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Advocacy Committee

Link to the Legislature website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov

 

After 62 days together, we are grateful the Legislature is headed into another much-needed four-day recess. Tensions were high on the floor this week, as controversy over special committee appointments continued, a second-round filibuster stopped a priority bill regarding student journalism, and insults were hurled about race and law school rankings. Of the twelve attorneys in the Unicameral, seven of them received their JDs from the law school under fire: the University of Nebraska College of Law. Two of your lobbyists are proud alums (and would put it up against Katie’s Creighton Law any day of the week). 

 

Credential Reciprocity Bill Passed

The Legislature gave final approval to LB390, a bill introduced by Senator Murman at the request of the Governor intended to expand Nebraska’s health care work force.

  • Allows certain individuals credentialed in another state to apply for an expedited credential in Nebraska. 
  • Eligible credential holders include EMS providers, PAs, nurses, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, psychologists, dialysis technicians, licensed medical nutrition therapists, medical radiographers, perfusionists, surgical first assistants, and acupuncturists.
  • LB390 authorizes the state Department of Health and Human Services to determine the necessary credentialing level of an applicant with the recommendation of the appropriate professional advisory board. An applicant receiving a reciprocal license under the bill is required to establish residency in Nebraska within 180 days of obtaining the license.

 

State Budget Advances, Amendment to Lower Public Health Funding Fails

Following discussion of several proposed changes, lawmakers gave second-round approval on Tuesday to the state’s $9.7 billion budget package. Final approval of the budget is expected next Tuesday. Discussion of Revenue Committee “tax and spend” bills will begin on April 26.

 

Several additional amendments to the mainline budget bill (LB380) were considered. An attempt by Senator Groene to strike an increase in funding to the state’s public health departments was not adopted. The provisions originally were part of LB585, sponsored by Senator Vargas, and would appropriate $1.5 million in fiscal year 2021-22 and $3 million in FY2022-23 to local public health departments. Senator Groene said those departments are funded adequately and that lawmakers should wait until all federal CARES Act funds have been finalized to determine if additional dollars are necessary.

 

Senator Vargas opposed the amendment, saying CARES Act funds are meant to reimburse public health departments for expenditures to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The additional funding in the budget would help shore up the state’s public health “infrastructure,” he said, allowing departments to resume the work of providing preventative health care and prepare for future public health emergencies. “This proposal was brought because CARES Act funding is one-time funding,” Vargas said. “Public health infrastructure is critical to ensuring that the next time something happens — and not just a pandemic or a virus — that our public health departments are [responding] and are prepared to do so.” The Groene amendment failed on a 10-23 vote. 

 

Mental Health Crisis Hotline Task Force Bill Given Second-Round Approval

Senators voted to advance Senator Pansing Brooks’ LB247 to create the Mental Health Crisis Hotline Task Force to develop a plan for Nebraska to integrate and utilize the 988 mental health hotline established under federal law.

 

Rural Fire District Funding Boost Advanced

Lawmakers also gave second-round approval to Senator Groene’s LB664, which would boost fire district funding. In 1998, the legislature created the Mutual Finance Assistance Fund Act to allow for state aid to rural fire districts who agree to participate in a county wide Mutual Finance Organization. The source of the funding is ten percent of the total Insurance Premium Tax. The dollars available for disbursement has averaged nearly $9 million per year. Presently, the fund is allocated on a $10 per-capita rate for each Mutual Finance Organization, and has only required less than $4 million in appropriations. According to Senator Groene, LB664 will update the disbursement formula to more adequately reflect the needs of the fire districts as populations decline but needed fire protection services have increased. The $10 per capita disbursement will stay intact. LB664 will add a $10,000 payment for each fire district in a Mutual Finance Organization. The intent is to disperse all of the Mutual Assistance Funds to rural fire districts.

 

Please let us know if you have questions about any bills. As always, the attached bill chart shows the current status of all bills we are tracking on your behalf and includes our summaries of all the legislation and amendments. Bills in bold are those that have had status changes this week.

NEMSA Bill Chart

Cheers to the weekend,

Michelle, Katie, and Joselyn

 

Michelle Weber

Zulkoski | Weber

725 South 14th Street

Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

o: 402-975-2195

c: 402-984-5009

www.zulkoskiweber.com

Lobbyist Firm

Zulkoski Weber LLC | 725 South 14th StreetLincoln, NE 68508

Katie Zulkoski
[email protected]

Michelle Weber
[email protected]

 

Nebraska Emergency
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