Making Our Voices Heard at the Unicameral
The Nebraska legislature went into its 105th session on January 4, 2017. Senators have introduced over six hundred bills, many of which offer both challenges and opportunities for the South Omaha community. The following are specific bills the HWC is focusing on:
This resolution, introduced by Senator John Murante from district 49, would require voters to show valid photo identification at their polling place. Voters without proper identifications (senators will determine which identifications are valid) would have to go through the tedious process of acquiring the identification, and may even lose their opportunity to vote. As of now, voter registration forms require either driver’s license information or social security information, in order to minimize the potential of voter fraud. Adding a photo identification requirement to the process of voting would only be adding an unnecessary redundancy.
This bill would deter voter turnout in our community because of the limitations it creates for voters who may not have the proper identification. LR1CA was referred to Government, Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. We are still awaiting the date for its public hearing.
LB 165, introduced by Senator Tom Brewer from District 43, would require all companies (both public and private) to check the immigration status of all employees using the E-verify system. E-verify is a computer system that compares a person’s I-9 employment eligibility verification with the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, and the Department of State records to determine if that individual is authorized to work in the United States. This legislation could adversely affect both businesses and the immigrant community. LB165 was referred to Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a public hearing on February 22, 2017.
Senator Tony Vargas from District y introduced LB 194, which if passed into law, would regulate payday lending businesses by limiting the interest rates they can charge their customers. At this point, payday lenders can charge up to 461% interest rates on these loans; LB 194 would limit it to 36% interest rates. In addition, it would allow borrowers more time to clients to pay off their loans.
Traditionally, what has happened, is that customers have gotten caught up in borrowing money from these companies, and continue to borrow to pay off the previous loan(s). LB194 presents an opportunity for community members to borrow money when they need it, but to avoid extended cycles of debt and its effects when these companies are properly regulated. This bill was referred to Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee, and is scheduled for a public hearing on February 21, 2017.
These bills have the potential to impact our community. But we must ensure our state senators know how we feel about the bills. It is our responsibility to reach out to our senators and let them know how these bills will affect our families and communities. All Nebraskans are invited to testify either for or against bills during their public hearings. Contact Heartland Workers Center today to find out what you can do. Together we can make the voice of our community be heard.
For more information on these bills or on how to get involved please contact the Heartland Workers Center at (402) 933-6095.
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