Legislative Update

NE_Appleseed_Icons_StateCapital-128We’re now less than a month away from the end of the 2014 Nebraska Legislature session and last week was a big one as several of our priorities were debated on the floor.

Legislature blocks Wellness In Nebraska Act from receiving vote

For the second straight year, a bill to help 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans access affordable health coverage was defeated in the Legislature when supporters could not break a filibuster on LB 887, the “Wellness In Nebraska Act.” Supporters had 27 votes to end debate, but fell short of the 33 votes needed to end the filibuster on March 19.

Read Appleseed’s statement on LB 887 vote

We are disappointed in this outcome, but we know it remains unacceptable for so many of our working friends and neighbors to be unable to afford access to quality, affordable health coverage.  This is an issue vital to the future of our state, and we will continue to fight hard for a solution so that all Nebraskans can afford health care coverage.

Bridge To Independence implementation bill moves to Final Reading

LB 853 (Sen. McGill) – This bill to ensure a smoother implementation of the new Bridge To Independence program by adopting stakeholder recommendations was passed on Select File on March 19.  

Bridge To Independence was the program created by last year’s LB 216, which created a system of services and supports for young people who age out of Nebraska’s foster care system.

Another bill key to youth in Nebraska’s foster care system, LB 908 (Sen. Coash), was advanced on General File on March 20.

This bill establishes permanent guardianship proceedings under the juvenile code for children in the foster care system. It provides rights and responsibilities for these guardians and also includes provisions specifically allowing for limited guardianships and assistance to be extended beyond age 19 to age 21 by agreement of DHHS and eligible youth and guardians.

This extended guardianship assistance program is an important part of the Bridge to Independence program. States must extend guardianship and adoption assistance to age 21 when they extend foster care services and support to age 21 so as not to create a disincentive to permanency.

Bill to prevent wage theft advances

LB 560 (Sen. Mello) – A bill to prevent wage theft in Nebraska and ensure that a day’s work equals a day’s pay. This bill supports hard-working Nebraskans by targeting those few dishonest employers who fail to pay the wages promised when the work is done. LB 560 strengthens the Department of Labor’s ability to enforce the law and provide relief when there are claims of wage theft. In addition, LB 560 includes a requirement that employers, with minor exceptions, provide pay stubs to their employees. This bill was passed on Select File on March 19.

Urge your senator to support resolution to fix immigration system, bill to raise minimum wage

LB 943 (Sen. Nordquist) – This bill would raise the minimum wage in Nebraska to $9 per hour over several years for non-tip earners and raises the minimum wage for those earning tips to 70 percent of the standard minimum wage. This is a measure proven to lift hard-working Nebraska families out of poverty and will ensure that hard work pays a fair wage in our state.

This bill is scheduled on the agenda for today so please contact your senator and ask them to support LB 943.

LR 399 (Sen. Wightman) – This bipartisan resolution urges the federal government to pass common-sense immigration laws for our families, economy, and future. It is expected to come up for floor debate in the next few weeks.

Please urge your senator to support LR 399 because updated immigration laws that include a path to citizenship will keep families together, provide certainty for businesses, and make our communities stronger.

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 2014.

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 throughout the session!

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