Legislative Update

Child Welfare takes center stage on January 31

Nebraska Appleseed’s Child Welfare team took to the Capitol on Thursday, January 31, along with other partners, stakeholders, and young people with foster care experience in support of several bills that would continue to improve our state’s child welfare system.

LB 216 – Thursday morning, Appleseed joined members of Project Everlast, Mary Fraser Meints of Youth Emergency Services, and Senator Amanda McGill for a press conference in support of LB 216 – the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Act.

Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey opens January 31 press conference:

Thursday afternoon, Amy West, Appleseed’s Child Welfare Policy Coordinator, testified in support of LB 216 in front of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

Appleseed Child Welfare Policy Coordinator Amy West testifies before HHS Committee:

Read a copy of Amy’s testimony on LB 216

But the stars of the hearing were several young people from Project Everlast who bravely and articulately told the HHS Committee about the barriers they faced after leaving foster care and how LB 216 could help future generations of young people who age out.

See all videos from the January 31st HHS Committee hearing and press conference on Appleseed’s Vimeo web page.

Sarah Helvey also testified before the HHS Committee in support of LB 265 – Senator Colby Coash’s bill which would enable children in foster care to be placed with a family friend or person with whom the child has a previous, significant contact – known as a “kinship home” – without the foster parent being required to go through a time-consuming licensing process.  At the same time, the bill seeks to minimize barriers to licensure and provide assistance, including information, training and other resources, to encourage families to become licensed whenever possible.  Prioritizing the placement of children with kin is important to helping them maintain their cultural and familial connections and has been a key issue for Nebraska Appleseed for many years.

Read Sarah Helvey’s testimony in support of LB 265

Upcoming Hearings

Here are the bills of interest for Appleseed this week.  We will attend hearings and offer testimony on several of these bills.  You can follow these hearings in real-time by following Appleseed on Twitter for live updates.

Economic Justice

LB 177 and LB 560 – LB 177, introduced by Senator Jim Smith, and LB 560, introduced by Senator Heath Mello, both address the unlawful and unjust practice of wage theft. These bills support hard-working Nebraskans by targeting those few dishonest employers who would undermine fairness for employees and a fair playing field for other employers by failing to pay for work performed. Fairness and dignity are key to any employment relationship.  Appleseed will testify in support of both bills at a Business and Labor Committee hearing Monday.

LB 405 – This bill, introduced by Senator Beau McCoy, on behalf of the Governor, would result in a drastic re-writing of Nebraska’s tax system and the elimination of state income and corporate taxes.  Appleseed is concerned eliminating the state income tax could have a risky and unpredictable effect on Nebraska families and businesses, endangering The Good Life our residents work so hard for.  Appleseed will testify in opposition to this bill at a Revenue Committee hearing Wednesday.

LB 98 – This bill from Senator Mello creates a mechanism for the community to file a request for review of a state agency action that allegedly violates the Administrative Procedure Act. The ombudsman’s office would review the action and make a determination of whether the agency conduct did indeed violate the act. Appleseed will testify in favor of this bill at a Government Committee hearing Friday.

Broad support building in support of new ACA Medicaid program

On February 1, a group of leaders from Lincoln and Lancaster County held a news conference in support of LB577, the bill that would implement the Affordable Care Act’s new Medicaid program.

The group included Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, Kim Russell, President and CEO of Bryan Health, Kim Moore, President of St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, Lancaster County Board Chair Deb Schorr, Judy Halstead of Lincoln/Lancaster Health Department, and state senators Kathy Campbell and Kate Bolz.

These city and county leaders and officials spoke of both the moral and financial reasons they support the Medicaid option and LB 577.  Commissioner Schorr noted that the Medicaid option would save Lancaster County residents over $2 million.  Both Ms. Russell and Ms. Moore noted that the Medicaid option was critical to their ability to continue to serve low-income populations.  Mayor Beutler said it would be an injustice to leave these federal dollars on the table rather than put them to work to help our residents.  Importantly, Senator Campbell also noted that the fiscal analysis shows we can afford the Medicaid option.

Appleseed feels LB 577 presents a great opportunity and real solution to health care access in Nebraska and is proud to support this bill.

Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues

You can keep up with all the exciting happenings at the Legislature by following Appleseed on our social media pages. Like our Facebook page and follow issues and legislative hearings in real-time on Appleseed’s Twitter feed.

Plus, stop by our Appleseed Blog for opinion pieces, informative updates, news stories, and visit our Vimeo page for videos of what we’re working on throughout 2013.

We will keep you updated on the latest bill introductions, hearings, and floor debate.  And, we’ll let you know how you can get involved and make your voice heard!

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