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LB 933 Amended into LB 632
LB 933 is now a part of the Natural Resources committee priority package, LB 632. My LB 933 is a bill to prevent tragedies resulting from customers with medical needs being disconnected from their utilities. We will debate LB 632 next week after our Monday recess day.
LB 627 Press Conference
On Wednesday after adjournment I attended Senator Patty Pansing Brooks’ press conference about her priority bill to prohibit workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, LB 627. LB 627 would apply to employers with 15 or more employees or with state contracts regardless of the number of employees. I was happy to stand with Senator Pansing Brooks and several of my other colleagues to support this important legislation.
COVID-19 Briefing and Information
On Tuesday morning, members of the body and their staff met in the Warner Chamber for a briefing on the COVID-19. The briefing was presented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Nebraska Medicine, two of the key players in approaching the issue at the state level. Speakers included Dr. Chris Kratochvil (UNMC), Shelly Schwedhelm (Executive Director of Emergency Management at Nebraska Medicine) and Dr. Gary Anthone (Chief Medical Officer, Division of Public Health). All speakers stressed the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions. These include staying home if you feel ill or if you know someone who feels ill and reducing close contacts at large gatherings. At this point Nebraska is well-equipped to address the virus with impressive research and testing facilities and the UMNC bio-containment unit, but it is vital that we do our part to stay safe and healthy. If you have questions or concerns, please follow this link to the CDC website which provides helpful information about the situation and the federal response. For Nebraska-specific information, please visit this link.
Speaker Scheer and the Executive Board have been in collaboration to formulate a plan should the virus impact our legislative duties in the next several weeks. As of now, Senators have been advised to limit public appearances and meetings as well as develop a Continuity of Operations plan with our staff members.
We debated the budget on Thursday. It includes additional money for our public health departments. We are still waiting for a plan from the Governor to know what other funds may need to be appropriated.
There are also conversations about what can be done to help workers who will miss work if they are quarantined. Currently our Department of Labor is in conversations about whether we can authorize unemployment funds to provide funds for workers who must be away from work because of the virus. Also, I plan to offer an amendment to one of our upcoming bills to amend the Governor’s Emergency Power to allow the Governor to offer paid leave and paid family leave for individuals who are quarantined. We are still waiting to hear if aid may be made available to states for leave. If such funds become available, this language would give the Governor authority to expend those funds for paid leave.
Budget Briefing & Debate
On Wednesday morning, Senator John Stinner held a briefing to provide a general overview of budget bills. The budget proposal was advanced to the full Legislature for debate on Thursday. There are several hefty priorities and concerns outlined in the committee’s budget report including property tax relief, a tax incentive program and corrections funding.
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All the best,