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Our eleventh week of session – days 42-45 – adjourned Friday.
We convened Tuesday, March 15 ready to press onward the best we can despite seeming endless hours of debate as we draw closer to sine die (final day) scheduled for April 20. Much work remains and late nights most certainly prevail starting March 21.
Despite determined opposition for different reasons, the Legislature advanced LB745 on Tuesday. This raises caps on fees the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can charge. In a separate section, the hunting season for upland game birds and mallard ducks in breeding and controlled shooting areas is extended two weeks; I supported only this. I introduced an amendment to strike everything except the extension of the hunting season, but it failed to pass. I cannot support raising caps on fees because this is their second increase during my tenure in the Legislature. Collectively, citizens of Nebraska already pay too much in taxes and fees for the Legislature to raise them again. This advanced intact despite my and a few other senators’ opposition.
Later on Tuesday, several other bills of interest passed first round of debate:
On Wednesday we began a six hour debate of LB900 which would have repealed the motorcycle helmet law in Nebraska. The bill set an age limit at 21 or older for those who would be allowed to ride without a helmet; and also, children under the age of eight would be prohibited from being a passenger on a motorcycle. LB900 also created the Motorcycle Safety and Brain Injury Trust Fund by adding $19 to the motorcycle registration fee. I did not like the fee increase, but I supported LB900 because it prohibited children from being passengers on a motorcycle – my primary concern with the bill in the past. The bill was defeated Thursday morning.
Another bill of note is LB1109. This changes the level of transparency the University of Nebraska is required when recruiting applicants for key administrative positions, such as president or chancellor. Currently, all public agencies, including the University, must disclose the top four candidates for a public vetting process. Under LB1109, that process is altered so as to require the disclosure of only a single “priority” candidate followed by a 30-day “public vetting process.” Proponents argued this makes the search process more competitive, while opponents countered LB1109 eliminates public input on the selection of the final candidate. The bill advanced to Final Reading without my support.
The Revenue Committee will be holding another public hearing on LB958, the Governor’s property tax bill. The reason for the additional hearing is the amendment that was introduced significantly altered the original bill. The amendment is AM2617 and can be found here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/AM/AM2617.pdf. The hearing will be held Thursday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m. in room 1524 in the Capitol Building.
Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at email@example.com; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol.