Appleseed at the Legislature

Nebraska State CapitolThe 2012 Legislative session is off to a fast and furious start.  We are already a third of the way through this short (60 day) session and Nebraska Appleseed is working on more bills than ever before.  We’d like to highlight some of the key issues we are working on in our programs and give you an opportunity to get legislative updates and action alerts from us this session.

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Many are calling this the year of the child given the focus on Nebraska’s child welfare system.  The Health and Human Services Committee conducted a thorough and detailed study of the child welfare system reform efforts in what is known as the LR 37 process and several bills and proposed reforms have come out of that process.  Appleseed’s Child Welfare System Accountability Program agrees wholeheartedly with the key recommendation of the HHS Committee to return case management to the state.  Read and see our testimony in support of that bill, LB 961.  We have also testified on numerous other bills meant to address Nebraska’s child welfare system, such as LB 957 and LB 821.  Appleseed has also been working on a bill to extend foster care to 21.  See and read our testimony from Thursday’s hearing and hear from some former foster youth themselves.

This has also been a big session for Appleseed’s Low Income Economic Opportunity Program’s efforts to improve education and training opportunities for low and moderate income families.  We’ve already had one victory!  Last week the Legislature gave first round approval to LB 507 which would would allow young parents up to age 24 to meet their work requirements under the Aid to Dependent Children Program by pursuing their GED or high school diploma.  Read the Unicameral Update’s coverage of LB 507.  Today, there will also be a hearing in the Education Committee on LB 1079, a bill to strengthen and create bridge programs which combine traditional education and vocational and on the job training in high demand jobs.

The LIEO team has also been working intensely with our partners to improve ACCESSNebraska.  They have been working on three bills that have already had hearings, LB 825, LB 1016, and LB 1041.  Our food security work continues as well.  One bill, LB 1090 to expand the Summer Food Service Program to feed hungry children during the summer, already had a successful hearing.

No major anti-immigrant bills were introduced this session.  Our Immigrant Integration and Civic Participation program has submitted testimony on several Worker’s Compensation bills.  Our Racial Justice work has focused on a voter suppression bill, LB 239, which was removed from the agenda, but is likely to return later this session.  We will be watching this closely.

Our Health Care Access Program work will focus on legislation to establish a health insurance exchange in Nebraska under the Affordable Care Act. Two bills, LB 835 and LB 838 have been introduced.  Neither has been scheduled for a hearing yet.

Overriding all our work is the Governor’s proposal for a costly tax cut through LB 970.  Appleseed strongly opposes this cut.  It will cost over $300 million with little to no benefit for middle class and working Nebraskans.  We cannot afford it and meet our existing obligations to children and families in Nebraska.  See our testimony opposing LB 970

Our intention is to provide updates on the legislation Appleseed’s works on and cares about as often as we can with action alerts to help you get involved.  If you would like to receive regular emails, please subscribe to our Legislative Updates.

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