State Senators introduced 684 new bills and 10 Constitutional amendments during the opening days of the 107th Nebraska Legislature, which convened January 6 for 90 days. If passed, the Constitutional amendments would be placed on the ballot for a vote of the people.
Each bill has been referred to a committee and hearings have begun. FFN will monitor 57 bills we’ve identified with potential to affect early childhood, and from those, we’ve pulled 14 for our Legislation to Watch list.
This is the first year of the legislative biennium, so the senators must pass a biennium budget. They’re also expected to address and debate many other important issues this session. Economic difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to burden businesses and families, with child care being no exception. Governor Ricketts has proposed that Nebraska address prison overcrowding by building a new prison estimated to cost $230 million and, because 2020 was a Census year, senators need to formulate a statewide redistricting plan. They also likely will debate issues surrounding police reform this year.
Families with young children and child care providers have endured extremely challenging circumstances during the pandemic, and multiple bills this session aim to offer support. Among the bills on FFN’s Legislation to Watch list are:
- LB531, introduced by Senator Tom Briese, is the Nebraska Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Act. It would incentivize individuals and businesses to make contributions to child care providers and funds by offering a non-refundable tax credit.
- LB485, LB68 and LB677, introduced by Senator Wendy DeBoer, Senator Jen Day, and Senator Lou Ann Linehan, respectively, would all make changes to the child care subsidy program that would benefit child care providers and families.
- LB485 would move initial eligibility from 130% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 185% FPL and eligibility for transitional child care assistance from 185% to 200% FPL.
- LB68 would enable child care providers who accept the subsidy to bill for student enrollment rather than attendance, which would reduce administrative burden and create more stability for these providers.
- LB677 also aims to move eligibility for transitional child care assistance from 185% to 200% FPL.
- LB342 introduced by Senator John Stinner would appropriate $2.5 million in fiscal year 2021-22 and $2.5 million in fiscal year 2022-23 for the Sixpence program.
- LB351, introduced by Senator Lou Ann Linehan, would make it possible for child care providers changing their license type to retain their quality rating in Step Up to Quality.
- LB137, introduced by Senator Tony Vargas, would streamline our child care licensing system and offer invaluable data to policymakers by fully moving reporting of training and credentials for licensed child care providers to the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS).