Legislative Update

2023 Legislative Session Wrap-up

Last Thursday, the Legislature adjourned sine die, meaning the body has concluded its work for the session. 

This year’s session was a challenging one. We saw a breaking of many norms and increased partisanship. The number of contentious issues on the floor, plus the increasing use of the filibuster, unfortunately meant that many priority bills didn’t receive adequate time for debate or a vote. 

Despite some obstacles and disappointments, we are proud of how hard our team, partners, and supporters worked to advance justice and opportunity for Nebraska families and communities, including on some key Appleseed priorities. 

Wrapping up Appleseed’s 2023 Legislative Priorities

We’ve listed Appleseed’s priority bills that made it to the floor during this session below. Please call or email your senator to thank them for their vote or express disappointment on the position they took on the issue. You can find your senator here. 

There are a few ways senators can vote on bills. The most common are “yes” or “no”, but senators can also be “present not voting” or “excused not voting.” If a senator is “present not voting” that means that senator was checked in and present when the vote was being taken but decided not to vote “yes” or “no” on the bill. If a senator is “excused not voting” that means the senator was not in the chamber or in the building when the vote was taking place and was excused from legislative activity at that point in the day. You can read more on the lawmaking process generally here

Nebraska’s Bridge to Independence Program Expanded

LB50 (Senator Justin Wayne) is a criminal justice reform bill that will create several programs to improve the state’s criminal justice system. 

LB50 also includes LB14 (Senator George Dungan), which ensures that youth with juvenile probation experience have access to Nebraska’s Bridge to Independence (B2I) program to support their transition into adulthood. Youth aging out of the juvenile justice system should not face homelessness – especially at age 19. This expansion of the B2I program supports youth aging out of the juvenile justice system who don’t have a home to return to and may otherwise face homelessness. We are thrilled to see this legislation passed after many years of working on this issue! Find how your senator voted here. 

Child Care Subsidy, SNAP Benefit Expansion, and Medicaid Postpartum Coverage Expanded

LB227 (Senator Ben Hansen) is a package of health and human service-related needs that includes protections for maternal and child health. This bill requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to provide Medicaid reimbursement to hospitals at 100 percent of the statewide average nursing facility per diem rate for Medicaid enrollees who meet certain criteria. It also includes several provisions related to health and human services issues, including pharmacy practice, licensure and postpartum care.

Among those measures are three of Appleseed’s 2023 priority bills: 

  • LB35 (Senator Wendy DeBoer), which helps parents afford the child care they need by extending the sunset date on Nebraska’s current child care subsidy eligibility increase.
  • LB84 (Senator Jen Day), which ensures families have access to food by extending the sunset date on Nebraska’s current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility increase.
  • LB419 (Senator Anna Wishart), which ensures that maternal health is more properly covered in Nebraska by extending Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to at least 6 months.

While both child care subsidies and SNAP benefits were only extended for a few more years, we are glad that Nebraskans will be able to access the food and child care they need as we continue to work toward permanent extensions. Regarding the Medicaid postpartum coverage extension, the Department of Health and Human Services will be determining if it will be extended for 6 months or 12 months. We will continue to advocate for the full 12 month postpartum coverage to be extended to Nebraska’s new parents. Find how your senator voted here.

Voter ID Legislation Passed

LB514 (Senator Tom Brewer) fulfills the Legislature’s mandate to determine how voter ID requirements should work after the voter ID ballot initiative passed last November. Though we know that adding additional voter identification requirements unnecessarily and dangerously restricts every eligible voter’s constitutional right to freely and fairly cast their ballot and are particularly harmful to rural voters, BIPOC communities, students, and voters who are low-income or living with disabilities, we were glad to see the Legislature pass a version of this bill that protects voting by mail and allows voters to use a variety of student, government, or tribal identification documents – including expired IDs – as long as the documents show the person’s name and a photo. Find how your senator voted here.

Bans on Abortion Access and Gender-Affirming Care for Youth

LB574 (Senator Kathleen Kauth) prohibits transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming surgeries in Nebraska and requires the state’s chief medical officer to set rules and regulations for puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapies. The bill also included an amendment banning abortions beginning at 12 weeks. Find how your senator voted here.

The decision of 33 senators to legislate away Nebraskans’ rights and ability to access safe, medically-backed, and life-saving health care is harmful for all Nebraskans. The fight is not over – now we fight to get our rights back. 

Earlier this week, the ACLU of Nebraska, on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction from the bill being enforced. Click here to read the ACLU’s statement.

Thank You for Showing Up and Speaking Out

Thank you for staying with us through a challenging session. Each one of you who submitted a comment, contacted your senator, came to the Capitol, and spoke up to fight for Nebraska – we see you and we’re so grateful to be in this fight with you!

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