Possible Focus Areas

Big Picture

At our core, when we each envision poverty, we are grounded in our own perception of what it can look like in everyday life.  When you work on policy change – we do not lose the image of an individual person or child – rather we look at the system and ask ourselves what can be done to change the picture.  

The volunteer at the food bank, the philanthropist, the policy advocate, and the family struggling to put food on the table are all change agents. Your work is ongoing and this, my friends, is only the beginning of the 2016 Legislative Session.  

Let’s see what you can do…

Coalition Members Policy Focus

Economic Stability  

Paid Family Leave:  LB 850, Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Act (Crawford) was introduced this week. Read more about the bill in the media coverage.  

Payday Lending: Look for a a bill to be introduced this week in this area. 

Asset Limits:  LB 147 (Crawford) was unanimously advanced by the Health and Human Services Committee.  This bill would eliminate asset limits for ADC and SNAP recipients.

Vita Sites:  Coalition members will be encouraged to testify at the Appropriations Committee’s hearing with the Department of Revenue. Voices for Children will be leading the coordination of an effort to secure funding for these free tax preparation services.

Food Insecurity 

SNAP Eligibility: 

  1. LB 690 (Morfeld) would eliminate the exclusion of those convicted of drug felonies from qualifying for SNAP benefits. 
  2. LB 411 (Cook) is a carryover bill that would increase SNAP eligibility to 185% of the federal poverty level. 

Food Deserts:  Look for a bill to be introduced relating to this issue.

Food in Schools:  Also look for news regarding Senator Cook’s potential work around food in high poverty schools. 

Healthcare 

Medicaid Expansion:  The latest policy adaptation is to be messaged as the Transitional Health Insurance Program or “T-HIP”. The acronym is not unprecedented – think of “CHIP” (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Senators, Coalition members, advocates and Nebraskans who fall in the coverage gap have been working diligently for years to expand Medicaid in Nebraska under the ACA. Look to Nebraska Appleseed for the latest updates on this issue. ICYMI: Omaha heavyweights back health care plan

Every Woman Matters:  LB 782 (Schumacher) revives Senator Nordquist’s bill to secure access to important family planning for low income women in Nebraska. Advocates will be giving Schumacher’s version a full read for any changes in this new version.  

Domestic Violence:  The Women’s Fund is working on an initiative with the Attorney General’s Office. More on that to come – contact Michelle for more information. 

Employment/Education 

Adult Career Education Pathways Task Force:  LB 752 (Crawford) is the product of work over the interim with stakeholders. If you are not part of that group, but would like to be, please contact her office. 

Bridge Programs: LB 217 (Hansen) is a carryover bill that would extend bridge programs.  

Equal Pay:  Senator Mello has been working on drafting an Equal Pay bill.  Look for that to be introduced in the coming days. 

School Readiness Tax Credits: Senator Mello will be introducing a bill modeled after Louisiana’s School Readiness Tax Credits. The credits will be aligned with the Step up to Quality ratings system (commonly referred to as QRIS). Contact Sarah Ann Kotchian for more information. 

TANF: LB 701 (Mello) eliminates a sunset provision so that TANF recipients can continue to pursue education as a work activity requirement.  

State Budget 

Coalition member OpenSky reminds us that it will be critical to protect revenue streams, particularly income tax revenue streams as the session progresses. Expect to hear a lot about property taxes this session – those ideas that may be rising to the top are capping assessments and a separate proposal by Senator Bolz for a property tax circuit breaker. The latter being a targeted policy change based on income. 

To find an actual bill, click on “introduced copy” on the bill’s page.  In the future, the bill’s page will have the most current information about that bill…advanced out of committee, cosigners etc.

If we missed any issues that Coalition members should be aware of, please let Marj know and they will be on the next update!

Requests

1) There will be a new drop box set up for file sharing.  Send your fact sheets, your infographics, and other helpful information about bills.  

2) The Women’s Fund has a call to action for anyone who wants to advocate for a much needed update to the Omaha Public Schools sex education curriculum.  Encourage the Board to approve what was originally proposed

Wrapping Up 

Senators can start prioritizing bills Monday 1/11/15.  If you remember from the last update, a bill is not likely to be debated by the full legislature without a priority designation.  Getting a bill amended onto a priority bill or “vehicle” is a good Plan B (sometimes Plan B is Plan A).  

As you know, you should expect the unpredictable in the next week during the remaining days of bill introduction. The good news is that Coalition members have a promising list of issues as the session begins!

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