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The end of the 2016 legislative session has come. The last couple days were full of tense debate. The winner take all bill was debated. Supporters of the bill said allocating all five electoral votes to the statewide winner makes Nebraska’s vote count as much as possible. Opponents argued doing such would make Nebraska irrelevant. Opponents say allocating all electoral votes to the statewide winner ignores the minority voice and reduces competition in close presidential elections. By splitting the electoral votes, opponents say Nebraska is put in the national game. LB 10 passed second round debate on a 34-15 vote, but on final reading, with two Senators changing their vote, the bill failed on a 32-17 cloture vote. The winner take all bill has been introduced many times over the past several years, and supporters say it is only a matter of time before they will be successful and Nebraska will return to a winner take all system.
LB 947, a bill that would allow DACA youth granted lawful presence in the United States by President Obama, was passed by the Legislature. These youth were brought to the United States at a very young age, have been educated, and are contributing members of our society. The only “home” these youth know is the United States. Notwithstanding the concerns about our immigration policies, and past and present failures to secure our borders, DACA youth have been granted temporary status, they are being educated in our schools, and they are all gaining valuable skills. It is important to keep these individuals in our state and not have the valuable skills they possess being used and contributing to the economies in other states. This bill passed final reading on a 33-11 vote. A gubernatorial veto is expected. It will take 30 votes to override this veto.
The Governor signed LB 817, the Direct Primary Care Agreement Act, on March 30, with a ceremonial signing on April 12. The bill, introduced by Senator Merv Riepe, passed on a 48-0 vote. I was a co-sponsor of the bill, and was honored to be invited to the ceremonial signing.
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a contract between a health practitioner and a patient where the patient pays a monthly retainer for primary care services, including unlimited consultations and an annual physical. DPC is an alternative to health insurance, is not subject to state insurance regulations, and a health practitioner will not bill a health insurance carrier for services rendered. Patients who participate in DPC Agreements are encouraged to purchase a catastrophic health coverage plan that meets federal regulations.
DPC Agreements provide patients instant access to their health practitioner through their mobile phone either via a phone call or text messaging. It is intended to build and strengthen the patient-doctor relationship. With a DPC Agreement, a patient who needs the services of their health care practitioner can call or text their symptoms to their doctors, and the doctor is able to diagnose and prescribe medication without an office visit. The goal of the doctors who are a part of DPC Agreements is to prevent health problems and monitor chronic conditions to avoid costly hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
As I look back on this session, it is amazing to think about all the issues that were debated. We had many issues that were controversial that may or may not have gone the way Senators wanted them to go. We had many issues that were not controversial. All in all, the legislative process worked exactly as it should and bills were given full and fair debate. After completing my second session, I continue to realize how important it is to work together and to have compromise, and just how important it is to let the process work, no matter how challenging it may become. I continue to involve myself, learn new things, and take it all in while enjoying my time serving the citizens of District 48. Now that session has come to its end, I look forward to the interim and all the work that lies ahead in preparation for next year.
I have enjoyed and appreciated all the correspondence and telephone calls I have received from my constituents. I encourage you to continue to contact me. Now that the interim is upon me, a majority of my time will be spent in the District. If anyone would like to meet with me, I would encourage you to contact my Lincoln office to set up an appointment. Thank you, citizens of District 48, for allowing me the great opportunity to represent you.