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Legislative Update

Today marks the 9th day of the 2016 Nebraska Legislature, and this year’s short 60-day session promises to be an important session for kids and families in our state. In the coming months, the Unicameral will consider many bills impacting child well-being in the areas of child welfare, economic stability, health, and juvenile justice.

Throughout the session, we’ll be bringing you updates on the measures that will affect Nebraska’s children and families the most and let you know what you can do to help.

Child Welfare

LB 746 (Sen. Campbell) – Implements the federal Strengthening Families Act, including provisions that would create a procedure by which children in out-of-home care may participate in developmentally important activities and empower foster parents with the ability to make decisions regarding such activities.

This bill is scheduled for a hearing this Thursday, January 21 before the Health and Human Services Committee (Room 1510) at 1:30 PM.

Economic Stability

LB 690 (Sen. Morfeld) – Amends eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by striking provisions that prohibit those with certain controlled substance-related felony convictions.

This bill is also scheduled for a hearing this Thursday, January 21 before the Health and Human Services Committee (Room 1510) at 1:30 PM.

Juvenile Justice

Several juvenile justice-related bills have been scheduled for a hearing this week.

On Wednesday, January 20 at 1:30 PM, the Judiciary Committee (Room 1113) will hear:

LB 675 (Sen. Krist) – Aligns the juvenile code with best practice by removing risk of harm to self and risk of harm to property as permissible rationales for detention.  Also includes an explicit list of impermissible rationales for detention, such as “to allow a parent or guardian to avoid his or her legal responsibilities” and “due to lack of more appropriate placement.”

LB 709 (Sen. Howard) – Defines and clarifies important terms in the juvenile code, including “alternative to detention.” Requires a hearing any time a juvenile is placed on an alternative to detention infringing upon his liberty interest, but permits the juvenile to waive that hearing through counsel if desired.

LB 845 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Establishes reporting requirements for the use of extended solitary confinement of minors in residential facilities.

LB 894 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Requires the appointment of counsel upon filing of the petition for all delinquency and status charges, and sets limits on waiver to ensure juveniles are not pressured by parents or courts to waive.  Also requires police and government officials to inform children in custody of their right to counsel using developmentally appropriate language.

On Friday, January 22 at 12:00 PM, the Executive Board Committee (Room 2102) will hear:

        LB 954: (Sen, Krist) – Enacts a compromise reached between the Legislature and Judiciary on external oversight of juvenile probation.

On Friday, January 22 at 1:30 PM, the Judiciary Committee (Room 1113) will hear:

LB 893 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Sets a minimum age of 11 for charging children in the juvenile court.  Permits a different type of filing, to get supports and services through the Department of Health and Human Services rather than probation, when children age 10 and younger have engaged in behavior that would otherwise give rise to a delinquency filing.

Be on the lookout for our updates on the many other pro-kid bills that have been introduced, including LB 850 (Sen. Crawford) to adopt the Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Act, LB 945 (Sen. Hansen) to adopt the Nebraska Healthy Food Financing Initiative Act, and LB 1004 (Sen. Cook) to reduce barriers to participation in the federal Community Eligibility Provision among eligible schools and school districts.

Sign up for our AdvoKID to receive more updates on our Legislative activity, or keep up with us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You can also stream the committee hearings live on NET Nebraska and look out for our written testimony on our blog.

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