Women’s Fund Final 2019 Legislative Update

The 2019 legislative session wrapped a few days early on Friday, May 31. THANK YOU for using your voices and amplifying our efforts to support opportunities for women and girls at our state legislature. Your calls, emails, letters, tweets, Facebook posts, and any other avenues you used to reach out to your state senator were incredibly impactful. At the end of the day, elected officials want to hear from their bosses–YOU! And without your support, we would not be able to do what we do on behalf of women and girls.

You are the power behind our work, so thank you for your voice! 

We were B-U-S-Y this year, providing testimony on 35 bills, and two of our top priorities were passed nearly unanimously by the Legislature and approved by the Governor:

  • LB 516, introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, ensures that trafficked children, regardless of the identity of their trafficker, have access to services necessary to address their need for safe and appropriate shelter, medical and mental health care (including substance abuse services), education and other needs. The provisions of LB 516 were amended into a broader trafficking package in LB 519. 
  • LB 532, introduced by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh and prioritized by Senator Robert Hilkemann, supports victims of domestic and sexual violence in their pursuit of safety and supports the court in their careful consideration of these pleas for help and protection. It clarifies, simplifies, and strengthens the process of seeking protection orders for victims of harassment, domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Please call or email your senator and thank them for their support of these policy solutions for women and girls throughout Nebraska.

In addition, other issues that we supported this session that will become law, include:

  • An exemption from public indecency laws for breastfeeding (LB 13, amended into another bill);
  • Expedited partner treatment for trichomoniasis (LB 62);
  • Adding suffocation as an assault offense under the existing strangulation statute (LB 141);
  • Authorization of a study to improve reporting and investigation of missing Native American women (LB 154);
  • Protection from retaliation by employers for discussing wages, benefits or other compensation (LB 217);
  • The creation of a crime of sexual abuse of a law enforcement detainee, essentially clarifying that a person cannot consent while in law enforcement custody (LB 479, amended into LB 519);
  • Clarification of civil damages for trafficking victims (LB 517, amended into LB 519);
  • Increased opportunity for justice for trafficking victims through lengthened statute of limitations to prosecute trafficking offenses (LB 519); and,

A limitation of the use of restraints on pregnant women who are incarcerated (LB 690).

Over the interim, the Women’s Fund will be strategizing about how to move our remaining 2019 priorities forward, as well as working with our partners to develop our agenda for the short (60-day) session in 2020. State senators and staff will be working on interim studies and prepping their 2020 agendas as well. Now is the time to reach out to them with your brilliant policy ideas, or just thank them for a bill they introduced or a vote they took! Being an elected official is not easy–expressing your gratitude will go a long way!

If you have any questions about this session or our collective work moving forward, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Women’s Fund team. Thank you again for your support and for using your voice for women and girls in our community and across the state!