Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue pulled a bill out of cold storage Tuesday afternoon--one that had failed on second reading last week--and persuaded 26 senators to tack it on to another bill in final reading.
The bill (LB1089) would allow first responders to be compensated for mental injuries suffered while on the job.
Cornett said some senators were out of the chamber when the bill came up for a vote last week. It failed then on a 22-18 vote.
She brought it back as an amendment to another bill (LB819) that made changes to the employment security law and the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act.
The amendment survived a couple of attempts to turn it back, based on its relevancy to LB819 and its characterization as an inappropriate attempt to reconsider last week's vote on the bill.
Cornett said the bill had changed from its previous form because it now contained a clause that would end the practice of paying for mental injury in five years if it was costing the state or local governments too much.
She said other states have found it is inexpensive to add mental injuries to workers' compensation for first responders.
"There's no doubt we're going to help people with this bill," she said.
In fact, she said, the cost is higher without it, because of the cost to train new police officers and paramedics who can no longer work without treatment for mental and emotional trauma they experience as part of their jobs.
Senators who opposed Cornett's attempt to bring the bill back as an amendment to LB819 - including Sen. Tim Gay of Papillion - said the bill already had been discussed at least eight times and had had a fair hearing.
Lincoln Sen. Danielle Nantkes, whose father is a deputy sheriff, said the amendment was an opportunity for senators who said during their campaigns they supported first responders.
"Be proud and be supportive of those first responders today," she said. "This is your chance to do that."Reach JoAnne Young at email@example.com