Friday, January 26th, marks the 16th day of the 60 day legislative session. We have been engaged in lively debate this week as we tackle a wide range of topics, two bills in particular have dominated time on the floor. LB 589 by Senator Crawford changes statute relating to the deposition, the process of giving sworn evidence, of a child witness. LB 758 by Senator Hughes would require natural resources districts that have acquired private land for the development of a stream flow augmentation project to collaborate with officials in the county where the project is located in an effort to lessen impacts to that county’s property tax base. I appreciate the consideration and time taken to debate legislation that greatly impacts the lives of many Nebraskans.
On Tuesday January 23rd, Governor Ricketts announced the new Endangered Missing Advisory (EMA) system. The EMA is a system designed to distribute information about a missing and endangered person to law enforcement, media, and the public. The missing person is considered to be in danger based on factors including age, health, mental or physical disability, environment, and weather conditions. Unlike Amber Alerts, the EMA has no age limit and does not require an abduction for alerts to be dispatched. EMA alerts also do not trigger the Emergency Alert System or utilize Wireless Emergency Alerts, instead alerts are issues based on Nebraska State Patrol areas and rely on local media to spread information. You can sign up to receive EMA messages directly at: http://statepatrol.nebraska.gov/vnews/display.v/ART/5a201cc89bd7a.
On Monday, the EMA system successfully issued its first alert and assisted in the efforts of finding Kenneth Brummond of Rosalie, who was found Tuesday morning.
Friday, January 26th, I introduced a legislative resolution to congratulate and honor Jon Pickinpaugh for receiving the 2017-18 Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Awards, widely known as the “Oscars of Teaching”, publicly recognize teaching excellence to honor educators and to impress upon students and communities the importance of joining the teaching profession. Mr. Pickinpaugh has taught for eight years at South Sioux City Middle School, where he is currently an eighth grade science teacher and wrestling and football coach. He is known for his strategic and creative dedication to boosting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through highly interactive lessons. Mr. Pickinpaugh is one of just forty-four Milken Educator Award recipients for the 2017-18 academic year, and the only honoree from Nebraska. On January 11th, Lt. Governor Mike Foley presented the award, along with a $25,000 prize, to Mr. Pickinpaugh at a surprise assembly at South Sioux City Middle School. We are fortunate to have a teacher like Mr. Pickinpaugh that is dedicated to improving the lives of students inside and outside of the classroom.
This past week, January 22-26th, was National School Choice Week. Students, parents, and fellow senators gathered together to support giving families access to the best K-12 education options for their children. These options include traditional public schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. I proudly stood with Senator Linehan, Senator Smith, and Governor Ricketts, among other senators, to support school choice and Senator Smith’s LB 295. LB 295 helps to provide education options for families by adopting the Opportunity Scholarships Act. Under the Act, individual and corporate taxpayers would qualify for a non-refundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization. I look forward to supporting LB 295 and other legislation that works to give more choice to parents and families in deciding how to educate their children.
Tuesday, January 30th, in Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee I will be presenting LB 949. This bill renames the Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority Act to include cultural institutions. This allows for cultural institutions, such as museums or visual arts centers, to finance or refinance cultural assets they deem important to the economic vitality of their locality. The Nebraska Educational, Health, and Social Services Finance Authority is governed by a Board appointed by the Governor, receives no state general funds, and operates entirely with user fees. I am excited to provide an avenue for cultural institutions that provide valuable services to the community to fund new projects, without spending state money.
The remaining Business and Labor Committee’s hearings for this legislative session will be on, February 5th, February 12th, and February 26th. The hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.
Committee hearings will be streamed live by NET at the following address: http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available from that page.
If you would like to submit written testimony for the committee to consider and you will not be personally testifying at the hearing, it is strongly encouraged that you turn your written testimony in to the committee clerk, Beverly Neel, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the relevant hearing. Please let Beverly know if you would like your submission to be formally on the committee’s hearing record.
You may submit your written testimony by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Senator Joni Albrecht
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604
I look forward to hearing from you!