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Bill killed that would stop prenatal care benefit

Bill killed that would stop prenatal care benefit


The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee put an end to an attempt by a Fremont senator to stop medical benefits for the unborn children of undocumented mothers.

The committee voted Tuesday 6-0, with one member present not voting, to kill a bill (LB518) introduced by Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont.

It would have repealed another bill (LB599), passed in 2012 with an override of Gov. Dave Heineman's veto. LB599 expanded coverage for prenatal care to previously ineligible people, including pregnant women in the country illegally.

Committee Chairwoman Kathy Campbell of Lincoln said some members were ready to kill the bill immediately after last week's hearing but waited until at least a one-day layover, as is the committee's practice.

"It just seemed to me like the Legislature had given an answer to the question last year, in a most definitive manner," she said. "It didn't seem to me as if this was an issue ready to come up again."

She said no other senators had approached her about revisiting the issue.

Opposing testimony at the hearing underscored that what the Legislature intended to happen is happening, she said.

"The babies are getting the attention that they need, and everybody's moving on," Campbell said.

Janssen said that while he appreciated that the committee took a vote on the bill, he was disappointed by the outcome.

The Legislature voted in 2009 to disallow state benefits to illegal immigrants, he said. The governor vetoed LB599 last year, and Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, who were state senators last year, both voted against it.

"This is going to continue to be an issue in Nebraska," he said, an understandably contentious and emotional one.

"I was hopeful that the committee would have recognized that, that we had a change in our membership, and given the new senators a chance to weigh in on this so their constituents know where they stand," he said.

Voting to kill the bill were Sens. Campbell, Tanya Cook, Sue Crawford, Mike Gloor, Sara Howard and Bob Krist. Present not voting was Sen. Dan Watermeier.

Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or You can follow JoAnne's tweets at


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