Exciting legislation introduced while senators prep for hearings next week

Last week was busy for the Nebraska Legislature as senators continued with bill introduction and Governor Ricketts shared his State of the State Address. At Appleseed, we believe our elected officials should seize the opportunity to address the economic and public health hardships Nebraskans are facing due to the pandemic and the systemic racism harming our communities.

Hearings begin on January 25th

The last day for senators to introduce legislation is today, January 20th, with hearings beginning on Monday, January 25th. Alongside you, we’ll be advocating on a number of bills, including legislation to ensure our neighbors are protected in the workplace, children and families have access to nutritious food at home and at school, and young people receive the support they need to be successful.

Ensuring everyone has access to affordable, humane housing

LB205, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, would protect tenants from paying excessive late fees. It requires landlords to choose between terminating a rental agreement and charging a late fee. The bill also requires that any late fee charged be based on the actual harm caused by late payment of rent, and caps the late fee at $100 or 5% of the tenant’s rent. We will be testifying in support of the bill in front of the Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, January 27th at 1:30pm.

Several other bills have been introduced to protect tenants, including LB394 which gives municipalities, county boards, and local public health departments the power to enact an eviction moratorium in times of public health crises, and LB419 which would give all tenants in eviction cases the right to legal counsel.

Strengthening young people’s knowledge and power

LB357, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, creates the Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights. This bill would strengthen young people’s knowledge and power to advocate for themselves and seek support when their rights are not being met. We will be testifying in support of the bill in front of the Judiciary Committee next Thursday, January 28th at 1:30pm.

LB262, introduced by Senator Tony Vargas, also improves our child welfare system. The bill addresses a gap in our Bridge to Independence (B2I) program by allowing all young people transitioning into adulthood to access the program, regardless of immigration status.

Ensuring access to supports for our immigrant neighbors

LB298, introduced by Senator Mike McDonnell, would ensure access to unemployment insurance support for Nebraska DACA and TPS residents, asylum seekers, and other work-authorized immigrants, who are longtime community members but found they were ineligible for unemployment support during the pandemic. Nebraska is the only state that does not extend unemployment support to all work-authorized residents. We will be providing testimony in support of the bill to the Business and Labor Committee next Monday, January 25th at 1:30pm.

Supporting Nebraska children and families

Several bills were introduced at the end of the last week and early this week to strengthen supports and access to assistance programs that go a long way to help individuals and families most impacted by the pandemic.

LB485, introduced by Senator Wendy DeBoer, increases access to Nebraska’s child care subsidy program. Affordable, high-quality child care is vital to allow families to work, to keep children safe, and to jump-start a child’s learning and development.  The child care subsidy program helps low-income Nebraskans work, find a job or pursue education by subsidizing the cost of child care and increasing access to this program especially important to help families get back on their feet during this pandemic.

LB516, introduced by Senator Terrell McKinney, would require the Department of Health and Human Services to allow online coursework to count towards work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Online classes would be allowed as long as the coursework would have counted towards the requirements if it were an in-person class.

LB356, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, would eliminate a penalty for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants who do not complete requirements in other programs. SNAP has suspended work requirements across the nation due to COVID-19, but Nebraskans are still receiving reduced SNAP benefits for unmet work requirements in other programs. This bill would end that unnecessary and excessive penalty.

Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues

You can keep up with all the happenings at the Legislature by following Appleseed online. Like our Facebook page and follow legislative hearings in real-time on Appleseed’s Twitter feed. Stop by our blog for opinion pieces, informative updates, and news stories.

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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