NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Sue Crawford

Sen. Sue Crawford

District 45

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

NFWL Women of Excellence Conference

On the 18th and 19th this month I joined a group of women legislators in San Antonio for the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) Conference. The conference covered various policy topics such as drug prices, elder abuse, and insurance reform. On the first night I was honored to represent Nebraska as a winner of their national “Women of Excellence” award.

MAPA Open House in Sarpy County

This month I attended a community outreach event hosted by the Metro-Area Planning Agency. I was joined by county board members, mayors, town councils and other officials to discuss current and future MAPA projects in the region.

Dark Money Panel

On November 4th I sat on a panel to discuss dark money with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The panel was also sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause. Other panelists included former senators Al Davis, Jerry Johnson and Joe Jordon. This was a great opportunity to discuss current challenges with campaign financing and how the Unicameral could change Nebraska’s campaign finance laws through policies such as LB 210, that I introduced last year. LB 210 requires that spending on “electioneering” be reported like spending on other election advertisements. Electioneering communications target a campaign or ballot issue near an election, but fail to specifically say “vote for” or “vote against” a candidate and so they fall into a loophole that does not require disclosure of spending. LB 210 would require that spending on these electioneering communications be reported. After being heard in the 2019 legislative session, LB 210 is currently in the Government, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee.  It would require the support of the majority of the committee’s 8 members to be sent to the floor for debate and a vote by the full body.  The bill does not appear to have enough support to get out of committee at this time.

Law Academy

Each year the Sarpy County Attorney and Sarpy County Teen Court hold a Law Academy for junior high and high school students in the Omaha, Papillion, Bellevue, and Millard areas. These students, who are often interested in public service careers and want to learn more about government, heard from a variety of speakers over four sessions. Speakers included judges, military officers, public officials and lawyers. I spoke to the group on November 5th about the Legislature and my role in the legal process. The students were great listeners and I was happy to be able to help them understand some of the intricacies of our Unicameral system.

1115 Waiver Proposal Briefing

Late last month, the Department of Health and Human Services released their draft 1115 waiver for Medicaid expansion implementation. On November 8th, I attended one of four hearings held across the state to gather comments on the proposed waiver. I spoke in opposition to the proposed waiver. The proposed waiver complicates the Medicaid Expansion process. We could already be offering these needed services, but instead the Department of Health and Human Services has created a two tier system for benefits that adds substantial administrative cost and delays the benefit of Medicaid Expansion until October 1, 2020. This two tier process requires special federal approval (hence the need for a waiver). If we drop the waiver proposal, we could begin to offer the Medicaid Expansion benefits immediately. Moreover, the proposed waiver directly violates two components of the Medicaid Expansion statute passed by the voters. All of the 24 people who commented on the waiver at the hearing spoke in opposition to the waiver and urged the Department to move forward with Expansion without the waiver.

Veterans Day Parade

I enjoyed being a part of the Veterans Day Parade in Bellevue on November 9th. As always, it was a great success! The parade is in its 19th year and provides an opportunity for generations of Nebraska families to celebrate and honor those who have served. Many thanks to the Bellevue Chamber for putting together such a wonderful event.

Kearney PFML Listening Session

Throughout the fall Senator Cavanaugh and I have been meeting with business leaders across the state to talk about Paid Family and Medical Leave. This month we traveled out to Kearney to meet with a group of small business owners to hear their views on how we can move forward in ways to increase worker access to paid family and medical leave.

NSEA Senator’s Dinner

On November 14th, the Nebraska State Education Association held its annual metro-area legislative dinner. The dinner gives senators and teachers the chance to meet and discuss what policy issues are impactful to them. I was glad to get the chance to sit with teachers from Bellevue and Omaha Public Schools and hear about their experiences and their perspectives. One of the teachers at my table had spent some time in Oklahoma and warned us of the challenges that charter schools there had posed to her public school classroom in terms of higher class room sizes and dealing with students who had been dismissed from the charter school and returned to the public school. We also discussed the challenge of safety for those students who walk to Wake Robin Elementary School. As part of the program that night we all filled out forms identifying areas of future improvement for schools in our area. I appreciate all that our teachers do inside and outside the classroom for our kids.

Legislative Council Meeting

On the 21st and 22nd, several of my colleagues and I met in Nebraska City for the annual Legislative Council meeting. This gathering provides an opportunity for senators to discuss their priorities, policy ideas and expectations for the next session in a casual setting. It is like a pre-session retreat. We discussed the logistics of the first several days of session and heard updates about Health and Human Services from Senator Sara Howard, Corrections from Senator Steve Lathrop, and the aftermath of the flooding from Bryan Tuma (Deputy Director of NEMA). We also had discussions about property tax reform and the budget. In the interim, our schedules differ greatly from one another, so it’s beneficial to have this time to catch up with one another and get ready for the upcoming session.

Christmas Day Office Closure

Next month, all state offices, including mine, will be closed on Wednesday, December 25th so that employees can spend time with their families. Warm wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Urban Affairs Hearings

My colleagues and I on the Urban Affairs Committee have held several interim hearings this month in Lincoln, Omaha and Sioux City to discuss a handful of interim studies. These studies cover a range of topics, including emergency medical services (LR 165, introduced by Senator Mike McDonnell), the regulation of solar energy (LR 131, introduced by Senator Justin Wayne) and issues related to plumbing codes (LR 132, also introduced by Senator Wayne). 

Rules Hearing

On October 18th, the Rules Committee heard LRs 159 and 217. LR 159 is my interim study regarding the rules on information that is required to be included in committee statements.  Right now there is no recognition of letters for the record so that Senators can easily see who wrote letters for a particular bill.  The initial question of the study was whether information about letters for the record should be on committee statements that Senators see for each bill that comes out of committee. After more conversation and study, it appears that there might be other solutions that will work better.  I will be following up with the Executive Committee and IT to see what next steps make the most sense to better recognize those who take the time to write letters for the record for particular bills. LR 217, introduced by Senator Tony Vargas, examines the possibility of incorporating racial impact statements with certain pieces of legislation. We currently have fiscal impact statements for every bill.  Senator Vargas’s study asks if we should also have racial impact statements for bills that relate to criminal justice and juvenile justice. 

Paid Family Medical Leave Discussions

This month, Senator Cavanaugh and I held discussion groups with local employers in both Lincoln and Omaha to determine how paid family leave would affect their businesses. These forums provided us with additional perspectives about incorporating paid leave into an employee’s benefit package. Next month we will travel to Kearney to hear the opinions of business leaders and employees there. I appreciate the help of the Lincoln and Omaha Chambers for helping coordinate the meetings with the employers and look forward to further discussing ways in which we can make paid family leave work for both the employer and the employee.

Surprise Medical Bill

Have you or a loved one been impacted by a “surprise” medical bill after receiving care at a hospital from a provider that was not in your insurance network even though the hospital was in your network? Or have you received an unexpected bill specifically for a mammography procedure follow up? We’re interested in hearing your story. Please contact me at scrawford@leg.ne.gov or at my office phone number: 402-471-2615.

Sarpy Chamber Annual Awards

It was my pleasure to join the Sarpy Chamber at their annual awards dinner on October 8th. I was joined by many business and community leaders who work to make Sarpy County better each year. Thank you to the Sarpy Chamber for their work to make the celebration special, and congratulations to all the award winners!

Levee Groundbreaking

On October 15th, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Missouri River Levee System. Upgrades to the levee system were federally mandated and part of an eight year long project to protect property and increase public safety. The flooding this past March proved that flood risk mitigation structures are critical to keeping Offutt and surrounding areas safe in the future. I was happy to see that the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District had a great amount of support in completing the new structure and securing a funding mechanism for it.

Facebook Community Safety Event

On October 23rd, I spoke at the Facebook Community Safety Event in Bellevue. Facebook is collaborating with the National PTA to conduct these events which help families address tech-related challenges like online safety concerns or cyberbullying. With the help of the Youth and Media Team at Harvard University, Facebook has created training programs that will promote awareness and safety for children and teens who have access to the internet and social media.

Holland Honor Roll Awards

David and I had a wonderful time at the Holland Honor Roll Awards on the 24th. This annual event celebrates the progress made by stakeholders and legislators last session in support of children and families. 23 Nebraska Senators received a 100% on the Holland Children’s Movement’s Legislative Scorecard. I am glad to see that our combined efforts are making a difference for Nebraska’s young population.

Veterans Day Office Closure

All state offices, including mine, will be closed on Monday, November 11th in observance of Veterans Day. Thank you to all of our veterans for their service.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

LB 390 – CBD Oil Pilot Research Study

LB 390 was my personal priority bill in 2015. The bill created the Medical Cannabidiol Pilot Study for four years of study within the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UMNC) for patients who suffer from intractable epileptic seizures. It allowed families to access low-THC cannabidiol oil (CBD) for patients under the supervision of a UNMC neurologist, which wasn’t legally available otherwise in the state. Annual reports over the duration of the study confirmed that a majority of patients enrolled saw benefits after taking Epidiolex (the CBD product used in the study). This month UNMC submitted its final report as it wraps up this study.

In 2018 the FDA announced its intention to approve Epidiolex, a cannabidiol oil therapy. As part of the approval process, Epidiolex was rescheduled by the DEA so it was no longer a Schedule I drug. This reduced the availability of the drug for experimental studies like the LB 390 study but made the drug available without the need for participation in the study. I am grateful to UNMC for their excellent work in conducting the study and providing this important access to a number of our families while Epidiolex was not available through other methods.

Interim Meetings

Much of our time during the interim gets spent on researching bill ideas and holding meetings to determine key needs for bills and to determine who to shape bills to gain support from stakeholders. For example, I met with leaders in the Bellevue Police Department recently. One of their key concerns was distracted driving. They have seen a major increase in fatalities and consider distracted driving to be one of the factors behind these tragedies and many other more minor accidents. It happens that Sen. Hilkeman will be bringing a bill next session to address distracted driving, so I look forward to supporting that bill. As another example Senator Cavenaugh and I met with representatives of various Chamber of Commerce groups to discuss possible next steps to move forward on paid family and medical leave. We are now setting up meetings with various businesses across the state over October and November.

During the interim committees and special committees also meet. The Revenue Committee continues to meet nearly every week to continue to tackle property tax reform and business incentives. This month the special committee to consider the Legislature committee structure, which I chair met to discuss the possibility of adding a new committee to specialize in economic development and tourism. Our discussions of this issue, and other issues related to the committee structure will continue over the interim.

OpenSky Policy Symposium

The OpenSky Policy Symposium is an annual fall event that allows policymakers to get together and discuss key issues for Nebraska. This year the symposium featured a presentation by Dr. Ken Poole of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness regarding a 2018 study the group conducted for the Legislature’s Economic Development Task Force when I served as the chair. The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the state’s economic development landscape and contains specific recommendations for Nebraska. The symposium also included a couple of panels with speakers discussing economic development challenges and successes in Nebraska.

Touring ENCOR’s HUB

This month I toured ENCOR’s “HUB” in Bellevue. ENCOR is a nonprofit that I had the privilege of learning about this past July when they opened up a new Endeavors facility in Omaha. The Endeavors facility helps individuals with disabilities work and volunteer in the community. The location in Bellevue is called the HUB, and focuses on community inclusion by partnering with groups like the Bellevue Food Bank and local churches. It was great to see how far they’ve come and I know they will continue to be an empowering force in the community. For more information about their history and services, click here.

USSTRATCOM Birthday Ball

The 17th annual USSTRATCOM Birthday Ball took place on September 13th. Its an honor to attend this annual event to celebrate USSTRATCOM and the men and women who work there.

Columbus Day Office Closure

All state offices, including my own, will be closed on Monday, October 14th in observance of Columbus Day. Wishing everyone a wonderful long weekend.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

USSTRATCOM Luncheon

On August 22nd, I joined the Greater Bellevue Area Chamber for a business lunch and briefing on STRATCOM from Chief Master Sergeant Patrick F. McMahon. He reiterated how valuable community support in Bellevue is for the success of the STRATCOM mission. I often hear this message from military leaders in STRATCOM and Offutt. Thanks for all that you do to make this community support a reality.

LR 87 Committee Work

This interim, I am leading a special committee comprised of the Rules Committee members along with 6 additional appointed members. Our task is to assess the committee structure of the Legislature and recommend any needed changes. We’re digging into the workloads and topics of each committee to determine what changes, if any, are needed. We are also considering whether any new committees are warranted. The LR 87 select committee had its first meeting in the middle of August and will meet three more times before the session begins.

Cottage Law Goes into Effect

LB304, my cottage foods bill, went into effect on August 29th. Under this law, Nebraskans will be allowed to sell the same foods currently allowed for sale at farmers markets directly to consumers from their home, at events, or for pick up or delivery. Producers are subject to several requirements, such as registration with the Department of Agriculture, completion of a food safety and handling course, and proper labeling of food. My office has been collaborating with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that all producers are aware of these requirements. If you would like a copy of our informational flyer, please send me an email at scrawford@leg.ne.gov. Information about the new law and registration forms will be available through the Department’s Food Safety & Consumer Protection Division at http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/fscp/index.html#. Specific questions about provisions or requirements of the law should be directed to the Department’s Food Safety & Consumer Protection Division at 402-471-3422.

RiverFest and Arrows to Aerospace Days

In the middle of the month it was great to celebrate RiverFest and Arrows to Aerospace Days. I appreciate all of the friendly shouts, applause and waves during the parade. It was fun to have Phil and a couple of his friends from UNL home for the weekend to help with the parade. The night before the parade I joined other volunteers to help take money at the gate for RiverFest. It was great to see so many people come out to enjoy the fun.

UNO Data Conference

On August 14, I attended the UNO Data Conference in Omaha. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the latest data from the Census Bureau and plans for the 2020 Census. We also had conversations about state and local population trends. The population trends show Sarpy continuing to grow, but also show that we have challenges with losing too many of our college graduates and we have upcoming challenges with the aging of our population.

BPS Mission 150 Event and Proclamation Ceremony

During Arrows to Aerospace Days, the BPS Alumni Association celebrated the 150th anniversary of Bellevue’s first school, Mission Middle School. Staff, parents, teachers, former students and other members of the Offutt/Bellevue community stopped by the adult social Friday and the parade on Saturday morning. During the official program at Mission Middle School, I was honored to present a celebratory proclamation passed by the Legislature last session, LR 185. Mission Middle School has been an amazing institution for learning in the past 150 years (including for our family) and I am excited to see what is still in store.

Labor Day Office Closure

All state offices, including my own, will be closed on Monday, September 2nd in observance of Labor Day. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Disaster Assistance Now Available to Private Nonprofit Organizations in Additional Areas

Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to certain private nonprofit organizations in Sarpy County. SBA may lend private nonprofits up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets, and can also lend additional funds to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future. In addition, private nonprofits of any size may apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. “Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The deadline to apply for economic injury is Jan. 6, 2020. Applicants may apply online and receive additional disaster assistance information here.

Cottage Law Update – Implementation

LB304, my cottage foods bill, will go into effect soon.  It will take the standard effective date, which is 90 days following the final legislative session day which is August 29 this year.  Under the new law, Nebraskans will be allowed to sell the same foods currently allowed for sale at farmers markets directly to consumers from the producer’s home, at certain events, or for pick up or delivery.  There are a few requirements for producers including registration with the Department of Agriculture, completion of a food safety and handling education course, testing of well water if used in food production, and proper signage and labeling.  My office has produced an informational flyer with more details about these requirements. If you would like a copy, just send me an email at scrawford@leg.ne.gov.  Details of LB 304 implementation are under the purview of the Department of Agriculture, so specific questions about provisions or requirements of the law should be directed to the Department at agr.webmaster@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2341. 

Economic Development Summit

On July 17th I attended the Governor’s Economic Development Summit. The summit brought together economic development experts, policymakers, business people, and other stakeholders to discuss Nebraska’s economic strengths, as well as areas for improvement. Several of the important topics we discussed were housing and talent recruitment.

Interim Committee Work

The interim is a great time to hold collaborative meetings and focus on in-depth studies to address issues that we do not have time to fully explore during the session. It provides us with time to discuss and adapt bills from the past session for success in the coming session, as well as contemplate new bill ideas. For example, we met with the Governor’s staff to discuss possible changes to LB 323 to make it more likely to get full support and a good fiscal note. LB 323 would make it easier for people with disabilities to work and make more money while still having access to Medicaid benefits. During the interim, committees meet to discuss various topics raised by interim study resolutions. You can find more information about those study resolutions here. This month, the Revenue Committee continued the conversation about property tax reform and reviewed sales tax exemptions. In August and September more of my committees will start meeting to tackle interim study issues. One of the other tasks that our office works on over the interim is going over emails that have come to our office with ideas for new bills. During the session we accumulate these emails and letters and take time to return to them during the interim. If you have a bill idea, now is a good time to send it our way so we have some time to research and consider it. 

Bellevue Farmers Market

I had a great time meeting everyone at the Bellevue Farmers Market this year. I am proud to sponsor it each year. It will run until September, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy all of the booths. Specific information about vendors and products is available here

Endeavors Ribbon Cutting

On July 18th I had the pleasure of attending a ribbon cutting for a new Endeavors facility for ENCOR. ENCOR provides services for individuals with developmental disabilities. The new Endeavor site and programming helps individuals with disabilities work and volunteer in the community. A new Endeavor facility is coming to Bellevue soon. It was good to see state dollars at work empowering individuals with disabilities.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Damaged Property – Tax Relief Program

Following the passage of LB512, property owners who suffer significant property damage from a natural calamity, such as this spring’s flooding, may be eligible for property tax relief. The deadline to apply for property tax relief on destroyed property is July 15th – that’s just over 2 weeks away, so if you think you may be eligible be sure to apply soon.

The Sarpy County Assessor has the form that needs to be filled out and additional information here: https://www.sarpy.com/offices/assessor . The form must be turned in to the County Assessor of the county in which the property is located. If you have questions about the process, contact your County Assessor’s office.

Bellevue Farmers Market

I am proud to be a sponsor of the Bellevue Farmer’s Market and will have a booth at the market on July 20th from 8am to noon. You are most welcome to find me there to ask questions, talk about the legislative session, propose ideas for next session or just chat. The market takes place in Washington Park runs from late May through mid-September. You can learn more about the market’s many products and vendors here.

Offutt Change of Command 

My husband David and I attended a Change of Command Ceremony at Offutt on June 14th, during which Colonel Michael H. Manion relinquished command to Colonel Gavin P. Marks. It has been an honor to work with Colonel Manion during his time at Offutt. His care and respect for the soldiers under his command, and his unfailing sense of duty to our nation, have always driven his leadership. I also had the pleasure of working with his wife Shannon on military spouse issues; her strong advocacy on behalf of military families has been an immeasurable asset to our state. I look forward to an equally fruitful relationship with Colonel Marks, and wish him the best as he assumes command.

LB 235 Home Brew Law Implementation

Since LB 235, my bill expanding opportunities for home brewers to share their craft with the public at certain events, passed this year, home brewers around the state are eagerly awaiting the new law to take effect. The bill will take the “standard effective date”, which is 90 days following the adjournment of session. Since our final session day was May 31, LB235 will become law on August 29.

This week my Legislative Aide Hanna attended a meeting with Hobert Rupe, Executive Director of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, and representatives of home brewing clubs to hear home brewers’ questions and learn about specifics of how the Commission will be interpreting and enforcing the new law. Homebrewers will be allowed to offer their products for sampling at festivals, tastings, nonprofit fundraisers, and competitions under the provisions of the law. The key takeaways are: 1) Home brewers must present themselves as such, and not as commercial or craft breweries – which require licensing and inspection by the Commission. This is an important distinction for the Commission to enforce the law properly. 2) Home brewers are only allowed to share their products for tasting and not for sale at applicable events under the new law. That is, home brewers cannot receive monetary compensation in exchange for their beer. 

The Liquor Control Commission will be uploading an “FAQ” section about the new law on their website soon, and specific questions about LB 235 can be directed to the LCC: https://lcc.nebraska.gov/contact-us

Staff Change – Administrative Aide

My Administrative Aide, Christina, has been with my office for three years. Next week she will be leaving for Wisconsin with her husband Jacob, who is enrolling at Marquette Law, and their two cats. I wish both of them all the best in their next adventure! 

Joining the office as the new AA on July 2nd will be Lillian Butler-Hale, who served as our intern this session. Lillian will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August, where she studied Sociology through the Pre-Law program. In her free time, she loves to volunteer, watch movies and spend time with family.

Lillian’s responsibilities will include helping us communicate with constituents and helping constituents with any problems they might have with the state. Since she has already spent months working in our office, we will have a smooth transition She would be happy to talk with you! She is always available to answer questions – you can email the office at scrawford@leg.ne.gov, or call us at (402) 471-2615.

Early Childhood Leadership Summit

I attended the 2019 Early Childhood Leadership Summit in New Orleans from June 24-25 as a guest of The Hunt Institute. The Summit brought together senior elected officials, gubernatorial staff and early childhood system leaders for presentations by some of the nation’s leading childhood experts.

In attendance from Nebraska were two of my colleagues, Senators Carol Blood and Robert Hilkemann as well as employees of First Five Nebraska, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.

While in New Orleans, I also had the chance to explore the city and hear some great jazz.

Hawkins Construction Tour

On Wednesday, several of my colleagues and I attended a job site tour hosted by Hawkins Construction of Omaha. I joined Senators John Arch, Curt Friesen, Mike Hilgers, Brett Lindstrom, Lou Ann Linehan, Mike McDonnell, and Tony Vargas.

Hawkins showed us around their shop and took us on a job site visit to the I-680/W Center Bridge repair. The tour provided an opportunity to see state dollars at work and I am excited to see their continued work on the project.

July 4th Closure

All state offices, including my own, will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. If you need assistance that day, please send me an email or call my office and leave a voicemail.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Flood Recovery Resources

My office is maintaining a post on my website with information about flooding assistance resources and key contacts. You can find that page here. My office will continue to update that page with additional information as it becomes available.

FEMA Individual Assistance Deadline 

The deadline for homeowners, renters and business owners to register for FEMA Individual Assistance is June 19.  Individual assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by downloading FEMA’s mobile app (click on “disaster resources,” then “apply for assistance online”), or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00am to 10:00pm CT seven days a week until further notice. FEMA has an application checklist HERE to help you gather everything you will need to start the assistance process. FEMA also has a FAQ posted HERE that  answers some common questions.

SBA Business Loan Deadline

The deadline to apply for property damage assistance from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is also June 19th, so you must apply soon if you think you may be eligible for this assistance. The deadline to apply for economic injury is Dec. 23, 2019. Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. These loans cover losses that are not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339.

Sine Die Adjournment

On Friday May 31st we adjourned “Sine die,” a Latin phrase that translates to “without day.” We adjourn in the regular manner at the end of each session day, but always with a specific fixed time to re-convene (either the next day, after the weekend, or whenever else the Speaker determines). Thus, when we adjourn Sine Die at the end of each session, we do so without that fixed re-convening point – literally, without a day in mind to resume our official business. Technically, of course, we know that our state constitution dictates the first day of each session – “annually, commencing at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January of each year.”

The Governor came to speak to the Legislature on the last day of session as usual. In reflection of the importance of the separation of branches in Nebraska government, members of other branches of government can only enter the chamber if they are invited by the Legislature and escorted into the chamber. So, when the Governor or the Supreme Court Justices, or members of the State Board of Education or the University Regents visit the chamber to speak or to be sworn into their offices, the Speaker appoints a committee to escort the guests into the chamber. I was a part of the committee this week that escorted in the Governor for his parting remarks. After the Governor’s remarks, the Speaker gave his parting remarks.

Our last business was to vote on the final motions required to approve the Legislative Journals and to indefinitely postpone (IPP) the bills that were already adopted as amendments to other bills. The bills that were not passed, adopted as amendments to other bills or IPP’d in committee will still be in play as we move into the next session. We will begin debate next session on those bills that advanced out of committee on to General File this year, but did not get to the floor before the priority bill deadline – officially those bills are on what’s known as worksheet order, which I explained in a previous update here. There will be the usual ten days to introduce new bills at the start of the 2020 session, and all new bills must go through the committee public hearing process before they can advance to the floor. We can debate the holdover worksheet order bills that advanced in 2019 right away, even during this first 10 day bill introduction window.

Veto Override Motions

In addition to the closing ceremonies on the agenda, the full body did take up some substantive business on Friday. We convened at 9:00 to pass a final few bills on Final Reading, and we also took up two veto override motions. The first was for Senator Justin Wayne’s LB 492, which creates the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority (RMTA) Act to give cities in Omaha’s vicinity the ability to create a joint RMTA. The authority would be governed by an elected board that represents all the member municipalities. This kind of board would be an important step for Belleuve and other cities in the Omaha metro area to combine resources and coordinate public transit options between municipalities. There have been several studies on the challenges of public transportation in Sarpy County. The option to join a RMTA would create one possible solution for Bellevue and other Sarpy cities to consider. The governor vetoed the bill, but the override motion was successful so it will become law nonetheless.

Senator Machaela Cavanaugh also made a motion to override the governor’s veto of her LB 533. Nebraksa’s statutes on marriage are out of date with current practice. The bill would have updated sections that reference “husband or wife” with “spouse” or other gender-neutral language. This is a simple but important change; the governor vetoed the bill, but it did spur him to issue an executive order that takes a step toward gender-neutral applications statewide. Senator Cavanaugh chose to withdraw her veto override motion, so we did not vote on it.

Final Status of 2019 Crawford Bills

Bills that Passed

This session I introduced a total of 22 bills. Eight of those bills have been signed into law:

  • LB 121 addresses the limits on borrowing from banks by cities or municipalities. It specifies that loans are repaid in installments for a period of up to seven years and extends the limitations on borrowing for second-class cities.
  • LB 122 brings Nebraska into legal compliance with recent federal policy changes by providing that veterans receiving vocational rehabilitation & education services through the VA will receive in-state resident tuition rates as long as they’re living in the state.
  • LB 123 exempts the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired from a requirement to publish information about contracts with individuals receiving services online. The current requirement, part of the Taxpayer Transparency Act, is in conflict with the Commission’s confidentiality policies.
  • LB 124 clarifies that municipalities can jointly administer a clean energy assessment district under the Property Assessment Clean Energy Act, or PACE program. This was a “cleanup” bill that clarifies language to reflect the original intent of the bill.
  • LB 235 allows for those making home brewed alcohol to serve samples at festivals and fundraisers without a permit, as long as they are not selling the samples and the event is legally conducted under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act.
  • LB 237 restores a monthly commission to counties across the state for motor vehicle sales tax collections over a certain amount. It addresses an under-funded mandate that the state has placed on counties to collect motor vehicle sales taxes. This is part of my efforts to address unfunded mandates to counties, and supporting our counties is an important part of controlling property taxes.
  • LB 304 is a “cottage foods” bill that will allow Nebraskans to sell foods already authorized for sale at farmers’ markets to customers from their homes, at certain events, or for order and delivery online or over the phone.
  • LB 566 requires that the Legislature’s Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee hold a public hearing on any proposed 1332 Medicaid waiver that would allow the state to deviate from the requirements of federal law. 1332 waivers allow states to manipulate the types of plans featured on their Health Insurance Marketplace. My bill passed after being amended into Senator Lynne Walz’s LB 468.

Active Bills

We have four bills that are still active on the floor – they came out of committee and are sitting on worksheet order to be debated next session if we have time before we begin priority bills.  

  • LB 236 – Allows for municipalities who have adopted the Nebraska Advantage Transformational Tourism and Redevelopment Act to receive applicable retailers’ sales and use tax information via secure electronic means. Currently, staff are required to travel to the Department of Revenue and copy the information down.
  • LB 305 creates the “Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act” and requires employers with four or more employees to provide employees with one hour of “sick and safe” leave for every thirty hours worked. Safe leave can be used by employees experiencing domestic violence or stalking.
  • LB 322 deals with tobacco compliance checks performed by law enforcement and tobacco prevention coalitions and establishes a uniform process for those checks statewide. Compliance checks allow law enforcement and tobacco prevention coalitions to work with young people to test whether retailers are selling tobacco products to under-18s.
  • LB323 was my priority bill this session. It streamlines the eligibility process for Nebraska’s Medicaid Insurance for Workers with Disabilities, or “Medicaid Buy-In” program, to help Nebraskans with disabilities who are already Medicaid eligible to work more hours or receive a pay raise while paying a premium to retain crucial Medicaid coverage. It passed the first two rounds of voting with solid support. Since it has a budget impact which involves a general fund expense and we have already passed the budget, it will wait on Final Reading (the 3rd round of voting) until next year when we can try to find the funding to carry out the bill. I will be working with DHHS and my colleagues on Appropriations to see what can be done so that it can pass with needed funding next year.

Bills Still in Committee

Ten bills that I introduced last year remain in committee. Over the interim we will revisit these bills to determine which ones we may still be able to get out of committee, which ones need to be reintroduced in a different form, and which ones we are not likely to continue to pursue next session.

Barreras Family Farm Visit

On Saturday May 25th my husband David and I visited the Barreras Family Farm in Blair. Anthony and Mariel Barreras run a family operation raising chickens, goats, bees, pigs, and other livestock. Anthony is also an active duty Army officer, so the farm participates in the Homegrown By Heroes program.


L-R: Anthony, baby McKenzie and Mariel Barreras, me and David

With their location near Omaha, they also offer educational programs and farm field trips to teach kids about farming practices. We had a great time meeting the Barreras family, learning about their operation, and feeding some truly adorable baby goats. Many thanks to Anthony and Mariel for their hospitality!

Bellevue Farmers Market

I am proud to be a sponsor of our Bellevue Farmers Market. The market began last Saturday May 25th and will run every Saturday 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 Farmers Market
Facebook page

Governor’s Youth Advisory Council

Last week, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he is seeking applicants for the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council (GYAC). GYAC provides an opportunity for young people ages 14-19 to explore the legislative process and the role of the executive branch. The governor discusses issues impacting Nebraska’s young people with his council, meeting quarterly and attending an annual luncheon with State Senators during the session. Interested individuals should apply at https://www.projecteverlast.org/councils/gyac.html. Applications are accepted any time and are reviewed on a quarterly basis.

Update Schedule Changing

We will shift to our interim schedule for future legislative updates. Until the Legislative session begins again next January, legislative updates will come out once per month. We will continue to feature events in the district, information about town hall events and interim studies. We will send our next update at the end of June.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Flood Recovery Resources

My office is maintaining a post on my website with information about flooding assistance resources and key contacts. You can find that page here. My office will continue to update that page with additional information as it becomes available.

This week Governor Pete Ricketts announced the release of a consolidated guide for Nebraskans in need of disaster relief resources. The guide was created as a reference for Nebraskans to utilize as a resource based on the state’s experience following historic flooding that devastated many areas of the state in March. The guide provides resource summaries, hotlines, and other contact information for more than two dozen community organizations as well as state and federal agencies involved in recovery assistance. It is available by clicking here.

Printed booklets may also be requested by sending an email to nema.jic@nebraska.gov or by calling (402) 471-7421.

Memorial Day Ceremonies

Memorial day is Monday May 27th. This event is an opportunity to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to their country; and to thank those servicemembers and veterans who are still with us. The Bellevue community is particularly attuned to the sacrifices required by military service, as so many of our community members are serving or have served. This year there will be a number of Memorial Day events in Bellevue. Those open to the public include:

The Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home ceremony begins at 10:00 am. A “Ringing of the Bell” will honor residents of the home who died during the past year and an ensemble will perform patriotic music.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10785 will host a ceremony at 11:00 am at the Bellevue Cemetery, located on the north end of Franklin Street at East 13th Avenue. The ceremony will include a presentation of wreaths to veterans and their family members and a performance by the Sarpy Serenaders.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2280 will host another ceremony at Washington Park at 3:00 pm. It will include a reading of General John A Logan’s Memorial Day order dating from the conclusion of the Civil War, a rifle volley, and the playing of taps.

My office, along with other state and federal offices, will be closed on Monday to observe the holiday.

Tax Reform Update

Coming into the session one of the top priorities of most senators was property tax reform. Nebraska ranks very high comparatively on property taxes. Two major proposals for property tax relief were heard, but neither made it across the finish line this year. One of those, LB 289, was an ambitious bill to reform school funding, eliminate sales tax exemptions, and increase sales taxes in a bid to reduce property taxes. A “plan B” for property tax reduction was also discussed: an amendment to LB 183 that eliminated those same sales tax exemptions and pushed the money temporarily to the Property Tax Credit Fund. The intent was for that money to be used for structural educational funding reform in a future year. Overall I support the broad aims of both bills to increase education funding and reduce sales tax exemptions. I am hoping that we can continue to work on these issues over the interim and come back next year with a proposal that can command broad support.

Tax Incentive Proposal

Another major revenue project for the session has been a revision of our major business incentive program (currently the Nebraska Advantage Act). I have been impressed with the work that has been done on a new proposal (LB 720, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act) to improve transparency and reporting, improve the partnership with local governments, and to impose fiscal guardrails on the program. Some of these improvements came out of the work of the sponsor, Senator Mark Kolterman, and the Revenue Committee; some additional improvements have happened just this week. We spent nine hours this week debating the ImagiNE Act, but it ultimately died for this year on Friday when there were only 30 of the 33 votes required for cloture.

Chaplain of the Day

Each year, senators may invite pastors from their districts to visit the Capitol and serve as the chaplain of the day, delivering a morning prayer before debate begins.

On Wednesday, we welcomed Rev. Tom Jones from Bellevue’s Church of the Holy Spirit to the Capitol building. After delivering his prayer, Rev. Jones got to join a rowdy bunch of 4th graders for a building tour, which is always fun. I am so glad that Rev. Jones was able to visit us in Lincoln.

Bills on the Agenda

The Revenue Committee advanced LB 288 as a committee priority earlier this year as part of our broader discussions about tax reform in the state. The bill addresses an issue created by the federal tax cut of 2017. In our Revenue Committee discussions, we committed to creating a fiscally sustainable proposal that included military retirement tax relief. The final committee amendment, however, did not contain that military tax component nor one of the  pay-for pieces we had discussed. I think it is very important that we accomplish military tax retirement relief, and Chair Lou Ann Linehan of the Revenue Committee has agreed to hold LB 288 over the interim to work on how we can incorporate both the income tax fixes and the military retirement exemption in a responsible way.

LB 481, originally introduced by Senator Kate Bolz and selected by Speaker Scheer as his personal priority, would establish a trust fund for brain injury research and advocacy in Nebraska. The bill advanced from first round debate with an amendment this week. Under the amendment, the Brain Injury Trust Fund would be administered by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. A 12-member Brain Injury Oversight Committee that would develop criteria for expenditures from the trust fund, provide financial oversight and direction to UNMC to manage the trust fund, and represent the interests of individuals with brain injuries and their families. I am glad that we were able to pass this legislation for the 36,000 Nebraskans living with brain injuries and their families, many of whom shared their personal stories with me.

The legislature has been working on LB512 (which has been amended to include Senator Erdman’s LB482). The proposal would require county equalization boards to prorate the property values of homes destroyed by a natural disaster (such as flooding) for property tax purposes. Essentially, the valuation of a home destroyed by flooding would reflect only those days when the home was intact and still livable. This bill has an emergency clause attached and will go into effect as soon as the governor signs it in the next few days (check to make sure this happens). The counties will be responsible for putting out information about how the disaster reassessment will work. You can find the Sarpy County Assessor’s website here.

LB 436 was introduced by Senator Matt Hansen and prioritized by the Legislature’s Planning Committee. The bill will allow the Nebraska State Data Center program to form a commission that will help ensure the 2020 census reaches as many Nebraskans as possible. Having an accurate count of Nebraska residents is vitally important and this bill will enhance our state’s ability to successfully carry out the census.

Senator Mike Groene introduced LB 147. As Chair of the Education Committee, he designated the bill a committee priority; however, the bill did not have enough votes to advance from that committee to the full Legislature. This week Senator Groene made a motion to pull the bill from committee by a vote of the full Legislature instead. I have always voted against “pull motions” on principle because they override the work of a standing committee in the legislature. I did not make an exception for LB 147. The motion did pass, but since we have reached the end of session we will not debate the bill this year. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks is sponsoring an interim study to try to address some of the issues that current opponents in the committee still have with LB 147. Hopefully this study will help the body come to an agreement that allows a well-crafted intervention bill to be discussed next session.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Flood Recovery Resources

My office is maintaining a post on my website with information about flooding assistance resources and key contacts. You can find that page here. My office will continue to update that page with additional information as it becomes available.

One important note is that as of Friday, May 17, all the state and federal Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) have closed. This includes the DRC in Bellevue. However, homeowners, renters and business owners in those counties designated for federal assistance still have until June 19 to register. If you have not yet begun the registration process, you can do so in the following ways:

  • Visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Download the FEMA app and click on “disaster resources,” then “apply for assistance online”
  • Call FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Telephone registration is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week

I also want to again highlight important information from the Nebraska Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NEVOAD). When cleaning up flood damage, it is critical to use the right kind of cleaning solution to avoid the growth of dangerous mold. A fungicide and wire brushes are needed to remove mold – bleach alone is NOT effective for mold remediation because it cannot clean below the surface of porous or semi-porous materials like wood. Fungicidal disinfectant can be obtained free of charge for flood clean up at:

  • LifeSpring Church 13904 S. 36th St., Bellevue. Mon-Sat 8AM to 5PM and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

  • Fremont Mall, 860 E. 23rd St., Fremont, (between Nebraska Sport and Gordmans), Mon-Sat 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Homeowners still in need of clean-up assistance can call the Crisis Clean Up Hotline at 833-556-2476. In addition, homeowners can find more information at: http://www.heartlandchurchnetwork.com/flood-relief.html

Adjournment Schedule

This week the Speaker announced his intention to adjourn the Legislature a week early, on May 31st. He feels that date will give us enough time to address our remaining priority bills. While the Legislature is constitutionally limited to meeting no more than 90 days in odd-numbered years (this year that would have been June 6th), there is no set minimum number of days.

Bills on the Agenda

This week we debated several key bills on General File first-round debate. Those include:

Senator Julie Slama introduced LB 519, a bill to extend and the statutes of limitation for creation or possession of child pornography, for labor trafficking, or for sex trafficking. It eliminates altogether the statute of limitation from sex or labor trafficking of a minor. This bill was prioritized by the State Tribal Relations Committee; though sex and labor trafficking occur across the state, these crimes have a disproportionate impact on Native American populations.

We also advanced two bills dealing with the scourge of what’s known as “revenge porn.” These are situations in which a person’s private and intimate images are used against them for extortion or revenge. LB 630, introduced by Senator Adam Morfeld, makes sex extortion a criminal offense in Nebraska. LB 680, introduced by Senator Wendy DeBoer, creates civil remedies to go hand-in-hand with the criminal offenses. Unfortunately, the internet has made this kind of privacy invasion easier than ever, and it is important that Nebraska step up to ban this kind of activity.

LB 720, introduced and prioritized by Senator Mark Kolterman, would create the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. LB 720 would replace the Advantage Act, which is Nebraska’s primary business incentive program. I have worked closely with Senator Kolterman since he introduced LB 720 to address what I saw as the more concerning parts of the proposal, and am supportive of the bill. LB 720 likely has enough votes to advance, but will need to be rescheduled for further debate in the coming week before we take a vote.

Senator Anna Wishart’s priority bill this year is LB 110. The bill would legalize certain forms of medical cannabis in Nebraska. After numerous discussions with Senator Wishart spanning all of last interim, I felt comfortable enough with her proposal to support it. I believe this proposal strikes the right balance of safety and access for those who are desperately ill and could benefit from trying a medical cannabis prescription. We had three hours of debate on the bill this week, but are unlikely to have enough support among other senators to reach the point that we can vote on it.

Military Retirement and Property Tax Relief

On Thursday May 16th the Revenue Committee voted to advance LB 153, Senator Tom Brewer’s military retirement exemption bill, to the full legislature. I believe it will be next year before it moves further because it requires funding and the budget has been set for this year already.

My colleagues and I are also engaging in ongoing discussions and negotiations about property tax relief proposals. At the beginning of this session several senators, including me, had bills to raise revenue that would be directed to increased school funding. That would allow school districts to reduce their levies and lower property taxes. The bill that the Revenue Committee Chair favored for discussion was LB 289, so that proposal dominated much of the discussion over the session. That bill includes provisions of concern to larger and growing schools (like OPS and those in Sarpy county). At this point it looks like the most likely proposal to emerge this year will be one that eliminates several sales tax exemptions, increases the Earned Income Tax Credit to reduce the impact of higher sales taxes on low-income families, and puts the funds in the Property Tax Credit Fund with a provision that the Fund goes away when the state steps up and increases school funding by 125%. The idea is to work on the revenue side this year and revisit the school funding distribution next year.

Sarpy Chamber Legislative Coffee 

The Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce hosted its last Legislative Coffee for this session on Friday May 17th.

I was joined by (L-R) Senators Carol Blood, Robert Clements, Andrew La Grone, and John Arch to talk about our priority bills, the policies we’ve debated so far this session, and what we anticipate will occur in the coming days as this session winds down.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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,

Flood Recovery Resources

My office is maintaining a post on my website with information about flooding assistance resources and key contacts. You can find that page here. We will continue to update that page with additional information as it becomes available.

I want to pass along important information from the Nebraska Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NEVOAD). When cleaning up flood damage, it is critical to use the right kind of cleaning solution to avoid the growth of dangerous mold. A fungicide and wire brushes are needed to remove mold – bleach alone is NOT effective for mold remediation because it cannot clean below the surface of porous or semi-porous materials like wood.

In Nebraska, fungicidal disinfectant can be obtained free of charge for flood clean up at:

  • LifeSpring Church 13904 S. 36th St., Bellevue. Mon-Sat 8AM to 5PM and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Fremont Mall, 860 E. 23rd St., Fremont, (between Nebraska Sport and Gordmans), Mon-Sat 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Homeowners still in need of clean-up assistance can call the Crisis Clean Up Hotline at 833-556-2476. In addition, homeowners can find more information at: http://www.heartlandchurchnetwork.com/flood-relief.html

Unicameral Youth Legislature

Each summer at the Nebraska State Capitol, the Clerk of the Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The registration deadline is May 15th, so register soon! High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators in the nation’s one and only unicameral by conducting committee hearings, sponsoring and debating bills, and exploring the legislative process. Students who are interested in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate, or public speaking are encouraged to consider this program, which will be held from June 9th to the 12th. My son, Nate, participated when he was in high school and really enjoyed the experience.  

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Other $100 scholarships are also available. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program. To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call the Clerk of the Legislature’s office at (402) 471-2788.

First Round Budget Discussion

Last week the Appropriations Committee advanced their budget proposal to the full Legislature. On Wednesday May 8th we took up the budget for debate. Most of the Committee’s recommendations were advanced without significant changes. The one exception is that the body voted to put a full $51 million into the Property Tax Credit Fund, rather than sending $26 million to the fund and $25 million into the cash reserve as the Committee had recommended.

One of the key investments included in the budget is funding for a skilled nursing addition to the Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home (ENVH) in Bellevue. The Department of Veterans Affairs has the opportunity to expand the ENVH by 25-30 of the skilled beds to address the waiting list at the facility. Cutting the ENVH waiting list will allow the state to serve more veterans in the skilled facilities they need.

Our budget also included $2.4 million in additional funding to expand five “problem-solving courts” for drug offenders and veterans across the state. Problem-solving courts have the potential to divert offenders from our overcrowded prison system by offering an alternative to incarceration. Problem-solving courts are meant to interrupt the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior through a proactive, cost effective alternative to traditional court procedures. Problem- solving courts bring together the judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, coordinator, community supervision officer, law enforcement, and treatment provider(s), all working together to design an individualized program. Individuals involved in problem-solving courts must show compliance with their treatment plans and court orders by undergoing frequent alcohol or drug testing, close community supervision, and progress hearings with a judge. These courts, along with other alternative justice mechanisms like our Office of Dispute Resolution, are key tools to reduce the prison population and recidivism rates simultaneously.

In the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget, the Legislature provided money for the Medicaid expansion approved by the voters last year. We also included money to increase provider payment rates for Medicaid, child welfare and other Health and Human Services providers. This increase is long overdue; providers have not had regular increases in their reimbursement rates in previous budgets, to the extent that many report not being able to afford to treat Medicaid patients. Those cuts hurt both providers and patients, so I am glad the Legislature saw the wisdom in raising rates this year.

The budget will go through two more rounds of debate and voting in the coming weeks.

Consent Calendar

On Friday the Legislature took up Consent Calendar, 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 a vote is automatically taken. This year Speaker Jim Scheer put 30 bills on the Consent Calendar. It is up to the Speaker to decide which bills get this special designation, though any three senators who disagree with a bill’s inclusion can submit a letter to the Speaker to have the bill removed from the list.

Although the Speaker ultimately decides which bills fit on the Consent Calendar, he adheres to a few 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 a bill that makes a non-controversial change to a gun law, for example, 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 to allow seemingly minor issues, which may not rise to the level of priority compared to other bills but which are still important to the state, to be dealt with.

One of my bills received Consent Calendar designation this year. LB 123 fixes an issue for the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. A current requirement in the Taxpayer Transparency Act requires them to publish information about their contracts with individuals receiving services online, which is in conflict with the Commission’s confidentiality policies. The Commission brought this bill to me and I was happy to introduce it for them.

All of the Consent Calendar bills we advanced are important, but I won’t deluge you with 29 more bill summaries. A few that are of particular interest, though, include:

  • Senator John McCollister’s LB 281 allows public schools in Nebraska to post signs in English and Spanish with the state-wide toll-free number for the child abuse and neglect hotline. The school can put physical posters in the halls or post a link to the poster on its web site. LB 281 directs the Nebraska Department of Education to ensure schools’ access to a digital image of the poster, and allows them to contract with a third-party vendor to create it.
  • LB 561, introduced by Senator Suzanne Geist as Chair of the Performance Audit Committee, is a technical fix to update audit standards from 2011 to the most recent 2018 standards. The Legislative Performance Audit office, which is staffed with professional full-time auditing staff, evaluates agencies and their programs to determine how well legislative intent is being implemented. Their job is in their name – to audit agencies’ performance and check whether, and how well, they’re doing what the Legislature has asked them to. LB 561 is an important bill to ensure our performance auditors are able to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
  • Nebraksa’s statutes on marriage are out of date with current practice. Senator Machaela Cavanaugh’s LB 533 updates sections that reference “husband or wife” with “spouse” or other gender-neutral language. This is a simple but important change.

Bills on the Agenda

With the budget and other lengthy discussions on our docket this week, we got through a limited number of new bills. A couple of those key proposals include:

LB 690 was introduced by Senator Cavanaugh and given a Speaker Priority. The bill prohibits an incarcerated pregnant woman from being restrained during labor and delivery or postpartum, including during transport to a medical facility. Restraining women during childbirth is inhumane, harmful to the health of both mother and child, and entirely unnecessarily except during the rarest and most exceptional of circumstances. The bill does allow exceptions for such cases. Banning this practice is the right thing to do.

Senator Dan Quick introduced LB 424, which would amend the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act to allow cities across the state to create and join land banks; under current law, only municipalities in Douglas and Sarpy Counties can create land banks. The bill was prioritized by Senator John Stinner. Land banks empower cities to clean up problem properties and put homes back on our tax rolls, rather than languishing in disrepair. LB 424 did not have enough votes to support the cloture motion, which was necessary since the bill was filibustered.  It takes 33 votes to pass a cloture motion, which is tough to get. I support the concept of land banking, and know Senator Quick will work on a new proposal over the summer to bring back next session.

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

  • You are welcome to come visit my Capitol office in Lincoln. My office is room 1012, 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).
  • 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 #1012
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2615
Email: scrawford@leg.ne.gov
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