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.

A New Year’s Message from the National League

At the beginning of the new Congress, and we are proud to support the first piece of legislation introduced in the House —HR1—a bill that stands to improve American elections by making them freer, fairer, and more accessible to all eligible Americans.

HR1 includes comprehensive reforms, like restoring the Voting Rights Act, improving Automatic Voter Registration, creating a public financing system through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizens United, ending partisan gerrymandering, and more! The League worked behind the scenes to influence the language of this legislation, including a push to include Same Day Registration.

This bill will make our elections fairer, put the power back into the hands of the American people, and it deserves bipartisan support.  We’re asking all of our members and supporters to click here to call their Representative and ask them to vote Yes for HR1.

Money in Politics: Resources

As a follow-up to her July Dine & Discuss presentation on Money in Politics in Nebraska, LWVNE treasurer Kate High provided the following additional resources.

Money in Politics Links

LB839 Crawford

On July 16, 2018, the US Treasury, headed by Steven Mnuchin, said it will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations to identify their financial donors to IRS authorities. The League of Women Voters (League) and others who support great transparency oppose this move.

There are twenty-nine types of nonprofit corporations in the IRS code, including the well-known 501(c)(3) designation for religious, educational, charitable, etc. organizations. The Treasury’s change in policy is NOT directed at 501(c)(3)s, but at “certain” nonprofit organizations like:

● 501(c)(4): social welfare, civic leagues, and local associations of employees;examples: National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club

● 501(c)(5): Labor, agricultural, and horticultural; examples:  American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) , American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) , Working America

● 501(c)(6): business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, etc.; examples: The US Chamber of Commerce , The American Medical Association , PhRMA , Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce , Americans for Job Security

This new policy is in stark opposition to LWVUS’s recommendation to strengthen existing rules:

Strengthen and enforce 501(c )4 political activity rules (action by the Internal Revenue Service; IRS). To be tax-exempt as a social welfare organization according to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare. It is argued that the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, under long-standing IRS regulations, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization is allowed to engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. There is need for strict enforcement of the rules applicable to 501(c)(4)s. The IRS could close loopholes that allow unlimited secret spending in elections by501(c)(4) groups while protecting truly non-partisan voter service activity.

See:MiP Options for Reform

What can you do to combat the corruptive influences of “dark money” in national politics?

1. CALL your elected officials to ask that they support the DISCLOSE Act, reintroduced in both houses of Congress this summer. This legislation proposes amending the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to, among other actions, disclose donations from corporations, labor organizations, and other special interests including foreign donors.

2. NEGATIVE ADS? JUST SAY NO. The vast majority of negative ads are “dark money” ads. They’re designed to motivate voters in ways that benefit donors. Russian trolls? Anonymous LLC’s? Friends? Foes? Who can tell? Don’t get sucked in!

3. LEARN ABOUT DARK MONEY at the federal level on the Open Secrets website:

Open Secrets: Dark Money Basics

Open Secrets: Dark Money Reports

4. JOIN the League of Women Voters and other organizations working against the power of dark money. Here are some ideas to start you out:

League Information

5. MOTIVATE OTHERS! We can overcome the influence of big money if we ACT. The enemies of democracy are desertion and complacency.

6. TAKE ACTION! Call, visit, e-mail, and/or write your elected officials. Go to town hall meetings to tell your story and speak your truth. Find and help candidates you support.

7. CONFIRM YOUR REGISTRATION and VOTE!!!!

Money in Politics: What’s Happening in Nebraska? Join Us at Dine & Discuss July 23

Join us at our next Dine & Discuss event, happening from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, July 23 at Valentino’s at 108th & L streets. LWVNE Treasurer Kate High will present results of a research study into campaign donations leading up to the 2016 Unicameral races.

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.