Short Session With a Lot to Do

By: Tom McBride – Executive Director

The 2018 session of the Nebraska Legislature will be what is termed a “short session”. The first official day of the session is scheduled for Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Due to this being a short session the final day is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18, 2018. However, the final day at this point is preceded by several days of the legislature being in recess.

There really is no way to accurately determine, at this point, what bills will be introduced that effect juvenile justice or child welfare interest areas. The session will begin with rules discussion and how long that takes will impact what all can be accomplished in a short session. I am anticipating that a great deal of time will be spent on issues and bills that relate to tax cuts by the desire of the Governor, education funding and adult corrections in Nebraska. Each highly controversial area of discussion impacts how much other legislation will get acted on.

We may see some bill introduction surrounding such topics as secure transportation of juveniles, right to council for juveniles in all counties, termination and movement to permanency of younger juveniles in foster care of out of home placement and budgets. The forecasting board determines how the state will balance their budget, as required by law. This begs the question how do we protect services to those most impacted by reduced budgets? For years it has been stated that while the state has a constitutional requirement to balance the budget it should not be done at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens.

While NJJA does not ‘lobby’ any local, state or federal legislator, that doesn’t mean we won’t be talking with them. We will be listening and offering information to them regarding the resources they can utilize from NJJA to make their very best decisions on topics effecting juvenile justice. I wish I could pull out my crystal ball and know what this session holds, but it will be an interesting session and you can trust that we will be monitoring the session and assisting where we can as a resource to them.

We will have some updates throughout the year, and please trust that we are actively engaged/monitoring the lawmaking body and anyone else who has a play in the development of appropriate sanctions and programs to enhance juvenile justice in Nebraska. To that end, we also will collaborate with various other entities with like or similar interests.

While NJJA does not ‘lobby’ any local, state or federal legislator, that doesn’t mean we won’t be talking with them.