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Highlights of the 2019 Nebraska legislative session

The first session of the 106th Legislature adjourned sine die May 31. Senators introduced 739 new bills and seven Constitutional amendments during the 90-day session, and passed a biennium budget as required by law. 

Two issues—comprehensive property tax relief and a new business development/tax incentive program to replace the Nebraska Advantage Act—quickly emerged as priorities among a large contingent of senators. They were unable to reach a consensus on a property tax relief plan or a new business development program and adjourned six days early.

Despite these setbacks, 294 bills were passed into law and a balanced budget, which includes $550 million for the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, was signed by Governor Ricketts. Any bill that was not passed into law or indefinitely postponed will be carried over to the 2020 legislative session. This summer, senators will work to reach a consensus on contentious issues and will explore new legislative opportunities through interim studies.

Cuts to Early Childhood Programs Restored
Last year, Governor Ricketts introduced across-the-board cuts to state agencies to balance the budget, including cuts to early childhood programs. This year, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) requested those funding cuts be fully restored. The Appropriations Committee agreed and included that request in their budget recommendation. The Governor signed the mainline budget bill into law May 27, restoring early childhood budget cuts to programs that flow through NDE. These programs include Sixpence (Early Childhood Endowment), the Early Childhood Grant Program and Step Up to Quality child care scholarships and bonuses.

Every year, First Five Nebraska identifies legislation with the potential to impact quality early learning in our state. The Legislation to Watch list for the 2019 legislative session, along with other early childhood bills, are on our website’s Nebraska Legislation page.

Thirteen new senators were sworn in this year: John Arch (Dist. 14), Tom Brandt (Dist. 32), Machaela Cavanaugh (Dist. 6), Wendy DeBoer (Dist. 10), Myron Dorn (Dist. 30), Tim Gragert (Dist. 40), Ben Hansen (Dist. 16), Megan Hunt (Dist. 8), Andrew La Grone (Dist. 49), Steve Lathrop (Dist. 12), Mike Moser (Dist. 22), Dave Murman (Dist. 38) and Julie Slama (Dist. 1).

As always, First Five Nebraska will continue to promote sound, fiscally responsible policies that promote quality early learning experiences for children in Nebraska. Be sure to visit our website throughout the summer for updates on interim studies and early childhood news.

See our update on the this year's most important bills affecting early childhood.

Elizabeth Everett
First Five Nebraska Policy Associate
eeverett@FirstFiveNebraska.org

Adam Feser
First Five Nebraska Policy Associate
afeser@FirstFiveNebraska.org

Posted June 06, 2019 in Legislation
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