The Legislature pushed forward with its first day of hearings yesterday despite the snow. All-day hearings will continue through the end of February. This is different from years past where hearings would only occur in the afternoon, with floor debate taking place in the morning. This year, floor debate will resume once hearings wrap up.
Your voice is vital to ensuring we are building a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive Nebraska, which is why the Unicameral has outlined the various ways you can advocate safely during the pandemic. Details can be found here, but we wanted to provide some highlights:
- In-person testimony: The Legislature is taking additional precautions to ensure community members can present their testimony at the Capitol by limiting the number of people in the hearing rooms, practicing social distancing, requiring face masks, and more.
- Submit a position letter: Community members can submit a statement to be included in the official hearing record by emailing the committee chair’s office by 12pm CT on the last work day before the hearing. A link to the different committees’ email addresses can be found here and details on what has to be included in a position letter can be found here.
- Submit written testimony for the committee statement: Due to concerns about testifying in-person during the pandemic, community members can also submit their testimony in person in the respective hearing room of the legislative bill between 8:30 and 9:30am CT. Please note that there are several rules outlined by the Legislature for submitting this type of testimony that can be found here.
Ensuring access to supports for our immigrant neighbors
Yesterday, we submitted written testimony in support of LB298, introduced by Senator Mike McDonnell. This bill 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. Read our full testimony here.
Protecting access to affordable, humane housing
This Wednesday at 9:30am and at 1:30pm, there are several positive housing bills up for hearings in front of the Judiciary Committee. All of the proposed legislation with hearings tomorrow will go a long way to ensure that Nebraskans have access to safe, affordable housing. Here are a few highlights:
- LB205, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, would protect tenants from paying excessive late fees for late payment of rent.
- LB128, introduced by Senator John McCollister, will help seal tenants’ eviction records so that those records don’t become an unnecessary barrier for tenants to find safe, affordable housing.
- LB358, introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, proposes to strengthen current anti-retaliation statutes by prohibiting landlords from retaliating when the tenant complains to the landlord of a code or lease violation or when the tenant exercises a right or remedy available to them by law.
- LB45, introduced by Senator Matt Hansen, repeals a provision in law that requires a tenant to show extraordinary cause to obtain a continuance of an eviction hearing. This bill would help to ensure more tenants have the opportunity to appear in their defense against eviction.
Strengthening young people’s knowledge and power
On Thursday at 1:30 pm, we will be testifying in support of LB357 in front of the Judiciary Committee. Introduced by Senator Megan Hunt, the bill would create the Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights. This bill would strengthen young people’s knowledge and power to advocate for themselves and to seek support when their rights are not being met while they are in our child welfare system. To learn more, read our fact sheet here.
NEW ADVOCACY TOOL: While in-person or written testimony is still an option, we encourage you to submit a comment on LB357 through the Legislature’s comment portal. Written comments submitted through this portal will not be part of the official record, but senators and staff will have access to read them. This comment portal is available for all bills introduced this session.
You can live-stream any of the hearings mentioned above on NET or follow us on Twitter for real-time legislative updates.
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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