Public counsel authority, children’s commission extended

Senators passed a bill May 23 that extends a time frame for the authority of the deputy public counsel for institutions.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist15' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Lynne Walz'>Sen. Lynne Walz</a>
Sen. Lynne Walz

The public counsel—also known as the state Ombudsman’s Office—is an independent office that handles citizen complaints regarding the actions of administrative agencies of Nebraska state government.

Currently, the authority of the deputy public counsel for institutions extends to individuals who have been patients at a state-owned or state-operated regional center within the prior 12 months. LB600, introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, extends that time frame to 24 months.

The bill includes provisions of Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz’s LB330 that eliminate the July 2019 termination date for the Nebraska Children’s Commission.

The commission will become a permanent forum for collaboration among state, local, community, public and private stakeholders in child welfare and juvenile justice programs and services. The commission’s administration will be shifted to the Legislature.

Also included are provisions of Bolz’s LB332, which revise the Youth Bridge to Independence Program—a system of supports for older teenagers and young adults who are at or near the end of their time in foster care.

The bill expands the program to include young adults who age out of the state’s juvenile justice system. It also limits participation in the program to Nebraska residents and eliminates benefits to recipients who already are receiving residential funding through the home and community-based waiver program.

LB600 passed 39-0 and takes effect immediately.

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