Legislators have overridden Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto of a bill that would leverage federal funds to keep the elderly in their own homes and out of nursing homes.
The Unicameral voted 30-12-5 to approve LB 690 over the objections of the governor.
The bill will create an Aging Nebraskans Task Force to review ways to help aging Nebraskans stay in their homes. It also will use $5 million in state funds to leverage $24 million in federal funding to pay for in-home services.
Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff supported the override, stating Nebraska must address the problems that come with an aging population.
“And I don’t why this state always puts off addressing the issues. They always wait until we have a crisis and then it’s too late, it costs us too much money and we don’t make the good decisions in the middle of a crisis,” Harms stated during legislative floor debate. “History has proven that on this floor.”
Worries though have cropped up about whether funding will be there in the future.
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha said the goal of keeping older Nebraskans out of nursing homes and in their own homes is admirable, but the funding structure to get there might be shaky.
“I don’t question for one second what Sen. Harms is talking about,” McCoy said. “This is a growing issue and he’s right, we don’t have a terribly good track record historically in the legislature about addressing things in the best way possible when we’re in the middle of a crisis. But I don’t think LB 690 is the way to address that.”
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus agreed the state faces an enormous burden as the Baby Boom generation ages. Yet, he questioned whether the bill really addresses the problem.
“What I’ve always found difficult about this particular bill and that part is the connection; after we do this bill, how will life be different?”
It will make a difference, insisted Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, the bill’s sponsor.
“I have no doubt that this is the right direction for the future of Nebraska,” Bolz said in her close. “I also have no doubt that this is what our constituents are hoping for.”
The bill received 32 votes on final passage. The 30 votes it received on the override motion was the minimum needed to override the governor’s veto.