Office of Guardianship Bill Headed to Governor's Desk

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Lincoln, NEB. Nebraska is one step closer to joining the rest of the country in having an Office of Public Guardianship.

"We tried to do it on a volunteer basis, but it didn't work out as everybody would have liked," said Governor Dave Heineman.

Though Senator Colby Coash, who introduced the bill, said it has been years in the making, a very public scandal last fall showing flaws in Nebraska's volunteer guardianship program provided the motivation to get this done.

"That incident was kind of a catalyst to say 'okay with a void of guardians you open yourself up to thing like what we saw in Scottsbluff.' And so the time seemed right to pull this off," said Lincoln Senator Coash

"It's unfortunate we had really one person who made a series of mistakes. We caught those. We need to protect those with the appropriate guardianship," said Governor Heineman.

Now, The guardianship system, volunteer and assigned, will have more safeguards to avoid abuse or confusion.

"One of the functions of this office will be to support those volunteer guardians through training and things of that nature, so even the volunteer guardians are going to have some support which i think will be helpful to them," said Senator Coash.

He said he still needs to look through the actual bill, but Governor Heineman said he supports it.

"I do think it's a good bill that Senator Coash has produced. I do want to read it in detail though before we make our final decision, but I do think it's something needed," said Governor Heineman.

Senator Coash said if the Governor approves the bill, part of the process will be finding someone to take on this role as the public guardian. He said the candidate will need to be a jack of all trades.

"You certainly have to have an understanding of guardianship issues, guardianship laws and vulnerable populations. You have to have some ability to account for funds, so there's some responsibility to understand accounting and finances. And some experience with the courts and vulnerable people," said Senator Coash.

The Governor now has 5 days to approve or veto the bill.