UNMC hosts legislative committee hearing

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | October 04, 2018

Image with caption: Sen. Matt Williams, left, speaks before the Appropriations Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature, which met at UNMC on Friday.

Sen. Matt Williams, left, speaks before the Appropriations Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature, which met at UNMC on Friday.

On Friday, Sept. 28, UNMC served as the site of a public hearing by the Nebraska State Legislature's Appropriations Committee.

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From left, Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, led a tour of the center for Sens. Robert Clements, John Stinner, Robert Hilkemann and Mark Kolterman before the committee hearing.
The committee, led by chair Sen. John Stinner, heard testimony on three legislative resolutions:
  • LR445, sponsored by Sen. Anna Wishart, which calls for an interim study to examine the long-term fiscal sustainability on the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund;
  • LR384, sponsored by Sen. Matt Williams, which calls for an interim study to examine the prevalence of cancer in Nebraska and to examine the existing state funding sources that go toward cancer research; and;
  • LR386, sponsored by Sen. Robert Hilkemann, calling for an interim study to examine the impact on state spending as a result of the use of tobacco products in Nebraska.

Following the hearing, Sen. Stinner said he was pleased with UNMC as a host site and with the hearing in general.

"We heard some passionate testimony, we heard factual testimony," he said. "We are trying to be as informative as we can, and there may be legislation that comes out of this."

Sen. Hilkemann, who spoke in support of his resolution, said important questions had been asked.

"I was pleased," he said.

Karen Denise Bowen, a veteran, spoke passionately in favor of Sen. Williams' resolution and movingly described her own battle with cancer, asking the committee to "continue allotting funding solely dedicated to cancer research in Nebraska."

In support of Sen. Hilkemann's resolution, Samantha Chessmore spoke emotionally about how secondhand smoke had had an impact on her family.

Besides the resolutions' sponsors and Sen. Stinner, state Sens. Mark Kolterman, Tony Vargas, Kate Bolz, Mike McDonnell and Robert Clements attended the committee hearing.

"We were honored to be asked by the Appropriations Committee to host the hearings for these significant study resolutions," said UNMC Vice Chancellor for Extenal Affairs Bob Bartee.

"The health care cash fund is a unique resource for the state and cancer research is a big part of what we do," Bartee said. "Many students were able to observe firsthand this important aspect of what state government does. I wish to thank Chairman Stinner, committee members, and sponsors of the resolutions."

Several senators also toured the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center before the hearings began.

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