The 2012 Legislative session is nearly half over and the Speaker of the Legislature has asked for priority bills to be submitted. The deadline is by adjournment Thursday. This past week Legislative Bill 540 was debated and advanced on the floor and I would like to focus my letter back home on this bill.
LB 540 was advanced with Amendment 1729 to select file for further debate this past week. LB 540 is a bill that the Health and Human Services Committee introduced. If passed, it would require the Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver to extend family planning services to Nebraska Medicaid recipients whose income is above the current eligibility qualifications.
The HHS committee introduced this bill in light of several other states that have applied for a Medicaid waiver and claim a significant cost savings to their states' budgets. It is believed that such a waiver leads to the state paying for fewer unplanned births and prenatal care, in turn the savings being put toward Family Planning Care. In looking to provide solutions to Nebraska's budget, many supporters contend that this will maximize family planning for women in Nebraska and decrease pregnancies and abortions. However, another concern is that such a bill would allow more funding for clinics that promote abortions.
I am not supportive of the original bill but I supported the attached amendment. Amendment 1729, introduced by Senator Tony Fulton, that was added to the bill and ensures that any funds received shall not be used or spent in any way to contract with any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions. Any organization that makes an overwhelmingly majority of their profits off of procedures that degrade the sanctity of life, I do not support and I will not support a bill that allows increased funding to such an entity.
I look forward to future floor debate with my bill LB 786, which is scheduled for debate sometime this week. LB 786, is a bill that will change forfeiture of office provisions for city council members in cities with a city manager form of government. Other upcoming hearings for bills that I introduced include:
LB950, which changes crediting provisions relating to reimbursement of certain assistance to natural resources districts as prescribed on Feb. 1.
LB1126 -- Provides and change extraterritorial jurisdiction of a village on Feb. 14.
LB1125 -- Changes provisions relating to natural resources district occupation tax on Feb. 15.
LB1127 -- Changes provisions and penalties relating to issuing or passing a bad check or issuing a no-account check on Feb. 16.
Questions or Comments? Contact myself or my staff at Senator Mark R. Christensen, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, 402-471-2805.