This week marks the last week of bill hearings for the Nebraska Legislature. On March 28, the Unicameral will move to all-day and potentially evening debates.
This past week, we passed several milestones. All priority designations have been made. Senators were asked to designate their one priority bill by Tuesday, the same deadline each committee to designate its two priorities. Speaker Arch announced another 25 priority bills on Wednesday. Wednesday was also the halfway point in the session. Everyone would agree there is a lot left to accomplish in the next 45 session days.
Below is a status update for all of my legislation, as well as my priority bill:
LB31 (Two-Person Crew) remains stuck in committee. Some committee members would like to give the Federal Railroad Administration a chance to pass a nationwide requirement later this year before advancing this bill. However, I’ve been assured that there will be a committee vote on the bill next session if the FRA does not act, and I believe the votes will be there to move it forward.
LB32 (Medigap) is being held in committee to give the insurance industry time to add supplemental coverage voluntarily. If the problem is not resolved this year, I have the votes in the committee to advance the bill, and I also believe that I will have the votes on the floor. I know the supporters have heard this before, but they should not underestimate me. I will get this done next year if needed.
LB33 (Mayoral Tie-Breakers) advanced from the Urban Affairs Committee unanimously and is waiting to be heard on General File. If we can break the filibuster, the Speaker has agreed to put this bill back on the agenda.
LB69 (Notices for Life Insurance Policies) is being held in committee to give me time to work with the insurance industry over the interim to hopefully resolve this issue without legislation.
LB98 (Micro-TIF) advanced from the Urban Affairs Committee unanimously. Although the bill is waiting to be heard on General File, it will be included in a committee amendment to one of the Urban Affairs Committee’s priority bills.
LB148 (Western Nebraska Racetracks) had its hearing on Monday, March 13, and I want to give a special ‘thank you’ to Lisa Burke, Ty Lucas, Gary Person, and Pete Volz for making the trip to Lincoln for a night-time bill hearing to testify about the opportunities a racetrack and casino could bring to Lincoln County. Right now, LB148 is being held in committee due to various interests among the General Affairs Committee members. The Committee is also holding Sen. Lowe’s LB311, which would have extended the racing and gaming market studies deadline to Jan. 1, 2029. If the deadline for the studies stays in place (Jan. 1, 2025), North Platte should be in a good position to proceed. If there is an extension effort next year, I will continue to advocate to allow the western half of Nebraska to allowed to proceed with racetrack applications without the required study.
LB149 (Rebasing Rates under the Medical Assistance Program) has its public hearing on March 23. If the hearing goes well, this bill may be able to be amended onto a Health and Human Services Committee priority bill.
LB281 (State 4-H Camp) will be added to a Natural Resources Committee priority bill (LB425) with a reduced appropriation. Although the total appropriation is now $15 million, the State 4-H Camp will be the only eligible recipient of the funds. It will require a dollar-for-dollar match, but once a feasibility study is completed and approved, we could begin drawing funds as the match is raised.
LB433 (Funding Flexibility for Behavioral Health Regions) is being held in committee as the Department of Health and Human Services has committed to allow each behavioral health region to adjust their budgets by 20% each year without further approval by the DHHS as long as the adjustments are within state and federal guidelines. I am prepared to push to get this bill moved to the floor if DHHS doesn’t stay true to its word.
LB434 (Enrolling Long-Term Care Hospitals as Providers Under the Medical Assistance Act) is included in a committee amendment to LB227, one of the Health and Human Services Committee’s priority bills. The bill will allow rural hospitals to move patients requiring long-term care to facilities like Madonna to get the care they need.
LB628 (Clean-up of the Uniform Commercial Code regarding Professional LLC Companies) has been moved to Select File and should get across the finish line this year if we can break the filibuster.
LB674 (Regulation of Digital Assets) has been included in the committee amendment to LB214, a priority bill of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. The bill would allow the Department of Banking to better regulate digital assets.
LB644 (Mega Sites) is Sen. McDonnell’s to enhance Nebraska’s economic competitiveness by directing additional funds to the Site and Building Development Fund to support identifying, evaluating, and developing commercial and industrial sites, also known as mega sites. Since I’ve been successful in finding priority bill tracks for many of my other bills, I agreed to prioritize this bill after Sen. McDonnell agreed to amend the bill to require at least 15% of the funding be allocated to sites west of the 100th Meridian. LB644 could provide the funding infusion needed for communities in District 42, which are in a great position to take major steps forward to grow even more great businesses and jobs.
Please continue to submit public comments on individual bills at NebraskaLegislature.gov, or feel free to reach out to me directly.