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I hope everyone has been able to navigate the incredible snowfall we’ve had this February and especially this week. My intent is to commute to and from Lincoln every day during the legislative session so that I can spend time with family, but due to weather conditions, I’ve had to spend a bit more time away from them this month than usual. Probably like many of you, I’m ready for Spring!

On February 21st I presented to the Health and Human Services Committee the last of my five introduced bills for this session. LB260 is a bill requested by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that would authorize the state to opt-out of using Recovery Audit Contractors to audit businesses accepting Medicaid. Recovery Audit Contractors, or RACs, are paid based on a percentage of the money they collect from businesses after auditing their practices. Dr. Jessica Meeske, a pediatric dentist from Hastings, and two other pediatric dental students testified in support of my bill, saying that RACs question best care practices taught in dental school and create chaos for pediatric dentists who serve our state’s most vulnerable populations. My bill allows DHHS to utilize RACs if needed but removes the requirement to do so.

I’m extremely appreciative of the amount of feedback I’ve received from constituents in District 16 about a number of bills and issues the legislature is considering this year. As has been the case with past controversial bills, my email inbox was flooded with constituent contacts about LB 423. Without going into detail about the bill and making my entire column about it, I simply wanted to express my gratitude for the level of involvement District 16 has with its state legislature. Our district pays attention to what is happening and it remains an incredible honor to represent you all.

Next in my property tax bill review for this column is LB 695, introduced by Sen. Groene of North Platte. LB 695 provides long-term property tax relief by making changes to Nebraska’s school funding formula. First, the bill would provide a baseline amount of funding for schools on a per-student basis, creating a foundation aid amount to each school. Then, local property taxpayers would receive a 10% reduction in local property taxes with state equalization aid filling the gap in funding. The growth of school needs would be adjusted based on a Consumer Price Index-calculated inflation rate, mirroring the growing or slowing economy more effectively and state aid adjusting accordingly. Lastly, the bill would adjust option funding, requiring the state to pay the statewide average property tax cost to the school district a student opts into. This way, the school receives a fair amount of funding to educate the student who lives outside that school district.

As a reminder, these column reviews are not endorsements of any specific property tax bill, but an effort on my part to keep you informed of what is happening in your state legislature.

You’re welcome to contact our office at (402)-471-2728 to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl; or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell. You can also email me at bhansen@leg.ne.gov. To follow along with the session please visit nebraskalegislature.gov or you may watch the live stream when available at netnebraska.org

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Sen. Ben Hansen represents District 16 in the Nebraska Legislature. He can be reached at 402-471-2728 or bhansen@leg.ne.gov.

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