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

New Legislative Colleagues

The results of the election on November 6th mean we will welcome 11 new senators to the body when the 106th Legislature convenes on January 9th, 2019. I was able to meet many of those new colleagues for the first time at the annual Legislative Council meeting on November 15th and 16th in Nebraska City. The gathering is an opportunity for everyone – departing senators, senators-elect, and incumbents – to discuss priorities, policy ideas, and expectations for the next session.

The Legislative Council meeting is also a chance to get to know each other as people, which is a key component to a fruitful working relationship that is too often overlooked. I look forward to working with all of them!

Medicaid Expansion

In addition to electing their representatives to state, local, and federal seats, the majority of voters approved the Medicaid expansion initiative. This expansion will be a boon to Nebraskans who currently fall into the coverage gap.

MHEC OER Conference

The Midwestern Higher Education Commission (MHEC) has partnered with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to promote open educational resources (OER). OER refers to teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose. OER is an important strategy to reduce textbook costs for students.

I spent November 28th-30th in Chicago for a summit to discuss state and regional strategies for strengthening OER initiatives, funding sources for launching OER efforts, and best state and institutional policy practices. I was joined by a number of educational professionals and legislators from across the Midwest in a productive few days of planning and discussion.

The Nebraska delegation will come home with new ideas and a stronger network as we work to make OER available to our students.

Committee Interim Hearings

This month I attended two interim hearings at the capitol. The first was a hearing for the Health and Human Services Committee on November 8th to discuss the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). This federal regulation allows states to use certain child welfare funds for the purpose of “prevention services” in families that are involved in the child welfare system, and emphasizes the use of family foster homes rather than group placements for children in state care. The hearing was held to discuss how the FFPSA might impact Nebraska’s child welfare systems. The National Conference of State Legislatures published a detailed explanation of the FFPSA’s changes, which can be found here.

On November 27th the Business & Labor Committee held a public hearing to consider the consequences of adopting a worker’s compensation drug formulary. A drug formulary would instruct doctors on the preferred drugs for different symptoms and require additional justification for drugs that are not on the formulary. Representatives from commonly used formularies came to explain how their formularies use evidence-based guidelines. I expect that we will see a bill to move to a formulary in the next session. I will be cautious about this policy change because of the impact it may have on the ability of injured workers to get the care that they and their doctors agree is necessary.

ACS CAN Policy Forum

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network held a forum on November 13th to talk about access to healthcare for those who have been diagnosed with or who have recovered from cancer. I served on a panel of professionals who work in the public health, insurance, and patient advocate fields.

Among other policy issues important to cancer patients, we discussed the possible impacts of Medicaid expansion and the challenges of healthcare access in rural areas.

Sarpy Law Academy

Each year the Sarpy County Attorney and Sarpy County Teen Court hold a Law Academy for students in 7th to 12th grade 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 evening sessions. Speakers included judges, military officers and lawyers. I spoke to the group on November 8th about the Legislature and my role in the judicial process. I enjoyed answering the students’ great questions and helping them to understand the complexities of government.

Holiday Office Closures

To allow my staff to celebrate with their families, my office will be closed on December 24th. All state offices will be closed on Christmas Day, December 25th, and New Year’s Day, January 1st. If you need any assistance on those days please either send me an email or call my office and leave a voicemail.

I wish you and yours a very happy 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 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).
  • 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,

Economic Development Task Force

The Economic Development Task Force, of which I am chair, has continued its work this interim. If you recall, last year the Task Force focused on hearing from a broad range of economic development specialists, businesses, and community organizations to get an idea of Nebraska’s biggest economic challenges and opportunities. Our final report from that work, which was issued in December 2017, can be found here.

The Task Force has spent this interim focusing in on some of the key issues we identified in that 2017 report. One of the top priorities has been to work through the possibilities for the future of the Advantage Act, Nebraska’s primary business incentive program, which is set to expire in 2020. The Task Force is working to identify common ground among legislators, explore novel ideas modeled on other state programs, and incorporate person-centered development in whatever we develop to replace the Advantage Act. It is still very much a work in progress, but I am hopeful that we can find solutions that will leave the state in a better position to harness its economic potential and support the workers who make our economy tick.

Holland Honor Roll

On October 18th I was honored, along with a number of my legislative colleagues, to be named to the Holland Honor Roll.

 

Maintained by the Holland Children’s Movement, the Honor Roll recognizes senators who have a strong record of supporting children and working families in the Legislature. I pledge to keep working for our kids and our families as long as I remain your state senator.

MOMS Community Internship

Each year the Metro Omaha Medical Society (MOMS) arranges shadow experiences for community leaders. The program, known as the Community Internship Program, pairs participants with medical providers as they go about their daily practice. This year I was able to participate, and had the pleasure of shadowing Dr. Donna Faber at OneWorld Community Health Center on October 4th. The Community Internship Program was a valuable experience, and I am glad I was able to participate this year.

Fairview Elementary Visit

Fairview Elementary School’s 4th graders made their way to the state capitol on October 18th. My staff met with the students, who were extra-engaged and asked all kinds of great questions about our legislative process, checks and balances, and the history of the building. The future is bright for these young people, and I hope they enjoyed their visit!

REASON Group Talk

The Rationalists, Empiricists And Skeptics Of Nebraska (REASON) held its annual fall forum on October 30th. This event has featured speakers on a wide variety of topics over the years, ranging from research at the Omaha Zoo to public education trends to social media. This year I gave a talk about midterm patterns and predictions. It was a lively group and we had a great discussion.

Veterans Day State Office Closure

All state offices, including my own, will be closed on Monday November 12th in observation of Veterans Day. If you need anything that day, please leave a voicemail or send and email. Our office will reopen on Tuesday.

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 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).
  • 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,

Legislative Update: September 2018

September 29th, 2018

Bellevue Town Hall

On September 27th Mayor Rita Sanders and I co-hosted a town hall at Richmont Village. Sarpy County Commissioner Brian Zuger and Bellevue City Councilman John Hansen were also in attendance. We had a great turnout, and had good conversations with attendees about what’s going on at the state, county, and city levels of government. Many thanks to all those who attended!

Military Spouse/Transitioning Service Member Meeting 

The Offutt Enlisted Spouses Club and Bellevue/Offutt Rising Professionals are two groups that work with military families to help them succeed and make Bellevue more welcoming. The two organizations held a joint meeting on September 26th to discuss professional licensing barriers for military spouses and military members transitioning back to civilian life. This interim my office has been working on LR436, a study I introduced to examine the steps taken by the state to support transitioning military members and military families. The study is also focused on what else can and should be done to make full and gainful employment easier for these populations. Input we received at the OESC/BORP meeting gives us a deeper understanding of both the state’s challenges and opportunities in this area.

Paid Family Leave Research

For the last few months my office has also been conducting research on paid family leave policies in Nebraska. As part of those efforts, I am seeking input from the business community and would love to hear from you! If you own a business that offers Paid Family Leave (PFL) or a business that would like to offer PFL but cannot do so at this time, and you are willing to share your experiences, please contact my office. Your assistance is appreciated!

CBD UNMC Results

The FDA announced its intention to approve Epidiolex, a cannabidiol oil therapy, in late June. The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) was in the process of conducting a study on that same drug, as allowed by my LB390 in 2015. This month UNMC released its annual report on that study, which confirmed that the majority of patients enrolled saw benefits after taking Epidiolex. I am thrilled for the patients and families who have already benefited from this trial, and for all those who may do so in the future as the drug becomes more widely available. I am also proud that our university system has contributed to the scientific record for this product. If you would like to read UNMC’s annual report, it can be found here.

Policy Summit Season

Each fall as the next session approaches, various organizations hold informational gatherings to share information and suggestions for potential legislation – a time my staff have dubbed “Policy Summit Season.” In September my office attended two such summits, hosted by OpenSky (September 5th) and the Platte Institute (September 13th). These summits covered everything from property and business taxes to rural demographics, and from Medicaid expansion to professional licensing. These summits are a good opportunity to hear new ideas and mull over existing priorities.

Twin Ridge Elementary Visit 

LD 45 had its first capitol visitors of the 2018-19 school year on September 12th, when 4th graders from Twin Ridge Elementary came to Lincoln to learn about their state government. My staff met them up in the main rotunda and talked about what they can do to be good leaders now and in the future.

I hope these bright young people had a wonderful time in their state capitol!

Radio Talking Book Service Interview

I had the opportunity to tour the Radio Talking Book Service (RTBS) broadcasting office and do a short interview on-air about the upcoming session on September 27th. RTBS provides a unique service to blind, elderly, and learning disabled students throughout Nebraska who have trouble reading printed text. A dedicated team of staff and volunteers read daily newspapers, magazines, and other publications live on air, and host other live programs to share news on sports, health, and the community. RTBS offers a way to access local, current information, and it was a pleasure to join them.

Bellevue Mobile Food Pantry

Bellevue Public Schools and the Food Bank for the Heartland (FBH) are partnering again this year to bring FBH’s mobile food pantry to Bellevue. The mobile pantry will be at Mission Middle School on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:00-6:30 pm. A clothing closet for 12-18-year-olds will also be open during those times. Please spread the word about this important service to anyone you know who may be in need of a little extra help. You can check on other mobile pantry locations in the Omaha metro area and beyond here.

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 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).
  • 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,

Legislative Update: August 2018

September 4th, 2018

Bellevue Urban Affairs Hearing

The Urban Affairs Committee is coming to Bellevue for a public hearing on September 4th at 6:00 pm in Bellevue University’s Criss Auditorium (1040 Bruin Blvd). The purpose of the hearing is to get input from the public on two interim studies, both introduced by Urban Affairs Chair Senator Justin Wayne. The first, LR398, examines the impact of sanitary and improvement districts (SIDs) upon annexations by municipalities. The second, LR399, studies metropolitan transit authorities and issues around expanding statutory rules to allow regional transit authorities.

I am very pleased to welcome the Urban Affairs Committee to Bellevue. SID annexation and affordable public transit are both important issues in Bellevue and Sarpy County. Interim studies are an opportunity for the Legislature to draw in a wide range of outside expertise and to hear from the public across the state. I look forward to hearing from Bellevue and Sarpy County residents on these issues.

September Constituent Event

On September 27th Mayor Rita Sanders and I are hosting a bipartisan town hall at Richmont Village in Bellevue (702 Fort Crook Rd S). The event will run from 4:30-6:00 pm. City Councilman John Hansen and Sarpy County Commissioner Brian Zuger are also planning to attend. Thus, the town hall will be an open forum to meet with and talk to state, county, and city representatives all at once. No RSVP is required, but if you’d like to tell use you’re coming you can access the Eventbrite page here. I hope to see you there!

HHS YRTC Hearings

The Health and Human Services Committee visited Geneva on August 24th for the first of two public hearings on LR377. That study was introduced to help the committee better understand how Nebraska’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers (YRTCs) operate and how safety and security for YRTC residents might be improved. The committee heard from staff from the facility and from a long time community member who talked about how the Geneva community prided itself in helping these young women turn their lives around.

BPS STEM Announcement 

On August 28th Bellevue Public Schools made the exciting announcement that they were selected for a prestigious National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) grant to support STEM education in Bellevue. I was happy to be a guest at this special event.  

The grant, which totals over a million dollars, will go towards STEM programs that will get BPS students college-ready and prepared for careers in a wide variety of critical industries. The grants focus on military communities like Bellevue.  

Legislative Page Applications Open

Do you know anyone interested in serving as a page for the 2018 legislative session? Pages are college students who assist senators and the Clerk of the Legislature with various tasks, such as running errands for senators during the legislative session, assisting the Presiding Officer, and setting up and staffing committee hearings. The Page Program is open to high school graduates who are currently enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school, and is an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of state government. It is a paid part-time position, and many students receive college internship credit for their work.

The deadline for applications is Friday September 28th. Those interested in applying should first contact the Clerk of the Legislature’s office at (402) 471-2271 or email Kitty Kearns at kkearns@leg.ne.gov for an application. All applicants are also asked to provide a letter of recommendation from their state senator. If you live in LD45, I would be happy to hear from you!

Milky Way Screening 

On August 8th, I spoke to a group of breastfeeding advocates on a panel at a screening of the film “The Milky Way” hosted by Nurture Omaha and Milkworks. It was great to have the opportunity to talk with advocates about the work that I and my staff are doing to advance paid family leave in Nebraska. Paid family leave can allow women and children to reap the many well-documented health benefits of breastfeeding longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. Employed women who receive 12 or more weeks of paid maternity leave are much more likely to initiate breastfeeding and be exclusively breastfeeding their child at 6 months than those without 12 weeks of paid leave.

This is just one important reason that I’ve been working on this issue for the duration of my legislative career. My staff and I are currently in the process of researching and working with stakeholders to determine a path forward for paid family leave that will benefit working Nebraskans. Stay tuned for more updates on this front. If you are interested in getting involved and helping to advocate for paid family leave in Nebraska, please send me an e-mail.

National Night Out 

August 7th was National Night Out, a great event which brought together community leaders, safety officers, and residents in one big block party.

Senator Carol Blood and I sponsored the ice pops, and had a blast meeting everyone and sharing the treats! Many thanks to all the other sponsors and leaders who helped organize such a fun time.

WiTH Meeting 

Women in Technology in the Heartland (WiTH) is a group that meets monthly to facilitate networking and education for women who work in tech careers. On August 21st I joined them for a talk by Dr. Nirosha Rathnayake, a biostatistician who has worked on numerous research projects for UNMC in the field of healthcare.

It was a great learning opportunity, and I had a good time meeting all of the women in attendance. If you’re interested in attending future meetings, details can be found here.

Sarpy County Economic Outlook

The Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Economic Outlook forum each fall. This year’s event was held August 23rd in Papillion.

Presenters talked about issues ranging from roads funding to natural resources to residential housing development. Sarpy is a fast-growing county, and it’s always helpful to hear from the folks who are mostly closely involved with those changes.

Community Events

On this 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, there are two events in Bellevue I’d like to highlight and invite you to attend. The first, on Sunday September 9th, will take place from 7:30-8:30 am at the Shadow Lake Hy Vee in Papillion. This remembrance ceremony honors all those first responders who stepped up, often at the cost of their lives, on that day. First responders and their families will be provided breakfast by Hy Vee all morning.

Second, join us on September 11th at 6:00 pm in American Heroes Park for a moving ceremony to recognize those from Nebraska and Western Iowa who have lost their lives protecting our country since September 11th, 2001. The ceremony includes a moving tribute by the Bellevue West and Bellevue East ROTC students to honor each of these individuals by name, and performances by other military ensembles. This event is hosted annually by the Kiwanis Club of Bellevue. In case of inclement weather, the backup location is the BPS Lied Activity Center.

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 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).
  • 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,

Conference Travel

July was a busy travel month for me, as both of the primary national state legislative organizations held their annual conferences. These conferences are great opportunities to learn from national experts and other state legislators. The sessions and the one-on-one discussions with other state legislators help me to get ideas to strengthen our policy in Nebraska.

In mid-July I traveled north for the Council of State Governments (CSG) Midwest meeting in Winnipeg. Since the meeting was in Canada we had more emphasis on what U.S. and Canada state/province governments can learn from each other. There were particularly interesting panels on lessons for improving access to mental health and and transportation. The National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) held their annual conference in Los Angeles in the last week of July. Two of the dominant issues at the NCSL conference were preventing sexual harassment in our state legislatures and getting ready for redistricting in 2021.

NCSL and CSG are both important sources of expertise, support, and research for state policymakers above and beyond these national meetings. We often turn to their resources to see model legislation from other states and to see research on various policy topics. While many resources are only available to members, you can see some of their work at their websites: http://www.ncsl.org/ and https://www.csg.org/

Interim Meetings

Though it seems like January 2019 is a long way away, my office is already working hard to develop, research, draft, and find support for a number of bill ideas. In addition to my two formal interim studies (on Medicaid buy-in and military spouse occupational licensing), my staff are spending time on issues as diverse as cottage food regulations, paid family leave, veteran retirement taxes, campaign finance rules, drug price transparency, and healthcare advance directives (to name just a few!). That means the next few months will be full of meetings to share ideas and hash out roadblocks as they spring up. This late summer period is when a lot of the policy heavy lifting starts, so that we can get off to a good start when the 107th Legislature formally convenes on January 9th.

In July I experimented with office hours in the Bellevue Public Library as a way to meet with constituents. Hanna and I were at the library to meet with constituents from 4:30 – 6:30 pm on July 10th. We enjoyed conversations with the folks who came to ask questions and bring ideas during that time. It is my goal to have some kind of event like this once a month in the district during the interim to meet with people and hear their input. In August I will be at the Farmer’s Market (see below). Watch for announcements for the September and October events.

Bellevue Farmers Market Booth

I am hosting one more open hours event for constituents to stop by, say hello, and talk about anything you wish. I will have a booth at the Bellevue Farmers Market at Washington Park on August 25th from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. I look forward to seeing you!

Normandy Hills visit

On July 20th my LA Hanna and I met with Jeanne McDonald in the Normandy Hills/Cedar View neighborhood to inspect ongoing road work.

I appreciate residents’ ongoing engagement with the project, and will continue to work with the Department of Transportation and Sarpy County to make sure residents’ concerns are heard.

CSTA Conference

The Legislature proclaimed the second week in July as K-12 Computer Science Education Week in Nebraska by LR472, a resolution I introduced last session to honor the contributions of computer science teachers across the country. The Computer Science Teachers Association held its national conference in Omaha from July 7th-10th, and I had the honor of presenting a copy of the Legislature’s resolution at the plenary session.

Visiting teachers from around the country enjoyed all that Omaha had to offer. I thank them for their dedication to their students and for teaching excellence in this important subject area.

Community Events

August is a great month for family events in Bellevue and Sarpy County.

The 2018 Sarpy County Fair started on July 31st and runs all the way through Sunday August 5th. Stop by for a good time with your family! A schedule of exhibits and events is available here.

National Night Out (NNO) is an annual event that helps residents get to know their police departments and public safety officers in a relaxed outdoor environment. Bellevue’s central NNO party will take place on August 7th at Everett Park from 6:00-8:30 pm. There will be a cookout, bounce house, face painting, and other activities. I will be a popsicle sponsor at the event. Some individual neighborhoods will be hosting their own NNO parties, so look out for those too! For more information contact Roger Cox at 402-682-6623 or roger.cox@bellevue.net.

On August 11th and 12th Offutt will open its gates to the community for their annual Air & Space Show. Food, fun and flyovers will all be present in abundance, so head out to support Offutt and have a good time! More information about the performers, ground displays, and schedule can be found here.

This year’s Arrows to Aerospace parade and celebration will be August 18th. The centerpiece parade will begin at 10:00, but there will be lots of other fun activities at Washington Park throughout the day. For the full schedule of events head to the Bellevue-Offutt Kiwanis’ 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 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).
  • 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,

Epidiolex Gains FDA Approval

On June 25th the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of Epidiolex, the first cannabidiol-based medication ever to clear that hurdle. This approval will lead to federal rescheduling for this CBD extract drug, and it will hopefully be available for general distribution by prescribers this fall. You can read more about Epidiolex’s approval here.

In 2015 I introduced LB 390, which authorized UNMC to conduct pilot studies of cannabidiol-based pharmaceuticals. For over a year, UNMC has been working on studies of Epidiolex. They plan to continue that research until at least 2019, when LB 390 originally sunsetted the pilot project, or for as long as the study sponsor is willing to provide them with supplies of the drug. That will allow UNMC to add their findings to the available literature on the subject. That also provides continued access to some families with children with intractable epilepsy now, while the next steps to make Epidiolex available by prescription move forward with the federal government.

In the meantime, I encourage parents of children with intractable epilepsy who may benefit from Epidiolex to remain in touch with their medical team. This approval is an encouraging sign.

Constituent Open Hours

This summer I am hosting two more open hours events for constituents to stop by, say hello, and talk about anything you wish. The next event will be July 10th at the Bellevue Public Library from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.

I will also have a booth at the Bellevue Farmers Market at Washington Park on August 25th from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.

You are warmly invited to attend either of these events, or both if you would like! I look forward to seeing you.

Quarterly Heritage Health Oversight Hearing

Every three months the Health and Human Services Committee meets to hold a Heritage Health Oversight Hearing. In these meetings we hear from both the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as well as providers and patients who are involved with the Heritage Health managed care system through Medicaid.

This quarter’s hearing provided an opportunity for Director Matthew Van Patton to provide an overview of metrics being used to hold the managed care organizations who provide care through Heritage Health accountable. We raised some tough questions about the measures and additional information that we need to make sure that we are pushing hard to continue to improve care and improve relationships with our providers who serve our Medicaid patients. The public testimony portion of the hearing focused primarily on announced changes to one Heritage Health plan’s fee schedule for durable medical goods. Members of the committee, including me, are following up with the Director on this issue. Several providers in attendance said they would be forced to stop accepting this plan if the planned changes go through. These public meetings are an important avenue for us as senators to hear from Nebraskans and ask DHHS for feedback and follow-up.

Though the formal committee meets only a few times per year, I and other senators are frequently in touch with DHHS directly. If you or anyone you know is has questions or concerns about Heritage Health, you should contact the DHHS email helpline at DHHS.HeritageHealth@nebraska.gov or email my office.

Medicaid Buy-In Study

This interim I introduced LR 448 in partnership with Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn to study the state’s Medicaid Insurance for Workers with Disabilities program – also called “Medicaid Buy-In.” The purpose of this resolution is to examine the Medicaid Buy-In program to determine where improvements might be made to enable more Nebraskans with disabilities to work and earn more while maintaining appropriate health insurance coverage for their needs.

We have heard from several disability rights advocates that under the current program, many adults with disabilities who do not work but want to, or who work only part time but want to work more hours, often do not because they fear losing their Medicaid benefits once their income reaches a certain threshold. This week, Senator Linehan and I sat down to discuss our next steps and identify research priorities. We plan to hold a meeting with the Department of Health and Human Services Medicaid Division soon to discuss possible opportunities and barriers to updating parts of our currently policy that may be outdated.

I also want to share a wonderful event that will be taking place at the State Capitol on July 13th. The annual Disability Pride Day rally will run from 1:00-4:00 pm on the building’s north steps. It should be a great celebration of all our friends and fellow Nebraskans with a wide array of abilities and talents.

Offutt Appreciation Day Picnic

Each summer partners across the Metro area join together with the Offutt Advisory Council to put on a huge picnic for our military families. I am proud to be a regular sponsor of this event. This year I was able to attend the event and volunteer all day. The Air Force band plays, we have inflatables for the kids, lots of food is shared, and prizes are given out. This year several partners also contributed to a bike giveaway. It was fun to see the kids and parents riding on the bikes at the end of the picnic. Thanks to Herman Colvin for coordinating the event and to all of the sponsors. Thanks especially to our military families for all of their sacrifices throughout the year.

“Not On My Watch” CWS Campaign

The NCAA College World Series is an awesome event for Omaha and its residents to enjoy the top baseball teams in the country in a fun family atmosphere. For human traffickers, though, the CWS and other large sporting events are also an opportunity to expand their reach among travelling fans and sell vulnerable people for sex.

The Not on My Watch campaign is sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Omaha. It brings together human trafficking survivors, researchers and experts, policymakers, and the public to raise awareness of human trafficking, educate people to spot signs of human trafficking victims, and help put a stop to the practice. On June 14th many of my fellow state policymakers and community activists gathered for a kick-off press conference.

I also joined the volunteer team of public officials that Senator Carol Blood organized to help hand out information around the park during the CWS the following week. People who may be under the control of a trafficker might exhibit signs such as bruises or scars, difficulty focusing, being persistently fearful, not being in control of their identification, being unable to speak for themselves, and tattoos that appear possessive, like bar codes. If you ever encounter someone who you believe may be a victim of human trafficking, do not approach them directly as that may put them in danger. Instead call 911, the National Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP.

Human trafficking is a scourge, and it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to put a stop to this crime.

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 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).
  • 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,

Interim Time

Welcome to our first monthly interim newsletter. The interim is the time between legislative sessions. This interim runs from mid-April to January 8th 2019.

An important part of interim is catching up on our other jobs and spending time with our families, particularly in this first month of interim after a busy short session. I enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate Creighton graduation with our students and to meet their families over Mother’s Day weekend. The next weekend I got to play the parent and enjoy graduation celebrations with my older son, Nate, who graduated from Fordham University in New York City. We had a nice family trip together out to New York for the weekend and had a chance to see “Hello Dolly” on Broadway. The following weekend my younger son, Phil, graduated from Bellevue East. We enjoyed several days of graduation parties (including our own) and celebrating the accomplishments of friends and family.

The interim is also a time for collaborative meetings and in-depth study on issues that we do not have time to fully explore during the session. This interim I continue my work with the Economic Development Task Force to develop priorities for economic growth and workforce development in the state. Our office is also sponsoring, and will do much of the heavy lifting on, a study requested by the US Department of Defense to examine our state licensing practices for transitioning service members and military spouses. In previous sessions we have had success passing bills to require that occupational boards consider military experience and provide temporary licensure for military spouses. Our study will examine whether these policies are being implemented effectively. Getting these individuals into the workforce as efficiently as possible is not only good for them and their families, but good for our state given our cross-sector workforce shortages.  

On the workforce front, an interim study that I am co-sponsoring with Senator Lou Ann Linehan involves examining improvements that could be made in our Medicaid program. We are exploring options to allow more individuals with disabilities to be able to buy into Medicaid coverage if they can work and earn money that pushes them over the eligibility limit for Medicaid. Many of these individuals want to work more and could contribute to our economy, but they are not able to meet their health needs with traditional forms of health insurance that are available from employers or the private market. A recent study shows that when Kansas allowed individuals to buy into coverage, they not only increased wages for those individuals (and tax revenues) and increased premium support to help pay for Medicaid, but the actual cost of Medicaid for these individuals went down. The ability to work up to their potential and earn more money while keeping their Medicaid to manage their health conditions made them healthier and less expensive. That study can be found here.

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.

Constituent Open Meeting Times

The Bellevue Farmers Market at Washington Park runs every Saturday morning from May 26th to October 13th. This year I will have a booth on two weekends, June 2nd and August 25th, from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.

I will also be hosting an evening open hours event on July 10th from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at the Bellevue Public Library.

These three events will not have a formal agenda – I will simply be there ready to talk to whoever is interested about bills, answer questions about the legislative session, or just chat! I would be happy to see you all at one or more of those days.

New Staffer – Hanna Murdoch

Hanna is a Nebraska native who grew up in Lincoln.  Hanna returned to Lincoln last year after living in Colorado for two and a half years, where she obtained her Masters in Social Science with a focus in Social Justice from the University of Colorado Denver.  During her time in Colorado, Hanna worked as a Legislative Aide, a community organizer, and a campaign manager. Hanna received her B.S. in Psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan in 2013. Most recently, Hanna worked at the Division of Behavioral Health within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.  

Outside the office, Hanna enjoys all things outdoors (especially hiking, biking, and camping),  live music, reading, and traveling.

Hanna’s responsibilities include conducting research for bills and interim studies and drafting and advising on legislation. She would be happy to talk with you by phone or email. She is always available to answer any questions you may have at (402) 471-2615 or at hmurdoch@leg.ne.gov.

Memorial Day

One of my favorite parts of this job is my ability to represent the state of Nebraska at events that mark important occasions. It was an honor to attend the solemn ceremony at the Offutt Base cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday May 28th, at 9:00 in the morning. Col. Manion gave a powerful reflection on our gratitude for those who have been willing to give of their lives in service to others. At 11:00 I joined with many others from Bellevue and Bellevue VFW Post 10785 for a ceremony to honor those who have served from all branches of service. At 2:00 in the afternoon I joined with Governor Pete Ricketts, Congressman Don Bacon, Senator Deb Fischer, Senator Carol Blood, and others to celebrate Memorial Day with the veterans at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home (pictured below) and to honor those who have passed away in the last year. This year that included Roland Nieves, the husband of my good friend Marta Nieves.  

I would also like to share a music video from one of our Bellevue residents and STRATCOM professionals, Jimmy Weber. Released last week, the video (watch here) pays tribute to all the individuals who have served our country, and the sacrifices that they and their families have made – sometimes including the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Sarpy County Mental Health Expo

May is mental health awareness month. On May 12, the Sarpy County public defender’s office in collaboration with Lift Up Sarpy sponsored a mental health expo to provide an opportunity for families in Sarpy County to learn about resources available in our community. There was a great mix of speakers and organizations at the event to share information. Many organizations had tables set up to talk to those with questions. The organizers assure me that they plan to offer this event next year, so be watching for an opportunity to attend next May! If you have suggestions or resources that you would like highlighted in this area, contact my office and I will forward them to the organizers of the event.  

Three of the many resources for families that were featured at the Sarpy Mental Health Expo:

13minutes.org

Suicide takes a life every 13 minutes. Know the signs – Change the stats.

Each year in Nebraska there are just as many suicide deaths as traffic deaths. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds in the US. This is a crisis here in Sarpy County as well. Check out the resources available on this website for risk factors, how to help and how to start a conversation with someone who may need help.  

Vet Center – www.va.gov/rcs

Omaha Area Vet Center 3047 S. 72nd St., Omaha NE  68124, 402-346-6735

The Vet Center offers free readjustment counseling services to veterans and their families.

PACT: Parents and Children Together

PACT is an early intervention and prevention program to strengthen and support at risk youth and their families with in-home therapy. Youth who are age 0-19 who are residents of Sarpy, Cass, Dodge, or Douglas County qualify if they meet financial eligibility requirements. Call 402-578-5086 to refer a child or family or to get more information.

Civic leader tour

May 8th and 9th I joined Col. Michael Manion, the 55th Wing commander, and other leaders from the Sarpy County area for a two-day trip.

The purpose of the tour was to learn more about the 55th Wing’s geographically separated units, including the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. We discussed the 55th’s worldwide mission and got to see some of the aircraft stationed there, tour the base, see an in-flight refueling maneuver up-close, and even take a crack at flying a EC-130H Compass Call aircraft in one of the base simulators.

Most importantly, the trip was an opportunity to meet with some of the outstanding Airmen from both the Offutt and Davis-Monthan bases whose careers are dedicated to serving our country. It was a wonderful trip!

Bellevue West JROTC Drill Team

Congratulations to the Air Force Junior ROTC Drill Team at Bellevue West for their exemplary performance at the national championship competition! The team took first place in the unarmed exhibition category and showed a national audience what it means to be both talented and respectful on the competition field. I am so proud to have these young people in our community. The Bellevue Leader has a picture of the whole team here, as well as more details about their competition experience. Congratulations again to these fine young people and their coaches!

Small Business Hall of Fame Induction

The Sarpy County Chamber held a ceremony on May 23rd to celebrate this year’s Small Business Hall of Fame inductees. One of the wonderful businesses to be honored this year was our own Stella’s Bar & Grill in Bellevue! Stephanie and her family are such an asset to our community, and they have earned every bit of support and congratulations we can give them!

Coalition for a Strong Nebraska Panel

On May 29th the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska hosted a panel discussion about the past legislative session and how we could work with nonprofit leaders in the state to continue to improve equity and opportunities for Nebraskans. The Coalition for a Strong Nebraska includes a diverse array of nonprofit groups from the Women’s Fund and The Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, to the ACLU and Lutheran Family Services. The panel included Senator Matt Hansen, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Senator Paul Schumacher and me. We had a great conversation about how we could work together. One example of a question was whether we felt that calls or emails were more effective. Our overall answer was it depends, but for all of us but one, the answer was emails as long as they are personal and thoughtful emails.

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 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).
  • 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,

Property Tax Reform Update

In my last newsletter I shared with you all that there was a formal call to hold a special session about property tax reform, and that senators had time to decide whether to join that call or not. When the final tally was announced on April 23rd, there were nowhere near enough votes to call the session – only 14 of the required 33 senators approved the call. Thus, at least for now, there are no plans to hold a special session this interim.

You may also have seen the news that the property tax reform referendum campaign was abandoned last week. The Journal Star covered that development here. Even with the referendum and special session call no longer active, however, property tax conversations are still happening at the capitol. My office will spend time this interim looking for comprehensive solutions to the property tax problem, so that we can try to alleviate the burden on property owners without devastating our state and local budgets. My office is not alone in those conversations, and I am committed to working seriously and collaboratively on this issue for as long as it takes.

Gubernatorial Vetoes

In our unicameral bill process, every bill that is passed goes through the three rounds of debate. It then goes to the governor; if he vetoes the bill, he sends a letter back to the legislature sharing his decision and his explaining reasoning. Typically, the introducing senator then has the option to make a veto override motion, which requires 30 senators to achieve. Bills that are passed too late in the session, however, run the risk of being returned after senators have gone home for the year; thus, the governor’s veto stands as the final decision in such situations. The governor does not have unlimited time to decide whether to sign or veto bills, and usually extra recess days are built in to the end of our session calendar so that, if necessary, we can come back and attempt overrides as necessary on the last day.

The schedule of our final days this year meant that on the very last day, we spent time passing a number of bills on final reading. We knew that vetoes without possibility of overrides were possible, but it is the Speaker’s prerogative to set the schedule. This year we did have three bills that were vetoed without the option to override: LB 873, LB 449, and LB 998. I supported all three bills, and am disappointed that the Governor chose not to sign them into law. I would not be surprised to see all of them brought back in some form next session.

Upcoming Staff Changes

My Legislative Aide, Shayna Bartow, has been an amazing asset to my office these last two years. She is known around the capitol as one of the hardest working staffers, whose dedication helped us pass 17 bills this biennium among other accomplishments. Shayna’s last day will be May 11th, as she will be starting law school in August. She has been an outstanding part of this office and we are of course sad to see her go, but I know Shayna will make the most of this exciting opportunity to continue her education. I wish her nothing but the best as she begins this new chapter!

With Shayna’s upcoming departure, one of the things my office spent time on in the last few weeks was conducting interviews for her successor in the LA position. My AA, Christina, will be continuing in her current role so there will be a smooth transition. The new LA is named Hanna Murdoch, and her first day will be May 16th. Look for an introduction in next month’s newsletter – I know she’ll be great, and look forward to having her join our office team!

Bellevue Small Business Awards

The Bellevue Chamber held its annual Small Business Awards lunch on April 27th. The event honors small businesses throughout Sarpy County who have done outstanding work for their customers and have contributed to the community. Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!

Art Show 

Each year the Bellevue Kiwanis Club hosts the AC Lofton Art Show to show off work from some of the outstanding artists who attend Bellevue Public Schools. This year’s Best in Show award was awarded to Mikayla Gallagher, while the runner-up was Celia Abolafia. The Bellevue Leader published a full list of award winners here. I attended the art show with Mayor Rita Sanders, and it was wonderful to see so many amazing pieces of art from our own local students.


With Celia Abolafia (L) and Mikayla Gallagher (R)

Avery Elementary Visit

The Avery Elementary School 4th graders visited the capitol on April 23rd. My staff visited them during their tour and welcomed them to the building. 

There were several bright young faces who said they hope to be senators themselves some day. We certainly encourage all of the student visitors who come through their halls of government to dream big, be good friends and community members, and study hard!

Spring Game

On April 21st I joined some 85,000 fellow Nebraskans at the Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. Though it was a bit chilly, everyone had a great time. Go Big Red!

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 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).
  • 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,

Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

On Wednesday of this week 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. Though 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” – it will be a different group of people, with some new senators, who convene at that time.

Though we will not know the outcome of many elections until November, we do know that there will be at least eight senators who are not returning. Senators Paul Schumacher, Lydia Brasch, Burke Harr, Jim Smith, Bob Krist, and Tyson Larson have served their full terms and are ineligible to be re-elected this cycle. Senators John Kuehn and Roy Baker have reached the end of their first 4-year term, and have decided not to run for re-election. Each of these senators has made a unique contribution to the body in the years they have served, and it has been an honor to work with all of them. I wish them well as they move back into their private lives.

Our legislative processes can seem opaque and complicated from the outside, so I want to take this opportunity to explain what it means, process-wise, to adjourn Sine Die. Because Nebraska runs on a biennial session calendar, the process is different each year. When we adjourn Sine Die at the end of a long 90-day session (which occur in odd-numbered years like last year, 2017), we essentially hit pause on everything we’re doing. Then we come back in even-numbered years (like this one) for a short 60-day session in which we pick up right where we stopped. All the bills that we introduced carry over to the same place we left them the previous year, committee assignments and leaders are the same, and we stay in our same offices.

Adjourning Sine Die at the end of short sessions, like this year, is less a pause than a full stop. Any bill that hasn’t been passed and signed by the governor is Indefinitely Postponed (IPP’d), which means it is no longer active. Come January 2019 we will start with a completely clean slate with no carry-over bills. We will elect a new Speaker and committee chairs, and can move offices within the building if we so choose. Thus, in the coming months and into the fall my office will begin to craft my final biennial legislative agenda for 2019-20, after which time I too will be term-limited out of office. There may be some bills from this just-completed session that I choose to reintroduce, and there will be some completely new proposals. As always, I am interested to hear your thoughts and ideas for legislation. Serving you all is an honor.

Capitol Renovation Plans

Speaking of moving offices, we have just over one week remaining until a decade-long HVAC renovation project of our state capitol building starts in earnest. Starting in May, 18 senators’ offices will begin the process of packing their things to move up to new space in the capitol tower on the 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th floors. Many committee chairs are also moving, but will remain on the building’s first and second floors. Other executive and legislative offices have spent the last six months moving out of those spaces to make room, and are now located outside the building. In June, the capitol’s entire southwest quadrant will be walled off for at least 18 months so that construction teams can do their work. That work is extensive, and includes changes to our heating/cooling system, fire system updates and upgrades, window replacements, electrical work, and more. The entire project, which is split into multiple sections, is expected to take 10 years to fully complete. NET wrote a good article on this massive endeavor, which you can access here.

For visitors to the capitol, the biggest impacts will be the closure of the cafeteria over the next two years and hallway closures that may affect how you get to certain places. If you want to visit a particular senator, you will also need to check whether they’ve moved, and if so where to. The information desk in the 1st floor center lobby will be there to assist you in finding anything, and senators’ websites will be updated with their new locations. All emails, phone numbers, and mailing addresses will stay the same. My office will not be moving, so you can still find me and my staff in room 1016 for the duration of my term in office.

4th Grade Visitors

This last week of session we had three schools visit. The first, on Tuesday, was Belleaire Elementary. They also got to meet Governor Ricketts on their tour, as he happened to be passing and was kind enough to stop and speak with them.


On Wednesday we welcomed groups from Bertha Barber & Central Elementary schools.

I hope all the students had a fun time in Lincoln learning about their state government!

BPS Foundation Scholarships

Thursday was the annual Bellevue Public Schools Foundation Community Breakfast. Among the honorees at the breakfast were recipients of 2018 BPS Foundation scholarships. I knew some of these bright young stars already through their community work.


With (L-R) Courtney Owens,  Mayor Rita Sanders, and Kathryn Woerner


(L-R) Brooklyn Larimore, Eden Liebenthal, and Erin Jenkins.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding scholars!

Bellevue Events

There are two upcoming events in Bellevue to share with you. The first, which will take place next week, is a Sarpy County job skills and employment fair. It is a smaller job fair, which is done on purpose so that organizers can focus on high-quality interactions between local businesses and job-seekers. The event will take place on Wednesday April 25th, from 10:00-2:00 at First Baptist Church (112 E 23rd Ave). For more information, you can contact Erin Cooper, the event’s coordinator, at 402-934-2814.

The other event is a Mental Health Resource Expo, which will take place on Sunday May 12th from 9:00-12:00 at Thanksgiving Church in Bellevue (3702 S 370 Plz). This free event will include speakers who will discuss how to recognize and manage mental illness in yourself or in those around you, and offer a collection of resources that can help. They will also have one-on-one mental health support specialists who can offer advice and answer questions in a private setting. If you have questions, you can call 402-871-9500. Registration is not required, but will help organizers know how many people to expect. The website to register can be found here.

New Update Schedule

Now that the 2018 legislative session is complete, I want to remind you that this is our last weekly update before we switch back to our monthly schedule. After today, you can look for updates on Saturday mornings at the end of each month.

Arbor Day Closure

All state offices will be closed on Friday April 27th in observance of Arbor Day. If you need assistance that day, please send an email or leave a voicemail at my office. We will reopen on Monday April 30th.

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 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).
  • 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,

Final Session Week Schedule

Our Legislature’s rulebook lays out the requirements for discussing bills, so in the dwindling days of session we are limited in what we can reasonably take up. Bills passed on General File have to wait until at least the following day for Select File debate; bills passed on Select File must be laid over (or not scheduled for debate) for at least one day before coming up for Final Reading. These rules allow senators time to think about bills before they come back up for the next round, and just as importantly allow our bill drafters to comb through all legislation for technical errors. Because of this rule and our schedule in the coming week (more on that below), all bills with any chance of passage had to be advanced from General File no later than Monday, and from Select File no later than Tuesday. Those Tuesday bills were laid over on Wednesday of this week, while we debated another set of Final Reading bills that had been passed earlier in the session. The Tuesday bills from this week will be up for a Final Reading vote on Wednesday April 18th, which is our next and final scheduled session day.

Between this Wednesday and April 18th, the Speaker scheduled four recess days (Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday). This gives Governor Ricketts the required time to issue any vetoes if he chooses to do so. Then, when we come back back next week Wednesday, we can make the decision about whether to attempt veto overrides if necessary. Bills that are passed on Final Reading next Wednesday (the Tuesday bills as I called them above) will not have the option to override vetoes, as we will no longer be in session by the time the Governor is required to make his decisions.

When we come back next week we will adjourn Sine Die, or with finality for the biennium. Next week I’ll give you the inside scoop on what all that means for senators, bills, and everything else, so check back then!

Bills This Week

In our shortened 3-day schedule this week we debated a large number of bills. A few of the highlights were:

  • LB 258, which expands a pilot program in Lancaster County that allows inmates to get a state ID card or renew their driver’s license before they are discharged from the correctional center. This bill, introduced by Senator Matt Hansen, helps former inmates integrate back into the community more easily, and gives them a better chance of finding a job and other activities that we know reduce the risk of recidivism. LB 258 was passed and presented to the Governor this week.
  • LR 296 directs the Legislature to appoint a special oversight committee on state-licensed care facilities. A number of tragedies like the death of a resident at Life Quest in Palmer in 2017, and other evidence about the often inadequate if not downright squalid conditions in some care homes, indicate that the Department of Health and Human Services needs additional oversight. LR 296, introduced by Senator Lynn Walz, is a mechanism for the Legislature to take a close look at these facilities, which receive state funds, and determine if legislative changes are needed to improve the homes’ management and the lives of those who live there. Legislative resolutions like LR 296 require only one vote for passage rather than the normal three, which we took and achieved this week. Resolutions are also not subject to gubernatorial veto power.
  • LB 299, introduced by Senator Laura Ebke, is a bill to provide a mechanism for a review of state licenses every five years with an emphasis on determining that the state’s employment licenses are not overly burdensome. I worked closely with Senator Ebke on this bill, as in its original form I was concerned that it would result in lower standards for healthcare professions, in particular, that might harm Nebraskans. With the changes Senator Ebke agreed to, the bill stresses allowing people to obtain meaningful employment while still recognizing the importance of protecting the public, patients and consumers. This is one of the bills that we advanced this week and will take up for final passage on the 18th.
  • LB 496 is an update to the Community Development Law, introduced by Senator John Stinner. The bill allows Tax Increment Financing to be used for workforce housing development in rural communities or extremely blighted urban areas. This will help communities that have struggled to build enough housing for their workers, which we know is one of the major impediments to grown in many places.

Our last official business on Wednesday was to take up a few changes to our permanent legislative rulebook. The first clarified that our rules have to be approved only at the start of each two-year session, rather than every single year. The second codified the internal rules for legislative qualification challenges that go with LB 744, which we adopted back in February after the challenge to Senator Ernie Chambers’ residency in 2017 (find a recap of what happened during that process here). Both of these are good rule changes, and will make the legislature more effective going forward.

Special Session Request

Perhaps the most widely publicized news this week is that 13 senators submitted a request for a special legislative session dealing with property tax reform. A special session can be called in one of two ways: either by decree from the Governor, or with the support of at least 33 senators. In this case the main sponsor of the request, Senator Tom Brewer, is pursuing the latter option.

The Secretary of State is responsible for organizing a poll to determine how many senators support the special session call. Each senator has received a letter from the Secretary of State’s office, with a special form we can turn back in listing our vote (yes or no). Senators can also elect to give no response if they choose. These voting forms are due back to the Secretary of State by April 23rd. If enough senators do support the special session, the Speaker anticipates that, due to constitutional guidelines on timing, the session would start sometime in the last few days of April. I will keep all of you up to date on what is happening with the special session request in the next few weeks.

4th Grade Visitors

We had two days of visitors this week. On Wednesday Birchcrest Elementary had their Legislative day:

St. Mary’s and St. Matthew’s visited on Friday:

My staff met with both groups to talk about what it means to be a leader in their schools and communities, and encourage them to be good students and true friends to their classmates. I hope their visit was enjoyable!

UNL Poster Session

Tuesday 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. I talked to several students about their projects, which ranged from the impacts of teacher diversity to zika virus. These bright young scholars are a credit to their university.


Listening to students explain their UCARE research

Crete Political Brew

Senator Ebke has hosted a series of informal town hall-style gatherings in Crete this session, where she invites senators of varying political persuasions to come talk about their bills and discuss the legislative session. I attended the third and final gathering along with Senator Matt Hansen. Crete is a lovely town, and it was fun to visit with some of the residents there!


Me, Senator Hansen, and Senator Ebke at The Brew House in Crete

Post-Session Fun

It’s always nice to be able to spend time with my fellow senators away from the policy arena. After session adjourned on Wednesday we got to spend some time outside the Capitol together. It’s a great reminder of how many of my fellow senators, from all different backgrounds, quickly passed beyond being just colleagues – we are friends as well. As we bid farewell over the coming months to our colleagues who are term limited or have chosen not to run again, and prepare to welcome in a new class of senators in January, the recognition of that personal bond is more important than ever.

Students Invited – Unicameral Youth Legislature

Registration is now open for the annual Unicameral Youth Legislature, which this year will run June 10-13. High school students will take on the role of state senators at the State Capitol: sponsoring bills, conducting committee hearings, debating legislation, and discovering 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 402-471-2420. 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 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).
  • 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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