016, and can be found on the first floor in the northwest corner of the building.
  • If you would like to receive my e-newsletter, you can sign up here. These go out weekly on Saturday mornings during session, and monthly during the interim.
  • You can also follow me on Facebook (here) or Twitter (@SenCrawford). In addition to keeping followers up to date on my work in the legislature, we also regularly post a “Today in the Legislature” feature that lists some of the issues before the Legislature that day.
  • You can watch legislative debate and committee hearings live on NET Television or find NET’s live stream here.
  • You can always contact my office directly with questions or concerns at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or (402)471-2615.

All the best,

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45
Room #1016
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2615
Email: scrawford@leg.ne.gov
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