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Take Action: Bills Under Consideration in the Unicameral

During the 2014 session of the Nebraska Unicameral, Bold Nebraska is working with partner organizations including Nebraskans for Civic ReformNebraska AppleseedCommon Cause Nebraska, Center for Rural AffairsNebraska Wildlife Federation and Nebraska Sierra Club to bring you informed coverage of bills under consideration, and actions you can take like testifying at the Capitol, or calling and emailing your state senator.

STATE_CAP_POSTCARD
(image via Flickr user MCAD Library)

LINK: LIVE STREAMING VIDEO OF UNICAM IN SESSION (via NET Nebraska) 

You can watch live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Nebraska Unicameral in session via NET Nebraska:

  • TV: tune to NET Television‘s NET2 World channel
  • Radio: NET Radio listeners can hear legislative highlights of each weekday session at 5:30 p.m. CT during “All Things Considered,” as well as at 7:06 a.m. CT during “Morning Edition.”
  • Web: Live streaming video coverage of the Unicameral in session availalble at this link.
  • Mobile: Access live and on-demand video of the Unicameral via the Nebraska Capitol Live Mobile App.

INDEX OF BILLS:

  • Raise the Minimum Wage, Protect Working Families (LB 943, 955, 956)
  • Voter ID (LB 662, LB 746)
  • Medicaid Expansion (LB 887)
  • “C-BED” Renewable Energy (LB 402)
  • Energy Policy (LB 965)
  • Energy Efficiency (LB 978)
  • Metering of Fracking Water (LB 856)
  • Limit on BPA Chemicals in Food Packaging (LB 696)
  • “True Cost” of Producing Electric Power (LB 965)
  • Changes to Competitive Livestock Markets Act (LB 942)

 

“C-BED” Renewable Energy (LB 402) | Hearing Date: Friday, Feb. 28

via Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Wildlife Federation:

Introduced by Sen. Mello, LB 402 would provide a sales tax incentive for renewable energy developed through a Community-Based Energy Development (C-BED) organization.

LB 402: SUPPORT

  • Expands scope of current law to include solar energy
  • Also includes local effort of labor, materials, manufactured content, and professional services in addition to ownership
  • A more user-friendly way to maximize the economic development benefits of renewable energy development.

ACTION: Call and email your state senator, as well as members of the Natural Resources Committee, and urge them to support LB 402 to boost renewable energy in Nebraska.

Medicaid Expansion: “Wellness in Nebraska” (LB 887) | Hearing Date: Wednesday, January 29 (Health & Human Services Cmte)

via Nebraska Appleseed:

Introduced by Sen. Kathy Campbell, LB 887 would create “Wellness in Nebraska,” a new, innovative program that addresses the health care needs of uninsured Nebraskans. The bill provides coverage via Medicaid for people under the Federal Poverty Level and purchases private insurance plans with cost sharing for those who make above the poverty level, but still have low incomes.

LB 887SUPPORT

  • Wellness In Nebraska also contains a number of provisions that would help educate people to the workings of the health insurance market and let them participate in wellness plans so that they can have an active role in their health care.
  • Not only does LB 887 finally create a workable solution to help tens of thousands of Nebraskans get access to health insurance, but it also will bring an estimated $2 billion into our economy.  In short, WIN is a “win” for the health of our people and the strength of our economy.

ACTION:

Changes to Competitive Livestock Markets Act (LB 942) | Hearing Date: Tues., Feb. 18 1:30 p.m. (Ag Cmte)

via Center for Rural Affairs:

Introduced by Sen. Schilz, LB 942 would open up the Competitive Livestock Markets Act and let multinational meatpacking corporations seize control of even more of Nebraska’s livestock production.

LB 942: OPPOSED

  • Ranchers and dairy farmers should be asking themselves, how long will it be before we strike the whole prohibition and let packers own cattle, too?
  • Increasing vertical integration (packer ownership) relegates independent producers to the role of residual suppliers, and consequently, the low price takers at virtually every turn.
  • Packers don’t contract outside of total confinement, which makes vertical integration a barrier to entry for young farmers because debt-financing confinement operations is a huge financial obstacle, not to mention getting a packer contract is not guaranteed.
  • Vertical integration and the subsequent shift to total confinement production, is a threat to the development of alternative production methods (e.g. Niman Ranch).
  • Alternative production methods, such as Niman Ranch, or direct marketing hold the best hope for a new generation of family farm hog producers.

ACTION: Attend the hearing and voice your opposition to LB 942. You can also contact your state senator, and the members of the Ag Committee as listed below and urge them to oppose LB 942:

 

Limits on Use of BPA (chemicals) in Food Packaging (LB 696) | Hearing Date: Tues., Feb. 11 (Ag Cmte)

via Nebraska Sierra Club:

Introduced by Sen. Ken Haar, LB 696 would further limit the use of BPA, a substance that can harm fetal development, in food packaging. Currently the federal EPA bans BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and baby formula containers.

LB 696: SUPPORT

  • LB 696 would phase in further restrictions on BPA in Nebraska:
  • Starting January 1, 2015, BPA would be banned in any reusable food or beverage container.
  • Starting January 1, 2016, BPA would be banned in any food packaging intended or marketed for children.
  • Starting January 1, 2016, all food packaging that contains BPA would be required to have a label disclosing this fact.

ACTION: Attend the hearing and speak out in favor of LB 696, or else contact the members of the Ag Committee and urge them to support LB 696:

Metering of Water Used for “Fracking” (LB 856) | Hearing Date: Friday, Feb. 7 (Natural Resources Cmte)

via Nebraska Sierra Club:

Introduced by Senator Wallman, LB 856 would require metering to measure the amount of water used in all fracking operations, as well as the amount of fracking fluid recovered as part of the operation.

LB 856: SUPPORT

  • This is a minimal and commonsense provision and should be supported. The hearing also can provide an opportunity to talk about other aspects of fracking that cause concern, such as the impact of injecting toxic materials below the earth, situations in which fracking has caused unwanted seismic activity, and the need for more regulation of this process.

ACTION: Supporting testimony at the hearing would be greatly appreciated. Comments in support of LB 856 can also be submitted to the members of the Natural Resources Committee:

 

“True Cost” of Producing Electric Power (LB 965) | Hearing Date: Friday, Jan. 31 (Natural Resources Cmte)

via Nebraska Sierra Club:

Introduced by Sen. Ken Haar, LB 965 would require consideration of the true cost of producing electric power as well as the benefits of power generation.

LB 965: SUPPORT

  • LB 965 modifies the definition of cost to include all costs, including fuel costs, environmental impacts, regulatory compliance costs, energy portfolio risks, water usage and customer-owner dollars sent out of state.
  • LB 965 also requires consideration of the benefits of energy production including economic impacts, efficient use of resources, portfolio diversification and beneficial impacts to water or other resources.

ACTION: Attend the hearing and speak in favor of LB 965, or contact the members of the Natural Resources Committee and urge them to support LB 965:

Raise Nebraska’s Minimum Wage, Protect Our Working Families (LB 943, 955, 956) | Hearing Date:

via Nebraska Appleseed (watch James Goddard of NE Appleseed’s testimony in favor of LB 943):

LB 943 : SUPPORT

Introduced by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, LB 943 would raise Nebraska’s minimum wage gradually over three years to $9 per hour.

LB 955SUPPORT

Introduced by Sen. Annette Dubas, LB 955 would create a paid family leave policy in Nebraska. Employees would contribute to a fund and be able to receive up to six weeks of paid leave per year to be used to care for family members.

LB 956: SUPPORT

Introduced by Sen. Danielle Conrad, LB 956 would slightly increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for Nebraska’s low-income parents. The EITC has been a tremendously helpful tool in fighting poverty.

“Hard work is one of Nebraska’s foundational values, however, the economy has changed and left too many hard-working Nebraska families behind. LB 943, LB 955, and LB 956 each are a step toward rebuilding Nebraska’s middle class and safeguarding the ability of working Nebraskans to care for and provide for their families,” said Nebraska Appleseed director Becky Gould. “These common-sense policies ensure that Nebraska will be a place where hard work pays and restores our workers’ ability to make a decent living and provide security to their families.”

“Nebraska boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and one of the highest rates of parents participating in the workforce. Yet, low wages and some workplace policies risk the stability of our working families. Our state is strongest when families are secure, and these bills would do much to make sure parents can earn a reasonable wage for an honest day’s work and achieve the upward mobility that has been lost to many families in today’s economy.”

ACTION: 

 

Voter ID (LB 662) | Hearing Date: Thursday, Jan. 23, 1:30 p.m. Room 1507 

via Nebraskans for Civic Reform:

This bill would require state issued, valid photo identification, for people who filled out a change of address form, and then did not respond to an voter registration update request form from the election commissioner or secretary of state’s office. There are about 100,000 Nebraskans currently on this list. The Secretary of State’s office has said that on average about a third of people on this list show up to the polling location and vote in any given general election, which means this bill could negatively affect right to vote of 30,000 individuals.

LB 662: OPPOSED

  • The people affected by this law would will likely not have notice that they will be required to have state identification with their current address until they show up to the polling location on Election Day.
  • There is still no evidence of impersonation at polling locations being a problem, which the Secretary of State has confirmed.
  • The current bill may be more narrow than one proposed by Senator Janssen, but it still impacts the same people — those who are highly mobile, young, and low income.
  • A lot of people use change of address forms if they are students, retirees, etc., but still use their other permanent address as their voting address.

LB 746: SUPPORT

  • Senator Avery introduced this bill, which is *not* a “Voter ID” bill but will likely allow thousands more ballots to be counted rather than thrown out, as is stipulated under current law.
  • Under current law, voters who are registered in one Nebraska county and move to another Nebraska county but forget to reregister by the deadline, are out of luck. They will often be given provisional ballots just in case, but unless they reregistered in their new county, it is not counted. (This issue can account for up to 75 percent of provisional ballots thrown out in some counties.)
  • Under LB 746, if a registered voter moves from Douglas County to Sarpy County and forgets to reregister on time, they can fill out a provisional ballot and show some form of address verification with their current address (recent utility bill, bank statement, current ID, etc. etc.) and then that ballot will be counted, as long as they were previously registered in the state.

ACTION:

  • Attend the hearing on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 1:30 p.m. and testify in opposition to LB 1162.
  • Contact your state senator and urge them to support Senator Avery’s bill, LB 746.
  • Contact: Adam Morfeld, Nebraskans for Civic Reform | adam.morfeld@nereform.org

Below: Nebraskans for Civic Reform’s impact analysis of LB 662, based on information from the Secretary of State’s office and from the Center for People in Need’s Faces of Poverty Survey results.

Nebraskans for Civic Reform: LB 662 Voter ID Impact Analysis

 

 

Energy Policy (LB 965) | Hearing Date: TBD

via Nebraska Sierra Club:

Introduced by Sen. Ken Haar, LB 965 is a revision of the “true cost of energy” bill. It includes many other things that need to be considered when making energy determinations, including economic impact, health and environmental impacts, water usage and the long-term risks of energy decisions.

LB 965: SUPPORT

ACTION:

 

Energy Efficiency (LB 978) | Hearing Date: TBD

via Nebraska Sierra Club:

Introduced by Sen. Burke Harr (co-introducers: Sens. Ken Haar, Rick Kolowski and Heath Mello), LB 978 provides incentive for utilities to make available private sector energy efficiency opportunities, and for consumers to pay for efficiency improvements on their utility bills. Also provides opportunities for partnerships with new private sector partners, including bankers.

LB 978: SUPPORT

ACTION:

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