It's legislative season in Nebraska

chris funk
Wednesday, February 16

It's that time of year again, when the Nebraska Unicameral convenes to propose and vote on legislation, which will have a range of impacts—from mundane all the way to truly transformational. It's rare if someone in the state isn't impacted by at least one bill proposed by the Legislature. Of course, at the Center we are focused on topics that significantly impact individuals and families living in poverty.

Food Insecurity

Attendance at our food distributions remains very high, compared to pre-pandemic days. And it's trending up again. There are a couple of bills we like that would improve access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And there's a bill that would include $40 million from the state's American Rescue Plan Act funding for food banks. (Gov. Ricketts did not include any funding for food relief in his ARPA budget, though there were requests totalling $60 million for that need.)

Healthcare

This session, we've provided testimony in support of a bill that would allow incarcerated individuals to apply for Medicaid prior to their release. As it stands, formerly incarcerated individuals have to wait until their release to begin the application process, which means it often takes months to access the medical care necessary to address acute and chronic medical issues. In the meantime, these individuals are expected to weather the storm, regardless of the physical and mental toll, increasing their chance of reoffense and reincarceration. We're hopeful the Legislature will move on this issue soon.

Childcare

Finding affordable, quality childcare remains a major challenge for low-income parents, and the pandemic has only worsened the issue. Several bills have been introduced to address the crisis, including bills that would increase subsidy rates for childcare, increase access to tax credits for childcare providers, and develop an early childhood workforce recruitment and retention program.

These are just a few of the topics that we follow when the Legislature is in session. We learn about and track proposed legislation through several avenues. First, we are a member of the Coalition For A Strong Nebraska, which is tracking 136 bills this session. Second, we join work groups centered around certain interests, which are organized by Nebraska Appleseed. This year, we are working with them on public policy addressing food insecurity. They also have weekly legislative updates, broken out by interest area, to which you can subscribe. We've added links to both of these resources at cfpin.org/advocacy so you can access them directly.

We also maintain a legislative action alert network through UJoin. We select just a few pieces of legislation for advocacy. We provide suggested language and talking points so you can contact the appropriate Senators directly through UJoin and speak up on behalf of the bills.

Because this is a short session, many of the proposed bills will not even reach the floor for debate. Most likely, only bills designated as a priority by a committee or senator or bills on the consent calendar will reach the point of debate and vote. And so, we are conserving our resources for now. We will wait to use our Action Alert system until we know it will be useful to contact Senators.

To sign up for these alerts, visit cfpin.org/advocacy.

Thank you,
Chris

Cooper Foundation
Great Western Bank logo
JC and Jessie Seacrest Famiily Foundation logo
Lincoln Community Foundation
Lincoln Police Union
NE Presbyterian Foundation
Nebraska Total Care
Outdoor Solutions
The Sherwood Foundation
Viking Foundation of Lincoln
Wells Fargo