Another busy week has come and gone as we move closer to the end of the legislative session. Earlier this week my priority bill LB88 got one step closer to becoming law. In addition to helping military families by allowing their spouses attain temporary licenses in more than 30 professional fields while they apply for their permanent license, the Health and Human Services Committee asked me to allow LB88 to be the vehicle to carry an amendment that included four other bills that are similar to mine. The amendment includes parts of LB342 (Adopt the Nurse Licensure Compact and provide for temporary nursing license for military spouses) which is Senator Erdman’s bill, Senator Crawford’s LB425 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to the Nurse Practitioner Practice Act), Senator Kolterman’s LB61 (Adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact) and finally Senator Riepe’s LB283 (Change and eliminate provisions relating to licensed practical nurses).
In this latest round of debate, I added another amendment that removes the requirement for licensed audiologists to have to go and get a separate license in order to sell and dispense hearing aids. This was yet another piece of governmental red tape we’re doing away with. This bill is also a shining example of how we can work together and across the political spectrum for the greater good of Nebraska and create effective policy through a team effort. Next up for the bill will be final reading and then it will be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
While it wasn’t my bill, I took great interest in Senator Stinner’s bill, LB222 which makes some much-needed changes to the Nebraska Tourism Commission. One part of the bill I had a problem with was a requirement that the commission redraft it’s strategic plan, rather than simply reviewing and adjusting it. I believe an organization’s strategic plan should be treated as a living document that can be amended and reviewed quite often, but doesn’t need to be scrapped entirely and started over from scratch. The last strategic plan for the commission cost $109,000 to create. This isn’t money we should just be throwing away. My amendment AM816 addresses this and added language to the bill that has the commission “review the plan annually and update as necessary.” Senator Stinner was receptive and supportive of this amendment and it shows once again that bipartisan cooperation can be achieved in this legislature.
LB68 was discussed on the floor this week and if nothing else, led to a lot of good conversations with members of the public. I have a problem with the way this bill was written because it would open up cities and counties to frivolous lawsuits. In emails and in testimony on this bill, we heard that the real problem was traveling around the state, transporting a law-abiding citizens’ gun becomes an issue. I introduced an amendment AM865 that would make it possible to do just that, without having to worry about being cited in one municipality or another. I have no problem with lawful gun owners wanting to exercise their second amendment rights. I believe in those rights. I believe my amendment continues to allow people to use those rights without putting cities and counties in the crosshairs of outside organizations who wish to come in here and file lawsuit after lawsuit, causing real financial harm to our communities. I understand this is an important issue to many, and I would encourage anyone who has any questions or concerns about LB68 or my amendment to contact my office and speak to either myself or my Legislative Aide, Oliver. The bill was debated for three hours on Wednesday and then we moved onto other business. It’s not clear when the Speaker plans to put it back on the agenda.
Another bill we talked about this week that is very important to me is Senator Krist’s LB300. This bill eliminates the statute of limitations on civil actions in relation to the sexual assault of a child. Current law sets the statute of limitations at 12 years past an alleged victim’s 21st birthday. The problem is that most sexual assaults aren’t reported until the victims are well into adulthood. I believe this bill takes an important step towards truly giving a voice to the voiceless and I will do everything I can to make sure it becomes law.
In case you haven’t checked it out yet, the Tax Foundation Facts and Figures for 2017 book was recently released. This booklet compiles a huge amount of information about how Nebraska fares compared with other states when talking about categories like State and Local tax collections per capita. This information is also online at the Tax Foundation’s Website and you can download it or even get a smartphone app to have it at a glance at all times. I encourage you to study these numbers as I know I will be.
Did you know that the following publications are available at no charge and can be ordered via the Unicameral Information Office?
Inside Our Nation’s Only Unicameral: The Nebraska Legislature
22 X 28″ Color Poster: Featuring Contact Information & Photos of Each Senator
Unicam Kids: Illustrated book for gradeschoolers
Membership & Committees Cards: Reference card listing Senator contact information and membership of the Legislative Committees.
Public Hearing Testimony: A brochure about the committee hearing process
Lines of Government: A booklet depicting boundaries for Nebraska’s Legislative, Supreme Court & Congressional Districts, as well as districts for other lines of Nebraska Government.
Unicameral Update: Online news source produced by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office. Weekly print or email subscriptions available.
Thursday marked the 61st day of the legislative session. That means we have officially passed the two-thirds mark for this session. The last 29 days are sure to be busy as we still have to debate school funding, the governor’s tax proposal, and the budget.