Legislative Round Up, Week 10

Priority Bills Established

The landscape for the rest of the session became a lot clearer last week as advocates learned which bills now have senator and committee priority status. Click here for an explanation on priorities. The priority list isn’t complete, as the Speaker will soon announce (likely early this week) his selection of 25 additional priority bills. However, we now have a better idea of what bills our member organizations have been working on that have an avenue to the finish line and what possible threats member organizations will be fighting.

Hearings Watch 

Hearings are winding down. Only two more weeks. Here is what is going on in committees this week:

Today: The Business and Labor Committee will hear testimony on LB420 (McCollister), which creates the Fair Chance Hiring Act to require a prospective employer to evaluate a job applicant’s qualifications, without initial inquiry about the applicant’s history, a concept known as Ban the Box.

Tuesday: The Education Committee will hear testimony on LB630 (Larson), which would divert state resources from public schools to create charter schools.

Wednesday:  The Health and Human Services Committee will hear testimony on LB120 (Schumacher), which requires a state plan to be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the purpose of providing medical assistance for family planning services for persons whose family earned income is at below 185% of poverty.

Also Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on LB622 (Wishart), which adopts the Medical Cannabis Act, providing for medical marijuana in Nebraska. This is a priority and it is likely to get out of committee.

Thursday:  As a counter-proposal on Voter ID, the Government will hear testimony on LR15CA, which would prohibit requiring an ID when voting.

Click here for a link to the NET live stream of the hearings.

Keep in Mind

Bills that are seemingly stuck in committee, should not be assumed to be off the table. Education bills, in particular, could be bill pulled out on the Floor. The makeup of that committee makes it hard for bad bills to get a necessary fifth vote to advance out of committee. But it is also hard to get a fifth vote to kill a bad bill. This means, proponents of ideas like charter schools and vouchers, could try to pull these bills onto the floor.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

-Maya Angelou

As the legislature moves from hearings to floor debate, read up on the opportunities and threats for the work of CSN members.