Upcoming Issue Cafes:
Tuesday, February 25, 6:45-8PM
Join the Mental Health Action Team for a panel exploring solutions to keeping people with mental illness out of the Criminal Justice system.
Unicameral Update on Feb. 18
Jo Giles from the Coaltion for a Strong Nebraska presented about several bills currently in the State Unicameral related to current OTOC issue areas.
- LB 861 (Hughes, Natural Resources) – Change Integrated Solid Waste Management Act
Requires consistent regulation of plastic containers across the state, ie: could get rid of local ordinances about plastic bag bans, etc.
- LB 905 (DeBoer, Revenue) – Single Use Check-out Bags & Program
Puts a 5 cent fee on plastic single-use grocery bags.
- LB 1205 (McCollister, Natural Resources) – Adopt Renewable Energy Standards Act
Increase renewable energy production in Nebraska and set benchmarks for percentage of renewables used.
- LB 794 (Hansen, M., Urban Affairs) – Missing Middle Housing Act
Allows the development of Missing Middle Housing on lots zoned for single family housing. Meant to increase density.
- LB 866 (Wayne, Urban Affairs) – Density & Inclusionary Bonus Housing Act
Provides concessions and/or incentives for residential development based on the percentage of low-income or very-low-income units provided in the development.
- LB 1020 (Vargas, Urban Affairs) – Change Fair Housing Act
Updates the Nebraska Fair Housing Act to include lawful source of income as an additional reason for discrimination in housing. Cannot discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant if their income comes social security section 8, child support, etc.
- LB 1155 (Vargas, Urban Affairs) – Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act
Gives 10 million for nonprofits to allocate for new construction, repair to dilapidated housing in certain census areas.
Criminal Justice Reform
- LB 786 (Lathrop, Judiciary) Guidelines for Restrictive Housing
Change rules on the use of restrictive housing and require screenings of inmates for serious mental illness, developmental disabilities, and traumatic brain injuries
- LB 1209 (Vargas, Judiciary) – Diversion Program for Caregivers
Provide prison diversion programs for offenders to continue to provide care to dependents
- LB 247 (Bolz) – Advance Mental Health Care Directives Act (GF)
Allows patients to prepare a metal health directive to plan for treatment if they become mentally incapacitated
- LB 1017 (Geist, Appropriations) – Funding for Problem-Solving Courts for Mental Health
Appropriates funding to Mental Health Courts pilot program
- LB 1052 (Wishart, HHS) – Prohibit Denial of Coverage
Prohibits insurance denial of coverage for mental health drugs not on the preferred drug list if it deemed necessary by the patient’s primary care provider
- LB 932 (Wishart, HHS) – Medicaid Expansion Implementation Date
Requires state to implement by October 1, 2020 and no later.
Other Big Issues
- LB 720 (Kolterman) – ImagiNE Act
Tax incentives for businesses to settle in Nebraska. Problematic because we are already on two prior tax incentive programs
- LB 974 (Revenue Committee) – Property Tax Relief & School Funding
Changes the way school funding is calculated to lower property taxes. Very problematic for school districts, especially large ones.
What Can I Do?
- Learn more about OTOC and our approach to systematic change
- Email email@example.com to schedule a meeting
- Learn more about the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska and their work teaching nonprofits how to lobby
- Visit strongnebraska.org
- Talk to OTOC Action Team leaders about your interest in these issues
- Environmental Sustainability- Clyde Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org
- Housing- Gloria Austerberry email@example.com
- Mental Health- Linda Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org
- Health Policy- Mary Spurgeon email@example.com
- Contact your senator
- If the bill in still in committee
- Call or email your senator, especially if they are in the committee
- If the bill is out of committee
- Call or email your senator to share your views on the issue
- Find out who your senator is, get contact info at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ in the “Find Your senator” search bar
View handout: CSN Issue Cafe Handout
Payday Lending on Feb. 11
The OTOC Payday Lending Action Team presented about the concerns around predatory payday loans. This led into an introduction to the Nebraskan’s for Responsible Lending Campaign- a ballot initiative to put caps on annual interest rates so that borrowers pay no more than 36% annual interest rather than the current 387%. For more info about this effort and how to get involved, click here.
Leaders stayed for a petition gathering training and went home with petitions
Healthy Housing on Feb. 4
The OTOC Housing Coalition led conversations about next steps towards affordable housing on the first Tuesday issue cafe of February. Leaders gave a quick update on the rental registration which is now open (learn more here), what work still needs to be done after last year’s important victory, housing inequality across the city, why housing needs to be a more prominent issue to policy makers, and what conversations are happening in the Unicameral about affordable housing now. The crowd was then broken into groups for house-meeting like discussions about the info and people’s own experiences. Several institutions shared stories about the burden on community groups like nonprofits and churches for rental and utility assistance, calling for partnerships and improved policy. Going forward, building power and building relationships that lead to successful passage of improved policy is the aim. Participants were asked to submit commitments they would take to continue building relationships and learning more.
Small group discussion including Family Housing Advisory Director Teresa Hunter
Read More . . .