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Sen. Lydia Brasch

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16

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Our tenth week of session – days 38-41 – adjourned Thursday.

Monday was day 38, moving us into the final third of this biennium. Our calendar days continue to fly by, yet on the floor it’s as though time stands still when a single bill takes hours or even days to debate; that may be good news or bad news, depending on what your position is on a bill. It is good news for those believing there are too many laws, unfunded mandates, fee or tax increases, or other burdens created by legislation. It is bad news when there is legislation you consider good public policy and offers relief, be it tax relief or removes regulations imposed by current laws. Without regard to anyone’s beliefs on policy, the rules were written to provide for full debate, and slowing the process down is oftentimes a good idea.

Adjourned Thursday — Day 41 — we fully realized there were now less than 20 session days remaining of the 104th Legislative session. My goal of property tax relief remains steadfast. The Revenue Committee, I am a member of, is working to make meaningful progress in property tax relief. Not perfection yet, but progress. In a short session and with little time remaining, we realize perfect property tax relief has become unrealistic and even some progress is a step in the right direction.

Coming weeks hold a bittersweet undercurrent. The final group of senators who have been here longer than I, will complete their final session. These statesmen are masterfully rich in knowledge and experience, many of whom were often allies, will bid their farewells as they leave due to term limits. Five of us will become the “Senior Class”.  Yes, sometimes we agree to disagree. However, at the end of the day we realize our now ever-changing body of 49 were elected by the second house. We live much alike, a day at a time, wanting only the best for those we serve.

Because I wanted to share my thoughts, below are only highlights of notable bills debated this week:

  • LB683 Change provisions relating to homestead exemptions for surviving spouses — passed to second round of debate; I supported
  • LB344 Provide natural resources districts with the power to issue general obligation bonds — defeated during debate; I opposed
  • LB817 Adopt the Direct Primary Care Agreement Act — passed to second round; I supported
  • LB1109 Change public records provisions and provide for an enhanced public scrutiny process for certain University appointees — passed to second; I was present not voting
  • LB 467 Change provisions relating to State Patrol retirement — Advanced to second round; I was in Executive Session, and unable to vote
  • LB745 Change Game and Parks Commission fee and permit provisions — Currently being debated on first round

We were honored to have Pastor Brian High of First Baptist Church in Tekamah lead the Legislature in prayer last Tuesday. We welcomed the Nebraska Christian Homeschool Association students.  Other visitors over the past few weeks also include Michaela Ott of Blair, who recently achieved her Girl Scout Gold Award, the Hrbek family who were in Lincoln for the GACC Girls State Basketball Tournament, and a delegation of Ukrainian officials learning about our Unicameral and public health.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 in the Capitol. You can follow the Legislature online at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Our ninth week of session – Days 34 through 37 of our 60-day session – adjourned Thursday.

On Monday, and part of Tuesday, we debated and defeated LB371, which created the Nebraska Council for Educational Success. The council would have consisted of 21 members, including the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, the Chancellor and President of the Nebraska State College System, Commissioner of Labor, and an individual representing the business interests. There also would have been one parent on the council with a child in any of grades K-12. The objective of this council would have essentially been to recommend policy changes to the Education Committee of the Legislature.

The proponents argued a new council was necessary because of term limits, since the council would help add consistency and permanency to Nebraska’s educational policy. Opponents countered two councils already exist with many of the same goals and individuals: the P-16 Council and the council created by Governor Ricketts. LB371 would have been duplicative and also carried a fiscal note of $50,000 from the state’s general fund and $250,000 from the Department of Education’s budget. I voted no with the opponents.

LB919 advanced to Select File. This bill expands the use of problem-solving courts in Nebraska. Problem-solving courts use evidence-based outcomes to achieve positive results to address specific needs and problems that could not be addressed in traditional courts. Problem-solving courts promote results that benefit the offender, the victim, and communities. Types of problems addressed by these courts are drug abuse, mental illness, DUI’s, and domestic violence. The bill expands the use to include problem-solving courts for veterans to help address the issues unique to our nation’s soldiers.

Another bill debated was LB83 – it advanced to Select File with a small majority. The amendment to LB83 replaced the bill entirely and redefined the word “employer” in Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1220. For the purposes of discriminatory wage practices based on sex, employer shall now mean “any person engaged in an industry who has two or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year[.]” Prior to LB83, the definition of employer applied to any person engaged in an industry who has fifteen or more employees. The smaller number of two employees creates more burdens for our smaller, rural businesses, including women in agriculture. It was made into a gender issue on the floor of the Legislature. I did not support this bill.

Finally, an additional bill that merits mentioning is LB344. This bill was hotly debated on Thursday. It would grant NRDs the authority to issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of financing all or part of the cost of non-revenue-producing water projects authorized by law. Issuance of the bonds shall be approved by two-thirds of the members of the board of directors of the district. I, along with other senators, argued that Nebraskans right now are struggling to pay their property taxes, so why introduce another avenue through which the people would be charged more property taxes? I oppose this legislation.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Press Release

March 4th, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brett Waite,

Legislative Aide to Senator Brasch

Office: (402) 471-2728

E-Mail: bwaite@leg.ne.gov

 

State Treasurer’s 2016 Unclaimed Property Report Published

State Senator Lydia Brasch encourages constituents of District 16 to review State Treasurer Don Stenberg’s 2016 Unclaimed Property Report. Many individuals from District 16 have been pleasantly surprised to discover they indeed had unclaimed property held in trust by the State.

The State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division is a repository for money and other personal assets considered lost or abandoned. Unclaimed property includes certificates of deposits, checking and savings accounts, commissions, contents of safe deposit boxes, death benefits, dividends, gift certificates, insurance payments, money orders, paid-up life insurance, refunds, stocks, uncashed checks, and unpaid wages. The unclaimed property may be a small dollar amount or could be in the hundreds of dollars or more from several combined smaller amounts found.

The Unclaimed Property Report is scheduled to be published in 16 Nebraska newspapers, as required by statute, throughout March and early April. The State Treasurer’s Office holds more than $170 million in property for 350,000 Nebraskans. In 2015, the State Treasurer returned more than $11.8 million to more than 15,000 owners and plans to return even more in 2016.

March 6 – Omaha World Herald and Scottsbluff Star-Herald

March 19 – Norfolk Daily News, Beatrice Daily Sun, Fremont Tribune, York News-Times, and   Columbus Telegram

March 20 – Lincoln Journal Star

April 1 – Holdrege Citizen, McCook Gazette, and Sydney Sun-Telegraph

April 2 – Alliance Times-Herald, Hastings Tribune, and Kearney Hub

April 3 – Grand Island Independent and North Platte Telegraph

If you would like to obtain a copy of the entire Unclaimed Property Report, you may contact the State Treasurer’s Office at (402) 471-2455, or check for unclaimed property at any time online at https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/.

 

###

Our eighth week of session – Days 30 through 33 of our 60-day session – adjourned on Thursday.

LR35 – debated on Monday of last week – was a Legislative Resolution that called for Nebraska to add its name to the requisite 34 states needed in order to call a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution, the authority for which is granted to the State Legislatures under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. To date, only five states have passed the resolution. The language of the resolution stated that the amendments proposed be limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. However, as opponents we believed the outcome of such a convention is uncertain and there may be unintended consequences that result from having a convention and proposing amendments. The resolution failed to pass. I voted against the resolution.

LB188 was debated for over four hours. This bill defined who would be considered an innocent third party in vehicular pursuits by law enforcement. LB188 sought to place a definition in statute and narrowly define who would be considered an “innocent third party”. As a compromise, the introducer of the bill removed portions that would have disqualified a person from being considered an innocent third party if they entered a vehicle without coercion and with a reasonable belief that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or drugs. Also removed was if a person failed to take reasonable steps to persuade the driver to stop the vehicle, they would not be considered an innocent third party. As part of the compromise, the word “immediately” was added to describe the time frame for which a person who engaged in criminal activity in the past may or may not be considered an innocent third party in the vehicular pursuit. For example, if someone did not file their income taxes three years prior to the pursuit, but are in the vehicle being chased by the police, but not for anything they have done – they simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time – then they can still be considered an innocent third party.

However, the opponents wanted another provision in the bill that would have been difficult for law enforcement to engage in future pursuits. And that is, prior to the chase, the law enforcement officer must identify the suspect they are pursuing. The opponents were successful in defeating the bill as it fell two votes short of a cloture vote. I was for this bill.

On Friday I attended a meeting of the Supreme Court Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorships. The Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court appointed me to the commission in 2015. The Legislature created the Office of Public Guardian in 2014, which serves as guardians and/or conservators to Nebraskans who are unable to make decisions on their own, and have no private individual or organization to support their decision-making needs. The purpose of the commission is to propose solutions or improvements to help meet the challenges of caring for vulnerable adults and children that can be placed in statute, added to the court rules, and court procedures. The Office of Public Guardian can be appointed by a court when it is determined that guardianship and/or conservatorship is the least restrictive way to meet an individual’s decision-making needs, and there is no one else to serve.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Our seventh week of session – Days 26 through 29 of our 60-day session – adjourned on Friday.

The Legislature did not convene on Monday in honor of Washington’s Birthday, a United States federal holiday that is celebrated on the third Monday of February. Officially started as a way to honor the birthday of George Washington, it has been used in many states as a day to remember all of our United States Presidents.

On Tuesday the Legislature convened and I introduced LB811 and LB929 which were on Consent Calendar for General File. Consent Calendar is a way to get noncontroversial bills through the debate process quickly. The bills selected for Consent Calendar can sometimes be technical in nature, such as LB929, or they may make small changes to statutes that help clarify language and reduce waste in certain agencies, thereby saving the state money, which is the case with LB811.

LR26CA was a constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Larson that would have lowered the age requirement (to 18) to hold any public office in Nebraska. It was defeated Thursday on Select File. I voted with those who were also opposed to the bill.

On Wednesday I introduced LB1037 to the Revenue Committee. The intent of LB1037 is to solve the increasing valuation problem specific to farm sites and farm home sites due to non-agricultural, housing developments around farmsteads. LB1037 redefines agricultural and horticultural land to mean a parcel of land that excludes buildings or enclosed structures located on the parcel, which is primarily used for agricultural or horticultural purposes. Agricultural or horticultural purposes would also now include farm sites and farm home sites lying in or adjacent to and in common ownership or management with other agricultural and horticultural land. The effect of the bill would be that the land that the home sits on would also be valued at 75% of its market value, but the home itself would still be valued as residential – which is 100% of its market value. Senator Bill Kintner, from Sarpy County, chose LB1037 as his priority bill.

On Friday I introduced LB890 to the Judiciary Committee. This bill deals with civil action lawsuits involving motor collisions with livestock. Defendants in these cases – usually the owners of livestock – are oftentimes put into an indefensible position in court cases because plaintiffs – usually the drivers of the motor vehicles – are not required to provide evidence of negligence by the defendant. Under a certain legal doctrine, even if there is no evidence of negligence provided by the plaintiff, the Nebraska Supreme Court decided that in these cases negligence by the defendant can simply be assumed and they can then be held liable if the judge or jury decide it to be so. However, this relieves the driver from assuming any responsibility for not driving carefully, and also assumes no other outside party was an influence in the case. There are times when the livestock owner was negligent and should be held accountable, but if no evidence exists that they were negligent, then their negligence should not be assumed. To put the livestock owners on an even playing field in these lawsuits, LB890 would have required the plaintiff to provide specific acts of negligence by the defendant. I appreciate that several citizens who are livestock producers and some who are not, took time out of their busy workweek to come testify as proponents. Their support for the bill was much appreciated. There were only two opponent testifiers: the Nebraska Trial Attorneys Association and the Nebraska Trucking Association.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Our sixth week of session – Days 22 through 25 of our 60-day session – adjourned on Thursday.

The Legislature convened Tuesday for all-day hearings to make-up for the cancelled day caused by the snowstorm that struck Nebraska the week before.

Monday and Wednesday we debated LB188 for five hours before coming to a vote. Currently in statute is that if an innocent third party is injured, killed, or has their property damaged as a result of a vehicular pursuit by law enforcement, then the political subdivision employing the law enforcement personnel involved in the pursuit shall be held liable. However, because “innocent third party” is not defined in statute, the judicial branch has defined it as “one who has not promoted, provoked, or persuaded the driver to engage in flight from law enforcement personnel and one who is not sought to be apprehended in the fleeing vehicle.” LB188 sought to place that definition in statute and narrowly define who would be considered an “innocent third party”. The sections of the bill removed during debate would have disqualified a person from being considered an innocent third party if they entered a vehicle without coercion and with a reasonable belief that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or drugs. Also removed was if they failed to take reasonable steps to persuade the driver to stop the vehicle. I supported this bill and it advanced to Select File.

On Thursday we had public hearings on two bills I introduced — LB757 and LB891. LB757 increases exemptions for individuals filing for bankruptcy – the statutes for which have not been updated in 19 years. Given the rate of inflation, people today can exempt far less than they could 20 years ago. When an individual files bankruptcy, our laws must reflect enough exemptions so they do not become destitute, but yet contain the wherewithal to begin anew. There was no fiscal note on the bill and no opposing testifiers.

LB891 is the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Information and Support Act, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to post on its website up-to-date information about Down syndrome reviewed by medical experts and Down syndrome organizations, and requires physicians to deliver that information at the time of delivering a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Many wonderful people showed up to testify, including those with Down syndrome. Also, numerous parents of children with Down syndrome testified in support of the bill and expressed their disappointment at not receiving adequate information at the time of their child’s diagnosis. There was no fiscal note on this bill and no opposing testifiers.

On Thursday “Gambling with the Good Life” – a group that opposes any expanded gambling in Nebraska – held a press conference in the Capitol. I, along with other senators who are also opposed to any form of expanded gambling, joined the press conference. Governor Pete Ricketts and Tom Osborne were there expressing support for “Gambling with the Good Life.”

LB970 was debated on Thursday. It would allow any form of payment to be accepted for pickle cards and keno – meaning a debit or credit card are now included. It also allows individuals to gamble on the timing of a naturally occurring weather event. Furthermore, it legalizes cash prizes for fantasy sports games. The Legislature adjourned prior to coming to a vote – I oppose it.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Our fourth week of session – Legislative Days 20 through 24 of our 60-day session – consisted of an intense snowstorm with blizzard conditions all across the state.

On Monday we again debated LR26CA, Senator Larson’s bill that is a constitutional amendment that changes the age requirement (to 18 years old) for any person to hold any public office – whether elected or appointed – including governor, lieutenant governor, state senator, Supreme Court justices, etc. On the floor of the Legislature I argued against this bill because most 18 year olds are either seniors in high school still living at home or freshmen in college. The bill passed to second round.

Due to the snowstorm on Tuesday, the Legislature convened with a quorum and adjourned shortly thereafter. Several senators and staff worked remotely and many offices used the day to address constituent concerns. Since public hearings are a vital part of transparent government, and weather conditions were not conducive for testifiers to travel to the Capitol to give their testimony, the public hearings were cancelled and rescheduled.

On Thursday, the Revenue Committee, of which I am a member, had an eight hour public hearing on two important property tax bills. LB958, the Governor’s property tax bill, would put spending limits on all local governments, for example by limiting the carryover of unused budget authority to 3 percent. It also tightens levy limits on all local governments by removing exceptions that do not require voter approval, such as exceptions for bonded indebtedness. Furthermore, it limits the statewide aggregate increase of agricultural property to 3 percent per year by adjusting the value of agriculture and horticulture land.

Senator Groene presented LB717 — which I co-sponsored — Thursday evening in the Revenue Committee. LB717 seeks to lower property taxes by controlling valuations. It amends the statutes so that all classes of property would be assessed over a five year history of comparable sales, which replaces the current system of assessing property over a three year history for agricultural and commercial, and a two year history for residential. This change would help eliminate anomalous fluctuations in valuations. LB717 would also remove the 20 percent of sales with the lowest ratio of valuation to sale price from the valuation formula. For example, if a home is valued at $100,000 and sells for $200,000, it has a 50 percent ratio. If a home is valued at $100,000 and sells for $300,000 it has a ratio of 33.3 percent, and would therefore be removed when determining valuations. This new method will help eliminate sharp increases in valuations and make the changes more negligible. There are two sides to the property tax equation. LB717 will help keep valuations in check, and it will therefore be up to local citizens to hold local elected officials accountable, so they in turn keep the levies in check.

On Friday, LB176, the bill that lifts the prohibition on contract swine operations in Nebraska, passed Final Reading with 34 votes and awaits the signature of the Governor. I have concerns about the unintended consequences that may occur from the passage of this bill and for reasons already stated in previous columns, I voted nay.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

Our third week of session – Legislative Days 13 through 19 of our 60-day session – continued with more spirited mornings of debate. The Legislature debated LB289 last week, which failed to pass despite numerous phone calls and emails from constituents where the majority favored this bill. LB289 offered consistent, statewide uniformity for local firearm ordinances, but still allowed property owners to regulate firearms on their property and also allowed municipalities to regulate firearm discharges. Opponents argued localities should have the right to regulate firearms in their communities because they know best how to keep their citizens safe. Opponents also argued Omaha is very different from other cities in Nebraska and far more dangerous due to gang violence.

Those of us supporting LB289 agree that Omaha is more dangerous. However, Omaha’s local ordinances are clearly not preventing rising crimes with guns. Because of the increase in danger, Omaha’s ordinances should not make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms; but easier so they can protect themselves and their families. Criminals are not law abiding and will always find ways to obtain guns illegally. Proponents of LB289 agree with local control on many important issues, such as education, but we also believe no municipality has the authority to infringe upon the inherent natural right – enshrined not only in the 2nd Amendment of our U.S. Constitution, but also in Article I, Section 1 of our Nebraska Constitution – of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, and home. Localities with ordinances governing ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, registration, transfer, and storage of firearms and ammunition – such as Omaha – undoubtedly infringe upon the natural right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Unfortunately, LB289 fell one vote short of passing.

On Thursday we debated LR26CA, a Constitutional Amendment introduced by Senator Larson which proposes to change the age requirement (to 18 years old) for any person to hold any public office – whether elected or appointed – including governor, lieutenant governor, state senator, Supreme Court justices, etc. I question such a change given that many at the age of 18 are either seniors in high school or freshmen in college, and the vast majority are not yet financially independent. Although we have many brilliant 18 year olds, last year we passed a law giving those of the age 18 to 20 an opportunity to avoid being charged as a minor in possession of alcohol, when requesting emergency medical assistance when intoxicated due to lack of experience and poor judgment with drinking alcohol. I believe many people in our younger generation, when given a few more years, might become great future leaders their communities, state, or nation.

Two bills I introduced this session – LB811 and LB929 – recently passed the Transportation Committee and the next round for these bills is floor debate. Public hearings have also been scheduled for two other bills I introduced. LB890 is scheduled for February 19, and LB891 is scheduled for February 11 – both hearings start at 1:30 p.m., and the public is welcome to come testify. LB890 clarifies that in civil action resulting from a collision of a motor vehicle with livestock on a public highway, the plaintiff must provide evidence of specific acts of negligence. LB891 requires the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to post accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome on its website. The bill also requires health care practitioners to provide to the parents the hardcopy form of the information posted on the DHHS website.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

The 3rd week of session, days 9-12, started Tuesday. Mornings we debate bills; in the afternoons we meet in committee for public hearings. Month one of our 60-day session is nearly behind us. The Legislature did not convene on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Tuesday I introduced my sixth bill this session. LB1037 offers property tax relief. It addresses the “first acre” valuation problem, which is where the farm home site that is adjacent to the farmland is assessed as residential property rather than agricultural and horticultural land. LB1037 ensures that uniformly throughout the state, the land where the house is built, will be assessed as agricultural and horticultural land. The method used to assess the house will be unaffected.

Tuesday and Wednesday we debated LB18. It mandated students entering the 7th grade receive an immunization against meningococcal bacteria – which cause Meningitis – and that every student entering the academic year after they turn 16 receives another immunization. I did not support this bill. I was not convinced by the arguments of the proponents this mandate was necessary. The CDC only recommends the vaccine and 80% of students in Nebraska already receive it.

Thursday and Friday we debated LB176. It lifts the current ban on pork packers from owning hogs. It was said that lifting the ban will stimulate the economy in Nebraska because hog production would increase. Nebraska is the only state with this prohibition creating an unequal playing field in competing with other states. However, opponents, like myself, argued that lifting the ban will force smaller family-owned hog farms out of business because large corporate hog packers will take over our open market system. Great concerns were raised that Smithfield, the United States’ largest hog packer, was recently purchased by Communist China who not only reject unalienable rights and democracy, but also have no concern for small family-owned farms. Despite opposition, the bill passed to Final Reading.

LB289 was also debated Friday morning. LB289 allows state law to preempt certain ordinances enacted by cities and villages with respect to carrying concealed weapons, and generally prohibits local regulation of the ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, registration, transfer, and storage of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories. The bill does not, however, impose any additional restrictions on how private businesses can regulate guns on their own property. Debate was spirited and we adjourned before coming to a vote. I support this legislation.

For my priority bill I selected LB960; it creates a transportation infrastructure bank. The bank will be administered by the Nebraska Department of Roads and will help accelerate Nebraska’s roads construction and repair. Simply stated, $150 million will be phased in through cash reserve transfers. More information can be found here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=28845

A special thank you to Chaplain Gregg Gahan from Craig who graced the Legislature in prayer prior to session Friday. We are also happy several constituents have stopped in to visit us at the Capitol; thank you for taking the time to travel to Lincoln.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol.  If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

 

The first full week of our 60 day session concluded on January 15. I introduced three more bills: LB890, LB891, and LB929. LB890 clarifies that in any civil action resulting from a collision of a motor vehicle with any livestock on a public highway, the plaintiff — most likely the driver — cannot claim negligence by the defendant – most likely the owner of the escaped livestock — only from the fact of escaped livestock. The plaintiff must provide evidence of specific acts of negligence. LB891 requires the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to post accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome on its website. The bill also requires health care facilities and practitioners, upon receipt of a test indicating a high likelihood or definite presence of Down syndrome, to provide the information to the parents. LB929 adopts and updates references to certain federal provisions relating to transportation. The bill was brought to me by the Carrier Enforcement Division of the Nebraska State Patrol since I am on the Transportation Committee.

On Tuesday we debated LB47. As originally drafted, it required applicants for driver’s licenses or identification cards to answer the question of whether to place their name on the Donor Registry. They could respond with “yes”, “no”, or “choose not to answer”. It was amended so applicants will not be denied their driver’s licenses or identification cards if they leave that section blank. I supported the bill as originally drafted and as amended. The bill advanced to Select File (second round of debate).

On Wednesday and Thursday LB619, a carryover bill from last session, was debated. This bill attempted to legalize draw poker and community card poker by redefining them as games of skill rather than games of chance. Last session, a request was made to the Attorney General’s office for his opinion on the constitutionality of this bill since the Nebraska Constitution prohibits the Legislature from authorizing games of chance. In the opinion the AG stated that the Nebraska Supreme Court has already ruled draw poker to be a game predominated by chance and was therefore unconstitutional; and the authorization of community card games would likely be found to be an improper attempt by the Legislature to authorize games of chance expressly prohibited by the Nebraska Constitution. I oppose expanding gambling in Nebraska and expressed my opposition to LB619 on the floor of the Legislature. The bill was defeated.

On Thursday Governor Ricketts gave his State of State address. I was honored to be one of five chosen senators to escort Governor Ricketts from his office to the chamber. The full address can be found here: https://governor.nebraska.gov/press/governor-ricketts-state-state-address.

On Thursday and Friday LB113 was debated. This bill allows county jails to charge a $10 copayment to inmates who have a self-initiated, non-emergency visit to a health care provider. The bill provides exemptions from the copayment including treatment for a chronic illness, emergency care of any kind, and staff-initiated care. I am going to support the bill, but I do have concerns. The body adjourned without coming to a vote.

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 lbrasch@leg.ne.gov; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol.  If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is available as well on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life growing in Nebraska,

Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

 

Sen. Lydia Brasch

District 16
Room #1022
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2728
Email: lbrasch@leg.ne.gov
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