Rain or Snow or Shine, the Nebraska Legislature Keeps Moving Forward

January 26, 2024

The snow has finally stopped in District 1 and has begun to melt. Green grass is even poking out in some places! Through all of it, the Nebraska Legislature keeps moving forward. The first half of our days are used for floor debates with the second half of our days dedicated to committee hearings. But it’s not all just talk and argument, this past week we have passed about a half dozen bills along to the next round. Herein, I will highlight a few of the bills that I believe will benefit Nebraskans.

LB 308, a bill heard in the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee, advanced from General File to Select File. This bill adopts the Genetic Information Privacy Act. The act safeguards the privacy, confidentiality, security, and integrity of consumer genetic data. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is a common practice, especially with companies such as Ancestry, 23andMe, and other genetic testing companies, gaining popularity. LB308 requires express consent for the sharing, storage, and usage of consumer genetic data by direct-to-consumer genetic testing services. This bill is critical as it ensures that the consumer is in control of their genetic data at all times.

LB 664, a bill heard in the Health and Human Services Committee, also advanced from General File to Select File. This bill allows the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of Medicaid recipients who do not reside in an institutional setting. This bill also allows the Attorney General to access the records of any resident living in a Medicaid-funded facility when investigating and prosecuting the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of that resident, regardless of whether that resident is a Medicaid recipient. Medicaid Fraud Control Units were authorized by Congress in the mid-1970s to investigate and prosecute the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of residents in Medicaid-funded facilities. This congressional mandate extends to all residents. However, contrary to federal authority, Nebraska’s statutes prohibit the Nebraska Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit from reviewing or obtaining information concerning non-Medicaid residents in healthcare facilities without the patient’s consent or court order. This bill makes Nebraska’s statutes consistent with Congress.

LB 600, a bill heard in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, also advanced from General File to Select File. This bill expands the Economic Opportunity Program to include infrastructure improvements for smaller communities across Nebraska. This program is used to finance transportation improvements to attract business and business expansions by connecting them to the transportation network. This bill is critical to attracting private business and driving economic growth.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

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