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Legislative Victories Hailed in Nebraska

AARP Nebraska is hopeful that family medical leave and tax credits for caregivers will be considered in upcoming legislative sessions. (Mark Goebel/Flickr)
AARP Nebraska is hopeful that family medical leave and tax credits for caregivers will be considered in upcoming legislative sessions. (Mark Goebel/Flickr)
May 21, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. — In a legislative session dominated by fiscal woes, state lawmakers passed several measures that should help improve the lives of Nebraskans ages 50 and over.

Jina Ragland, associate state director of advocacy and outreach at AARP Nebraska, said their volunteers were on the ground working with senators on several issues; and in the end, they scored some important wins.

One of the biggest, she explained, is LB 793, which creates a permanent aging and disability resource center at locations across the state.

"Back in 2015, there was a pilot project that was put into place in Nebraska,” Ragland said; “being one of the last states that actually implemented a one-stop shop, no-wrong-door initiative for those who have aging or disability-related needs. "

Ragland said these centers help people stay in their homes and communities, helping to reduce the taxpayer burden of institutional care. Other bills of note are LB 738, that will keep taxes on Social Security benefits on pace with inflation, and LB 439, that allows assisted living facilities to provide nursing care.

Ragland added senators also approved measures that will help all Nebraskans. Those include a bill that will allow people to place, temporarily lift and remove a freeze on their credit report at no cost, and a bill that strengthens payday loan protections.

"Across the state, payday lenders are currently charging more than 400 percent interest rates,” Ragland said. “This bill, as amended, does not address the annual percentage rates, but it does put into further place protections that keep consumers safe as they begin to look at utilizing payday lending."

Looking ahead, Ragland contends there's still a need to focus on family medical leave legislation, as well as tax credits for caregivers.

"Care-giving is a huge focus as we continue to see aging populations increasing in Nebraska, as well as younger generations having to step up and provide that care,” she said. “We're looking at ways to recognize caregivers, but also provide some relief for them in different aspects."

The Aging and Disability Resource Center legislation is already in place; the payday lending, fraud prevention, and assisted living bills become law in July; and the tax relief law takes effect in 2020.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE