Lawmakers reach decision on debated budget measure involving federal Tile X funding

Several important bills were passed or advanced this week, including the heavily debated bill regarding federal Title X funding in the state budget.
    On March 29, lawmakers reached a decision on budget measure LB 944, which had been held up by conflict over a provision related to federal Title X funds for health centers that provide reproductive health services to low income men and women.
    Services include contraceptives, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The federal funds cannot be used for abortions.
    At the governor’s request, the budget bill included a provision prohibiting funds for agencies that perform, assist, provide counseling or referrals for abortion services.
    A compromise amendment would prohibit abortion referrals except emergencies. Under the compromise, agencies could provide “neutral, factual, nondirective information” about pregnancy termination.
    After two hours of discussion, senators voted 43-4 to invoke cloture, or cease debate, and vote on the bill. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 40-4 and LB944 advanced to final reading.
    Several bills regarding tighter control on opiate prescriptions passed on March 29. LB 931, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, would limit prescription of opiates to a person younger than 18 to a seven-day supply.
    Exceptions can be made for chronic pain, palliative care or cancer diagnosis. A medical practitioner would be required to discuss the risks associated with opiates with the parent or guardian of the patient.
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