Democratic Lawmakers List Key Accomplishments

Lawmakers introduced 739 bills during the 2019 Nebraska legislative session, which ended on May 31. Of those 252 were signed into law.

Another 393 bills remain in the Legislature’s various committees and will be considered next year.

The NDP asked our 18 Democratic senators which of their measures — or other bills and efforts they supported —  they were most proud of. Here are their responses. We will add more as they come in

Sen. Carol Blood, District 3

LB15: Will require insurance companies to cover hearing aids and hearing aid fitting and repair for children who would not be covered otherwise as long as the cost of the device and services doesn’t surpass one percent of a company’s total premiums collected.

LB115: This law makes it so that if a military family is planning on moving into Nebraska and they have a child that is going to be attending public grade school here, they can start the enrollment process before they have actually established residency. In other words, it makes sure that children of military families are not having to sit out a semester and wait simply because of red tape nor miss out on opportunities that pertain to curriculum or extracurricular activities.

LB7: Defines what is an acceptable airbag to be installed in your car and creates penalties if a person or company intentionally install a counterfeit airbag. There have been cases around the country where criminals have literally replaced an airbag with a trash bag full of random hunks of scrap. People can be seriously injured or even die if they get into an accident and these counterfeit airbags are deployed. Bottom line is that it holds bad guys accountable and protects unknowing consumers.

Sen. Kate Bolz, District 29

LB174: Doubles violence prevention in Nebraska.

LB327: Improves reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, District 6

LB532: Makes it easier for survivors of domestic violence to get protection orders against their abusers. Survivors of domestic violence deserve help protecting themselves from their abusers and this bill does that.

LB 690: Prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates, particularly when they’re in labor.. It’s important to protect the human dignity of incarcerated pregnant women and their babies.

LB 59: Establishes mandatory deadlines for investigation of allegations of abuse or neglect and also creates a reporting deadline for that investigation. It’s incredibly important to ensure that the children under the care of the state are protected and that allegations of abuse are investigated swiftly.

Sen. Sue Crawford, District 45

LB235: Allows for those making home brewed alcohol to serve samples at festivals and fundraisers without a permit, as long as they are not selling the samples and the event is legally conducted under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act

LB304: A “cottage foods” bill that will allow Nebraskans to sell foods already authorized for sale at farmers’ markets to customers from their homes, at certain events, or for order and delivery online or over the phone.

LB566: Requires that the Legislature’s Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee hold a public hearing on any proposed 1332 Medicaid waiver that would allow the start to deviate from the requirements of federal law. 1332 waivers allow states to manipulate the types of plans featured on their Health Insurance Marketplace that might weaken the protections of the Affordable Care Act.  The bill was amended to also require hearings when the Department of Health and Human Services submits a 1115 waiver. This is an important step providing the Legislature a way to hold the Department accountable for implementation of Medicaid Expansion.

Sen. Wendy DeBoer, District 10

LB680: Adopts the Uniform Civil Remedies for Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act, which creates a civil cause of action for the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

LB141: Allows suffocation to be charged as a felony offense instead of a misdemeanor, like strangulation.

LB130: Incorporates new radon resistant new construction standards into the state building code. New construction in counties with high radon concentration would have to include passive radon mitigation systems.

Sen. Matt Hansen, District 26

LB433:  Requires that a landlord return the balance of a tenant’s security deposit and a written itemization within 14 days after the date of termination of the tenancy. Currently, a tenant must first request the balance be returned to them. The bill also provides that a tenant does not have to pay for damages that result from their removal from the unit by order of a governmental entity because it was not fit for habitation due to negligence or neglect of the landlord. – renters get their security deposits back automatically.

Sen. Sara Howard, District 9

LB556: Among other things, allows interstate operability for the Nebraska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to combat drug trafficking across state lines

LB112: Waives first year licensing fees for occupations under the Uniform Credentialing Act for individuals who are identified as low income, part of a military family or a person between between the ages of 18 and 25.

LB248: Updates Nebraska statutes to replace the term “hearing impaired” with “deaf or hard of hearing.”

Sen. Megan Hunt, District 8

LB405: Updates Nebraska’s energy code from the 2009 to the 2018 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), passed with a 30-11 vote, making Nebraska’s building energy code the most progressive in the country.

LB167: Would ban conversion therapy for minors in Nebraska. Even though the bill drew dozens of testifiers in support of the bill, the hearing generated conversations in the state about how we can protect our LGBTQ youth. The bill was withdrawn and will be reintroduced next session.

LB209: Led the opposition to the bill, which will require physicians to inform patients receiving medical abortions that they may be able to reverse their abortion. Hunt pointed out that the paper that this bill is based on, by Dr. George Delgado, said a medication abortion could be reversed if women who took mifepristone were injected with progesterone rather than taking the second drug, misoprostol, but the study was not scientific and the results could not be reproduced.  She noted that failing to take the second medication, which fewer than 0.004% of patients chose to do between 2000 and 2012, according to data obtained from the manufacturer of the drug, was just as likely to result in a failed medication abortion.

Sen. Rick Kolowski, District 31

LB619: Assures private insurance coverage of mental health services when those services are provided in a school facility by an appropriately licensed behavioral health provider. Some schools provide a space for these services but providers were having difficulty getting insurance payments due to the location outside of their normal office. This bill will make sure the normally covered services are still covered in this location.

LB409: Adopts the 2018 design and building standards for health care facilities. Health and Human Services had not updated the standards in regulation since 2001, so legislative action was necessary to bring them up to today’s standards. Due to the financial crisis of many small rural nursing facilities, we crafted an exemption for them when remodeling an existing building. Nursing facilities will still have to meet fire, safety and electrical standards of the State Fire Marshal.

LB733: Improves accessibility at polling places for persons with disabilities making it easier for them to vote. LB 733 was amended into LB 411, a Government Committee priority bill.

Sen. Steve Lathrop, District 12

LB686:  Modifies the Correctional System Overcrowding Emergency Act to encourage continued efforts to reduce overcrowding in Nebraska’s correctional system while providing for a more limited release of inmates should such an emergency occur.

LB125: Extends victim-notification requirements to people who experience significant thefts at the hands of their intimate partners (so the victims are kept informed about charges being filed, plea agreements, etc.).

LB630:  Changes penalty provisions for and defenses to offenses involving unlawful intrusion and sexually explicit content and creates the offense of sexual extortion.

Sen. Mike McDonnell, District 5

LB641: Provides for an annual $300,000 grant process for a statewide 211 Information and Referral Network. The grant will be administered by the Public Service Commission. LB641 ensures that citizens all across Nebraska will be able to dial 2-1-1 and get the help they are looking for.

LB 445: Requires Nebraska municipalities to provide an annual budget report relating to the use of any occupation tax, such as Omaha’s restaurant tax, levied and collected.The report shall cover what the tax is for, where the money is being spent, and how include an end-date for the occupation tax. This bill ensure Nebraska’s tax system is more transparent for working families.

LB481: (Sen. McDonnell’s LB 642 became LB 481) Creates creates the Brain Injury Oversight Committee and the Brain Injury Trust Fund. The bill includes an annual appropriation of $500,000. LB 481 will ensure that all Nebraska families, especially rural families, are able to access services and education after dealing with a brain injury.

Sen. Adam Morfeld, District 46

LB630:   Changes penalty provisions for and defenses to offenses involving unlawful intrusion and sexually explicit content and creates the offense of sexual extortion.

LB352:  improves transparency and protections against false jailhouse witness testimony.

LB57: Applies to municipalities (cities or villages) and will prohibit ordinances or other regulations that prohibit the use of a property as a short-term rental. A municipality may adopt or enforce ordinances that impact short-term rentals if the primary purpose is to protect the public’s health and safety

Sen. Dan Quick, District 35

LB149: Raises the legal age from 18 to 19 for purchasing and possessing tobacco products and vapor products, such as JUUL devices or other e-cigarettes. It also requires retailers that sell vapor products to be licensed.

LB160: Adds early childhood infrastructure development to the list of projects available for economic development grants or loans. Early childhood care and education programs are important tools for our communities. They can be utilized to attract new families in addition to ensuring parents a safe place to take their kids in order to work.

LB424:  Would amend the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act to allow cities across the state to create and join land banks, an important tool to empower cities to clean up problem properties and put homes back on our tax rolls. The bill did not advance due a fillibuster, but will be up for further consideration next session.

Sen Lynne Walz, District 15

LB570: Commonly referred to as the Olmstead plan, it requires the Department of Health and Human Services to create a statewide comprehensive plan to provide services to those with disabilities in the most inclusive and community-based setting possible. Stemming from a 1999 Supreme Court case, Olmstead v. L.C. the Court found that institutionalization of people with disabilities was considered segregation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and States are required to create a statewide plan to address this issue.

LB468: Protects nursing homes across the state by preventing any such long-term care facility from being moved over the state’s Managed Care Organizations payment structure. Repayment under the MCO’s have been shown to be unreliable and inaccurate for current providers in this system.

Sen. Justin Wayne, District 13

LR14CA: Will change existing language in the Nebraska State Constitution regarding Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Currently, TIF in Omaha is all the same. A developer receives the same economic benefit of TIF whether they invest in North Omaha or 72nd and Dodge. The proposed change would extend the TIF repayment period from 15 years to 20 years, but only in cases where more than 50 percent of the project is in an area that has been declared “extremely blighted”. Because the 15-year limitation is in the constitution, there is no way for us to extend the TIF repayment period from 15 years to 20 years without first changing the current constitutional language.

LB86: Will increase funding for and prioritize affordable housing grants to extremely blighted areas. Additionally, first time homebuyers in these areas will receive an income tax credit for purchasing a home in extremely blighted area.

LB87: One of the lesser-known components of the 2017 federal tax overhaul is the Opportunity Zones Program, which was designed to promote investment and drive economic growth in low-income and/or economically disadvantaged communities. LB 87 encourages investment in these areas by requiring that the Department of Economic Development provide a preference for projects and businesses located in whole or in part within an opportunity zone under various grant-based incentive programs. These programs are Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Business Innovation Act, Job Training Cash Fund, and Site and Building Development Fund.

LB129: Appropriates funding to the Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the potential transportation and economic development benefits of constructing an additional bridge across the Missouri River within a city of metropolitan class. The crossroads of Interstate 29 and Interstate 80 creates an ideal situation for the movement of freight into and out of the Omaha area. The navigable portions of the Missouri River can also serve as a major highway for barge traffic to carry freight north and south.

Sen. Anna Wishart, District 27

LB657:  Adopts the Nebraska Hemp Act, which will permit the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in Nebraska.

LB610:   The College Savings Tax Credit Act will encourage employers across the State of Nebraska to create college savings benefits for their employees. Employers will receive a tax credit of 25% of what they contribute to their employee’s 529 accounts, up to $2000. College savings

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