Debate Transcripts

LB 865 (1997)

General File

April 14, 1997


SENATOR WILL:  Thank you, Senator Crosby.  The motion before the body is the advancement of LB 798 to E & R Initial.  All those in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Mr. Clerk, please record.  Record vote has been requested.


CLERK:  (Read record vote as found on pages 1497-98 of the Legislative Journal.) 29 ayes, 4 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement.


SENATOR WILL:  LB 798 advances.  Mr. Clerk, any items for the record?


CLERK:  Not at this time, Mr. President.


SENATOR WILL:  Next bill, if I'm not mistaken, is LB 865.


CLERK:  (LB) 865, Mr. President, by Senator ...  or by Education Committee.  (Read title.) The bill was introduced on January 22, referred to the Education Committee for public hearing, advanced to General File.  There are committee amendments, Mr. President.  (See AM1042 on page 1129 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR WILL:  Senator Bohlke, you are recognized, initially, to open on the bill.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Senator Will and members.  Actually the committee amendments become the bill.  And the issue was raised more on a time line and the timing necessary that was established in LB 740.  And so given that, I will let Senator McKenzie explain the amendments and how we need to address the time line.


SENATOR WILL:  Senator McKenzie, on the committee amendments.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Mr. Clerk, could we take the committee amendment.  Thank you, Mr. President and members.  AM1042 to LB 865 is a proposal brought to you from the Education Committee, but with the involvement of the Special Education Select Committee, who worked this summer during the interim to




continue our efforts on LB 742.  1 will very briefly go through what is in the amendment and it does become the bill.  The first thing it does is allow that special education programs that are innovative in nature can also be included as one of the categories to be considered under the Innovation Education Lottery Fund competitive grants.  It does not make that a specific category, but those kinds of proposals would be included among the many other kinds of proposals that could be granted an award through the Education Innovation Fund.  The second thing it changes is it adds a new definition of assistive technology, and it does that because a section in the bill creates a registry for assistive technology devices that will enable any family or school district in the state, that has some form of, )h let's say a motorized wheelchair or special pad, to be registered, so in the event that that was not necessary, it could be shared or people might know where those are available.  The third thing it does is it retains a requirement for the Department of Education to establish the process and criteria for assessment, identification, and verification of children who may require special education services, but it also now adds related services.  Nebraska is one of only a few states who does not require some process for related services.  Related services can basically be funded without being directly connected to a disabling condition.  It changes transportation reimbursement sections to also be related services.  It extends, most importantly, the current process that we put in place under LB 742 with the capped appropriation at 3 percent growth, it extends that past the date that was originally in LB 742.  For those of you who were here for that debate, you will recall that we sunset the existing system, under the lid, beginning in the school year 1998 and 1999.  This allows the current system, which has worked very well under the capped appropriation, rather than...  especially in light of what's happened with 1114 and 299, the package that was adopted last year, it was the feeling of the Special Education Select Committee that we keep the current system until we address those issues, especially in light of the fact, as I mentioned earlier, it had worked very well in bringing costs down.  It creates- a Transition Commission, another area of concern that we have been dealing with in the area of special education.  This is a group of nine people, appointed by the Commissioner of Education, and by the Director of Health and Human Services to develop a plan, a




cooperative interagency service model for transitional and vocational services for students 14 through 21.  This goes to that issue of children who are at the age of 14, entering junior high and high school, where in fact many cases the academic program is not appropriate.  We need to look at some different ways of delivering services in a coordinated way for those students, many of whom remain in the school system and the responsibility of the state until the age of 21.  And again, it creates a registry for assistive technology.  Just for your information, there were a number of other proposals that were in the original draft that the Education Committee chose not to include in the amendment at this time, but will be continued to be reviewed and worked on during the interim.  One In particular, a definition of educational benefit, an area where in fact there's been great concern about how much some medical costs actually end up costing the state because they are considered an educational benefit.  And a better definition of that would be helpful to all school districts, but also I think also helpful to parents and to the medical profession who often makes that determination.  The recommendations in the amendment came from the Special Education Accountability Commission from the Department of Education's recommendations and from the Nebraska special ed director's group looking at ways in which we can continue our efforts in special education reform and yet not completely change the system at this point, until we get the larger property tax and school funding issues dealt with in this session.  With that, Mr. President, I would conclude.  And if there are questions, I would certainly be happy to answer those.  I ask adoption of the committee amendments.


SENATOR WILL:  Thank you, Senator McKenzie.  You've heard the opening on the committee amendments.  Any discussion?  Seeing none, Senator Bohlke, Senator McKenzie, do you wish to close?  Closing is waived.  The question before the body...  Senator Wehrbein, excuse me, Senator Wehrbein, you're recognized.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Madam Speaker, members, I apologize for this, Senator McKenzie, but could you give me a thumbnail of what you said.  I was out and I...I did catch the gist.


SENATOR WILL:  Senator McKenzie, would you repeat your opening, please.




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  I mean a minute, not five.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Senator Wehrbein, let me see, how fast would you like me to talk?  Here's what it basically does, most importantly, is it continues the current system we have under the 3 percent lid for the state appropriation, so that the funding system continues past what would have sunsetted in 1996.  It also includes a couple of other areas that we thought would help deal with that cost containment issue as we continue to try to bring some level of cost containment 'to this whole area.  In particular it requires the Department of Education to create the rules and regs and the procedures for verification of related services..  it puts transportation in as a related service rather than a direct reimbursement, it creates a commission who will look at transition for children from 14 to 21 in a different method than an academic program, possibly a coordinated effort between what are developmental disability functions, and health and human service functions, and Department of Ed functions under Voc Rehab, and creates an assistive technology registry so we know where certain specialized, high-cost devices are for students across the state.




SENATOR McKENZIE:  I believe that's a pretty good...


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  That's very good.  And most of that I caught.  I was reading here and I thought there was going to be discussion, so I could have caught up.  The real question I have is the 3 percent intended to be, at this point, indefinitely into the future?  Three percent a year?


SENATOR McKENZIE:  At this point we put beginning In this year and continuing.  We did not put a new sunset date in.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  So at this point it's ongoing at 3 percent.








SENATOR WILL:  Thank you, Senator Wehrbein.  Anyone else wishing to discuss the committee amendments?  Closing was waived, I assume it still is.  With that, the question before the body is the adoption of the committee amendments to LB 865.  All those in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We are voting on the adoption of the committee amendments to LB 865.  If you so desire, please vote.  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Mr. President, reluctantly I ask for a call of the house and I will accept call-in votes ...  vote ...  votes.


SENATOR WILL:  Question before the house is, shall the house come under call?  All those in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK:  16 ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.


SENATOR WILL:  House is under call.  All unexcused members please report to the Chamber and record your presence.  Unauthorized personnel leave the floor.  Call-in votes have been authorized.  Senators Abboud, Beutler, Dwite Pedersen, Don Pederson, Senator Preistert Senator Robinson, Senator Bruning, Senator Coordsen, Senator Crosby.  Senator Cudaback, please check in.  Senator Schrock, Senator Schimek.  Call-in votes have been authorized on the adoption of the committee amendments.


CLERK:  Senator Elmer voting yes.


SENATOR WILL:  Please record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President.


SENATOR WILL:  The committee amendments are adopted.  The call is raised.  Further items on the bill, Mr. Clerk?


CLERK:  Nothing further on the bill, Mr. President.


SENATOR WILL:  The question before the body is the advancement of LB 865.  You have heard the opening already.  Seeing no further lights, the question is the advancement.  Closing, Senator Bohlke?  Closing is waived.  The question is the advancement of LB 865.  All those in favor vote aye, opposed no.




Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement of LB 865.


SENATOR WILL:  LB 86S advances.  Items for the record, Mr. Clerk?


CLERK:  I have nothing at this time, Mr. President.


SENATOR WILL:  That being the case, we will pass over LB 603, 603A, 99, and 420, and move to LB 835.


CLERK:  (LB) 835, Mr. President, by Senator Hillman.  (Read title.) The bill.  was introduced on January 22, it was referred to the Education Committee.  The bill was advanced to General File.  I do have committee amendments pending.


SENATOR WILL:  To open on LB 835, Senator Hillman.


SENATOR HILLMAN:  Yes, Mr. Speaker, members, we will have some handouts following up.  Since we went rather quickly through the agenda, there's a few things that we're just a little slow in doing, and it will take some time to explain LB 83S to you.  I'm sure many of you, because you've shared your thoughts with me, have looked at the bill and said it's really nice, Joyce, what does it do and what is it about?  And so what I'm here to do today is to try to explain to you a little bit about what LB 83S is about, why we need it and why I need your support.  The discussion surrounding LB 83S started because of 1114, where you had groups in local communities talking to each other about, not only addressing the lids, but looking at the services that they thought they would need and what they were going to be able to do under the recent budget caps, levy limits and so forth.  And as a result of those discussions many other things came up, especially in the area, as this bill addresses, of education and looking at what it is that they wanted to do and thought they needed to do in the future.  So the concept of a seamless delivery system came about following numerous conversations between the Scottsbluff School District and Western Nebraska Community College regarding student success, preparation for the next century, and the concern for a population of students not