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February 8, 2024

Voices Policy Coordinator Katie Nungesser (third from left) and daughter, Logan (second from left), pose with other testifiers Thursday, Feb. 1, in support of LB 952. LB 952, introduced by Senator Day and prioritized by Senator Aguilar, would ensure Nebraska takes up the SNAP Summer EBT option to help feed hungry kids during the summer months. 

From the Policy Desk...

This Week at the Legislature

LB 285 advances to select file: 

LB 285, to maximize the adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision in Nebraska schools, made it through first round debate on the floor this week.

The bill, introduced by Senator Walz and voted unanimously out of the Education Committee last year, would require highly eligible schools and districts in Nebraska to participate in the federal program which allows schools in low-income zip codes to offer free meals to all students without requiring paperwork or other registration.

The bill would add approximately 43 school/meal sites to the program in Nebraska, providing nearly 12,500 students in our poorest neighborhoods access to no-cost meals at school.

The state Department of Education would provide technical assistance to schools entering the program, and under an attached amendment, eligible schools would be able to later seek a waiver to opt out if it became clear the program was not financially viable. 

We are grateful for to the body for moving the bill forward on a strong vote of 33 in favor.  Special thanks go to Senator Walz for her leadership on the bill, and to Education Committee members Senators Conrad and Linehan for encouraging members to vote in support.

Thank you, senators, for your commitment to feeding hungry kids! 

At Voices for Children, we will continue to work with legislators on education around the benefits of the program for kids, as well as prior legislative research showing negligible impact on our state funding formula for school districts. We look forward to continuing to support the bill's progress and see CEP maximized across our state! 


Continued public hearings:

Voices for Children staff members have also been busy this week testifying on bills that would advance child health and well-being, including ...

LB 1139 -- Introduced by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, LB 1139 would adopt the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. This act would help caregivers take time from work to care for their children, loved ones as they age or themselves. 

LB 1029 – Introduced by Senator Conrad, would change provisions relating to compulsory school attendance regarding illness, adding language to require school attendance policies to treat mental health related absences the same as physical illness absences. 

...And opposing some bills that would roll back pro-kid policies, such as:

LB 899 and LB 1146 – these two bills undercut legislation passed just last year and implemented in September which protects our very youngest learners from exclusionary discipline and keeps them connected and engaged with their education from an early age. 


Here's What Voices is Championing Next Week...

Next week will be busy at the legislature, with many of our priority bills coming up for hearing just in time for Valentine's Day! Here are a few highlights:  

Administrative Fines and Fees Harm Youth and Families

LB 1089 introduced by Senator Wendy Deboer, would eliminate a range of administrative fines and fees that are currently levied against youth - and by extension, their families - in the juvenile justice system.

These hidden court costs can prevent young people from entering diversion, from successfully completing probation, and can operate to load further stress on families who are too often struggling to stay afloat.  

Hearing Date: Thursday, February 15, at 1:30 p.m. in the Judiciary Committee, Room 1113. 

Click HERE to submit your own comment. 

Say No to SNAP Work Requirements

Next week we encourage you to comment or testify in opposition ofLB 1381, introduced by Senator Ben Hansenwhich would mandate work requirements for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This bill is expensive, ineffective, and work requirements create barriers for Nebraskans experiencing food insecurity trying to feed their families.      

Hearing Date: Wednesday, February 14, at 1:30 p.m. in the Health and Human Resources Committee, Room 1510. 

If you cannot attend in person, you can still submit an online comment in opposition HERE.   

Students Deserve Access to Basic Hygiene Products 

Monday, we will be supporting LB 1050, a bill from Senator Danielle Conrad which would provide each public middle and high school with menstrual products for free distribution to students. Menstrual products, also known as period products, include pads and tampons and are as necessary for menstruating students as toilet paper and paper towels. Under LB 1050, these products would be readily available in school bathrooms, meeting a basic health need. 

Hearing Date: Monday, February 12, at 1:30 p.m. in the Education Committee, Room 1525. 

Click HERE to submit your own comment. 

Nebraska’s Children Thrive Because of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

LB 1330, introduced by Senator Dave Murman and others, would prohibit public higher educational institutions from participating in activities and hiring individuals in roles relating to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). When we take away programs, trainings, and places for dialogue regarding DEI we erase identities and history. Our children deserve teachers, social workers, caregivers, mental health practitioners, probation officers and other professionals who have been trained in valuing their beautiful diversity, and promoting equity and inclusion to see them thrive. DEI work is supportive to individuals and can bring positive transformation for all.   

Hearing Date: Tuesday, February 13, at 1:30 p.m. in the Education Committee, Room 1525. 

Click HERE to submit your own comment. 


REMEMBER -- as we move through session you can follow along on our 2024 State Policy Priorities page to see our written testimony for any hearings which have already occurred here.

We will keep you updated here with what is coming up for kids, and you can also view what's happening daily in the Nebraska Legislature watching Nebraska Public Television 


Federal Child Tax Credit Package - Call Your Senator!

Bipartisan vote in U.S. House of Representatives sends the bill to the Senate 

Last week, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 advanced from the House on a 370-70 vote. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would enhance our current federal child tax credit, which currently stands at $1,600 per child, up to $1,800 for 2023 tax filing, $1,900 in 2024, and $2,000 in 2025. It would need to be reauthorized after that.  

While not as supportive as the enhanced credit in the American Rescue Plan Act, which the CDC estimates lifted 2.9 million children out of poverty, this expansion would significantly impact about 16 million children whose families don't receive the benefit of the current child tax credit. An estimated 500,000 children would be lifted above the poverty line once in full effect.   

The time is RIGHT NOW to contact Nebraska Senators and urge their support of this measure! The child tax credit is one of the most effective policy levers to move children out of poverty and into opportunity.  


Shawntal Mallory, J.D., is excited to join the Voices for Children in Nebraska family this year. She is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council (NLDC). We are thrilled to welcome her!


Youth Make a Difference in our Youth Leadership Council

We'd LOVE to see a BIG GROUP of young people interested in creating change and learning more about policy and their role in the legislative process at our next Youth Leadership Council meeting Saturday, Feb. 17.

The fun starts at 11:30 a.m. (middle-school aged kids) followed by high school-aged youth at 12:45 p.m. at our downtown office.

If you know of a young person interested in making friends, developing leadership skills and becoming a voice for their generation, please let them know about this AMAZING opportunity! In addition, involvement in the youth council includes the opportunity to earn compensation up to $500 over the course of the year. 

Please contact Nia Williams with any questions.


Voices for Children in Nebraska was IN THE NEWS quite a bit over the past few weeks related to several bills and issues we're championing. Follow these story links to learn more:

Report: Nebraska children of color have less well-being than white peers

Bill would require Summer EBT participation


  Thank You for Making a Difference in the Lives of Nebraska's Kids!

The work we do every day on behalf of families and children COULD NOT HAPPEN without the support and participation we receive from YOU. Your generosity allows us to remain an independent voice for Nebraska's kids. 

Get in Touch: voices@voicesforchildren.com | (402) 597-3100

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