Monday, March 2, was Day 36 of our 90-day session. The Legislature’s workload continues increasing and discussions remain, as always, interesting. Returning to the final hours of first round debate on LB10, the Legislature discussed reinstating the winner-take-all system for electoral votes. Our state used this method until 1991. After 1991, this bill was introduced nine times before 2008 and passed twice by the Legislature, but vetoed twice by then-Governor Ben Nelson. LB10 received thirty-one votes in favor of advancing to second round of debate.
Debate on LR10CA resumed which allows the voters to decide whether or not to remove the prohibition on legislative authority over games of chance. The Nebraska Constitution only permits the Legislature to authorize a small number of games of chance. The Legislature indefinitely postponed the resolution by a vote of twenty-seven ayes and sixteen nays.
Testifiers waited during many lengthy public hearings. LB623, introduced in our Transportation Committee, clarifies lawful status for eligibility for a motor vehicle operator’s license or state identification card. Currently, to receive a license or ID you must demonstrate lawful status by submitting certain federal or state documents. It is a difficult and emotional situation for children brought here years ago by parents who are, or were, illegal immigrants. Many of these children are now young adults painfully caught in the middle of wanting to do the right thing yet knowing their legal status inhibits them. Some are now college graduates with some form of legal documentation, but not the long-awaited citizenship. Some legal means of residency and citizenship can take nearly twenty-five years. Many rural employers expressed the value and appreciation of their hard work in helping fill longtime vacancies in jobs important to agriculture. For example, the Nebraska Cattlemen testified in support. District employers have contacted us and our federal delegation requesting assistance resolving the complex and stagnant immigration process on behalf of this work force. In 2012, then-Governor Heineman stated these young adults, known as deferred action childhood arrivals (DACA), would not be given operator’s licenses. I respect, understand, and supported this 2012 position. However, Nebraska remains the only state not granting this privilege. As a daughter of legal Ukrainian immigrants and a 1st generation American, this bill is extremely difficult. While we must not undermine legal means of immigration and the consequences for entering illegally, this bill provides compassion and opportunity for youth who came here by no choice of their own but made Nebraska their home. Constituents have weighed in heavily: many support and many oppose.
LB268 replaces the death penalty with a sentence of life without possibility of parole. It is also one of Senator Chamber’s bills passionately re-introduced. As I left the Capitol after 6 p.m. on Friday, the LB643 hearing was still underway. This is the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act supported by many testifying parents of children suffering from seizures. Notably, the Nebraska Medical Association was in opposition.
In our Revenue Committee, a few notable bills were heard: LB398 (eliminate tangible personal property from property tax), LB610 (raise gas tax to provide additional revenues for roads and bridges), and LB542 (provide sales tax exemption for agricultural society purchases).
Please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16