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Week four of the first biennium of the 105th Legislature consisted of days 13-17 of this 90-day session.
On Monday of last week I had a motion filed from the previous week to withdraw LB106. The purpose of this bill was to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent who sexually assaulted the other biological parent if such sexual assault resulted in the conception of a child. Withdrawing this bill was a difficult decision, as I firmly believe that victims of sexual assault should be provided as much protection as possible from having any interaction with the person who sexually assaulted them. However, there was another bill introduced this session with the same intent—LB188, which I have co-sponsored. This bill was introduced by Senator Howard, an attorney with experience in children and family services. I believe her education and background will be of great benefit in debating the technical details of this particular issue in the Judiciary Committee.
On Tuesday the Legislature debated Senator Watermeier’s LB45. This bill allows veterans who serve in the United States Reserves to be eligible for military honor license plates. A concern was shared by numerous senators that a provision in the bill extended this honor to members of trusts, which could perhaps diminish the honor of possessing such a plate and the dignity that goes with serving in the military. Such a provision would allow those who have never served in the military to purchase such license plates. Senator Watermeier agreed to amend LB45 so that trusts will be struck from the bill. LB45 advanced to Select File.
This week the Legislature advanced LB134, which updates provisions of the Nebraska Pure Food Act. One of the purposes of LB134 is to repeal the Graded Egg Act and transfer authority for regulating egg handlers to the Nebraska Pure Food Act. The Graded Egg Act is an archaic and inefficient regulatory mechanism. It was primarily designed to oversee commercial scale producers and packagers of eggs who send their products to wholesale markets. Nebraska has not licensed egg producers or packagers who sell whole eggs for eventual purchase by consumers or businesses such as restaurants or bakeries. Under the bill there would be an exemption from licensure for small producers and retailers of eggs sourced from local producers, similar to the current exemption from licensure under the Graded Egg Act. The bill does not impose any new regulations on small egg producers or sellers. LB134 also defines food delivery services to clarify that the annual license and inspection fees apply to them. However, the bill lowers the fees so they are more appropriate for this type of business.
On Thursday the Revenue Committee held a public hearing on LB295. This legislation allows individuals and corporations to qualify for non-refundable tax credits when they contribute to scholarship-granting organizations. The scholarship-granting organization must receive certification from the Nebraska Department of Revenue, and must also provide education scholarships to assist eligible students to attend a qualified, nonprofit, private elementary or secondary school. An eligible student is defined as a dependent member of a household where the gross income—the amount earned before any deductions—does not exceed two times the required level for the federal reduced lunch program; criteria for which is found at the following website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/income-eligibility-guidelines. My office has received dozens of emails in favor of this legislation, many of which are from District 16.
On Friday morning we were pleased to welcome the Pastor of the Day, Nathan Henschen, from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church located in Bancroft in District 16. Pastor Henschen offered prayer before the Nebraska Legislature convened. As the session advances we continue to encourage pastors from our district to volunteer as Chaplain of the Day.
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, two doors south of previous 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.