January 2021
The 107th Nebraska Legislature, First Session, convened January 6. The first order of business was swearing in eight new senators and electing the Speaker and committee chairs. New senators are Raymond Aguilar (District 35, Grand Island), Eliot Bostar (District 29, Lincoln), John Cavanaugh (District 9, Omaha), Jen Day (District 49, Omaha), Mike Flood (District 19, Norfolk), Terrell McKinney (District 11, Omaha), Rich Pahls (District 31, Omaha) and Rita Sanders (District 45, Bellevue).

Senators elected Mike Hilgers (District 21, Lincoln) as Speaker, and among the Committee chairs will be:

Executive Board: Dan Hughes (District 44, Venango)
Executive Board Vice Chair: Tony Vargas (District 7, Omaha)
Appropriations: John Stinner (District 48, Scottsbluff)
Business and Labor: Ben Hansen (District 16, Blair)
Education: Lynne Walz (District 15, Fremont)
Health and Human Services: John Arch (District 14, LaVista)
Revenue: Lou Ann Linehan (District 39, Elkhorn)
Committee on Committees: Robert Hilkeman (District 4, Omaha)

As the child care industry continues to experience extremely challenging circumstances amid the pandemic, FFN is working to offer support this legislative session. Three important bills we're working on are:

  • 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. Current statute requires providers with a new license type to operate on a provisional basis for a year and be rated at Step 1 in Step Up to Quality, even if they were rated higher under their prior license. The Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing for LB351 on January 29 at 9:30 a.m.

  • LB342, introduced by Senator John Stinner, would appropriate $5 million to the Early Childhood Education Endowment Cash Fund over two years to bolster efforts to advance quality early learning experiences for Nebraska's most vulnerable infants and toddlers. The Endowment funds Sixpence, which has played a key role for over a decade in helping our state's families guide the healthy development of their youngest children and put them on the path to lifelong success.

  • LB531, introduced by Senator Tom Briese, would create the Nebraska Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Act which would offer tax incentives to businesses and individuals who make contributions that support the availability of quality early childhood opportunities in the state.

FFN will identify bills with potential to affect early childhood and track them on our website's Nebraska Legislation page. From that group, we'll further identify a Legislation to Watch list of bills of particular interest. The Legislature's proceedings, including floor debate and committee hearings, are broadcast live and on demand on NET.

President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes funding to bolster the economic stability of child care providers and expand emergency child care tax credits for families with young children. FFN Director Jason Prokop breaks it down and also looks at what we need to do to build lasting sustainability for this critical segment of Nebraska's infrastructure. Read more
Lack of access to quality child care affects families' and communities' ability to recover from the pandemic. It's especially important that we strengthen our early childhood infrastructure as we rebuild from COVID-19. FFN shared insights on engaging business and economic development leaders in early childhood in a recent blog for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Read more
Nebraska's child care workers were the fifth highest occupation to file initial unemployment claims in 2020 according to the Nebraska Department of Labor, confirming that COVID-19 put child care providers under extreme stress, and many were forced to close temporarily or permanently. Read more
Don't miss this webinar Friday, January 29, at 10 a.m. FFN Deputy Director Elizabeth Everett and Lincoln Littles' Anne Brandt will discuss how organizations can effectively support women in the wake of COVID-19, which caused many women to experience job loss or job disruption. FFN is proud to co-host the webinar with Lincoln Littles and Select Lincoln | Partnership for Economic Development. Register today!
Nebraska's federal Preschool Development Grant is working toward quality early childhood education for all Nebraska's children by focusing on community-level needs and improving alignment of early childhood systems. Learn more
Child care providers in central Nebraska, please take a short survey to help the Sandhills Community Collaborative better understand what you need to support children and families during the ongoing pandemic. Take the survey

Jonne Arnold's young children are thriving, and she credits Fremont's Sixpence program. They have benefited from quality early learning and care since birth, and Jonne has learned invaluable parenting skills with support from her Sixpence coordinator. Read more
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.