Action Alert: LB 1106

ALL MEMBERS-CALL TO ACTION! LB 1106 

ACTION ALERT: Earlier in the legislative session LB974 was introduced as a property relief tax bill. The statement of intent can be found on the Nebraska Legislature’s website under bill search. LB 974 was a proposal developed by the Revenue Committee chaired by Senator Lou Ann Linehan. It was not supported by any of the state education lobby and did not receive unanimous support for advancement to General File. 

The bill was debated on general file for three hours without a vote taken. Under the rules for debate a bill that has been debated for three hours and not voted on cannot be placed back on the agenda unless the sponsoring Senator can guarantee to the speaker that they have 33 votes to break cloture. 

This week the Revenue Committee advanced LB1106 which was originally written as a bill to clean up language in the state sales tax statutes. LB 974 was amended into LB1106 with some minor changes. Again, the committee did not unanimously agree on advancing LB 1106. 

Some minor changes were made to the bill, but it still will be problematic for Nebraskas public-school funding if it is passed. 

  • LB 1106 provides $520 million for state aid for public K-12 schools over the next three years. There are concerns regarding whether the state can sustain that level of funding given the ups and downs of state tax revenue and the potential Covid 19 pandemic. Historically, state funding has been reduced when revenues decrease or there is an emergency. This happened during the last economic recession. 
  • The plan reduces option enrollment aid which is sent to a school district when a student enrolls in that district as an option to the district in which the student resides. Currently $10,000 per student is sent to the option district. LB 1106 drops it to $8000 per year in the second year of enrollment and $6730 in year three. This is a burden for school districts with a high number of option students. 
  • The proposed budget lid on school spending drops from 2.5% to 2% under 1106. 
  • LB 1106 cuts in half the special building fund levy over a four-year period, from 12 cents to 6 cents. 
  • Foundation state aid would be sent to each district on a per-pupil basis beginning with $703 per student in year one and increasing to $2341 in year three. Remember that the state has historically cut state aid (foundation aid in 1106). 
  • The bill would reduce property tax rates as follows: Ag land would be reduced from 75% of actual value to 55%. Residential and commercial property rates would be reduced from 100% of actual value to 87%. 
  • Some transition aid is provided for one year based for school districts impacted by the proposed changes. 

Please contact your state senator ASAP and respectfully urge them to oppose LB 1106. The education community has concerns that this plan is not financially sustainable for the state and the hands of local boards of education are tied when state aid is reduced by the proposed lids. 

Action Alert: LB 1207 Redistricting Reform Bill

LB 1207 REDISTRICTING REFORM BILL TO BE DEBATED SOON! WRITE/CALL/EMAIL YOUR STATE SENATORS 

Hey, we need some help. As you may know, LWV-NE’s Redistricting Committee has been urging the Executive Committee to bring Senator John McCollister’s redistricting bill, LB 1207, to the floor for debate. A couple of weeks ago, we learned that wasn’t likely. Consequently, in an attempt to effect redistricting reform, we turned our attention to a petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. The proposed amendment would support an independent commission of nine members to decide district lines. 

All that said, things changed late in the week when several civic organizations formed a new coalition. On March 5, that coalition, Nebraskans for Independent Redistricting (NIR), announced the petition drive to eliminate political gerrymandering in Nebraska. (More info.)

Nebraska’s constitution designates that the responsibility of drawing district lines is the duty of the legislature, so creating an independent commission would require an amendment to make that possible. (As this process goes forward, LWV-NE will be participating in meetings the week of March 9 to define our role in the petition process.) 

Shortly after the NIR’s announcement, an article appeared in the March 7th Lincoln Star Journal announcing that, surprisingly, Senator McCollister’s LB 1207 would be debated on the floor of the legislature. This bill would give lawmakers a chance to achieve redistricting reform as well as maintain control over drawing district lines as the constitution specifies. 

Voting to advance the bill with Sen. McCollister were Omaha Senators Ernie Chambers and Tony Vargas, Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz and Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward. Opposing the bill were Speaker Jim Scheer, Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers, and Sens. John Lowe of Kearney and Dan Hughes of Venango. (More info.)

So here we are – hoping to accomplish real reform one way or another. Please email, call or write your senator and urge support of LB 1207. Find your senator’s phone number and.or email address on the Unicameral website. Thanks! 

Why Redistricting Reform? Check out fairmapsne.org to learn more about redistricting and gerrymandering topics! 

  • Gerrymandering is undemocratic and goes against Nebraska’s traditions of nonpartisanship and fair play. 
  • When districts are gerrymandered, our elected representatives have been allowed to choose their voters instead of the voters choosing them. 
  • When Nebraskans are included in the process of drawing new election district maps, their fundamental right to choose who represents them is preserved. Voters feel like their vote makes a difference. 
  • When maps are drawn without political bias they represent minority groups more fairly. 

Action Alert: LR294, Resolution on Climate Change

LR 294, the resolution written by students at Prairie Hill Learning Center concerning human caused effects on climate, was heard by the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 20. There it sits yet!
 
“LR 294 is an official acknowledgement of scientific information declaring climate changes and predicting further changes and devastation in the climate and economy of Nebraska, particularly for the agricultural sector.
 
“LR 294 would mandate the State of Nebraska to create an action plan to combat the climate and ecological crisis  in process.” 
 
 (The full text of the resolution can be found on the Nebraska Legislature website.)
 
If your senator sits on the Natural Resources Committee or is one of the co-signers of LR 294, PLEASE contact them immediately and as a constituent of the senator, strongly urge that LR 294 be advanced to General File for full debate by the senate.
 
Natural Resources Committee:  Senators Albrecht, Bostelman, Geist, Gragert, Halloran, Hughes, Moser and Quick.
 
Co-signers of the resolution:  Kolowski (introducer), Bolz, Brandt, Cavanaugh, Chambers, Crawford, Hunt, McCollister, Morfeld, Pansing Brooks, Quick, and Wishart.
 
You can reach your senator by email or by calling the Capitol switchboard at 402 4721-2311 and asking for your senator.
 
Emphasize the urgency of the students’ concerns and YOUR concerns regarding our climate.

Action Alert: Contact Your Senator to Urge Support of LB1207

Redistricting bill LB1207 will go to the full Unicameral for debate. Read more at the Lincoln Journal-Star website.

LWVGO supports LB1207, the Redistricting Act, and urges all members to contact your state senator to urge them to vote for it. Find your senator’s contact information on the Unicameral website.

Become a Deputy Registrar to Register Voters in 2020!

Deputy registrars work as agents of the Election Commission to register voters throughout the county. In order to become an official deputy registrar, you must complete a training class conducted by the Election Commission. After completion, you will be certified by the Election Commission to conduct voter registration drives anywhere in Nebraska.

LWVGO volunteers who help to register voters must have a current (the training remains valid for three years) certification as a Nebraska Deputy Registrar. From the Douglas County website:

Deputy registrars work as agents of the Election Commission to register voters throughout the county. In order to become an official deputy registrar, you must complete a training class conducted by the Election Commission. After completion, you will be certified by the Election Commission to conduct voter registration drives anywhere in Nebraska.

In order to be an official deputy registrar, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a registered voter in the State of Nebraska (you may register to vote at the deputy registrar training session, if not already registered to vote in Nebraska).
  • Must sign up for the deputy registrar training session on or before the business day prior to the training date.
  • Must attend a deputy registrar training session conducted by the Election Commission.

The training sessions are 1 hour long and are free of charge. Please sign up for the class you’d like to attend in advance on the Douglas County Election Commission website.

See the table below for the dates, times and locations of the upcoming training sessions, and please feel free to get in touch with LWVGO and/or the Election Commission for more information.

Date Time Location
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 5:30 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Thursday, January 30, 2020 2:00 PM Criss Library, UNO Campus
6401 University Dr N, Omaha, NE
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 12:00 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 5:30 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, April 15, 2020 12:00 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 5:30 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 12:00 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 5:30 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 12:00 PM Douglas County Election Commission
12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE
Tuesday, October 13, 2020 5:30 PM Douglas County Election Commission

12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE

You can also see all of the training events on our LWVGO events calendar!

Library of Congress Seeks Help to Transcribe Women’s Suffrage Papers

The Library of Congress is asking for volunteers to help transcribe more than 16,000 historic papers related to the women’s suffrage movement. It has launched a crowdsourcing platform, “By the People,” to ask the public to help type up written documents word for word, which will make it easier to find and read original sources.

The Library of Congress project coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which Congress passed in June 1919. Women officially gained the right to vote in August 1920, when the amendment was ratified.

The Library of Congress’s collection includes letters, speeches, newspaper articles, personal diaries and other materials from famed suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; accounts from Carrie Chapman Catt, who served twice as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, including during the final successful ratification campaign; and the diaries of Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women, which shed light on minorities’ laborious suffrage struggles and her own dealings with civil rights figures like W.E.B. Du Bois.

Elizabeth Novara, an American women’s history specialist and curator of the Library of Congress’s new “Shall Not Be Denied” suffrage exhibition, said she hopes the transcription endeavor will give people an opportunity to “engage with our collections and feel a connection with the suffragists.”

“This project may be of interest to members of the League of Women Voters as we begin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Dianne Bystrom, LWVNE co-president. “This would also be a great project for college classes to help them learn more about the women’s suffrage movement.”

As of now, more than 4,200 documents have already been transcribed. However, thousands more need transcription. You can donate your time and typing skills to the project here.

Give Today! Consider Giving to LWVGO During Omaha Gives

We hope that you include LWVGO in your Omaha Gives donations. Give now at omahagives.org/lwvgo.

Check out our Omaha Gives page for more on all the work we do. Thank you for your support!

The League of Women Voters serves our community as a trusted nonpartisan resource for voter education and voter rights. We empower residents in our community to vote wisely and confidently, learn how the political system works, obtain accurate nonpartisan voting information, and understand the importance and impact of voting. Voting is the great equalizer and every vote serves to strengthen our community.

Want to Register Voters? Become a Trained Deputy Registrar June 11

LWVGO volunteers who help to register voters must have a current (the training remains valid for three years) certification as a Nebraska Deputy Registrar. From the Douglas County website:

Deputy registrars work as agents of the Election Commission to register voters throughout the county. In order to become an official deputy registrar, you must complete a training class conducted by the Election Commission. After completion, you will be certified by the Election Commission to conduct voter registration drives anywhere in Nebraska.

The next deputy registrar training will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11 at the Douglas County Election Commission Conference Room, 225 N. 115th St. To participate in this free training, you must register beforehand on the county website.

To be eligible to be a deputy registrar, you must:

  • Must be a registered voter in the State of Nebraska (you may register to vote at the deputy registrar training session, if not already registered to vote in Nebraska).
  • Must sign up for the deputy registrar training session on or before the business day prior to the training date.
  • Must attend a deputy registrar training session conducted by the Election Commission.

Again, this training is free and open to anyone eligible to vote in Nebraska. You must register on or before Monday, June 10 to be allowed in the class, and you can register at votedouglascounty.com.

Please send any questions to the Election Commission at 402-444-VOTE (8683) or to LWVGO Voter Services at gotv@lwvgo.org.

Call to Action: Unicameral Debates and Hearings to Watch the Week of April 29

All the bills listed below will have hearings during the week of April 1. Unless otherwise stated, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha supports these bills.

Find your senator via the Unicameral website, and contact them to urge them to support these bills. Follow the Unicameral Update to find out what happens next with these bills.

Hearings on Monday, April 29

General File

  • LB 209 – Require information regarding reversal of medication abortion (oppose)
  • LB 532 – Change provisions relating to harassment protection orders, sexual assault protection orders, and domestic abuse protection orders
  • LB 690 – Adopt the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act

Action Alert: Urge Your Senator to Vote No on LB 700

This is an Action Alert to contact your state senator and urge him or her to vote NO on LB 700. Please see the information below in a letter sent to the senators and plan to use one or two of the points when contacting your senator. 

The language of the bill would require wind energy companies to completely remove all concrete base material when decommissioning, rather than just the first four feet, which is standard practice nationwide.
It is on the legislative agenda for Monday, April 15, but may not come up for debate until Tuesday.

If you choose to send an email to your senator, make it short and succinct.  Vote NO on LB 700; it’s anti-clean energy and it’s anti-business.

– Sherry Miller, President, LWVNE

Nebraska Senators:  

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska urges you to vote No on LB 700.  
Nebraska ranks third in the country for wind energy potential, yet falls far behind in how much is actually produced.  In the two years since legislation lifted major barriers to wind energy, wind energy has already added hundreds of jobs, attracted new companies to our state that value sustainability and broaden our property tax base. At the same time, wind farms bring added income to agriculture producers who face difficult years due to tariffs and weather conditions.

LB 700 specifically targets wind energy development with unduly harsh restrictions related to decommissioning requirements.  These restrictions target clean energy, an industry that could be far more beneficial to Nebraskans.  It is an unwelcoming statement that closes the door to potential investment in a resource that we are rich in—wind.

The League urges you to vote No to LB 170 and leave the regulations regarding wind energy to the counties.  

Respectfully,
Sherry Miller, President, League of Women Voters of Nebraska