The Legislature convened for three days this week to adopt $83,619,600 in emergency funding for the state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
an Appropriations Committee priority bill, was
and advanced from Select File on Tuesday. On Wednesday, senators convened briefly for the required layover day between Select File and Final Reading. On Thursday, 45 senators voted unanimously to pass LB1198. Governor Pete Ricketts signed the bill immediately.
Speaker Jim Scheer told the body that he did not know when the Legislature would be called back for the remaining 17 days of the session. When it reconvenes, debate will be scheduled on Monday through Saturday for two weeks and Monday through Friday on the third week. Due to the number of senators who are running for re-election, the session will not be held during the two weeks before the primary election on May 12.
He expressed appreciation to the senators and to Governor Ricketts for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the senators who were absent had been advised not to attend the three-day session due to age or health.
LB1198, which was introduced to appropriate funds to restore the doors to the George W. Norris Chamber of the Capitol, was amended to provide the following emergency funding:
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
$38,156,700 for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to local jurisdictions and support to local health departments
$4,004,000 for additional staffing expenditures for DHHS
$13,000,000 for surge staffing for veterans homes and DHHS care facilities
University of Nebraska Medical Center
$515,000 for COVID-19 testing
$2,500,000 for lab equipment, software programming and personnel
$100,000 for UV light boxes to clean respirators for use by health care workers
$343,900 for establishment of an interoperable platform for communication, bed tracking, and resource sharing among public health, health care, emergency medical personnel, and emergency managers for county and state entities
25,000,000 for unobligated reserves in the event additional funds are necessary