Week two was a full week of introducing legislation of this 90-day session (known around the Legislature as the “long session” of the biennium). On Thursday Governor Ricketts delivered the State of the State Address. His recommendations to the Legislature include his vision for the state budget, as well as bills to be introduced on his behalf by senators. I have been invited to introduce LB 338, the Agricultural Valuation Fairness Act. I encourage you to request a copy of the Governor’s State of the State Address or read it online at: https://governor.nebraska.gov/press/governor-ricketts-state-state-address-0
Legislation I am introducing:
- LB 338 would change the way agricultural land is valued for purposes of property taxes. It would require that agricultural land be valued based on the potential income from agricultural use of the land and would also be tied to what the commodity prices are at the time the land is valued. Eight states, many of which are around Nebraska, use this method.
- LB 67 would make it possible for individuals who purchase equipment with embedded software, that controls the hardware of the equipment, to maintain, repair, or personally customize such equipment. This is a fundamental property rights issue. LB 67 would require original equipment manufacturers to make available for purchase the necessary software so that maintenance, repair, and legal modification can be performed and any newly installed hardware can communicate with the hardware that came with the equipment. Nothing in this bill violates copyright or patent law, which is a federal issue, not a state issue.
- LB 105 would increase the bankruptcy “wildcard exemption” from $2,500 to $5,000. The “wildcard exemption” allows a debtor to exempt personal property, other than wages, that has not been otherwise classified. This has not been updated in 20 years. This legislation also increases certain bankruptcy exemption amounts of “household items” from $1,500 to $3,000 and the “tools of the trade” exemption, which is used for items other than a motor vehicle, is increased from $2,400 to $5,000.
- LB 106 would require the termination of the parental rights of a biological parent whom a court determines by clear and convincing sexually assaulted the other biological parent which resulted in the conception of a child.
- LB 155 would require a successful completion of a high school civics examination as a prerequisite to high school graduation. The test would consist of the 100 questions from the Naturalization Test given to immigrants before they become United States Citizens. High School students would be expected to get 70 questions correct before they could graduate from high school.
- Currently, for any termination or nullification of marriage, or any modification of child support or custody issue filed by previously married parents, a mediation fee is required of them. However, no fee is charged to never married parents. LB 307 is meant to correct this inequity by requiring never married parents to pay for the same services that previously married parents are required to pay for.
- Local school boards are currently required to form a three-member subcommittee on Americanism. LB 308 would require this subcommittee to hold three public meetings where at least one meeting accepts public testimony. The bill would require the subcommittee to keep all minutes about which members are present and absent at each meeting while also recording the details and substance of all matters discussed. Any curriculum recommendations by this subcommittee to the local school board must be readily available to the public.
- LB 309 would eliminate daylight savings time in Nebraska. This desire has been expressed to me by many constituents in District 16 and others outside our district including Omaha, Lincoln, and others statewide.
Currently, there is a light load of bills before the Agriculture Committee. New bill introduction ends on Wednesday, January 18. Some of the items that have been referred to the Agriculture Committee to date include:
- LB 134 was introduced by Senator Brasch on behalf of the Department of Agriculture. It would repeal the Graded Egg Act and transfers authority to regulate egg handlers via the Pure Food Act with other clarifications of the Department’s duties and authorities under the Pure Food Act.
- LB 135 was introduced by Senator Lowe and would clarify the authorities of the Department of Agriculture with respect to an agricultural promotion program.
- LB 276 was introduced by Senator Albrecht and relates to standards for hybrid seed corn.
- LB 260 was introduced by Senator Hansen. It authorizes the Department of Agriculture to participate in the federal Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program.
I am also anticipating a bill to make a number of cleanups to the Brand Law to respond to issues raised in an audit of the Brand Committee last summer.
Please contact me, my administrative aide, Courtney McClellen; my legislative aide, Brett Waite; or Rick Leonard, the Research Analyst with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or stop by Room 1022 (please note we have changed office location, 2 doors south of pervious office) if you are in the State 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.