With the new year comes a new session of the Legislature. The second session of the 101st Legislature began on January 6th. In this short session, the Legislature will have 60 days to complete its work. In addition to debating bills held over from last year, 428 new bills and 14 constitutional amendments were introduced. The following is the legislation I introduced.
The bill receiving the most attention, LB 693, would establish a framework for Nebraskans to buy and sell health insurance across state lines. It is my hope that increasing competition in Nebraska’s insurance market will give consumers more choices for coverage at a lower cost. I also believe this bill will provide Nebraska-based insurers an opportunity to sell their products in other states. LB 693 was heard in the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee on February 1st. Representatives from the Nebraska Cattlemen and Americans for Prosperity-NE Chapter testified in support of the bill.
I introduced LB 692 to require the county assessor to inspect and review all taxable property, except agricultural land, no less frequently than every three years in counties having a population of more than 100,000 residents. Currently, the law only requires this be done no less than every six years.
The goal of this bill is to provide uniformity and fairness in the assessment practices of Nebraska’s largest counties. For example, according to the Douglas County Assessor’s Office, the assessed value of $7.6 billion in property has not changed in three or more years compared to only $1 billion in Sarpy County. As a result, many residents in Sarpy County are paying higher property taxes than their counterparts in Douglas County. LB 692 was heard in the Revenue Committee on January 27th.
In response to concerns by a number of constituents after an incident at a local school, I introduced LB 694. This bill would require sexual predators to provide written notice to a school’s principal before accessing school grounds. It would apply only to registered sex offenders who have victimized a person 18 years of age or younger. I believe this is a common sense step we can take to protect our children while they are at school. LB 694 was heard in the Judiciary Committee on January 21st.
Additionally, LB 695 was heard in the Judiciary Committee on January 21st. This bill would increase the jurisdictional amount for the Small Claims Court to $5000 from the current $2700. After researching the issue, I discovered Nebraska’s limit is far below those of our surrounding states and that of the country as a whole. Increasing the limit will reduce the burden on civil courts and allow more citizens to utilize the court process to solve disputes.
LB 767 modifies last year’s county ordinance bill, LB 532, by requiring notice be given to lien holders of abandoned vehicles. In short, if a county takes possession of a vehicle, they must first notify lien holders before selling or auctioning the vehicle. This is simply a technical change to protect banks offering car loans. LB 767 will be heard in the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee on February 11th.
After meeting with another constituent and discussing his grandson’s death, I agreed to introduce LB 1050. It would require a second autopsy be done when it has been established that the death of a child in the care of a child provider occurred under suspicious circumstances. This bill will allow the Legislature to explore the issue of autopsies and when a second opinion may be needed. LB 1050 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 18th.
Finally, I introduced a constitutional amendment to clarify the petition process – Nebraska’s second legislative house. Specifically, LR 301CA will clarify the number of signatures needed to place initiatives and referendums on the ballot. Under current law, the number of signatures needed is determined by the number of registered voters on the day the petition is due, instead of a prior date, making it impossible to determine how many signatures are actually needed. LR 301CA will be heard in the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee on February 17th.