Happy Valentine’s Day from Lincoln, where we are loving that the Legislature has adjourned for a for a long four-day weekend. The Unicameral will reconvene on Tuesday, which will be Day 25 of the 60-day session. Morning debate and afternoon hearings continued this week. While Speaker Scheer has urged his colleagues to prioritize bills for consideration, only 11 Senators have designated their priorities, and many bills still await committee action. Nine committee priorities have been named, including the Revenue Committee’s property tax proposal, LB974, which advanced from the committee this week by a vote of 6-2.
The NVMA opposed two bills presented for hearing this week:
Senator Hilgers introduced LB988 to spur employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). No proponents came before the Banking Committee to support the bill. Under the bill, a business entity formed for the purpose of rendering professional service, the performance of which is subject to credentialing under the Uniform Credentialing Act, may have owners who are persons not credentialed, but such non-credentialed owners shall not comprise a majority of the owners of such business entity. The bill was opposed by the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association, Nebraska Medical Association, and Nebraska Emergency Medical Services Association, raising concerns about the bill’s limits on access to private equity.
On Thursday the Government Committee heard Senator La Grone’s LB1187 related to occupational licensing reform. It would allow an occupational board to grant an occupational license or government certification if the: applicant has held a current occupational license or in another state with a similar scope of practice for at least one year; board in the applicant’s state required the applicant to pass an exam or meet educational, training, or experience standards; and applicant’s license or certification was not revoked or surrendered for negligence or intentional misconduct and there are no complaints, allegations, or pending investigations of an alleged crime or unprofessional conduct. If an applicant works in a state that does not require a license or certification in their profession, he or she may obtain a license or certification in Nebraska if they have worked in their profession for three years and are in good standing. La Grone said the bill would change the philosophy of licensure in Nebraska, from whom should the state include to whom should the state exclude from participating in the workforce. The bill was supported by the Platte Institute, but opposed by licensed professional groups, including the Nebraska Nurse Practitioners and the Nebraska Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
Another hearing of interest to NVMA was held on Senator Arch’s LB1183 to create the Health Information Technology Board and change prescription drug monitoring program provisions. The intention of the bill is to provide oversight and governance for the board to ensure information in the statewide health information exchange and the prescription drug monitoring program is used in accordance with HIPAA. The Board may provide recommendations to the statewide health information exchange and shall submit an annual report to the Governor and to the Health and Human Services Committee. The board includes representation from a Nebraska veterinarian, an important inclusion to make sure the unique interests of veterinarians are considered moving forward.
Happy Presidents Day weekend—we will spend it pondering the wisdom of Washington starting the trend of only two four-year terms.
Michelle and Katie