Happy New Year! Here in Nebraska, we’re not only welcoming new laws but we’re also about to welcome back the legislative branch of the state’s government to do its business.
This Wednesday, Jan. 9, is Day 1 on the Nebraska legislature’s calendar. And that begins the countdown to the end of the Unicameral’s 103rd Legislative session. In 2013, it’s a 90-day session, which is scheduled to end in June of this year.
A lot of conversation, debate, and discussion should happen between the state’s citizen-lawmakers, the state’s citizens, and other interested parties in the days between now and the end of the countdown.
Nebraska is a bit different in how its lawmaking body works: there is only one house, the Unicameral, which is also officially nonpartisan. But just like pretty much every legislature in each state, a lot of bills are introduced, debated and passed, and those bills affect every citizen and worker. And many of those bills will be full of details and nuance and maybe even big-picture ideas with details to be worked out later (and that’s where the devil may be, editorializing a bit!).
So as you’re following the legislative body in your state, I challenge you to pay attention to the news just a little bit more. Think about how proposed legislation affects your friends, neighbors, and yourself. Our office pays close attention to bills affecting workers’ compensation, personal injury and employment issues. We ask our clients and other interested parties to do the same. And our attorneys often testify on behalf of workers’ issues in hearings in both the Judiciary and Business and Labor committees.
Though none of these bills have been introduced yet, here’s a smattering of some of the ideas that have been shared with the Lincoln Journal Star (but just because they talk about it to the media doesn’t mean that senators will necessarily introduce a bill): “Senator eyes tax exemption for military retirement, Social Security”; “Senator again mulling letting teachers carry guns”; and “Wind energy proponents looking for incentives in Nebraska.”
Without going deep into the merits of the ideas above, I also challenge you to think in general terms about bills that you read about in your state. Does the proposal help or protect workers? Feel free to get involved by learning about the proposed laws, calling your state senator, and discussing the issues at play with others.
Our lawyers are carefully watching proposed legislation that could limit medical care for injured workers. The legislation is being supported by business and insurance interests and could result in rationing of medical care, if not drafted to protect consumers and health-care providers. As more details become available, we will publish to inform, comment and potentially call for action from injured workers.