Each year, Nebraska’s legislative session starts with a flurry of new bills. But not every bill will be debated and many don’t make it through three rounds of votes to become law. The final list of priority bills gives us an idea of what state senators will be focusing on in their remaining weeks of session.
From the 200+ bills we’re tracking, here are the ones that state senators prioritized.
GOOD: Sen. Brewer’s LB872 would allow Native youth to wear tribal regalia at school and school functions, ensuring they can wear items that are true to their culture without violating a dress code. Sen. Day’s LB852 would ensure schools have behavioral health points of contact, meeting a need in our schools and demonstrating the right way to address behavioral issues as compared to our current school-to-prison pipeline.
BAD: Sen. Albrecht’s LB1213 targets digital access to school material, allowing those who are offended to immediately sue if they think students see inappropriate material. As ACLU experts have pointed out, laws that deal with the age-appropriateness of certain content are often problematic since they can open the door to viewpoint discrimination. Sen. Sanders’ LB1158 is also problematic. It could burden schools by threatening to withhold funding if a school is not reasonably responsive to a parent or guardian’s request to examine educational material or to demand that children not participate or attend instruction. Especially as we see statewide reports of exhausted educators — now is not the time to implement this bill. We already have strong provisions in the law that allow parents to have access to educational material and to communicate with teachers.
GOOD: Sen. Wayne’s LB1024 would adopt the North Omaha Recovery Act, directing federal COVID-19 relief dollars to the North Omaha community. Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s LB376 would increase funding for children with developmental disabilities and their families, addressing a coverage gap.
GOOD: Sen. Brewer’s LB777 would require digital archives of Nebraska Legislature coverage, giving Nebraskans access to video footage of the lawmaking process.
BAD: State senators have prioritized two extreme abortion bans. LB933 would ban abortion entirely in Nebraska if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade or if Congress authorizes states to ban abortion. LB1086 adds new restrictions to medication abortion. Medication abortion is a safe, effective and FDA-approved method of care — and it is already over-regulated with unnecessary restrictions.
GOOD: Sen. Lathrop’s LB920 puts forward a variety of smart justice reforms, including provisions on sentencing, parole, and diversion. His bill LB896 strengthens the evaluation of rehabilitative programming within the prison system. Sen. McCollister’s LB709 focuses on second chance employment for returning citizens, as does Sen. Wayne’s LB917, which encourages the hiring of people with felony convictions by utilizing a tax incentive.
Remember that state senators need to hear from you on these bills. Find your senator, review tips on contacting elected officials, and then send an email or call their office! Consider writing a letter to the editor to express your support. New to all this? Check out our Legislative Session 101 blog post for details on the process.