Last Thursday, the Legislature adjourned sine die. They will not officially return until the start of a new legislative session in January. The last few days were filled with farewells to term-limited senators and final votes on remaining bills on final reading. Appleseed saw a few of our priority bills pass last week, too, and those bills have since been signed into law by the Governor.
This session was unlike any other Nebraska has seen before. Not only did it end in August instead of April, it occurred amidst a global pandemic. There were opportunities for senators to act during the last 17 days to address issues that are now facing fellow Nebraskans, but they largely failed to take any action. There were squandered opportunities to protect neighbors from evictions, to boost support for families who need access to food, and to help keep meatpacking workers safe.
Instead, the Legislature focused on passing a corporate tax incentive program and increases to the property tax credit fund. This bill, LB1107, will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and will likely threaten any future opportunities the Legislature may have to help individuals and families across our state who are struggling. Appleseed was disappointed to see so much of senators’ time and attention devoted to this bill, while letting important COVID-19 response efforts fall by the wayside.
Recapping the session: Appleseed’s priority bills
Despite the chaos of this session, we were excited to see several of our priority bills pass and get signed into law. We thank the sponsoring senators and their staff for all their hard work on these pieces of legislation and we look forward to seeing them implemented over the next several months.
LB1061, introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, addresses a number of issues within the child welfare system by reauthorizing the use of alternative response and increasing oversight of non-court cases, also referred to as hidden foster care. This bill has been signed into law by the Governor.
LB933, also introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, passed as a part of LB632. This bill would provide additional consumer protections for those who experience utility shut-offs, which is now especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the bill in our fact sheet. This bill has been signed into law by the Governor.
LB848, introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, would provide more opportunities for native youth aging out of the foster care system to participate in Nebraska’s Bridge to Independence (B2I) program.
Additionally, LB924, introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers, is a bill that requires at least two hours of anti-bias/implicit bias training per year for law enforcement across the state. These bills have been signed into law by the Governor.
LB1016, introduced by Senator Matt Hansen, is a bill that enhances wage theft protections for workers across Nebraska and LB997, introduced by Senator Adam Morfeld, combats surprise billing practices and increases protections for Nebraskans visiting an emergency room. Both of these bills have been signed into law by the Governor.
The fight is not over
Families are still facing food insecurity, neighbors are facing eviction, workers are losing jobs, meatpacking employees and their families are choosing between a paycheck or their health, and parents are unsure how to afford child care.
Our communities are calling for actions to address systemic racism facing our state and the country. We need to dismantle the racism and oppression that have been so entrenched in our institutions and structures. The pandemic has also amplified the racial disparities that exist in our healthcare system.
It is crucial that when the Legislature returns, there are plans in place to tackle the needs of our friends and neighbors across the state who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Appleseed will continue to work over the interim to direct senators’ attention to these important issues and to make sure that Nebraskans are the top priority of policymakers.
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