Legislative Update

nebraska-state-capital1-150x150Bills Coming out of Committee

LB 577 – It was wonderful news for the health of Nebraska’s people and economy when this bill, which would implement the Affordable Care Act’s new Medicaid program in our state, was advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee this week.  LB 577 is a good opportunity and a real solution to provide an affordable health care option to tens of thousands of low-income, working Nebraskans and return hundreds of millions of dollars to our state’s economy.

You can take action to support LB 577.  Call or write your state senator and tell them this bill is a win-win for the health of Nebraska’s economy and our people.

LB 216 – This bill, which creates an age-appropriate, youth-focused system of voluntary services and support to 21 for young people who age out of foster care, was voted out of the HHS Committee this week and was designated one of the committee’s priority bills.  Appleseed will be working hard with our partners and the young people who will benefit from this opportunity to advance this bill on the floor.

LB 98 – A bill to create a mechanism for the community to file a request for review of a state agency action that allegedly violates the Administrative Procedure Act. The bill refers the alleged violation to the ombudsman’s office.  This bill was voted out of the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 99 – A bill that extends the reporting provisions of Nebraska’s current ban on racial profiling and requires the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice to seek funding to provide a comprehensive review of motor vehicle stops and allegations of racial profiling in Nebraska.  This bill was voted out of the Judiciary Committee last week and was designated a priority bill by Speaker Greg Adams Monday.

Floor Debate

Debate on the floor will now turn to those bills that Senators and Committees have designated as “priority” bills.  Each Senator gets one priority, Committees get two, and the Speaker chooses 25 other bills to be designated priority based on requests from Senators.  At this point in the session, bills that do not have a priority designation have little chance to being heard this year.  We’ll update you on the progress of priority bills that Appleseed is following.

Last Friday, Debate LB 613, the bill to create a Tax Modernization Committee that would take a comprehensive look at our current tax system to decide if any changes or updating is necessary, began and will continue early this week.

In addition, LB 530, a bill by Senator Dubas to increase the base rate for foster parents to more accurately reflect the cost of raising a child passed on first round debate last week.  Further amendments are likely to reduce the current fiscal note.

LB 99 and LB 368, which were both designated priority bills by Speaker Adams, will come up for debate in the future.

You can watch the floor debates at any time on NET2 and online here.

Hearings Last Week

Improving delivery in public service system

LB 309 – A bill introduced by Senator Kate Bolz that would streamline and improve Nebraska’s public benefits delivery system, known as ACCESS Nebraska. This bill is intended to make the system more simple and easier to navigate, helping both clients and workers. Appleseed supported this bill in front of the HHS Committee on March 14.

Combating food hardship with SNAP

LB 330 – A bill introduced by Senator Sara Howard that would help working people striving to move off of public assistance by allowing them to increase their wages without losing essential food assistance (SNAP) before they can afford it. The bill raises the gross income limit for SNAP to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, allowing Nebraskans who can prove their bills make it difficult to afford food to be eligible for SNAP. Appleseed supported this bill in front of the HHS Committee on March 14.

Read Appleseed’s Fact Sheet on LB 330

LB 240 – A bill that would allow Aid to Dependent Children participants over the age of 24 to count basic educational activities, such as GED requirements, toward the ADC program’s work requirements. This bill encourages low-income Nebraskans to further their education in order to achieve the goal of economic self-sufficiency.  Appleseed supported this bill in front of the HHS Committee on March 14.  Senator Harms has designated this as his priority bill.

Child Welfare

LB 503 – A bill that creates an option for “alternative response” when addressing reports of child abuse and/or neglect including voluntary preventive services requested by the household.  This would, ideally, prevent unnecessary entry of children into foster care and keep Nebraska families together. Appleseed testified in a neutral position on this bill in front of the Judiciary Committee on March 15.

See video and read full transcripts of Appleseed’s testimony in front of the Legislature.

Appleseed plans to offer testimony at several committee hearings this week including:

LB 452 – A bill that would require a Medicaid waiver to provide coverage for family planning services. Hearing: HHS Committee, March 20

LR 22 – Directs the HHS Committee and the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee to form a partnership to examine ways to control health care costs and improve health care quality. This will be a critical companion to LB 577.  Hearing: HHS Committee, March 20

LB 518 – A bill that would repeal a law passed last year that allows all Nebraska babies the right to prenatal care to have a chance at a healthy start in life.  This bill would repeal a law that passed last year with strong bipartisan support that is fiscally responsible, good health policy, and the right thing to do.  Appleseed believes we should respect the Legislature’s decision last year and continue to prioritize the health of all children in Nebraska.  Hearing: HHS Committee, March 21.

Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues

You can keep up with all the exciting happenings at the Legislature by following Appleseed online. 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, and 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 take action to get involved and make your voice heard!

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