News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – February 2014

In this February edition of “Appleseed in Action”:

  • Priority bills heard in Legislature
  • Congress passes Farm Bill
  • Appleseed welcomes new members to Board of Directors
  • Rachel Gehringer-Wiar joins Appleseed staff

Priority bills go before committees in 2014 Legislative session

NE_Appleseed_Icons_StateCapital-128Several of Appleseed’s priority bills in the 2014 session of the Nebraska Legislature have received committee hearings. The final day of bill hearings will be on February 28, and full days of floor debate begin on March 4.

LB 887 – The “Wellness In Nebraska Act” (WIN) would provide health insurance to at least 54,000 Nebraskans. WIN utilizes private market insurance for coverage as well as existing programs and would bring billions of dollars back to our state. Appleseed testified in support of the bill before the Health and Human Services Committee on January 29.

This bill is one of our highest priorities this session, and would bridge the health coverage gap that affects so many of our friends and neighbors. We invite you to contact the members of the HHS Committee and urge them to move LB 887 to the floor.

HHS Committee Members

Sen. Kathy Campbell (402) 471-2731

Sen. Sara Howard (402) 471-2723

Sen. Tanya Cook (402) 471-2727

Sen. Bob Krist (402) 471-2718

Sen. Sue Crawford (402) 471-2615

Sen. Dan Watermeier (402) 471-2733

Sen. Mike Gloor (402) 471-2617

LB 853 – Appleseed testified in support of this bill before the HHS Committee on January 22, which would implement stakeholder recommendations and strengthen the implementation of the Bridge to Independence program for young people formerly in foster care.

LB 928 – This bill introduced by Senator Colby Coash and the State-Tribal Relations Committee would add clarity to Nebraska’s ICWA statute and will help the state better serve Native children and families in our child welfare system. Appleseed testified in support of this bill before the Judiciary Committee on January 29.

LB 943 – This bill introduced by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist would raise Nebraska’s minimum wage gradually over three years to $9 per hour, making hard work pay and allowing hard-working Nebraska families a greater measure of stability. Appleseed testified in support of this bill to the Business and Labor Committee on February 3.

You can keep up on all of Appleseed’s priority bills on our Current Legislation page, which contains bill summaries, fact sheets, and other informative resources. You can also subscribe to our Legislative Updates (sent weekly during the legislative session).

Congress passes Farm Bill, SNAP cuts less than originally proposed in House

NE_Appleseed_Icons_FoodSecurity-128In late January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Farm Bill, a comprehensive piece of legislation that sets many of our nation’s farm and food policies. The Senate passed the bill on February 4th and now, it will go to the President’s desk for his signature.

In addition to a number of agricultural policy reforms, the bill includes $8.6 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) over the next ten years.

While $8.6 billion is certainly a significant cut to SNAP, unlike proposals from this summer and fall, the new bill removes virtually no low-income households from the program. This is because all of the $8.6 billion cut to SNAP comes from the restriction of a practice referred to as “heat and eat,” a component of the SNAP benefit calculation used in nearly one-third of states – however, not in Nebraska.

In Nebraska, SNAP helps about 180,000 people – most of them families with children or older adults – put food on the table.  It is a very effective public measure to combat hunger, and it is essential to have a Farm Bill that protects SNAP.

Appleseed welcomes new members to Board of Directors

Nebraska Appleseed is very excited to announce the addition of three new members to our Board of Directors.

Carol Bloch

Carol Bloch of Omaha joined the Appleseed Board of Directors in January 2014 and has a long history of public service and advocacy work in Nebraska. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Courts Matter Coalition of Nebraska and as a board member of the Anti-Defamation League – Plains States Region and Jewish Social Services. She also has served as a national board member for the National Council of Jewish Women.

Dr. Alison Freifeld

Alison-Freifeld-Infectious-Diseases-2013Dr. Alison Freifeld, M.D., joined the Appleseed Board of Directors in January 2014. She currently is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and also has a practice in Omaha.

Dr. Freifeld also is a director of the Susan T. Buffett Foundation and has served on the Board of Directors of Girls, Inc. of Omaha.

Michelle Suarez

MichelleSuarez_1_2010-195x300Michelle Suarez joined the Appleseed Board of Directors in October 2013. She currently is the principal at Everett Elementary School in Lincoln, a position she has held since 2010. Prior to that, she served as principal at Calvert Elementary School in Lincoln for three years.

Michelle currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Nebraska State College System.

Rachel Gehringer-Wiar joins Appleseed staff

Rachel Gehringer-Wiar

In January, Appleseed was pleased to welcome Rachel Gehringer-Wiar to our Health Care Program as a Program Associate.

Rachel is an Omaha native, a former Nebraska Appleseed intern, and recently graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.

While attending UNL, Rachel became very involved in organizing and community work. She led progressive groups on campus and spent time as a field organizer for the Human Rights Campaign.

Since graduating, Rachel has worked in a full-time AmeriCorps position at Nebraskans for Civic Reform to develop a program that helps returning veterans transition back to civilian life.

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