Our 2019 Priority Bills

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska and League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha have considered all legislation introduced in this Unicameral term and determined the organizations’ priority bills for 2019.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes political parties or candidates. We are a political organization that has guiding values and policy recommendations. Using our programs — the list of political positions adopted by the national, state and local organizations — as a guide, LWVNE and LWVGO have adopted the following as priority bills.

We Support:

We Oppose:

Read on to find out more about these bills and how our organization came to support or oppose them.

Support

Redistricting Reform

LB 253 and LB 466

LB 253, introduce by Sen. John McCollister (LD 20), is a reintroduction of Sen. Harr’s LB 216 from last year, which we also supported.

LB 466, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard (LD 9) is a reintroduction of her bill from last year, which we also supported.

Why do we support redistricting reform as presented in LB 253 and LB 466?

The basic commonalities and differences in the bills are:

  1. Most important, in both bills, neither the Independent Commission nor the Legislative Redistricting Committee draw the maps.  The maps are prepared by the Legislative Research Office (LRO) using a software it prepares and approves—except in LB 466, third drawing of maps is done by the Legislature’s Executive Board.
  2. Voting in Legislature:  LB466 no amendments any of the three times the bills could come to the Legislature; LB 253 no amendments for first two times but amendments third time.
  3. Both set dates, chair, and report on 3 Public Input Hearings (one in each Congressional District): LB 253: Commission (composed of 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and one non-partisan elected by the 6); LB 466 the Legislative Redistricting Committee.
  4. LB 253 does not allow packing or cracking to dilute voting rights of voting majority or minority based on race or language; LB 466 doesn’t address this issue.

We are anticipating that one bill come from the Executive Board combining these bills. We believe that it is critical that the Senator supports:

  1. Critical to assure that the maps are drawn by the Legislative Research Office (LRO) using a software it prepares and approves.  (This avoids use of pre-existing software prepared by groups with political orientation.)
  2. Best to have no amendments on the floor of the Legislature during any of the three times the bills come to the floor.  (There is a period after the first and second votes for members of the Legislature to communicate to the LRO reasons for their votes against the bills, so that future maps may (but will not necessarily) address those issues.
  3. Setting dates, chairing, and reporting on public hearings could be done by either the Commission or the Legislative Committee.  Having hearings in all three Congressional Districts will be important to assuring public input.
  4. Language excluding packing and stacking are important to include in the bill.  

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Adopt the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act

LB 311

LB 311, introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford (LD45), creates a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for eligible workers to care for themselves or a family member following a serious illness or to care for a  new child through birth, foster care or adoption. Leave can also be taken for military exigency.

Why do we support LB 311 and paid family medical leave?

The League of Women Voters believes that one of the goals of social policy should be to promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families and that the most effective social programs are those designed to prevent or reduce poverty.

In addition:

  • Paid Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) prevents choosing between the job and caring for a family member.
  • PFMLA provides for a healthy launch into family life for a newborn.
  • PFMLA guarantees leave without having to quit a job, leading to dependence of social services and that social cost to a community.
  • PFMLA benefits employers who can retain an experienced worker, a plus in an era of worker shortage in certain fields.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Provide for Restoration of Voting Rights Upon Completion of a Felony Sentence or Probation for a Felony

LB 83

LB 83, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne (LD 13), removes the arbitrary two-year waiting period between the completion of felony restitution and the restoration of citizenship rights.

Current Nebraska law prevents someone with a felony conviction from voting for two years following their release and completion of all required probation. Many ex-felons/returning citizens welcome the right to vote again as part of their re-assimilation into society, along with obtaining a driver’s license, getting a job, opening a bank account, etc.

Why do we support LB 83 and the removal of the waiting period?

The League of Women Voters believes voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. Citizens should have full rights following the completion of their sentence and should not be continued to be punished/removed from society.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Criteria for Recipients of Title X Funds

LB 629

LB 629, introduced by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (LD 28), changes what kind of entitities can receive Title X funding.

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services shall only grant funds received under 42 U.S.C. 300 (Title X) for voluntary family planning programs to entities that are:

  • licensed under the Health Care Facility Licensure Act and provide service to recipients of medical assistance under the Medical Assistance Act;
    •  compliant with the provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and any regulations promulgated under such federal act;
  • able to diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases and infections; and
    • able to provide gynecological exams.

Why do we support LB 629 and requiring that recipients of Title X funds must be clinics with real medical personnel and facilities?

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska supports Title X funding, which provides family planning and reproductive health care services to low income individuals and families.

The intent of LB 629 is to ensure that Title X funds are distributed only to those family planning services which are staffed with medical personnel trained and licensed to diagnose and treat STDs and infections and to provide gynecological exam.  Family planning services without such medical personnel will not qualify for the grants.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Oppose

Public Funds for Private Schools

LB 670

LB 670, introduced be Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (LD 39), is a reincarnation of LB 295 from the 2017-18 session. It provides for the creation of scholarship-granting organizations, which shall be certified by the Department of Revenue, and can provide educational scholarships to students attending a qualified school. 

Why do we oppose LB 670?

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska believes in a public educational system financed by a combination of local and state revenues.

The League opposes state aid to non-public schools. 

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Read More

Follow the Unicameral Update for news about the legislature and the progress of bills.

Ballot Initiative 427 – Medicaid Expansion: Get the Facts

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, host Geri Simon discusses the initiative to expand Medicaid that will appear on Nebraskans’ Nov. 6 ballot. Geri is joined by Mary Spurgeon, co-chair of the Healthcare Action team at Omaha Together One Community (OTOC).

View the discussion to learn more about Ballot Initiative #427 for the Expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska under the ACA.

Please note: The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports Medicaid expansion and voting for Ballot Initiative #427 on Nov. 6.

You can view more info about the initiative in our archives and from OTOC.

Medicaid Expansion Certified for the General Election, Will Appear on Nebraska’s November Ballot

The Insure the Good Life team made the following announcement on Aug. 24.

Today, we are one step closer to bringing health care to 90,000 hard-working Nebraskans. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale announced that the statutory requirements for valid signatures has been met and the Medicaid expansion initiative will appear on the 2018 general election ballot.

With your help, we greatly exceeded the required 84,269 signatures with 104,477 valid signatures. Not only that, signatures of more than five percent of registered voters were collected in 47 counties, exceeding the distribution requirement of 38 counties for an initiative petition.

On behalf of the many people who work hard, struggle to make ends meet, and have jobs that don’t come with health care insurance, we thank everyone who signed the petition to put this issue in the hands of the voters.

With gratitude,

Your Team at Insure the Good Life

Find out more about the effort to bring Medicaid expansion to Nebraska via our 2018 elections coverage information.

Insuring the Good Life: Putting Medicaid Expansion on the Ballot. Join Us at Dine & Discuss August 27

Join us at our next Dine & Discuss event, happening from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, August 27 at Valentino’s at 108th & L streets.

We’ll be discussing the effort to allow voters to expand Medicaid access with James A. Goddard, Director, Economic Justice & Health Care Access Programs with Nebraska Appleseed.

If you’d like to eat, the buffet is $14.14. The presentation will begin at 5:30. RSVPs not required, but you can send questions to web@omahalwv.org or RSVP on Facebook.

Please be aware that the League of Women Voters never supports or opposes political parties or candidates. Advocacy on behalf of parties or candidates is not allowed at our meetings as we discuss the issues. That said, LWVGO does support the Insure the Good Life ballot initiative and the expansion of Medicaid as part of the national League of Women Voters’ position on supporting the Affordable Care Act.

Insure the Good Life: Sign the Medicaid Expansion Ballot Initiative Petition This Week 

Insure the Good Life volunteers will be collecting signatures to put the issue of Medicaid expansion on the ballot for Nebraskans. Find out more about their events and locations via this map of events. Volunteers will be at Fourth of July celebrations in Omaha, Ralston, Tekamah and Murray.

 

Learn More About the Effort to Insure the Good Life in Nebraska: Go Vote Omaha Talks Medicaid Expansion

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, Geri Simon talks to Molly McCleery, Deputy Director and Staff Attorney for Health Care at Nebraska Appleseed. Appleseed, alongside many other groups, is working to get Medicaid expansion onto the November general-election ballot, empowering voters to expand access to healthcare in our state. The campaign needs to collect roughly 85,000 total signatures by July 5. The Nebraska Secretary of State must certify the signatures before the measure is placed on the ballot in November 2018.

Making Medicaid available to people earning less than $17,000 a year would bring health coverage to more than 90,000 struggling Nebraskans. You can find out more, including how to get involved, from Insure the Good Life.

In Omaha, you can sign the sign the petition during drop-in sessions Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the following locations.

Omaha Petition Coffee Hours
Weekly through end of June
Mondays 7-9 a.m. @ Muglife Coffee (2452 Harney St)
Wednesdays 10 a.m.-Noon @ Muglife Coffee
Fridays 10 a.m.-Noon @ Urban Abbey (1026 Jackson St)

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube.

Insure the Good Life: Find Out More About Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska

A coalition of local and statewide nonprofits and advocacy groups are working to expand access to Medicaid in Nebraska by petitioning to put the issue on the November general-election ballot.

Medicaid is a program jointly funded by the state and federal government. The expansion of the program would allow Nebraska to accept federal funds to help provide health care for the Nebraskans currently in the “coverage gap.” The “gap” refers to Nebraskans who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on the state health care exchange (and don’t get private insurance through their work).

The majority of Medicaid recipients are working or are children; the program exists to cover low-income children and some of their parents; low-income pregnant woman; certain low-income seniors; and some individuals with disabilities who are under the age of 65.

Expanding Medicaid in Nebraska would support jobs and save the state money by expanding access to preventative health care.

For these reasons and more, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports the Insure the Good Life ballot initiative and the expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska.

Find out more about the efforts to expand Medicaid below.

About Insure The Good Life

Expanding Medicaid in Nebraska would let 90,000 of our hard-working friends and neighbors finally get the health care they need. The Insure The Good Life campaign seeks to do this by putting Medicaid expansion on the ballot for the November 2018 election.

The campaign needs to collect roughly 85,000 total signatures by July 5. The Nebraska Secretary of State must certify the signatures before the measure is placed on the ballot in November.

Organizations endorsing Insure The Good Life

Organizations supporting the effort include: AARP Nebraska, ACLU of Nebraska, Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, Center for Rural Affairs, Central Nebraska Peace Workers, Children and Family Coalition of Nebraska, Community Action of Nebraska, Inc., Friends of Public Health, Health Center Association of Nebraska (HCAN), Heartland Workers Center, League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha (LWVGO), Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island, National Council of Jewish Women – Nebraska, Nebraska AIDS Project, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors, Nebraska Hospital Association (NHA), Omaha Together One Community (OTOC), PFLAG Grand Island, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Voices for Children in Nebraska.

Get involved!

It will take the grassroots efforts of Nebraskans from all over the state to make this a success, and there are many ways you can help out.

We need help from volunteers to collect signatures at public events and among friends and family. Sign up to volunteer in Omaha at this link.

Omaha petition drop-in hours

Weekly through end of June, you can come to the following locations to sign the petition or ask questions about the issue.

Mondays 7-9 a.m. @ Muglife Coffee (2452 Harney St)

Wednesdays 10 a.m.-Noon @ Muglife Coffee

Fridays 10 a.m.-Noon @ Urban Abbey (1026 Jackson St)

To learn more about Medicaid expansion and the Insure The Good Life, visit insurethegoodlife.com!

Act Now to Save Title X Funding

Two attempts to advance the NE legislature’s budget bill have stalled because there is language in the bill that would jeopardize federal Title X funding for valuable health centers across the state.  Please call your Senator today to ask her/him to NOT allow the budget to come for a vote until TITLE X FUNDING is taken out of the bill.

Some talking points provided by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland:

*Nebraskans use Title X to receive crucial family planning care and education. Title X is a federal grant that helps Nebraskans access affordable birth control information, annual exams, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, HPV testing and vaccinations, health services for survivors of sexual assault, and more.

*At least 8,000 Planned Parenthood patients would lose access to care. Planned Parenthood currently serves over 8,000 patients in Omaha and Lincoln under Title X. Other area providers would not be able to absorb these thousands of patients.

*Abortion referral language implicates all Title X providers. The Governor’s budget includes ambiguous language that threatens all Title X health centers, even those which do not provide abortion – potentially jeopardizing access to family planning care for 28,000+ people across the state.

Please call your Senator now!

Thousands of patients are counting on them to resist the Governor’s anti-health agenda.

– Kathie Uhrmacher, President, Lincoln Women’s Foundation