February 2021
The Nebraska Legislature is a third of the way through this year's 90-day session. COVID-19 created unique health and safety concerns this year, so legislative business looks a little different with public hearings being conducted in both mornings and afternoons in modified hearing rooms. Speaker Mike Hilgers also instituted a new online public input option for those who do not wish to visit the Capitol in person. FFN encourages public input on important early childhood and other bills. To offer an online comment, search for the bill on the Nebraska Legislature home page and click the "Submit comments online" button.

FFN has testified in person or submitted testimony on these bills to date:

  • LB68, introduced by Senator Jen Day, would allow child care providers to bill for subsidy based on enrollment rather than attendance.
  • LB137, introduced by Senator Tony Vargas, would require reporting to the online Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System to bring efficiency to the credentials-reporting process.
  • LB342, introduced by Senator John Stinner, would appropriate $5 million to the Nebraska Early Childhood Education Endowment Cash Fund over two years. These funds would be used to support the Sixpence Early Learning Program and bolster efforts to advance quality early learning experiences for Nebraska's most vulnerable infants and toddlers. FFN policy brief on LB342
  • LB351, introduced by Senator Lou Ann Linehan, would allow child care providers to retain their quality rating in Nebraska Step Up to Quality if they acquire a new type of license. FFN policy brief on LB351
  • LB416, introduced by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, would provide for training and funding relating to postpartum care and maternal health.
  • LB485, introduced by Senator Wendy DeBoer, would expand eligibility for the child care subsidy and qualify more families for transitional child care assistance.
  • LB531, introduced by Senator Tom Briese, would create the Nebraska Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Act for businesses and individuals who make contributions that support the availability of quality early childhood opportunities in the state. FFN blogpost on LB531 | FFN policy brief on LB531 | FFN issue brief on Nebraska Opportunity Zones
  • LB625, introduced by Senator Tony Vargas, would impose a surtax on certain taxable income and use the proceeds for early childhood education.

Significant dates for the remainder of the legislative session include:
  • March 4: Appropriations Committee's budget is due to the Legislature / Final day of hearings except for Judiciary Committee
  • March 11: Deadline for committee and senator priority bill designations
  • March 15: All-day floor debate begins
  • April 29: Budget bills must be on General File
  • May 19: Budget bills must be passed
  • June 10: Last day of the session (tentative)
FFN is tracking bills affecting early childhood on our website's Nebraska Legislation page. To view the list, scroll to the bottom of the page, select 2021 on the left and Check All in the right column and click Search. From the larger group, FFN has selected a Legislation to Watch list found at the top of the Legislation page. Click the gold box next to each bill to see a description, the senator who introduced it, current status, FFN testimony, policy brief and blogpost, if applicable, and more. We update bill statuses daily, so check the page for the latest information.
The Unicameral's Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator John Stinner, released its report on LR390, an interim study on the fiscal and economic impact of the pandemic on Nebraska's early childhood workforce and its ripple effects for parents and businesses. The purpose of the study was to ensure the state's early childhood system is stable enough to support children's development during and after COVID-19. FFN collaborated with policymakers and early childhood partners on release of the report which reveals serious challenges with significant implications for Nebraska's economy. Among the findings: 231 licensed child care providers have closed permanently during the pandemic and 1 in 4 providers has experienced a 50% drop in income.

We're pleased to announce that former State Senator Sara Howard is FFN's newest Policy Advisor. She joins our team after serving eight years in the Nebraska Legislature representing midtown Omaha; the final two years as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Sara brings to FFN extensive policy knowledge and experience in working on issues affecting children and their families. Welcome Sara! Read more

Council for a Strong America's new report on the challenges facing rural Nebraska communities due to lack of quality child care was the focus of a webinar featuring FFN Director Jason Prokop and Strategic Partnerships Advisor Mike Feeken, Marti Beard with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and representatives from business, law enforcement and the military.

Mike Jacobson, CEO of NebraskaLand National Bank, Buffalo County Sheriff Neil Miller and U.S. Air Force Brigadier General (Ret.) Randolph Scott added their unique perspectives on the impact insufficient child care and quality early learning opportunities have on business and the economy, law enforcement and even military eligibility, and what that means for our future.

CSA debuted the report and a video showcasing child care providers and others in rural Nebraska during the webinar. Watch the video

If you missed it, here's a recording of the "Expanding Talent Pools" webinar with FFN Deputy Director Elizabeth Everett and Lincoln Littles' Anne Brandt. Women experienced significant disruption in their careers during COVID-19, and employers have a unique opportunity to support them through access to child care as they strive to re-enter the workforce. FFN co-hosted the event with Lincoln Littles and Select Lincoln | Partnership for Economic Development
For information on coronavirus in Nebraska or to take a health assessment survey, visit Test Nebraska. See the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services website for a state overview, guidance documents, Directed Health Measures and many additional resources.