LINCOLN — Republican Gov. Jim Pillen stepped throughout the political aisle Thursday to offer shock private testimony in help of a invoice to bolster psychological well being care.
The invoice was launched by State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, a Democrat within the formally nonpartisan State Legislature. She can be chief sponsor of a invoice to legalize medical marijuana, a invoice opposed by Pillen.
Political observers mentioned they may not recall a time when former Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, had personally testified for a measure launched by a Democrat. Although it occurred no less than as soon as, in response to his long-time press aide, Taylor Gage — in 2016, Ricketts testified in favor of a proposal from Democrat Sen. Kate Sullivan regarding faculty funding.
Pillen’s testimony, observers mentioned, is illustrative of his willingness to satisfy with political opponents, and work out variations, on some points — although one lobbyist mentioned some “bizarre alliances” are forming this 12 months within the Unicameral.
Wishart mentioned she was grateful for the help from the governor. She mentioned “bipartisan help” will probably be “crucial” in tackling the state’s issues with offering psychological and behavioral well being care.
Her Legislative Invoice 276 would allow the creation of the Licensed Neighborhood Behavioral Well being Clinic mannequin in Nebraska by way of the Medicaid program. The invoice has been touted as “transformational” in enhancing high quality and entry to care. It could create facilities in six communities throughout the state.
Wishart mentioned she seemed ahead to working with the governor, and her legislative colleagues, to get LB 276 handed this 12 months.
A spokesman for Pillen mentioned he testified for the invoice earlier than the Legislature’s Well being and Human Companies Committee “as a result of he supported it.”
Governors typically testify in help of payments they ask to be launched by state senators, however it’s uncommon for them to look at committee hearings on payments they didn’t request.
In his written testimony on LB 276, Pillen acknowledged that Nebraskans “should come collectively to resolve robust issues.”
“Psychological well being and substance abuse are robust issues. We additionally want extra psychological well being specialists,” Pillen mentioned.
Officers with the Nebraska Division of Well being and Human Companies additionally testified in favor of LB 276.
Previous to the 2023 session, Pillen assembled a bunch of educators, of all political stripes, to advocate modifications within the state’s system of offering help to Okay-12 colleges.
Observers mentioned the modifications, which might considerably enhance state funding of native colleges, has helped carry extra help for the governor’s proposal.
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