Legislative Update 5/23/2022: Formula Shortage, Roe v. Wade, and Upcoming Elections

US capitol

This is the legislative update for May 23, 2022. View all updates here.

  • Congress is working diligently to address the infant formula shortage, but relief isn’t expected for 6-8 weeks.
  • There is now a third attempt underway to agree on a COVID preparedness bill in the House and Senate.
  • This summer brings the potential for a special legislative session to address the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade.
  • The upcoming elections will bring a wide range of issues to the forefront, including an increase to minimum wage, gun rights, and legalization of recreational and medical marijuana — among many others.

The May 23, 2022, legislative update includes highlights from the federal and state legislature.

Federal Updates

Infant Formula Shortage

Last week, Congress zeroed in on the concerning nationwide infant formula shortage and advanced the Access to Baby Formula Act (H.R. 7791). This bill was signed into law by President Biden over the weekend.

This bill:

  • Gives the USDA authority to waive certain requirements to allow families to purchase formula with their Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits during an emergency, disaster, product recall, or supply chain disruption
  • Establishes notification requirements for USDA and state agencies related to supply chain disruptions
  • Directs the USDA to require each infant formula cost containment contract to include remedies in the event of an infant formula recall, including how an infant formula manufacturer would protect against disruption to WIC participants in the state

The House also passed the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 7790), appropriating $28 million in emergency funds to respond to the shortage. While there was clear support in the House, the bill faces uphill challenges in the Senate as many fear this large allocation won’t immediately address the crisis.

Meanwhile, Abbott Nutrition was given the “OK” from the FDA to reopen their Sturgis, Michigan plant, which has been at the center of the infant formula shortage. Manufacturing is expected to resume within a couple of weeks, with formula back on store shelves in 6-8 weeks.

With weeks to go before any relief may begin to be felt, the Biden Administration used executive powers to expand infant formula production capacity and supply, including:

  • Invoking the Defense Production Act, which requires companies to prioritize the manufacture and allocation of goods in response to a crisis — the last time this was invoked was March 2021 for COVID-19 vaccines
  • Authorizing the use of military commercial planes to transport formula from other countries
  • Requiring suppliers to direct ingredients to formula manufacturers before fulfilling other orders

At the same time, the FDA is easing restrictions on which manufacturers can sell infant formula, giving priority to manufacturers that can demonstrate safety and nutritional adequacy, while also increasing imports from other countries.

War In Ukraine

Happening alongside the formula crisis at home is the war abroad in Ukraine.

Congress successfully advanced a $40 billion relief package for Ukraine with economic, humanitarian, and military support to the country.

There was speculation that an additional COVID-19 relief package could accompany the war relief package, but ultimately those negotiations failed.

COVID-19 Preparedness Bill

While discussions have been somewhat proactive, there is now a third attempt underway to agree on a COVID preparedness bill for the upcoming fall and winter months, including global booster and immunization support as well as PPE and testing.

The first $15 billion bill was pulled earlier this year by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), amid concerns from numerous Democrats that the new spending was paid for, in part, by pulling back funding from a previous coronavirus relief package meant for state governments.

The second bill developed by Sens. Mitt Romney, (R-Utah), and (Chuck Schumer, D-NY), stalled after Republican leaders said they needed an amendment vote on the pending immigration Title 42 issue before allowing the coronavirus aid bill to advance.

State Updates

Nebraska Legislature

This summer brings many uncertainties about the potential for a special legislative session to address the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade. If a special session is called in Nebraska, it is expected to happen in late August or early September, after State Sen. Tom Brewer (R-Dist. 43, Gordon) returns from a humanitarian trip to Ukraine.

There is also a mounting likelihood that those on both sides of the aisle would prefer this “trigger abortion bill” (LB933) be debated at the beginning of the next legislative session, allowing 90 days to negotiate a deal but also possibly provide the votes needed to overcome/hold off a filibuster — depending on the outcomes of the general election this fall.

Regardless of when the debate occurs, the Nebraska Medical Association (NMA) is working with lawmakers to discuss their concerns over the criminalization of the medical practice, access to safe and effective contraception, and in vitro fertilization.

Meanwhile, Governor Pete Ricketts (R-NE) is seeking applicants to fill the late State Sen. Rich Pahls’ (R-Dist. 31, West Omaha/Millard) seat. The deadline for applicants is May 30 and will be appointed by the Governor. This appointee will be in place until the 2024 elections when they will have to run officially for the seat.

Upcoming Election

As we continue to meet individually with candidates for the legislature and current state senators, we are also mindful of current petitions in circulation for the 2022 election listed on the secretary of state’s website.

While some are more heavily sponsored than others, it is important to note the political climate of Nebraskans as we enter a new year with a new Governor, upwards of 15 new state senators, and a long list of potential issues facing the Legislature.

So, if you attend a game at the College World Series or perhaps a farmers market this summer, you may run into volunteers seeking your signature for one of the following petitions for the November ballot:

  • The creation of an election integrity judicial panel appointed by the governor with the power to rule on election irregularities
  • Replacement of the Nebraska Department of Education with a gubernatorial and legislative authority
  • Provisions for governor authority to overrule laws and regulations adopted by political subdivisions
  • A proposed “medical freedom” constitutional amendment to combat forced medical mandates
  • The legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska
  • The legalization of marijuana in Nebraska
  • A Voter ID constitutional amendment
  • Gun rights
  • An increase to minimum wage
  • The repealing of the motorcycle helmet law

Backers of medical marijuana recently filed a legal challenge to the state’s requirement that 5% of registered voters in at least 38 counties sign a petition to get the measure on the ballot. While it is a long shot, this determination could change the landscape for many of the initiatives proposed above, although it is likely only two or three measures will obtain enough funding to be successful.

Save The Date

Friday, June 3 at 10 a.m.
State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh (D-Dist. 6, Omaha/Children’s district) will be at Children’s to discuss perinatal depression, infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, and developmental disabilities. Dr. Ann Anderson-Berry and Liz Lyons will moderate this event.

Friday, June 24 at 8 a.m.
State Senator John Arch (R-Dist. 14, La Vista), Chairman of the Health and Human Service Committee, will visit our Child Health Champion Advocacy Team to discuss the future of child welfare in Nebraska and outline his investigation over the course of the last year. Dr. Suzanne Haney and Liz Lyons will moderate this opportunity to speak directly with the chairman.

Tour Dates
We hosted tours this week for Annette Dubas, executive director of Nebraska’s Association of Behavioral Health Organizations (NABHO) and legislative candidate Angie Lauritsen, seeking Gretna’s newest district 36.

Other upcoming tour dates include:

  • June 7: Tour for Councilwoman Jane Raybould, seeking a seat in legislative district 28 in Lincoln
  • Dates pending: Tour for legislative candidate Bran Von Gillern, district 4 in West Omaha
  • Dates pending: Tour for State Senator Ben Hansen, likely future chair of HHS Committee
  • Dates pending: Tour for former State Senator Merv Riepe, running again in Ralston’s 12th district
  • Dates pending: Tour for U.S. Congressman Don Bacon of Omaha

Upcoming Meetings

We are working to secure a meeting with State Senators Justin Wayne, Terrell McKinney, and Tony Vargas to present our rich child health data as they allocate ARPA funds to North and South Omaha investors.

The funding was appropriated by the Legislature to revitalize these significantly blighted areas, and we hope to shed light on the needs of children and families living in these communities.

(Sources: CHA, AHA, NHA, Nebraska Examiner, Congress.gov, Nebraska Legislature, World Herald)


Search the Children's Omaha Website

Looking for a provider?