The 104th session of the Nebraska Legislature adjourned for the year on April 20th. In the intervening weeks, I have taken some time to reflect on the successes and challenges of my final term as your representative for District 13.
Your Legislature took action to improve our state in many ways. I had several bills passed and signed into law by Governor Ricketts: LB 83 improves wage equality protections for Nebraska workers; LB 510 offers an incentive for employers to provide transformative investments in struggling families; LB 852 provides greater support to the vital work of our state’s community colleges; and LB 1004 will help ensure that low-income students are not missing out on healthy meals at school. I am extremely proud to have worked on these laws, which I believe will improve the quality of life for all Nebraskans.
In addition to the bills I introduced, I offered my support to several key reforms. Nebraska now has the strictest limits on civil forfeiture in the country, providing protection to those innocent who are inadvertently swept up in the system. The state will soon have a comprehensive opioid database in place to help doctors monitor and control the use of addictive painkillers. Over the Governor’s veto, we will allow immigrants legally residing in the state to apply for professional licensure in their areas of expertise and training. And finally, my colleagues and I passed a balanced budget, which Governor Ricketts signed in its entirety. The budget was focused on responsible growth, and protected the state’s investments in education and workforce development programs.
Though they were not passed into law this session, I also helped bring several other important issues to the Legislature’s and the public’s attention. My LB 965 highlighted the problems facing victims of mistaken identity, whose futures are complicated by arrest records made entirely in error. My LB 411 would have allowed more worthy families to achieve food security through the SNAP program. And I supported the responsible expansion of Medicaid through LB 1032, which would have helped thousands of Nebraskans access much-needed basic medical care. Though it is disappointing to not see these policies enacted during my time in the Legislature, I am hopeful that they will be thoughtfully considered in the future.
As with any enterprise, the 2016 Legislative session included both progress and obstacles. Overall, however, I believe the 2016 legislative session was a success. I hope I have lived up to your expectations as your Senator; as always, I am honored to represent you all.
Very truly yours,
Senator Tanya D. Cook
Legislative District 13