Issues

Nebraska Legislature: How the Voted for the Early Advantage of Children in the 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

LB 614: The Revenue Committee

I am here today in support of LB 614 and want to thank Senator Crawford for introducing this bill.

Research conducted in December of 2018 by the Holland Children’s Institute and its public polling initiative shows that 55% of Nebraskans believe the state should be focusing on expanding opportunities instead of cutting taxes (38%). The research also found that 58% of Nebraskans believe that the legislature and state government are focused on giving tax breaks to the rich and big corporations

LB 614 would help the state of Nebraska focus on what Nebraskans are asking state government to prioritize. The first is increasing aid to schools, the research found that an overwhelming majority (86%) of Nebraskans believe that properly funding our schools would help grow Nebraska’s middle class and develop our work force. More than 6 in 10 voters (61%) believe Nebraska state government underfunds education, while only 36% believe state government properly funds our schools.

We are strong proponents for increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). According to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), people who work in the retail trade, healthcare, food service as well as those in the accommodation, construction and manufacturing industries are the most likely to receive and benefit from an increase in the EITC. We have heard time and time again about the need to continue to invest in these industries and increasing the EITC is a way to do that.

We believe that LB 614 will help grow the middle class and help focus our state’s efforts on middle class Nebraskans and their policy priorities. Thank you for your service to the state of Nebraska, and I would welcome any questions you may have.

-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 615: The Revenue Committee

I am here today in opposition to LB 615, introduced by Senator Linehan.

Recent research conducted by the Holland Children’s Institute shows that middle class families in Nebraska believe they are being left behind. LB 615 is a clear example of how the Legislature is not listening to Nebraska families.

A majority (58%) of Nebraskans would like to see revenue raised instead of further cuts to programs. Conversely 78% thought economic policy of Nebraska has helped wealthy Nebraskans, on some level, where only 51% thought they had helped their family.

LB 615 would cut taxes for Nebraska’s wealthiest, while leaving middle class Nebraskans behind. We strongly urge the revenue committee to not advance LB 615 out of committee and show support for middle class families and economic prosperity for all.

-Joey, Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 497: Revenue Committee

I write in opposition of LB 497, introduced by Senator Friesen.

LB 497 attempts to solve problems while creating many more in the process. We are especially concerned by the provision that eliminates the grocery tax exemption. We believe that this will negatively impact hard working Nebraskans and families. While there is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) exemption, not all families who are struggling qualify for SNAP, thus making this burden even hard on families already struggling.

Recent public opinion research from the Holland Children’s Institute shows that 44% of blue-collar men and women in Nebraska say families do not have the tools they needed to be able to attain a middle-class lifestyle.  And a majority among all Nebraskans (57%) believe that state economic policy has done nothing or very little to help families in poverty. We would ask that the committee to instead focus on finding different solutions that are not on the backs of Nebraska’s families.

We want to say thank you to Sen. Friesen for trying to come up with solutions for the continue property tax crisis our state is facing but we do not believe LB 497 is the right way to address this problem. We want to urge the Revenue Committee to not advance LB 497

-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 383: Business & Labor

I am here today, in support of LB 383, introduced by Senator Quick.

Ensuring good wages for our working families is important for many reasons, recent public opinion research in Nebraska shows that 44% of blue-collar men and women said Nebraska families do not have the tools and services they needed to attain a middle-class lifestyle.  And, a majority of all Nebraskans (57%) believe that state economic policy has done nothing or very little to help families in poverty.

LB 383 works to help Nebraskans attain a middle-class lifestyle and further opportunities to succeed.  Particularly – by tying the minimum wage to inflation families will be able to keep up with the rising costs of inflation. LB 383 will allow Nebraskans to better succeed in maintaining a sustainable income to support their families and provide economic security they need for better opportunities to get ahead.

Recently the Economic Policy Institute released a report on the impact on increasing the minimum-wage.

Quote:

Over the last five decades the real (inflation-adjusted) value of the minimum wage—a key tool in the fight against poverty—has steadily eroded. Minimum wage increases have been too infrequent to keep up with inflation, let alone raise the real value of the minimum wage above where it was in 1968. While a full-time minimum wage worker in 1968 would have earned $20,600 a year (in 2017 dollars), a worker paid the federal minimum wage in 2017 could only earn $15,080 working full time, a single parent of one child would be consigned to poverty if that parent earned the federal minimum wage

Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute – Economic Snapshot, June 13, 2018

We strongly support LB 383 and believe the bill would promote better economic outcomes and security for all Nebraska’s families and children. We strongly urge you to advance LB 383.

-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 160: Legislative Update

The Urban Affairs Committee has voted out LB 160 which includes a critical component for early childhood education.

LB 160 Fact Sheet

This bill supports ongoing efforts to increase access to affordable, quality child care in Nebraska. LB 160 would expand the use of LB 840 funds to include and recognize early childhood as an important factor in economic infrastructure development.

A 2017 report by the National Institute for Early Education Research emphasizes the role of cities in developing early childhood education, finding that policies promoting high-quality early childhood education are “a key element of any city’s overall strategy to promote current and future health.”

Within Nebraska, one need look no further to see the value and vision of the early childhood proposals within LB 160 than the priority the community of Red Cloud has placed on the development of a high quality early childhood program to help ensure their economy not only survives, but thrives.

“With reliable and affordable child care, employees will miss fewer days of work, making employers more satisfied. I think Red Cloud will be an even more attractive small town to newcomers with high-quality childcare in place. It has the potential to strengthen our school district and stabilize our town’s population,” said Ashley Armstrong, of the Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund.” [4]

The Washington Post found in a 2015 national poll that more than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers had passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit their job due to a lack of paid leave or child care.[1] Furthermore, in 2016, NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that two-thirds of parents said they had access to “only one” or “just a few” realistic child care options.[2]

And of greatest significance are the voices of Nebraskans.

In public opinion research conducted by our sister organization, the Holland Children’s Institute, access to affordable child care was overwhelmingly popular. Among those with children under age 18 at home, nearly all favor expanding access to affordable child care (93%), and of those without children at home the clear majority (69%) are also in favor [3].

LB 160 includes a proposal of great importance to building on the existing efforts to increase access to quality early childhood care and education, which in turn will strengthen communities now and long into the future. In concert, these proposals can ensure more young children enter school ready to succeed and grow into the workforce of tomorrow.

 

[1] Washington Post: The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for their kids https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-surprising-number-of-moms-and-dads-scaling-back-at-work-to-care-for-their-kids/2015/08/06/c7134c50-3ab7-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story.html?utm_term=.6483784957df

 [2] NPR: Child Care and Health in America https://www.npr.org/documents/2016/oct/Child-Care-and-Development-Report-2016.pdf

[3] Nebraska Values Project Installment IV, Holland Children’s Institute, March 20, 2018, available at https://hollandinstitute.org/fact-tank/

[4] “Red Cloud proves small-town success doesn’t just happen,” Nebraska Community Foundation, Omaha World Herald, June 20, 2017. http://www.omaha.com/living/the-better-half/red-cloud-proves-small-town-success-doesn-t-just-happen/article_883f165e-51e8-11e7-b357-57c80193cdeb.html

 

 

LB 255: Health & Human Services Committee

I write in support of LB 255, introduced by Senator McCollister, and thank him for this bill.

When our state takes steps to support working families, we demonstrate our commitment to rewarding hard work and promoting economic growth for the future. The Holland Children’s Institute recently conducted research that showed that Nebraska voters overwhelmingly agree that the best way to build a stronger middle class is to give people the tools they need to succeed, rather than cutting spending on programs in order to reduce dependence on government.

We strongly believe that SNAP is an incredibly important tool for hardworking families as they strive to climb the economic ladder. Multiple recent studies have found that SNAP benefits for children make an impact in both the short-term and long-term success.

A 2017 study in South Carolina found that in the short-term children score much higher on math tests, for instance, in the weeks after their family received SNAP benefits. In the long term, a 2012 longitudinal study by three of the country’s top economists found that childhood access to SNAP led to significant reductions in obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. And, for women, an increase in economic self-sufficiency.

These studies demonstrate that this legislation makes economic sense. This legislation is an investment in our children, and the future of our state. Children will grow-up being healthier, happier, more productive, and have a far greater opportunity for success! This investment also makes them more apt to contribute to our state’s communities economically. For all this, and more, we urge the Judiciary Committee to advance LB 255.

-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 627: Judiciary Committee

I am here today in support of LB 627, and thank Senator Pansing Brooks for introducing this bill.

LB 627 will ensure economic security can be a reality for all Nebraskans families and children. Every family in Nebraska deserves access to the tools they need to succeed. Right now, in Nebraska, the realities of economic security are threatened for many with families and children. We cannot allow for families and community members to be discriminated against, and prevented from opportunities to succeed in our state. All families deserve fair access to jobs and housing, and the vital tools that grow Nebraska’s economy.

Nebraskans believe we must do more to support the middle class in our state, LB 627 is another example of common-sense legislation that will help give access to the jobs Nebraska families need. We believe that LB 627 will help attract job creators and help to retain employers and employees as well as support our working families and children. We urge the committee to support LB 627 and to advance this important bill.


-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 160: Urban Affairs

I am here today in strong support of LB 160, and want to express my gratitude to Senator Quick on behalf of Holland Children’s Movement for its introduction, and to the members of the Urban Affairs Committee for its consideration.

The idea for this bill grew from what we already know works well in Nebraska…local control and creating new pathways to increase opportunities for investments to support Nebraska’s children and families. This bill achieves that, by providing more opportunities for access to quality early childhood education, and without cost to the state. And that is no easy task, to be sure!

As local communities tackle the ever-present goal to attract and retain new talent, we are realizing more often, that in order to grow the workforce, young families need better access to childcare. Without question, the demand for access to safe, affordable, and quality childcare is real and present. And, our ability to meet this demand is crucial to a growing workforce and economy in Nebraska.

Recent research on public opinion in Nebraska, by the Holland Children’s Institute shows 83% of Nebraskans believe the state should place more focus on expanding access to affordable, quality childcare to grow the economy and workforce in Nebraska. LB 160 is an opportunity to do so, and ensure access to quality childhood education is a priority in our state.

LB160 allows local communities the option to invest LB840 funds in quality early childhood care and education programs, recognizing the early childhood industry as the economic driver that it is, and the potential it brings for communities across our state. Unlike many other industries, childcare businesses are local, they employ Nebraskans, they serve Nebraska children and families, and help Nebraska parents enter and succeed in the work force–all of which fuels more activity for local economies.

LB 160 is an innovative state policy solution that works to meet an identified need at the local level. Senators, I hope you will take this opportunity to support Nebraska’s children and families, because it will also help our local economies and work force. There is no downside to this proposed legislation.

-Joey Adler

Director of Strategic Engagement

LB 50: Revenue Committee

I am here today to offer our support of LB 50, and thank Senator Vargas for its introduction.

We believe this forward-thinking proposal provides a direct and positive response to the voices of Nebraskans. According to the Holland Children’s Institute’s “Nebraska Voters’ Outlook” public opinion research poll that was conducted last September, an overwhelming majority of Nebraskans (78%) believe the state’s economic focus has helped the wealthiest Nebraskans and 76% believe economic policy of the state has been focused to help big corporations.

At the same time, 58% of Nebraskans favor raising revenue by increasing some taxes to balance the budget and allow for increased investments to support the middle class. Additionally, only 37% of Nebraskans believe the wealthiest Nebraskans are paying their fair share or more in taxes.

LB 50 is a clear example of investing in the middle class and Nebraska’s economy. As the research continues to make clear, there is an obvious disconnect that exists between the economic realities of Nebraska families and where they feel their government is focused. We believe this needs to change, and we urge the advancement of LB 50 to General File.

-Joey Adler
Director of Strategic Engagement