Lancaster County Officials Discuss Legislative Priorities

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- As we move toward the next legislative session, Lancaster County and Nebraska State officials came together Thursday to talk about the issues they collaborate on- and what county officials want to see action on in the session.

The issues were pretty clear in this meeting- unfunded mandates, justice system reform, Medicaid and property tax relief.

Unfunded mandates came up quite a bit. These are things like having more probation officers in the county that the state requires, but not giving them the money to do it. The county funds much of what they do through property taxes. Lowering property taxes came up quite a bit in the last legislative session. The problem with lowering property tax is that the county needs the money, especially now that they're taking on some of the strain on the prison system.

Of course, prison is such crucial statewide issue, but Lancaster County is a hotbed of this conversation. With the Penetentiary here. Those issues and issues of juvenile justice hit hard here in Lancaster County. Moreover, when inmates are released, many of them stay here in Lancaster County because this is where resources are.

Mental health returned to the table in that context. Lancaster County has the resources to help those inmates but funding isn't always available. In part, because Medicaid hasn't been expanded. Meaning resources for state end up covering costs for state mandated mental healthcare.

Many at the meeting believe access to that healthcare helps reduce recurring entrance into the prison system.

The senators said they will take these issues back to the Capitol and keep counties in mind when making decisions.