The Nebraska Legislature kicked off the 2020 session last Wednesday! Since then, senators have introduced hundreds of bills, with several being top of mind for Nebraska Appleseed.
Strengthening Nebraska’s child welfare system
Over the interim, youth with foster care and juvenile justice experience shared their input with Senator Megan Hunt to draft legislation to ensure youth in out-of-home placements are aware of their rights, and that those rights are protected and enforced. We support LB941, introduced by Senator Hunt, to create the first Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights. This bill provides youth in care with a list of their rights related to services, connection to family, transition planning, and more. LB941 also strengthens the process for reporting if these rights are not being met.
The Bridge to Independence (B2I) program recently celebrated five years of supporting former foster young adults to transition into adulthood. A recent evaluation found that young people in B2I reported have post-secondary education experience, are able to cover monthly expenses, and are living in safe, stable, and affordable housing. While we support the successes of B2I overall, we also recognize that all eligible young adults formerly in foster care should have equitable access to the program. LB849, introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, would update eligibility requirements under the Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act to allow native youth more effective access to participate in B2I.
Honoring the vote of Nebraskans to implement Medicaid expansion
Nebraska voters made it clear that we support Medicaid expansion. When Nebraskans checked the ‘For’ box, the intent was for the program to begin as swiftly as possible and without additional requirements. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) continues to delay implementation and experiment with unnecessary barriers.
We support LB815, introduced by Senator Adam Morfeld, which would prohibit DHHS from using an 1115 waiver to expand Medicaid. This bill would limit our state leaders from using plans that undermine the purpose of Medicaid expansion.
LB932, introduced by Senator Anna Wishart, would require DHHS to implement Medicaid expansion on or before October 1, 2020. This is the date by which DHHS has stated it plans to expand Medicaid, so a bill requiring the start on October 1 provides budgetary certainty and ensures that the program is indeed implemented by that date. Appleseed supports this bill.
Ensuring Nebraskans can power their lives
For several years we’ve heard from individuals who have experienced a utility service disconnection about how much it impacts their health and disrupts their day-to-day lives. But we believe all Nebraskans should live in a place where they do not need to fear that their health will be placed in jeopardy because they cannot pay their utility bills.
LB933, introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, would require utility companies to continue service when an account is delinquent if it is shown that disconnection would cause a health hazard, like the loss of use of an oxygen tank, for example. The bill would also require utility companies to publish information on individual rights and payment options. Appleseed supports this bill.
Protecting the rights of Nebraska workers
We support LB915, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, which would increase the tipped minimum wage for Nebraska workers. Currently, the tipped minimum wage in Nebraska sits at $2.13 an hour, and this bill would provide a much-needed increase to $4.50 an hour by 2022. Appleseed has supported similar proposals in the past and we look forward to adding our voice to this important issue this session.
LB846, introduced by Senator Dan Quick, is a bill that provides a common-sense fix to reduce Nebraska’s unusually long waiting periods in our workers’ compensation system. This bill brings Nebraska in line with waiting periods utilized in surrounding states and ensures Nebraskans can recover from workplace injuries and stay healthy at work. Appleseed supports this bill.
Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues
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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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