2019 Legislative Update: February 12

Welcome to the Women’s Fund 2019 Legislative Update! Follow these updates to stay informed on the legislation affecting women and girls in Nebraska and learn more about how to support impactful policy.

This session, we will remain particularly focused on promoting freedom from violence for all women and girls, protecting safe and accessible health care, and furthering the economic stability of women and girls in our communities. Be empowered and learn how you can influence policy this session. Find your senator and get connected on the issues that matter to you!

Action Needed–Opportunities to Support Survivors of Domestic & Sexual Violence

Committee hearings have been set for LB 516, LB 532 and LB 43 for Friday, February 22 at 1:30 pm in the Judiciary Committee.

  • LB 516 would ensure all child victims of sex trafficking are recognized as abused and neglected children and connected to necessary services. Creighton University’s Human Trafficking Initiative (HTI) has found that in Nebraska, 20 percent of individuals advertised online for sex are marketed as “very young.”
  • LB 532 will clarify, simplify and strengthen the process of obtaining legal protection through protection orders for survivors of harassment, domestic abuse and sexual assault.
  • LB 43, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, will increase support for survivors seeking medical care or justice.

If you are interested in submitting testimony for any of these bills, please contact Tiffany at TJoekel@OmahaWomensFund.org. You can email written letters of support to Judiciary Chairman Steve Lathrop at slathrop@leg.ne.gov by 5 pm on Thursday, February 21 and ask that your letter be included in the record for the bill.

Use Your Voice to Support Access to Reproductive Health Care

LB 498, a bill that would expand access to family planning for low-income Nebraskans through the Medicaid program, will be heard in the Health & Human Services Committee on Friday, February 22.

States have the option to expand Medicaid coverage up to 185% of the federal poverty level (or approximately $21,000 annual income for a single person) for family planning services, and to incentivize such coverage, the federal government will pay 90% of the cost. Investments in family planning, as in LB 498, not only help to avoid unintended pregnancy–thus producing millions of dollars in state savings–but also helps women to avoid negative health outcomes such as cervical cancer, HIV and other STIs, infertility, and preterm births.

If you are interested in submitting testimony for LB 498, please contact Tiffany at TJoekel@OmahaWomensFund.org. You can email written letters of support to Health & Human Services Chairperson Sara Howard at showard@leg.ne.gov by 5 pm on Thursday, February 21 and ask that your letter be included in the record for the bill.

Paid Family & Medical Leave Hearing Update

Our community of changemakers appeared in strong numbers for the LB 311 committee hearing last week, advocating workers’ access to Paid Family & Medical Leave. Testifiers shared personal stories and their expertise about how paid leave impacts women and girls across Nebraska.

Paid Family & Medical Leave would provide workers between 6-12 weeks of paid time off to respond to a personal serious health condition, care for a family member, or welcome a new child. No family should ever be forced to sacrifice between their health and financial security.

This bill, introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, is awaiting a vote by the Business & Labor Committee vote to move forward to be debated by the full Legislature.

Contact (email or call) Senators in the Business & Labor Committee and urge them to support LB 311!

Additional Hearing Updates

LB 329, advocating for increased access to child care assistance for low-income parents, was heard in the Health and Human Services Committee last Friday. Nebraska parents have to have very low incomes to be eligible for this assistance and those receiving childcare assistance currently face a “cliff effect,” with minimal increases to pay threatening their assistance eligibility. Hard-working Nebraskans should be rewarded for career advancement or working more hours, not punished with loss of essential child care funding.

If you are passionate about access to affordable child care, contact (email or call) senators on the Health & Human Services Committee and urge them to support LB 329!

Yesterday, senators in the Business & Labor Committee heard from advocates about the need for pay transparency to close Nebraska’s wage gap. LB 217 would provide employers protection from employer retaliation when disclosing and discussing their wages. Knowledge is power, and when advocating for fair wages, workers should be fully informed of comparable wages.

Make your voice heard and tell members of the Committee to support LB 217 and how pay transparency and the wage gap impact you.

If you have any questions about the information discussed in this email, please contact Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Research and Policy Director for the Women’s Fund at TJoekel@OmahaWomensFund.org.

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