Busy Week for Nebraska’s Legislature

By Senator Lydia Brasch

Our ninth week of session – Days 34 through 37 of our 60-day session – adjourned Thursday.

On Monday, and part of Tuesday, we debated and defeated LB371, which created the Nebraska Council for Educational Success. The council would have consisted of 21 members, including the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, the Chancellor and President of the Nebraska State College System, Commissioner of Labor, and an individual representing the business interests. There also would have been one parent on the council with a child in any of grades K-12. The objective of this council would have essentially been to recommend policy changes to the Education Committee of the Legislature.

The proponents argued a new council was necessary because of term limits, since the council would help add consistency and permanency to Nebraska’s educational policy. Opponents countered two councils already exist with many of the same goals and individuals: the P-16 Council and the council created by Governor Ricketts. LB371 would have been duplicative and also carried a fiscal note of $50,000 from the state’s general fund and $250,000 from the Department of Education’s budget. I voted no with the opponents.

LB919 advanced to Select File. This bill expands the use of problem-solving courts in Nebraska. Problem-solving courts use evidence-based outcomes to achieve positive results to address specific needs and problems that could not be addressed in traditional courts. Problem-solving courts promote results that benefit the offender, the victim, and communities. Types of problems addressed by these courts are drug abuse, mental illness, DUI’s, and domestic violence. The bill expands the use to include problem-solving courts for veterans to help address the issues unique to our nation’s soldiers.

Another bill debated was LB83 – it advanced to Select File with a small majority. The amendment to LB83 replaced the bill entirely and redefined the word “employer” in Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1220. For the purposes of discriminatory wage practices based on sex, employer shall now mean “any person engaged in an industry who has two or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year[.]” Prior to LB83, the definition of employer applied to any person engaged in an industry who has fifteen or more employees. The smaller number of two employees creates more burdens for our smaller, rural businesses, including women in agriculture. It was made into a gender issue on the floor of the Legislature. I did not support this bill.

Finally, an additional bill that merits mentioning is LB344. This bill was hotly debated on Thursday. It would grant NRDs the authority to issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of financing all or part of the cost of non-revenue-producing water projects authorized by law. Issuance of the bonds shall be approved by two-thirds of the members of the board of directors of the district. I, along with other senators, argued that Nebraskans right now are struggling to pay their property taxes, so why introduce another avenue through which the people would be charged more property taxes? I oppose this legislation.

Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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