Bill introduction in the Nebraska Legislature has concluded, and state senators introduced 812 bills during this first session of the two-year biennium. Each bill will be referred to a committee and receive a public hearing, and then may be advanced for debate by the full Legislature. Bills still under consideration at the end of this session will carry over into next year. First Five Nebraska’s legislative priorities this session include issues surrounding child care subsidy, severe maternal morbidity, home visiting programs and child care tax credits.
State Senator Eliot Bostar (District 29) introduced LB318 and LB319, which combined, would provide an additional $200 million for early childhood purposes. LB318 creates the Child Care Tax Credit Act, which provides a refundable tax credit for those with a dependent in child care and a nonrefundable tax credit for taxpayers who make a financial contribution to enhance quality early childhood education. It also reauthorizes the School Readiness Tax Credit with increased credit amounts. LB319 provides a one-time transfer of funds to the Nebraska Early Learning Endowment Fund, also known as Sixpence, to support child care capacity building in communities and to supplement wages for child care employees.
Below is more information on these bills and others FFN is focused on this year. In the coming days, we’ll provide details on all early childhood legislation we’re tracking. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for that information, along with news on hearings and bills as they move through the legislative process.
LB35 Change provisions relating to child care assistance
Extends eligibility of child care subsidy for families up to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) until October 1, 2026.
LB64 Require the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide notice in certain cases of child abuse and neglect
Requires NDHHS to notify parents of incidents of abuse or neglect that have occurred at their child care program. NDHHS will have 10 days to notify parents; the notification will not identify the type of abuse or neglect, the victim or the perpetrator.
LB65 Change provisions relating to the complaint-tracking system and disciplinary action under the Child Care Licensing Act
Requires the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ complaint-tracking system to identify whether licensing violations were self-reported, discovered during an inspection or discovered as the result of the complaint. It also requires NDHHS to notify parents of statutorily defined disciplinary actions made against the child care program.
LB75 Provide for review of incidents of severe maternal morbidity
Allows the state Maternal Death Review Committee to review critical incidents during labor or delivery that threaten mothers’ lives even if they do not result in maternal death. Access to this broader set of data will enable the committee members to make more informed recommendations for prevention efforts.. Hearing: January 25 before the Health and Human Services Committee.
LB114 Appropriate funds to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for evidence-based early intervention home visitation programs
Increases the General Fund appropriation for evidence-based early intervention home visitation programs to $2 million per year.
LB115 Adopt the Family Home Visitation Act
Defines “home visiting” in statute, asks the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to create a pamphlet and a website that include all home visiting programs that meet the definition and requires an annual report to the Legislature about home visiting.
LB318 Adopt the Child Care Tax Credit Act and reauthorize tax credits under the School Readiness Tax Credit Act
This bill has three components:
1. Creates a refundable tax credit for any individual with a total household income less than $200,000 with a dependent attending a licensed child care program or who is in the child care subsidy program and is served by a registered provider. An individual will qualify for $5,000 if their total household income is less than $75,000; $3,000 if total household income exceeds $75,000 but is not more than $150,000; or $1,000 if total household income exceeds $150,000 but is not more than $200,000. The program cap will be $17.5 million per year.
2. Creates a nonrefundable tax credit to any individual taxpayer who makes a qualifying contribution to promote or enhance early childhood education. A 50% nonrefundable tax credit will be available for any qualifying contribution and a 75% nonrefundable tax credit will be available for any qualifying contribution that supports a licensed child care program in an Opportunity Zone or a licensed child care program that has at least one licensed child care subsidy enrollment as confirmed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The program cap will be $15 million per year.
3. Reauthorizes the School Readiness Tax Credit and increases the program cap to $17.5 million per year. To qualify for the refundable tax credit, an employee or self-employed individual must have worked for a Step Up to Quality program for at least six months and be classified in the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS). The refundable tax credit amounts will increase to: Level 1 – $1,200, Level 2 – $1,700, Level 3 – $2,200, Level 4 – $2,700, Level 5 – $3,200. To qualify for the nonrefundable tax credits, a program must be at Step 2 or higher in the Step Up to Quality program and serve children in child care subsidy. The nonrefundable tax credit amounts will increase to: Step 1 program – $0, Step 2 program – $750, Step 3 program – $1,000, Step 4 program – $1,250, Step 5 program– $1,500. A provider’s total nonrefundable tax credit amount will be equal to the dollar amount associated to their rating multiplied by the total number of children they serve in child care subsidy.
LB319 Create funds, transfer funds from the Cash Reserve Fund and provide for child care funding
Provides a one-time cash reserve transfer of $50 million for the Nebraska Early Learning Endowment Fund (Sixpence), $10 million for the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children WAGE$ program and $40 million for capacity-building grants for child care providers. All funds will be invested by the state investment council and must be expended by June 2027.
LB419 Require submission of a Medicaid state plan amendment to extend postpartum coverage
Expands Medicaid coverage for postpartum women in Nebraska from 60 days after giving birth to one year.
Follow bill activity
For up-to-date information on these bills and others dealing with the care and education of our state’s young children, see our website’s Track Legislation page. FFN’s tracker updates in real time from the Nebraska Legislature’s website and allows users to download a report.