District 4 Constituents:
Thank you for visiting my legislative webpage!
The 105th Legislature, 1st Session is underway. Today marks the 50th day of the session, which means we are slightly over halfway done with our 90-day session this year. I was pleased to meet the Legislature’s 18 new state senators following their election in 2016; they are a fascinating group with diverse views, and each one has brought a new and interesting perspective to the body. So far, we have debated the rules that govern our legislative process, passed budget adjustments at the recommendation of the Governor, and held committee hearings on every introduced bill. Surely, there will be many more interesting debates to come.
For the third year in a row, I led a coalition of senators in opposition to an attempt to repeal Nebraska’s helmet requirement for motorcycle riders. As a medical professional, I have firsthand experience working with patients with severe head injuries from motorcycle accidents. Furthermore, national data shows that when helmets are not mandated for motorcyclists their use decreases, and the number of fatalities and head injuries increases. This year, as in years past, we were successful in our attempt to stop this measure.
Additionally, as in my previous two years, I serve as a member of the budget-setting Appropriations Committee. Nebraska is unfortunately facing a difficult budget shortfall, and our committee is working diligently to ensure that our state gets back on track to good fiscal health. I am committed to ensuring that we are protecting the interests of taxpayers, controlling spending, and working to trim the budget wherever possible in my future work with the committee.
And, finally, I introduced several bills this year. A summary of each one is included below:
- LB41 would change the enforcement of a child passenger restraint system from a secondary to a primary offense. The bill also increases the citation fine from $25 to $50.
- LB42 would enact multiple changes regarding child motor vehicle safety. It first raises the age a child passenger restraint system is required from 5 to 7 years. Second, children being transported and using a child passenger restraint system shall be in the rear seat. Third, children up to the age of two would be required to ride in a rear facing car seat. In addition, it changes the age of requiring an occupant protection system from under 6 until 18 to under 8 until 18 in order to harmonize language from a previous change.
- Under current law, all Nebraska counties except Douglas County are allowed to impose a 911 surcharge of $1 on landline users and up to 70 cents on wireless users. Douglas is limited to 50 cents in both categories. LB43 removes the statutory exception for counties containing a city of metropolitan class and brings Douglas County into balance with the rest of the state.
- LB102 would change the penalty for witness tampering from a Class Four felony to a Class Two felony. There have been many cases of witness tampering in the area recently including: 2016 in Omaha- Charles Trotter, a gang member accused of murdering two rival gang members, had a key witness change testimony and claim to not remember anything, resulting in a mistrial. This is a miscarriage of justice and must be addressed.
- LB117 is a reintroduction of LB804 from last session and creates the Investigational Drug Use act, better known as the “right to try.” This bill allows terminally ill patients to access potentially lifesaving medication that has passed Phase I of FDA approval, showing that it is not harmful, but has not yet completed full approval. This bill advanced from committee 7-0 and was a speaker priority bill last year, but did not advance due to time constraints.
- LB118 would create the Education Savings Account Act. Upon creating an Education Savings Account, annual contributions of up to $2000 per account may be deposited in order to provide for qualified education expenses for the student.
- LB279 would require lap shoulder belts to be used on all school buses manufactured or purchased after January 1st, 2018. I introduced a nearly identical bill in 2015. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association supports seat belts on school buses, and I believe this is an important measure to protect Nebraska’s children while they are in the care of our schools.
- LB400 deal with the taxation of motor vehicles. This bill changes the refund on motor vehicle taxes upon the transfer of ownership to remaining number of days instead of months. This bill was constructed after a constituent brought to our attention that he was double taxed when he sold his car to his daughter.
- The purpose of LB349 is to transfer the administration and maintenance of the State DNA Sample and Data Base Fund from the Attorney General’s office to the Nebraska State Patrol. The purpose of this bill is government efficiency and streamlined administration of this fund, as the Attorney General’s office has no access to this fund and no part of their budget is paid by this fund.
- LB402 seeks to change the Technical Review Process only in regard to scope of practice changes in an attempt to make it less adversarial and less burdensome for both the applicant and affected groups. This process was initially created by LB407 which was passed many years ago to set up a fact-finding body in regard to the need for regulation of health professionals or change in scope of practice. LB 402 is a much needed update to this process.
- LB 513 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Medicaid and Long Term Care to provide for an increase in base rates paid for inpatient hospital services provided under a Medicaid prospective payment system.
This year, I designated LB91 as my priority bill, with an amendment that also incorporates my LB 401. This measure will modernize terms and change the fee for the administration of the Newborn Screening Program to no more than $20. In addition, three diseases will be added to the newborn screening program. These diseases are X-linkedadrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), mucopolysaccharidoses type 1 (MPS-1), and Pompe disease. I introduced these bills after a 2015 meeting with a constituent named Meghan, whose life was forever altered by X-ALD after the death of her father, who carried the disease. Screening for this disease would allow early intervention to change the lives of Nebraska babies. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation.
Thank you again for visiting. Please contact my office at any time if you have questions or concerns about any of the issues facing our state.