Legislative Update – February 27, 2017

This is an important week to make your voice heard to State Senators to improve opportunity for hard-working Nebraskans and oppose bills that would deprive people of their basic rights.

Supporters urge Legislative Committee to Stop The Debt Trap

Appleseed joined 20 supporters who testified in support of payday lending reform bill LB 194 (Sen. Tony Vargas) at a lengthy hearing of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee on February 21.

At the hearing, State Senators heard from many Nebraskans like Diana who took out short-term loans to cover emergencies only to get trapped in a cycle of debt thanks to the industry’s high interest rates and short repayment cycles.

LB 194 would force payday lenders serve their customers with fair terms by lowering one of the nation’s highest interest rates (currently 461 percent) and limiting monthly payments to a reasonable 5 percent of a borrower’s income.

If your State Senator is on this committee, we urge you to contact them. Tell them to advance LB 194 out of committee for full debate.

Sen. Brett Lindstrom (402) 471-2618

Sen. Roy Baker (402) 471-2620

Sen. Tom Brewer (402) 471-2628

Sen. Joni Craighead (402) 471-2714

Sen. Mark Kolterman (402) 471-2756

Sen. John McCollister (402) 471-2622

Sen. Paul Schumacher (402) 471-2715

Sen. Matt Williams (402) 471-2642

Other Committee appearances

Appleseed appeared in front of committees at several other hearings last week to testify on bills affecting opportunity for hard-working Nebraskans and to improve the child welfare system.

LB 526 (Sen. Adam Morfeld) – Limits the predatory practice of a third-party company filing suit against Nebraskans over small debts. Current Nebraska law encourages companies to sue Nebraskans over debts as small as $60, many of them medical debts from uninsured families. We supported this bill before the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 22.

LB 165 (Sen. Tom Brewer) – Would require all Nebraska employers to screen new employees’ work eligibility status through the federal E-Verify database. Appleseed opposed this bill in front of the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 22 because it would create a new and sizeable state bureaucracy, and the E-Verify database has proven to have accuracy problems that cause harm to employers and employees.

LB 179 (Sen. Kate Bolz) – Would allow young Nebraskans who age out of the juvenile justice system to participate in the Bridge to Independence program, which helps youth in foster care get important support everyone needs to transition to a healthy adulthood. We supported this bill before the Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 23.

LB 298 (Sen. Roy Baker) – Contains improvements to the Nebraska Strengthening Families Act to allow youth in the juvenile justice system to have experiences that are important to growing into a healthy adult. We supported this bill in front of the HHS Committee on Feb 23.

LB 411 (Sen. Kate Bolz) – Clarifies that efforts must be made by the Department of Health and Human Services to place siblings in foster care together even if there is no prior relationship between the siblings. All Nebraska youth in foster care should have a chance at a positive relationship with their brothers and sisters. We supported this bill before the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 24.

Supporting paths to opportunity

LB 211 (Sen. Matt Hansen) – A bill to insures the minimum wage earned by those who rely on gratuities is brought into line with the standard minimum wage. Currently, hard-working Nebraskans who receive tips are guaranteed a minimum wage of only $2.13 an hour, which hasn’t been raised since 1991. We support this bill.  Business and Labor Committee, Monday, 1:30 p.m.

LB 75 (Sen. Justin Wayne) – An important bill to provide for the restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation. We support this bill. Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, Wednesday, 9:15 a.m.

Opposing bills that restrict rights

This week, we also will be OPPOSING three measures that will harm fundamental rights for many Nebraskans and put up barriers to opportunity.

LB 505 (Sen. Tom Brewer) – An unnecessary and unproductive anti-refugee bill that would require resettlement agencies to report to the state how many refugees were settled, various demographic characteristics, and state and federal assistance received. This bill runs contrary to our state’s proud and successful history of refugee resettlement. Judiciary Committee, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.

LB 537 (Sen. Dan Hughes) – Would allow drug screens to become an eligibility requirement for Nebraska’s Aid to Dependent Children cash assistance program. Not only does this reinforce an old, prejudiced stereotype of people with low incomes, it has been found to be costly to taxpayers in other states. HHS Committee, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.  

LR1CA (Sen. John Murante) – This proposed amendment to Nebraska’s State Constitution creates an unnecessary barrier to voting in Nebraska by mandating voters have state-issued identification, which is a costly and burdensome requirement to Nebraskans with low incomes, people who don’t drive, people who move frequently, college students, and people with disabilities – all of whom should be able to participate in our elections freely. Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.  

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.

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 2017.

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!

Want to support our work? Consider giving a donation today.

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