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Week 11 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of legislative days 41 through 44.
When returning to work at the Legislature on Monday, March 12 after “Springing Forward” an hour due to Daylight Saving Time many, including myself, wondered, “Why don’t we just leave one time in place?” Some constituents contacted our office to suggest that Nebraska introduce something similar to what passed in Florida as the “Sunshine Protection Act”. The bill, passed by Florida’s Senate but not yet signed by their governor, asks Congress to allow Florida to observe Daylight Saving Time (DST) year-round instead of changing times twice per year.
Last session I introduced LB309 to eliminate DST, keeping Nebraska on standard time year-round that is being held in committee. Currently, Federal law permits states to stay on standard time if they choose, but not to adopt DST year-round. LB309 had many supporters including some who testified about the difficulties relating to medical and medication needs, interruption of young children’s sleep, livestock owners wanting to maintain feeding schedules year-round, and other reasons for DST elimination. Opposition testimony came from the Professional Golf Association (PGA) who believe that there would be a loss of revenue due to shorter days and fewer summer night leagues able to play golf. Until Congress changes federal law or if regional states take action together it would be a challenge for Nebraska to act independently in the Midwest on time changes. Perhaps this is legislation for the next District 16 senator to consider?
Debate on Monday centered on LB998, a bill introduced by Senator Walz that would allow Educational Service Units to hire social workers to be placed in the schools of that service unit. Though the bill is intended to provide more mental health services for children it also would further burden taxpayers to fund service units with the cost of paying for the social workers after an initial three-year private funding provision expires.
Tuesday was the longest day of session to date, starting at 9:00 am and adjourning after 11:30 pm. I am certain there will be many more late nights to follow with only 16 session days remaining. Tuesday’s debate moved to the budget and centered around Title X funding. Title X is a federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with family planning and preventative health services. Federal law forbids any taxpayer dollars to be used in the funding of abortions. Recent changes in federal law allow states more discretion on how they appropriate funding related to Title X. The proposed state budget changes would disallow any Title X funding from being appropriated to clinics that provide abortions or refer for abortion services. The budget proposal would not affect clinics receiving Title X funding that do not provide or refer for abortion services. Higher education funding was not discussed on General File, but a pending amendment seeks to lower the University of Nebraska’s funding and will certainly be heatedly debated on the floor.
Thursday, LB 44, introduced by Senator Watermeier to require collection and remittance of sales tax by online merchants, returned to the floor for Final Reading with an amendment by Senator Watermeier. The amendment does not resolve the issues the bill may create pending potential changes from a US Supreme Court decisions regarding online sales tax. The bill failed to move forward without enough cloture votes to advance.
The Legislature will return to work on Tuesday, March 20th after recess days on Friday and Monday.
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 http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government