Legislative Update

2024 Legislative Session Wrap-up

Last Thursday, April 18, the Legislature adjourned sine die, meaning the body has concluded its work for the session. In 2024, our Unicameral passed 370 bills. Bills that did not pass, no matter how far they made it through the legislative process, must be reintroduced in future legislative sessions and start through the process again. 

We are so proud of how hard community members, partners, and our team worked to advance justice and opportunity for Nebraska families and communities, including on some key Appleseed priorities. 

We’ve listed Appleseed’s priority bills that were passed into law 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

Voting is fundamental for people reentering society and for a strong democracy. After many years of work by community members and partners, Nebraska has eliminated the arbitrary 2-year waiting period to vote after completing a felony sentence! 

LB20, introduced by Senator Justin Wayne, which restores Nebraskans’ voting rights, will go into effect July 2024. (Find how your senator voted here.)  

We know that Nebraskans and our communities are healthier when everyone has equitable access to quality, affordable health care. This legislative session, a number of important bills passed to improve access to health care through Nebraska’s Medicaid program, including:

LB62, introduced by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, removes language barriers between patients and providers by requiring that translation and interpretation services are reimbursed under Medicaid. By ensuring language services are accessible, LB62 will increase access to health care, improve health outcomes, and reduce health care costs. (Find how your senator voted here.)

  • Data Transparency: LB62 was amended to include LB1237 (M. Cavanaugh) and LB871 (M. Cavanaugh), which will require more thorough reporting for the state’s Medicaid and TANF programs. 

LB358, introduced by Senator Lynne Walz, increases reimbursement rates for Medicaid dental services. Increased provider rates is linked to increased provider participation in the Medicaid program, and therefore increased enrollee access to dental services. (Find how your senator voted here.

LB857, introduced by Senator George Dungan, seeks to improve Medicaid prenatal care services for at-risk pregnant people, which will help improve outcomes for babies and moms. (Find how your senator voted here.

LB1215 (Hansen), a package of health and human services-related bills, was passed on final reading and has been signed into law by the governor. Two of Appleseed’s priority bills, LB1106 and LB1107 (Day), were added as amendments to LB1215 before it was passed. (Find how your senator voted here.

  • LB1106, introduced by Senator Jen Day, improves access to lactation consulting services for Nebraskans with Medicaid so that newborns and their families have the resources they need. Many Nebraskans face barriers to breastfeeding, including a lack of support and access to resources. 
  • LB1107, introduced by Senator Jen Day, improves access to breast pumps for Nebraskans with Medicaid so that newborns and their families have the resources they need. Breastfeeding can provide benefits and improved health outcomes to both babies and moms. 

Every individual, child, and family should have equitable access to nutritious food, regardless of income, ability, or location. This year, we saw two major victories in ensuring that every Nebraskan has the food they need:

LB952, introduced by Senator Jen Day, would have required the state of Nebraska to participate in the Summer EBT program that would provide 150,000 Nebraska students who participate in free or reduced-price meals $18 million in benefits to purchase food during summer. Strong bipartisan support convinced Governor Pillen to change his mind and accept this program for summer 2024! In the end, LB952 was no longer needed as a vehicle to move this policy forward. 

LB855, introduced by Senator Danielle Conrad, which prevents Nebraska school districts from turning unpaid school meal debt over to debt collection agencies, was passed as part of LB1329. This is a big win for kids and caregivers who sometimes can’t afford school meals and will help foster a healthier home environment and more positive home-school relationship. 

Regardless of people’s circumstances, everyone should have the resources and opportunities needed to thrive. The Legislature passed two bills this year that will support Nebraska’s lowest income families in accessing those opportunities:

LB233, introduced by Senator John Cavanaugh, reduces the child support penalty in the ADC program. In Nebraska, the direct cash assistance program funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant is known as Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). In order to receive ADC benefits, families are required to cooperate with child support enforcement and “assign,” or turn over, their rights to child support payments to the state. This means that, rather than the parent and child receiving child support, most of the child support paid on behalf of families receiving cash assistance is currently kept by the state and shared with the federal government to reimburse TANF payments. 

The bill, as amended, will allow up to $100 or $200 per month to go to the family for child support income while the family is on the ADC program. The bill would also disregard those funds when determining ADC eligibility and benefit amounts. Beginning in 2027, this bill will ensure that child support funds are actually used to support Nebraska’s lowest income families with children – helping them make ends meet and provide some of the basic necessities that aren’t covered by other assistance programs, like diapers, transportation costs, clothing, school supplies, and more. (Find how your senator voted here.)

LB840, introduced by Senator Terrell McKinney, requires cities across the state to create a comprehensive poverty elimination action plan to address the specific poverty challenges faced across the state and to promote upward mobility and sustainability. (Find how your senator voted here.)

Every Nebraskan deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in a safe and welcoming work environment. Nebraska workers contribute their skills and talents to our communities and deserve secure, well-paying jobs. This session, two bills were passed – one helpful, and one harmful — for workers: 

LB906, introduced by Senator Merv Riepe, responds to a recent federal investigation that discovered more than 30 children were employed to clean Nebraska meatpacking facilities in 2022. Large-scale meatpacking continues to be one of Nebraska’s most dangerous industries; this bill takes a step in the right direction by increasing penalties for child labor violations. As our state continues to address labor violations in the meatpacking industry, we urge the state to hold corporate actors accountable for these violations (rather than individual people like parents). (Find how your senator voted here.)

LB1017, introduced by Senator Carolyn Bosn, reduces the support an injured worker receives after a serious workplace injury by classifying multiple injuries to the same arm or leg as just a single injury, when being considered for workers’ compensation. Some of the harm this bill does was mitigated by an amendment. (Find how your senator voted here.)

All young Nebraskans deserve to be who they are, and to thrive in school and social environments. 

Earlier this spring, the legislature blocked LB575, introduced by Senator Kathleen Kauth, from advancing. This harmful legislation would have prohibited transgender and gender diverse students from accessing school activities and facilities consistent with their gender identity. Thank you to each of you who called, emailed, and showed up to express your strong opposition to this bill. Trans and gender diverse young people in Nebraska will continue to have meaningful access to school activities, opportunities, and spaces, authentic to their identity. (Find how your senator voted here.)

Thank you for staying with us through this year’s short 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 grateful to be in this fight with you!

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