Legislative oversight, extreme weather planning and a potential change in the number of state senators were some of the proposals considered by the Executive Board this session.
Lawmakers passed a bill that provides greater legislative oversight for the state’s youth rehabilitation centers.
The Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare is housed within the Office of Public Counsel, a division of the Legislature. Currently, the office investigates allegations of misconduct by employees of the state Department of Health and Human Services, the juvenile services division, contractors and juvenile detention facilities.
LB1144, introduced by the Health and Human Services Committee, expands legislative oversight of the state’s YRTCs. The bill requires the juvenile services division to report to the inspector general any instance of assault, escape, attempted suicide and other acts that occur at a YRTC.
In addition, the department is required to submit quarterly reports of grievances filed at YRTCs and to notify the inspector general of any leadership changes within the juvenile services division or the YRTCs. The inspector general is required to conduct an annual review and physical inspection of six state institutions and report to the Legislature.
The bill includes provisions of LR298, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, that create the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center Special Oversight Committee of the Legislature.
The 11-member oversight committee is required to issue a report on the quality of care and other issues at the YRTCs to the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2020. Appointed by the Executive Board to serve are Sens. John Arch of La Vista, Tom Brandt of Plymouth, Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha, Mike Groene of North Platte, Sara Howard of Omaha, Steve Lathrop of Omaha, John Lowe of Kearney, Dave Murman of Glenvil, Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, Tony Vargas of Omaha and Anna Wishart of Lincoln.
The committee will terminate on Dec. 31, 2020.
The bill also makes gender-neutral several references to the Office of Public Counsel in state law.
LB1144 passed on a vote of 48-0 and took effect immediately.
A proposed constitutional amendment to raise the maximum possible number of Nebraska state senators stalled during general file debate.
LR279CA, introduced by Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk, would have raised the maximum number of state senators authorized by the state constitution from 50 to 55. If approved by 30 senators, the measure would have been placed on the ballot for voter approval during the 2020 general election.
Following three hours of discussion over two days, the Legislature moved to the next item on the agenda. LR279CA was not scheduled for further debate.
A bill that would have required Nebraska to develop a plan to respond to extreme weather risks also stalled during the first round of debate.
LB283, as introduced in 2019 by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, would have required the University of Nebraska to develop a strategic action plan to provide methods for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
An Executive Board amendment would have shifted the focus to extreme weather risks.
After three hours of debate, lawmakers moved to the next item on the agenda and LB283 was not debated again.