Legislative Update

NE_Appleseed_Icons_StateCapital-128We are just seven days away from the close of the 2014 Nebraska Legislature session and several important bills await debate, and hopefully passage.  Read on to see how your voice can influence these debates and get caught up on the Legislature action from last week.

Legislature fails to pass bill to raise minimum wage for hard-working families

LB 943 (Sen. Nordquist) – This bill to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska failed to pass by a vote of 20-20 with three senators present, but not voting on March 31.

The bill would have raised Nebraska’s minimum wage to $9 per hour over several years for non-tip earners, and would raise the minimum wage for those earning tips to 70 percent of the standard minimum wage. The minimum wage for tip earners is $2.13 and has not been raised since 1991.

We thank Sen. Nordquist and all the senators who supported this bill that was a measure proven to lift hard-working Nebraska families out of poverty.  We will continue to work alongside our lawmakers on policies that affirm the dignity in a hard day’s work, rebuild the middle class, and help families earn enough to meet their basic needs.

Support Immigration resolution that calls for Congress to keep families together

NE_Appleseed_Icons_TakeAction-128LR 399 (Sen. Wightman) – This bipartisan resolution urges the federal government to pass common-sense immigration laws for our families, economy, and future. This resolution is scheduled for debate next week so it’s important for our senators to hear your voice soon!

More than 60 percent of Americans believe the U.S. needs a path to citizenship to keep families united, grow our economy, and preserve our future.  Now is the time to update our immigration laws.

Please call or write your state senator to support LR 399 because updated immigration laws that include a path to citizenship will keep Nebraska families together.

Bridge To Independence, Wage Theft Prevention bills signed into law

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 Final Reading by a vote of 42-0 on March 27 and was signed into law by Governor Heineman on April 2.

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.  Thank you very much to Sen. McGill for her leadership issue and to all the senators who supported this bill.

LB 560 (Sen. Mello) – This bill to prevent wage theft in Nebraska and ensure that a day’s work equals a day’s pay was passed on Final Reading on March 27 and was signed into law by Gov. Heineman on April 2.

The 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.

LB 661 – This bill would allow voters to register to vote online through the Secretary of State’s web site and use their information provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles to save time and increase accuracy. It was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Heineman on March 31.

LB 907 (Sen. Ashford) – This bill creates the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Task Force which will help provide legislative solutions for prison overcrowding.  It also establishes several provisions to aid an individual’s successful reentry and transition back into the community and workforce.  It passed Select File on March 31.

The bill passed with an amendment to “ban the box,” or prohibit public employers from requesting prior criminal history on the first round of an employment application for certain jobs (with some exceptions) without first determining if the applicant meets the basic qualifications for the job.  The goal of “ban the box” is to ensure people have an opportunity to interview for a job and get back to work after serving their sentence.

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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