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Sen. Albrecht’s Weekly Update

Sen. Albrecht’s Weekly Update
Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature

107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 47

This week marked the final week for Committee Exec Sessions of the 107th Legislature, and all Senator Priority Bills and Speaker Priority Bills have been selected. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the bills advancing to the floor this Session at nebraskalegislature.gov. It is an excellent website providing all Nebraskan’s with the tools to stay informed and involved in the Unicameral. The website also gives you a link to tune in and watch the floor debate. The “Live Video Streaming” button can easily be found on the top right hand side of the homepage.

BILLS I STOOD AGAINST
First of all, I have made a commitment this year to vote on every bill that comes to the floor. It is not a rare occurrence for Senators to vote “Present, not Voting” if they wish not to declare their position. But I personally do not think that is the best method of carrying out the role of a Legislator. My people have voted me in to weigh in on all that is put before me in the Capitol, and I strive to serve you the best way I can every step of the way. That being said, I was a lone “no” vote on LB255 – Adopt the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act. It is not often I stand alone on a vote, and though I am not afraid to do it, it is important to me that I share with you the reason for my vote.

I hold First Responders of all kinds in very high regard. My father was a volunteer firefighter for years, and the men and women who risk their lives to keep our society safe are valuable beyond words to me. But this is the fifth time since I have been in the Legislature that LB255 has come to the floor in this form and it has failed to pass. I voted “No” on LB255 because I continue to have some significant unanswered questions. What do paid law enforcement and first responders receive from their Cities, Counties and the State? I know there is already a double indemnity included in their benefits, but I wonder what a fallen first responder receives from their Worker’s Compensation Benefit package. It is my understanding that their spouse receives 66-75% of their wages for life, or until remarried. I just feel it is very important as State Senators to be very conscious about all of the places we allocate monies, and what is already being spent in each of those realms. I am certain it is much more than the $50,000 they would receive as a result of this legislation.

I want you to know how much I love and respect our first responders, but many people in numerous professions risk their lives and health for the benefit of others. Consider teachers, doctors and nurses, railroad workers and truck drivers who all stood in the gap during the Covid outbreak . I look forward to getting more of my questions answered in Select File before I give LB255 my green light.

I also voted against LB561-which expands gaming through KENO and Sports Betting in the State. I understand that Nebraskans said yes to gaming on the ballot last May, but I believe as Legislators, we need to make certain that things get started off right, and I want to do everything in my power to make sure the letter of the law is followed in this process. For instance proper protocol was not followed to have a hearing on KENO before the Bill was introduced on the floor. They have now agreed to hold a hearing for KENO between now and when the bill goes to Select File, and I am sure there will be a spirited debate when it comes back to the floor. Overall, I am very concerned that when gaming becomes more accessible, more and more Nebraskans and their families will be hurt.

Lastly, I gave a red light to LB88, which changes the authority of who decides what can be published in the local school media, from the administration to the students. This bill would essentially create a public forum out of our school media that, I believe, creates an environment for students to be easily coerced by an adult influencer who has a specific agenda. Here is an excerpt from a Lincoln Journal Star article about the floor debate this week. “Sen. Adam Morfeld’s bill preventing Nebraska student journalists from being censored by administrators survived a filibuster before advancing to second-round consideration Thursday. Discussions on the bill (LB88) stretched across three days this week, as opponents used up the full time allotted for first-round debate. Opponents argued that by preventing administrators from having the final say, student publications would become more like a social media website, where freewheeling opinions could be posted without any influence from adults. Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston said many Nebraskans did not want to see their school administrators lose the ability to censor student publications they may disagree with. ‘It means too much to the students in our state to be protected from what they may write today that they may have to explain later in life,’ Albrecht said. Albrecht then introduced an amendment that would strike the ability of students to be responsible for the advertising content of the school publications, which she said would allow organizations such as Planned Parenthood to purchase space in a student newspaper. ‘We’re putting ourselves out there, folks, to have some major problems,’ Albrecht said, but her amendment also failed, on a 25-15 vote.”

STAY INFORMED ABOUT WHAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS PROPOSING
Last week the Nebraska Department of Education released a draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards. I strongly encourage you to read the standards and inform yourself about new content that is being considered. Keep in mind State Standards are simply a guideline that individual School Districts can follow. The number one step is for the parents to weigh in. What is being taught in our districts is ultimately up to our local administrators.

Take some time to review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department
of Education know what you think.
A draft Health Education Standards are available for review at:

Health Education Standards Development


You can contribute your feedback at:
https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dI1y2pRSfXlG8R
Or members of the public can submit a formal comment by emailing nde.standardsinput@nebraska.gov.

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19
The number of positive tests reported for the periods March 12, 2021, and March 19, 2021 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +51 (3951)
Thurston County: +7 (1138)
Wayne County: +8 (1084)

Every Spring I have a heightened awareness that more farm implements might be on our roads. The beautiful rolling hills in our agricultural area can create a prime environment for danger. It is so common to come up over a hill and meet a tractor. Please take extra precaution to stay safe this season.

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

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