2019 Legislative Update: March 27

We are beyond the halfway point of this legislative session–Day 49 of 90. This is the last week of bill hearings, and the Legislature will soon be moving to full-day debate. Senators, Committees and the Speaker have all selected their priority bills (priority bills essentially jump to the front of the line). We now have a clearer sense of what bills will be taken up by the Legislature for the remainder of this session.

In the update below, we discuss a few important bills that have been prioritized, as well as provide an update on the status of Paid Family & Medical Leave and a few other notes to keep you informed. If you have any questions about the information discussed in this email, feel free to contact Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Research and Policy Director for the Women’s Fund, at TJoekel@OmahaWomensFund.org

Promoting Pay Transparency to Promote Pay Equity

LB 217 on pay transparency will be debated on the second round (called “Select File”) on Thursday. This bill would allow employees to discuss and disclose their wage without fear of employer retaliation. Pay transparency promotes workers being fully informed when advocating for fair wages and closing the wage gap. Opposition was surprised to see how quickly this bill passed through to the next round of debate, and we expect stronger opposition during the next round of debate.

Please email or call your Senator NOW and let them know why LB 217 and pay transparency matters to you!

Update on Key Priority Bills Impacting Women and Girls

LB 532 – Simplifying the protection order process & ensuring victims have an opportunity to be heard

Senator Robert Hilkemann used his one priority bill to promote the safety of Nebraska survivors experiencing domestic and sexual violence. This bill is still in committee, awaiting a vote to advance to floor debate. Keep an eye out for our updates as we continue the momentum on LB 532–we will need your help soon in contacting senators and telling them why this bill is important in supporting survivors.

In the meantime, send Senator Hilkemann a note to thank him for prioritizing this important issue!

LB 519 – Efforts to fight sex trafficking & support survivors

Legislation supporting trafficking survivors gains momentum as the State-Tribal Relations Special Committee prioritized LB 519, originally introduced by Senator Julie Slama. LB 519 expands the statute of limitations for trafficking crimes, allowing survivors greater time to seek justice. It is our hope that other trafficking bills will be amended into LB 519 to create a trafficking-related bill package. We’ll keep you posted, as this effort to support trafficking survivors moves forward.

LB 311 – Creating a Paid Family & Medical Leave program

A tough fight on LB 311 to offer paid family and medical leave fell short of advancing past the first round of debate by the full Legislature. Introduced by Senator Sue Crawford and advanced out of the Business & Labor Committee, LB 311 was prioritized by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh. Unfortunately, while opponents of the bill reiterated the importance of such leave, the bill was filibustered and proponents were unable to get to a vote on the bill. It looks like the bill will not move forward this legislative session, but we are not done fighting to ensure that working Nebraskans to be able to care for themselves and loved ones during times of need.

Please send words of support and gratitude to Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, who prioritized the bill, and Senator Sue Crawford, who introduced the bill, thanking them for fighting so passionately for Nebraskan families.

Additional Updates on Priority Bills of Interest

  • LB 209 requires informed consent for a medical abortion to include notification that medication abortion can be “reversed.”Similar laws are being proposed across the country, despite the statement by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that “claims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards.” This bill was introduced and prioritized by Senator Joni Albrecht and has not been advanced by the Judiciary Committee.
  • LB 379 represents a dangerous expansion of access to payday loans by allowing them to be made online. This bill was introduced by Senator Mark Kolterman and prioritized by Speaker Jim Scheer. It has been advanced by the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee and waits on General File to be debated by the Legislature. The Women’s Fund opposed this bill in the hearing. 
  • LB 690, the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act, was introduced by Senator Cavanaugh and prioritized by Speaker Scheer. The bill would prohibit a pregnant inmate from being shackled during labor, except in extraordinary or dangerous circumstances. The Women’s Fund submitted a letter in support of this bill. 

With lots of priority bill debate ahead of us and important discussions around the state budget and tax system, we look forward to working with you to use our voices on behalf of women and girls in our state! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about bills or the legislative process!

Join the Women’s Fund in the fight for equal pay during an UNhappy Hour on April 9. Register online!