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Legislature
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Bill advances to allow workers to discuss wages

A proposal to allow workers to communicate about their wages, without fear of reprisal, advanced Thursday to a second round of debate.

The bill (LB217), introduced by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, prohibits an employer from retaliating against any worker for asking about, discussing, or disclosing salary information in order to find out whether the employer is paying workers the same for equal work.

The goal of the bill is to help close the pay gap between men and women, Pansing Brooks said. 

The bill is similar to one introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer in the U.S. Senate, she said. Her Workplace Advancement Act would prevent punitive action against employees who seek or share wage information.

It's important, Pansing Brooks said, because women continue to earn considerably less than men for doing the same work. In Nebraska, women earn 77 cents for every $1 earned by men, she said. African-American women earn 65.5 cents for every $1, and Latina women earn 57.5 cents on the dollar, and Native women earn 44.7 cents.

Projections show the wage gap in Nebraska, continuing at the current rate, would not be closed until 2066. 

"Women are almost half the work force and receive more college and graduate degrees than men," she said. 

The Business and Labor Committee amended the bill to change enforcement from the Department of Labor to the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission. And it removed language limiting the purpose for discussing wages to equal pay for equal work.

Opposing the bill at a committee hearing were the National Federation of Independent Business, the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association, the Nebraska Retail Federation and the Nebraska Restaurant Association.

The bill advanced on a 27-3 vote, with Sens. Joni Albrecht, Robert Clements and John Lowe voting no.


Elections
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Candidate for District 4 Lincoln council race disqualified for missing paperwork deadline

City Council candidate Reshell Ray has been removed from the upcoming primary ballot because she failed to file required paperwork.

Lancaster County Election Commissioner David Shively announced Thursday he removed the District 4 candidate from the April 9 primary ballot.

Ray didn't file a statement of financial interests with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, commonly referred to as form C-1, by Tuesday.

Ray said she confused the financial document with the fundraising reports and thought she had more time.

But "the law is the law and the rules are the rules," she said.

Though she can't run for the council seat this year, Ray says she will be more active in the community because of what she has learned as a candidate meeting residents and talking with civic and professional groups.   

"I will definitely remain engaged in the process of improving our city for families and young people," she said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Ray said she will be looking for ways to serve the city and be a part of that process.

Another council candidate said that the paperwork required to run for office is complicated.

"I know from experience that running for office requires juggling a lot more than one might believe at first glance. To file for office, I had to drive to two different offices at two different levels of government (city and county) and correspond over phone and email with yet another level (the state NADC)," said Cassey Lottman, a candidate for the District 4 seat.  

Lottman said she is disappointed "voters will have one less choice about what they'd like Lincoln's future to look like."

Shively said Ray filed the form on Wednesday, a day late. He said candidates are informed when they file to run that the form needs to be filed and are given the deadline.

Shively said he consulted with the Lancaster County Attorney’s office, the commission and the Secretary of State’s Elections Division before determining Ray could no longer remain on the ballot.


COURTESY PHOTO 

Reshell Ray, Lincoln City Council District 4 candidate.