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As of adjournment today we are finished with sixty-eight days out of this ninety day legislative session. We are beginning to see some very important issues being debated on the floor. Just this week, we have debated brand inspection fees, school funding mechanisms, ATM transaction fees, a bill addressing the transportation company UBER, wind energy tax credits, and my priority bill on human trafficking, LB294.
On the bill determining how state lottery funds are allocated, LB519, I was able to introduce an amendment and eventually have the allocations changed. This doubled the amount of money, from what was originally allocated, spent on K-12 education within the bill. Keep in mind, this did not increase state spending. It was accomplished by adjusting the amount of lottery funds given to certain post-secondary education programs. I sincerely believe that K-12 education is the main educational responsibility of the state and is the bedrock of our education system as a whole. While the post-secondary programs that the state provides are important, adequately funding K-12 education is always my first priority. My change to this bill will help local schools recoup some of the revenue they have lost over the past few years.
My human trafficking bill, LB294, is the result of a collaborative effort amongst local, state, and federal law enforcement, local and federal prosecutors, victims’ advocates, service providers and various task forces such as the Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, and the Omaha Child Exploitation Task Force. Human trafficking is a market driven criminal enterprise that treats the most vulnerable as lucrative commodities and is not foreign to Nebraska. LB294 is designed to diminish the profitability and increase the risk of engaging in this criminal enterprise. This is achieved by making four specific changes to the law: (1) addressing recruitment of trafficking victims by pimps by increasing penalties for pandering, (2) targeting the consumer of sex trafficking by increasing penalties for solicitation of prostitution, (3) heightening the penalty on keeping a house of prostitution; and (4) affording greater ability to subpoena illicit marketers of sex trafficking like Backpage. LB294 also creates an avenue for victims to seek civil remedy against their traffickers by creating the Human Trafficking Victims Civil Remedy Act. Overall, this bill will be a strong step forward for the state of Nebraska in our battle against human trafficking. After little over an hour’s debate, this bill was unanimously passed by the Legislature.
Tomorrow, I anticipate that we will move from debating bills on General File to Final Reading. If that is in fact the case, my bill to sell portions of the Norfolk Regional Center property to Northeast Community College will be passed. This bill is an important first step to not only mitigating the risk of leaving the dilapidated Regional Center building standing, but also allowing the college to move forward with their plans to create a technological innovation park on that property. I look forward to the passage of this bill and the economic benefits that the coming technology park will bring to all of Northeast Nebraska. Another one of my bills, LB197, has been amended into LB324 and should also pass on Final Reading tomorrow. This is my bill to grant additional powers to certain Sanitary and Improvement Districts, mainly Woodland Park.
As the session continues I welcome your comments, concerns, feedback, and criticisms. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me in my Lincoln office at (402)471-2929.