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Bills, Hearings, and Fiscal Notes – Oh My!

The month of January has flown by here at Voices for Children. With so many of the services that serve our mostvulnerable children and families in crisis, we’ve been burning the midnight oil to make sure kids’ voices are heard in Lincoln on any number of issues. During the session of children,  as lawmakers try to come to terms with poor outcomes for state wards in Nebraska, child welfare, juvenile justice issues, and health care issues have been front and center.

So three weeks into the second session of the 102nd Unicameral Legislature, we want to recap our efforts “by the numbers:”

  • Bills testified on: 22. Believe it or not, many, many more child welfare and juvenile justice bills have been introduced. Some are coming up for a hearing in the next few weeks, some we’ll just be watching as opposed to weighing in on.
  • Hours spent in hearings: 45.  Every bill introduced in Nebraska gets a public hearing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for advocates and the public to weigh in on important issues. Many Nebraskans have been engaged in marathon hearings on how to fix our child welfare system and we appreciate their work and participation on behalf of kids.
  • Dollars for children and families we’ve advocated for: About $59.48 million. We know our child welfare and juvenile justice systems have been broken and underfunded for a long time here in Nebraska. And our Medicaid program for vulnerable children and adults is under threat.  Some of the bills we’ve testified in support of have hefty fiscal notes (an estimation of how much money it will take to do what the bill asks).  They range from paying for enough caseworkers so they can really do their job and funding local juvenile justice services, to making sure sick kids have the care they need to stay in their homes.  This session there are a number of interesting proposals that could really make a difference for kids and improve our systems of care in Nebraska.

With some of the major proposals on child welfare and juvenile justice already finished with the hearing process, we’ll be watching eagerly to see which bills make it out of committee to General File, and which bills become priorities for Senators and Committees. Voices for Children in Nebraska is counting on the Legislature to commit to taking important steps towards reforming the systems that serve kids Nebraska this year, including moving towards making smart financial investments in the things that really matter for kids.

One thing is for sure, there’s lots of work ahead of us.

Thank you to taking the time to share!

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