Senator Joni Albrecht’s Update For District 17

WAYNE – State Legislature is back in session. They met for five days last week, voting on 43 bills on Monday, July 20 alone. Albrecht noted that the Governor appeared on the floor and an unusual motion was deliberated.

On Friday, July 24, Gov. Ricketts spoke to the legislature about contact tracing. Nebraska has trained 929 contact tracers. They contact those that have been exposed to COVID-19 within the first day after confirmation 90 percent of the time.

The Governor also updated the legislature on numbers from the Forecasting Board. Albrecht stated that those figures depicted a picture of optimism for Nebraska’s economy. Ricketts encouraged the legislature to put people ahead of personal politics with these four principles:

  1. Property tax relief by passing LB1106, which he described as giving more money to our schools while reducing taxable valuations to provide property tax relief to every property owner in the State, whether personal, commercial, or agricultural/horticultural.
  2. Incentives to bring new businesses to Nebraska through passage of LB720, which would replace the soon to expire Advantage Act that has provided hundreds of jobs in Nebraska and would help keep Nebraska competitive with other states as companies look for new places to locate or expand.
  3. The University of Nebraska Medical Centers NExT Project. The NExT projectis described by UNMC as including two major components to serve the training and research needs of Nebraska and to provide a federal all-hazard disaster response military and civilian partnership to treat United States military and civilian personnel injured by biological weapons.
  4. Veterans tax relief through LB153, which exempts one-half of military retirement benefits from Nebraska Income Tax.

Albrecht strongly supports these three principles, especially LB1106 to make sure the other pillars are possible.

Albrecht mentioned LB147 as a bill she supports and one that was debated last week. This bill would train teachers on how to de-escalate situations where children are out-of-control. The senator assured that she is in full support of teachers.

Joni Albrecht brought up LB1186 also. She was happy to hear the bill pass through the final reading. This bill allows for teachers to get paid their full salary if they are injured at school. She set this as her priority bill back in February.

The Legislative session got interesting fast with an unusual ‘Pull Motion.’ This motion allows for a bill to skip committee hearings and move straight to the first round of debate. Senator Geist motioned for this about here priority bill LB814. The bill would ban dismemberment abortion. The motion passed with a vote of 30-8, getting the necessary 25 votes. There were 11 senators that didn’t vote on the motion.

On Wednesday, July 22, the Legislature debated a Motion to Suspend the Rules in order to file a new bill out of time. This motion was for LB1222. The bill requires cities of 5,000 or more people that employ a full-time police officer to form a Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The function of the committee would be to investigate complaints and examine law enforcement practices.

The motion passed by a vote of 32-4. This was a rare motion that was necessary to bring up a bill since it was past the filing deadline of January 23. There were 12 senators that voted Present Not Voting. Albrecht informed us that she voted no on the motion because there isn’t much time left and because she believes this is best suited for the local level to handle. As the bill stands now, it would require towns to form a seven-person committee. Albrecht noted that she doesn’t believe a one-size fits all plan is appropriate for areas that have differing needs and resources. She mentioned that there are procedures in place around District 17. She referenced Civil Service Commissions and advisory boards as essentially performing the same function. The bill will be heard by the Urban Affairs Committee at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 31.