Issues

Public Policy Platform

This platform serves to internally guide and externally inform on public policy stances for which we dedicate Holland Children’s Movement time and energy to both pass and protect.

The Movement believes that Nebraskans are at our best when we center children and families at the intersection of opportunity and equity. Because of our unique partnerships with Holland Children’s Institute and Family PAC we strategically position ourselves to educate, advocate, and achieve public policy results that work for children and families, in partnership with policymakers and other organizational community partners.

In pursuit of public policy that creates a more equitable environment for children and families to thrive, this public policy agenda is constructed on a set of values derived from our mission statement.

Our Work

Strategic Advocacy

  • Identify public policy gaps in access, opportunity for children and working families.
  • Seek to pass public policies which ensure equitable access to opportunity.

Public Engagement

  • Amplify the volume of existing public opinion research and data.
  • Build public support, civic engagement to engage with public policy.

Effective Collaboration

  • Build allyship with policymakers who believe in a sustainable workforce; income equity; family economic mobility; common sense tax policy; affordable, quality child care; and comprehensive healthcare for all.
  • Seek partnerships with organizations with commitment to ending poverty, hunger, homelessness, and economic uncertainty.

Early Childhood Care & Education

See Our Early Childhood Victories

“In Nebraska, 71% of all children under the age of six have all available parents in the workforce.” (U.S. Census Bureau 2008-2015 American Community Survey).

All Nebraska children should have access to high quality early care and education. Closing the opportunity gap and impacting intergenerational poverty starts with a child’s earliest experiences. Nebraska is the least affordable state for families with an infant or toddler in family child care.

According to a public opinion survey by Holland Children’s Institute, nearly six-in-ten voters (58 percent) support increasing state investment in early childhood development. Yet, 50 percent of Nebraskans disagree that state government is making adequate investments in early childhood care and education.

  • Step Up to Quality
    Step Up to Quality is the first public quality rating and improvement system of child care providers in Nebraska. Programs serving the highest populations of children through the child care subsidy program participate in Step Up to Quality. These new quality ratings go beyond licensing and strive for better, for all of Nebraska’s children.
  • Child Care Subsidy
    Crucial groundwork is laid for the workforce of today and tomorrow through the child care subsidy program. This program provides child care assistance so families can attend work or school. We have worked consistently to support policy improvements to program eligibility and to tie public investment to quality efforts
    Quality child care is essential to the safety and healthy development of children, particularly in the school readiness of children of low income families. A significant new public investment in early childhood care and education is needed if we are to make good on the promise of quality child care in Nebraska. This investment must go far beyond the current investment in child care subsidy and increased investments directly to the child care subsidy and quality initiatives.
  • School Readiness Tax Credits
    Early childhood programs that care for and educate children in Nebraska’s lowest income families should be committed to high quality care. The greatest barriers to building quality early childhood education start with affordable access and teacher qualifications.
    New tax credits and incentives must be directly linked to Step Up to Quality in order to support investment and access to quality early child care and education. Programs and members of the early childhood workforce can be eligible to receive each credit based on various factors related to program quality and professional attainment. These credits are intended to serve as an incentive for building quality.

Education

See Our Education Victories

Ensuring all families have access to quality public education for their children is a part of the ‘social contract’ that exists between its people and the state. Every child attending public school should receive an education that will prepare them for opportunity and success in the future.

  • K-12 Public Education
    The offering of quality and accessible public education is the best, and most important, way to invest in building an effective and educated future workforce, preparing youth for success.
  • Higher Education
    All Nebraskans should have the ability to attend a public institution of higher learning which provides both quality, and accessible education. Higher education at all levels provides an educated and skilled workforce. Our university and state and community colleges provide valuable economic return to the state, with each dollar invested returning seven in value.
    According to a public opinion survey by Holland Children’s Institute, voters continue to be disappointed with state performance on the affordability of higher education, with a vast majority (86 percent) believing the state should do more to increase college affordability to the middle class, and 70 percent describe the state’s performance in this area as “fair” or “poor.”
  • Career and Technical Job Training
    Nebraska communities need skilled crafts and tradespersons. To varying degrees, these skills-building and educational training programs can be found as early as middle school, and may include a number of career pathways, including apprenticeships. These skilled training and technical certifications offer an alternative form of higher education, valuable to a diversified healthy economy.

According to a public opinion survey by Holland Children’s Institute, 59 percent of Nebraska voters believe providing pathways to job training and career, technical, and vocational education is necessary to support and develop the workforce.

Economic Security

See Our Economic Security Victories

Any public policy or initiative that works to bring economic security and mobility to Nebraska’s children and families is a priority. Nebraska’s working families must have the ability and opportunity to live the ’Good Life’ here in Nebraska. Families should have the tools they need be able to afford and sustain a middle class lifestyle and improve their future economically.

  • Economic Development
    Economic development is an important tool to ensure continued growth and retention of a qualified labor force; thriving businesses; and safe, healthy, and happy communities. This can and does often include tax incentives, deductions, increases, and revenue expansion.Tax benefits should never come at the cost of Nebraska’s working families. Taxes should never be applied to items needed to survive and to thrive, such as food, water, medication, essential services such as medical care, car repair, and more. Those who can most afford it should always pay their fair share when it comes to strengthening Nebraska’s financial security
  • Minimum Wage
    The right to earn a living wage is undeniable. It’s good for the economy and for the standard of living for all Nebraskans. This includes “tipped” minimum wage.

    As it stands, “tipped” minimum wage severely disadvantages workers. While businesses are legally required to ensure tipped staff earn at least the standard minimum wage from tips and hourly wages combined, restaurant and other tipped-wage industries have the highest rates of wage theft, whether accidental and purposeful. The system of job coding, tip calculation, etc. is complicated and favors business profits over worker wage fairness.

    An effective Tipped Minimum Wage must be indexed in accordance with both standard Minimum Wage practices and cost of living adjustments. Expanding standard Minimum Wage to eliminate Tipped Minimum Wage is also appropriate to ensure fair wage practices.

  • Equal Pay for Equal WorkThe right to equal pay for equal work is common sense, but not always common practice. All Nebraskans deserve to be paid commensurate with experience/education, and in accordance with fair labor best practices for the industry.

    No employee should ever be paid less or risk employment due to race, religion, creed, color, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, disability/ability, political affiliation, economic status, and/or any other distinguishing characteristic.

    Women make cents on the dollar compared to men. “Women make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Black women earn only 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men.” Practices such as sharing salary information to increase transparency should not preclude women from employment, nor promotion. Retaliation must be prohibited and adjudicated.

  • The Cliff EffectThe Cliff Effect serves as one of the single largest barriers to economic opportunity. The Cliff effect occurs when the public benefits one earns encourages a cycle of poverty and/or economic insecurity. This occurs from reductions in food, housing, child care and other assistance that outpaces or ends when a recipient attains an increase in pay, hours, etc. jeopardizing the ability of working families to climb the economic ladder.

    To end the Cliff Effect, we must ensure that recipients are provided with sliding scales, transition periods to stabilize income, hours, and economic obligations. Additionally, support systems that allow for cost-benefit analysis and economic planning are critical.

    To combat the Cliff Effect, we must continually reevaluate the systems and operations which affect recipients of public assistance, and not impose punitive pre-requisites, nor arbitrary benchmarks. Creating a smooth transition to economic stability – instead of a cliff – is a smart policy that supports work as a way out of poverty.

  • Paid Family/Medical LeaveAccording to Holland Children’s Institute public opinion research, 58 percent of people surveyed believe paid family and medical leave employee benefits would be ‘extremely helpful to [them] and [their] family.

    Whether it’s a new parent who struggles to pay the bills during the first months with a newborn, new adoptee or an individual undergoing cancer treatment, or a child who needs to support a parent’s end of life – Nebraskans deserve to have access to paid family/medical leave.

Policies which support Nebraskans’ ability to utilize paid time off for themselves or an immediate family member are critical to maintaining family units; health and happiness; and economic security, for EVERYONE!

Healthcare

See Our Healthcare Victories

Any public policy or initiative that works to bring economic security and mobility to Nebraska’s children and families is a priority. Nebraska’s working families must have the ability and opportunity to live the ’Good Life’ here in Nebraska. Families should have the tools they need be able to afford and sustain a middle class lifestyle and improve their future economically.

  • Medicaid Expansion

    By vote, by intent, and in keeping with the idea that children and families are the cornerstone of Nebraska’s ‘Good Life,’ Nebraska and its Department of Health and Human Services must ensure the timely expansion of Medicaid, without further delay nor additional barriers to eligibility. Nebraskans, in voting approval of ballot measure 427, did not intend nor provide authorization for cuts to new and existing benefits, nor barriers to coverage.

    In a public opinion survey of Nebraskans (July 2019) by Holland Children’s Institute, an overwhelming majority of participants (70 percent) reported that affordable healthcare was most important to “[them] and [their] family.” Understandably, a large majority (56 percent) of Nebraskans are also “concerned” or “very concerned” with the additional restrictions and delay on the implementation of Medicaid expansion, with only 28 percent say they are “not at all” concerned.

  • Prenatal Care

    Success for children starts with access to prenatal care. All forms of prenatal care, including pregnancy counseling, health appointments, lab tests, and preparation for delivery can significantly impact health and wellness of parents and children. Newborns are 40 percent more likely to die within 28 days of delivery if their birth parent has not received prenatal care.

    In accordance with these realities, all expecting parents must receive prenatal care in accordance with public health best practices and licensed medical practitioners.

Public Policy Agenda

The Public Policy Agenda for the 2020 106th Legislature, Second Session provides a list of current legislative bills supported by the Movement. Each legislative session we work deliberately with state legislators to craft and introduce legislation which improves equity and opportunity for Nebraska’s children and families. We also carefully review the slate of legislative bills to determine which will receive our priority, attention, and efforts.

Bill

Senator

Description

Movement Position

Blood

Provide for a mental health exception to compulsory education requirements

Support

Wayne

Exempt social security benefits and retirement benefits from taxation as prescribed

Support

Bolz

Exempt social security benefits and retirement benefits from taxation as prescribed

Support

Morfeld

Prohibit certain section 1115 waivers under the Medical Assistance Act

Support

Arch

Change provisions relating to background checks under the Child Care Licensing Act and the Children’s Residential Facilities and Placing Licensure Act

Support

Quick

Change provisions relating to compensation under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act

Support

Pansing
Brooks

Change eligibility requirements under the Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act

Support

McCollister

Change provisions relating to eligibility for services under the Medical Assistance Act

Support

Wayne

Change income tax provisions relating to the Nebraska educational savings plan trust and authorize employer contributions to the trust

Support

Hansen, M.

Adopt the Local Option Municipal Childcare Financing Act

Support

Howard

Require a Medicaid state plan amendment for outpatient assisted therapy

Support

Walz

State intent regarding appropriations for aging and disability resource centers

Support

Arch

Prohibit certain acts by health insurers and network providers and list a deceptive trade practice

Support

Stinner

Appropriate funds for community college aid

Support

Hunt

Change the minimum wage for persons compensated by way of gratuities

Support

933

Crawford

Change provisions relating to discontinuance of utility service

Support

955

Walz

Change provisions relating to eligibility for medical assistance

Support

986

Pansing
Brooks

Prescribe requirements for public colleges and universities regarding criminal history and juvenile court record information

Support

986

Pansing
Brooks

Prescribe requirements for public colleges and universities regarding criminal history and juvenile court record information

Support

990

Wayne

Adopt the Games of Skill Act and use proceeds to reduce school district property tax levies

Support

997

Morfeld

Adopt the Out-of-Network Emergency Medical Care Act

Support

1000

Blood

Direct any registration fees from fantasy contest to the early childhood and childcare workforce

Support

1013

Linehan

Direct any registration fees from fantasy contest to the early childhood and childcare workforce

Support

1020

Vargas

Change provisions relating to discrimination under the Nebraska Fair Housing Act

Support

1034

Friesen

Extend the application deadline and change certain credits under the Nebraska Advantage Act

Support

1037

Hunt

Change provisions relating to household eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits

Support

1038

Hunt

Change provisions relating to eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits

Support

1039

Cavanaugh

Adopt the Hunger-Free Schools Act

Support

1049

Bolz

Provide for participation in federal Child Care Subsidy child care assistance as prescribed

Support

1051

Wishart

Create the Intergenerational Care Facility Incentive Cash Fund and provide for grants

Support

1052

Wishart

Change provisions regarding the preferred drug list under the Medical Assistance Act

Support

1076

Bolz

Change provisions relating to eligible programs for the Community College Gap Assistance Program Act

Support

1100

Bolz

State intent regarding appropriations for mental health and behavioral health services

Support

1109

Chambers

Provide a sales tax exemption for the furnishing of water service

Support

1151

Vargas

Redefine eligible student and provide for prioritization of awards under the Nebraska Opportunity Grant Act

Support

1154

Hansen, M.

Appropriate funds to the State Department of Education

Support

1160

Hansen, M.

Adopt the Nebraska Workforce and Education Reporting System Act

Support

1168

Kolowski

Adopt the College Credit Testing Fee Reduction Program Act and the Career-Readiness and Dual-Credit Education Grant Program Act, add a fund to the Access College Early Scholarship Program Act, and change provisions relating to the State Lottery Operation Trust Fund

Support

1206

Vargas

Require reporting to the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System

Support

1207

McCollister

Adopt the Redistricting Act

Support

1214

Friesen

Adopt the Rural Economic Development Grant Act

Support

1215

Bolz

Appropriate funds to the Department of Health and Human Services

Support

1220

Bolz

Authorize High-Wage Jobs and Capital Investment Creation Fund entities

Support

2019 Legislative Scorecard: 106th Legislature, 1st Session

The Holland Children’s Movement has assembled a list of legislative votes from the 106th Legislative First Session. These votes are on bills that pertain to the Holland Children’s Movement priorities range from tax reform to paid family leave. Included is a percentage of each senator’s support on priorities based on their votes on specific legislative measures throughout the 2019 Legislative Session. Considering the many different committees and their compositions votes taken within committee are not included in our scorecard tally.

We are pleased to report that almost two-thirds of all senators voted in support of the Holland Children’s Movement eighty percent or more of the time. This includes 23 senators who received a perfect score of 100% for their efforts in the 2019 session. The Holland Children’s Movement would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all the senators for their dedication to public service. We recognize the amount of time and commitment required to serve and we thank you Senators.

One of the most pressing issues of this session (LB 289), a tax reform bill, that prioritized raising taxes on those who can least afford them only to give tax breaks to those with property was defeated. In addition LB 66 was introduced by Senator Hansen. This bill would have required cities to include an early childhood education piece in their city planning but failed to advance to the next round of debate. LB 160 introduced by Senator Quick, was an element of a bill vetoed by the Governor last year. Senator Quick reintroduced the bill this year which allows for the use of economic development funds for early childhood education, and we are proud to say this bill was passed and signed by the Governor.

Moving forward, the Holland Children’s Movement looks to support more proposals advancing the vision to make Nebraska the national beacon in economic security and opportunity for all children and working families.

See the full 2019 Legislative Voting Record for all State Senators here

The bills that pertain to the Holland Children’s Movement from the 2019 Legislative Session

LB 15

Introduced by Senator Blood

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 15 creates the Children of Nebraska Hearing Aid Act. This act would allow any child under the age of 19 that needs a hearing aid to have it paid for through their insurance plan as long as the benefits paid for the hearing aid during the previous 48-months has not exceeded three thousand dollars. In addition to the hearing aid, a child’s insurance plan will be required to pay for the device, evaluation for the hearing aid, fitting, programming, microphone measurements, repairs, ear mold impressions, and auditory rehabilitation and training. An insurance company will be exempt from the act if the company can show the cost of coverage will exceed one percent of premiums collected. Small business group health plans, as defined under 44-5260 will be exempt from this act as well. OUTCOME: Passed

LB 66

Introduced by Senator Hansen

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 66 requires cities to include an early childhood element in comprehensive plans before January 1, 2022, either when they create a new plan or when they update an existing plan. The early childhood element would have three requirements: 1) an assessment of the supply of quality licensed early childhood education programs for children under six, 2) an evaluation of the availability and utilization of licensed child care capacity and quality for children under six, and 3) promotion of early childhood health and education measures that benefit the community. Cities are required to develop and release comprehensive plans under current law in order to adopt zoning regulations. LB 66 would add early childhood education to the list of already required elements which include the issues of land use, transportation, community facilities, energy, and annexation. OUTCOME: Failed to advance to select file from general file 19-23-7

LB 160

Introduced by Senator Quick

HCM Position: Support

Intent: The purpose of LB160 is to amend the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act by redefining economic development program to include early childhood infrastructure development for cities of the first and second class and villages. Early childhood infrastructure development pertains to early childhood education programs of recognized quality, as determined by the quality rating criteria provided under the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act. OUTCOME: Passed 36-7-6 and signed by the Governor

LB 169

Introduced by Senator Hunt

HCM Position: Support

Intent: To allow individuals with three or more felony convictions for the possession or sale of a controlled substance to access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and to change a requirement regarding participation in a substance abuse program for individuals with one or two felony convictions for possession or sale of a controlled substance to three or more convictions. OUTCOME: Failed to invoke cloture 28-16-5

LB 294

Introduced by Speaker Scheer at the request of the Governor

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 294, introduced by the Speaker at the request of the Governor, is part of the Governor’s biennial budget recommendations. This bill is the mainline appropriations bill for the biennium that begins July 1, 2019 and ends on June 30, 2021. the measure includes the budget recommendations for all State operations and aid programs. The bill includes the appropriate transfers from cash funds to the General Fund as well as between specified cash funds. Finally, it provides the necessary definitions for the proper administration of appropriations and personal service limitations. This bill contains the emergency clause and becomes operative on July 1, 2019. Detailed information regarding funding for all State operations and aid programs is included within the agency recommendations found in the State of Nebraska, Executive Budget – 2019-2021 Biennium, which may be viewed on the Department of Administrative Services State Budget Division’s website. OUTCOME: Passed 35-12-2 and signed by the Governor.

LB 361

Introduced by Senator Hansen

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 361 prohibits retaliation or discrimination by an employer against an employee or applicant for employment because they filed a complaint or participated in another action concerning a violation of the Wage and Hour Act or the Wage Payment and Collection Act. The Wage and Hour Act sets and enforces a minimum wage for workers. The Wage Payment and Collection Act sets rules for paying wages to employees, including providing regular paydays, preventing the withholding of pay, and paying wages and earned vacation time owed after separation. OUTCOME: Did not come up for a vote, will return next year

LB 433

Introduced by Senator Hansen

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 433 requires that a landlord return the balance of a tenant’s security deposit and a written itemization within fourteen days after the date of termination of the tenancy. Currently, a tenant must first request the balance be returned to them. The bill also provides that a tenant does not have to pay for damages that result from their removal from the unit by order of a governmental entity because it was not fit for habitation due to negligence or neglect of the landlord. This bill adds liquidated damages of one month’s rent and court costs to what the landlord already owes the tenant for violating this section, which is the security deposit balance and reasonable attorney’s fees. OUTCOME: Passed 39-1-9 and signed by the Governor

LB 468

Introduced by Senator Walz

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 468 would require that no additional populations or services be added to the at-risk capitated managed care program before either January 1, 2020 or the completion of a critical evaluation proving the success of such program. As with the amendment filed, AM46, LB468 would apply only to long-term care services. As of January 1, 2017, all Medicaid eligible persons had been included in the at-risk capitated managed care program referred to as Heritage Health. OUTCOME: Passed 43-1-5 and signed by the Governor

LB 590

Introduced by Senator Briese

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 590 seeks to streamline the process by which Department of Health and Human Services staff verify the training and credentials of licensed child care providers by utilizing an existing Department of Education database called the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System. OUTCOME: Passed 48-0-1 and signed by the Governor

 

LB 726

Introduced by Senator Walz

HCM Position: Support

Intent: LB 726 adds language to require the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Correctional Services to establish a protocol to assist individuals who are eligible for medical parole to apply for benefits under the Medical Assistance Act. OUTCOME: Passed 39-0-10 and signed by the Governor

Step Up to Quality

Our team worked with state partners and lawmakers to create Step Up to Quality (hyperlink), the first public quality rating and improvement system of child care providers in Nebraska. Programs serving the highest populations of children through the child care subsidy program participate in Step Up to Quality. These new quality ratings go beyond licensing and strive for better, for all of Nebraska’s children.

School Readiness Tax Credits

Early childhood programs that care for and educate children in Nebraska’s lowest income families should be committed to high quality care. The greatest barriers to building quality early childhood education start with affordable access and teacher qualifications. In 2016, Nebraska became the second state to pass School Readiness Tax Credits for early childhood programs and members of the workforce. The credits are tied directly to Step Up to Quality (hyperlink) ratings and the professional qualifications of the workforce. The higher the level of program quality and staff qualifications, the higher the tax credits. These tax credits serve as an incentive and a catalyst for speeding up the availability of quality statewide. Holland Children’s Movement advocacy was integral in passing this legislation. Our team steered this innovative solution from the idea state through to the Governor’s signature on the final bill.

Prenatal Care for all Women

Success for children starts with access to prenatal care. Due to a federal change in 2010, approximately 870 undocumented immigrants and 750 legal residents lost prenatal coverage through Medicaid in Nebraska. In 2012 we worked with a coalition of advocates and lawmakers to restore this prenatal coverage.

Child Care Subsidy Improvements

Crucial groundwork is laid for the workforce of today and tomorrow through the child care subsidy program. This program provides child care assistance so families can attend work or school. We have worked consistently over the years to support policy improvements to program eligibility and to tie public investment to quality efforts. We have also successfully defended against repeated attempts to curb access and funding to the program. In 2017, we worked with providers and key lawmakers to mitigate a budget cut targeting the cared care subsidy program.

Home Visiting

Children begin learning at birth. Home visitation programs can ensure parents are their child’s first and most effective teachers. The funding for this program has gradually increased over time, and in 2014 we supported the expansion of funding the utilization of an evidence-based framework.

Minimum Wage Increase

In 2014, we served as the leadership for Better Wages Nebraska. Because of our work to support a petition drive and ballot initiative campaign, Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour. This ground-breaking ballot initiative unified Nebraskans

The Cliff Effect

In 2015, hundreds of Nebraskans signed our “End the Cliff” online petition in support of the successful passage of LB 81, to lessen the “cliff effect” in our child care assistance program for low income, working families. The prior steep eligibility cliff was a disincentive to workers from accepting a raise or working more hours because a modest increase in earnings resulted in program ineligibility. Creating a smooth transition to economic stability – instead of a cliff – is a smart policy that supports work as a way out of poverty.