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Week 6 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of days 21 through 24 this session.
The 6th week of the 2nd Session of the 105th Legislature started on Monday, February 5th. Many have asked me how many days are we into this short 60 Day session? Monday, February 12 was Session Day 25, we are getting closer to being halfway through the session.
Monday the 5th of February, I introduced LB1069 in the Education Committee to change provisions to the committee on Americanism. The Department of Education testified in support of the bill and our office also received tremendous support from others for LB 1069. Opponents included the Nebraska Association of School Boards and the Nebraska State Education Association. An amendment addressing some questions regarding assessment and reporting will be offered. Several Senators have now cosigned this bill that will provide more accountability, public input, and transparency in the development of Social Studies standards. You can read an editorial from the Omaha World-Herald supporting the bill by searching “civics education” in the editorial section and can track the bill’s progress online through the legislature by searching LB 1069 in the “current bills” section at the top right of the nebraskalegislature.gov homepage.
The Agriculture Committee heard testimony February 6th on LB 1133. This bill would allow cultivation of industrial hemp beyond provisions we proposed and adopted in 2014 with Neb. Rev. Stat. § 2-5701 where the University of Nebraska conducts agronomic research on industrial hemp. Regulations to implement that provision were adopted by the Department of Agriculture in June 2015. Both industrial hemp and marijuana are members of the same cannabis species and under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), industrial varieties of cannabis are not excluded from the definition of marijuana. Because of this, growing industrial hemp remains illegal under federal law unless grown within an exception under the 2014 Farm Bill which allows its cultivation strictly for research purposes within a program overseen by a state department of agriculture or research university. LB 1133 adopts a more aggressive interpretation of the farm bill than the law currently in place and facilitates some commercial development by directing the Department of Agriculture to carry out a program licensing growers to cultivate and market hemp for research purposes.
The hemp research provisions of the Farm Bill expire in 2019, and to date, Congress has shown little inclination to directly amend the federal CSA to exclude industrial hemp varieties from regulation. Without federal changes, legal uncertainty will continue to limit the commercial viability of industrial hemp as an agricultural crop despite the 2014 Farm Bill’s hemp provisions. That concern is shared by the Department of Agriculture, the attorneys general of other states considering similar legislation, and the Nebraska State Patrol.
The Revenue Committee heard testimony February 7th about a package of bills introduced by Senator Smith. The bills are mostly introduced as placeholder bills aimed at making changes to Nebraska tax law. A placeholder bill is usually introduced with the intention of a later amendment incorporating parts of various bills that came before the committee that session. The package of bills will be amended with provisions the committee determines to be the most prudent path towards tax relief after hearing all proposals brought before the Revenue Committee.
The Legislature moved to bills on final reading Thursday, February 8th. LB 105, a bill I introduced to make changes to the bankruptcy “wildcard exemption” passed on final reading.
Please contact me; my Administrative Aide, Courtney McClellen; my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell; or the Agriculture Committee Research Analyst, Rick Leonard, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit my office, Room 1022, in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online please visit
netnebraska.org and click on the “Live & On Demand” button or simply follow this link