I have received several phone calls and emails this morning regarding LB 545. The averaging adjustment has not been deleted or terminated. It will be reduced in the next 2 years to meet the state and federal requirements. There’s an amendment to the bill that maintains the averaging adjustment and we will continue to discuss it.
This week the Judiciary Committee has been wrestling with the death penalty, minor sentencing, and various amendments to both. Hopefully by the end of this week I will be able to report back to you.
Yesterday, the governor signed LB 403. LB 403 is the result of a year long study surrounding the issue of immigration in the state of Nebraska. Please find below a link directing you to the immigration study prepared by the Judiciary Committee. I believe that LB 403 is the initial first step in dealing with immigration and addressing the issue of discrimination.
Also, LB 35, which is the Violence Prevention Act to prohibit certain gang activity and change certain firearm provisions is scheduled for floor debate. However, at the current rate of debate LB 35 will most likely be heard sometime next week.
Take a moment to look at the article from the Lincoln Journal Star about the Judiciary Committee: http://journalstar.com/news/politics/doc49dd41fcab2a7939822939.txt#cancel
This Monday is the beginning of full-day debate in the Legislature. I am excited for LB 35 to be debated on the floor. LB 35 is legislation I introduced to adopt the Violence Prevention Act, prohibit certain gang activity, and change certain firearm provisions.
I am excited to tell you that yesterday LB63 made it through the 2nd round of debate on the floor of the legislature.
Tomorrow I plan to speak on LB292, Senator Lathrop’s legislation to adopt the Nebraska Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
This Friday I am introducing LB598 to the Judiciary Committee. LB598 would authorize the creation of a nonprofit community trust by the Crime Victims Reparations Committee, for the purposes of receiving tax free contributions from the public, managing the receipt of those contributions from the public and making distributions of those contributions to help individuals, families, and communities who have suffered from a tragedy of violence or natural disaster. The Community Trust shall establish a separate fund for each tragedy in which they will accept contributions. The Crime Victims Reparations Committee shall act as the oversight committee for the Community Trust and shall annually report its activities to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, the Governor, and the Clerk of the Legislature.
Today the Judiciary Committee’s initiative to address violence across the state (LB63) advanced through the first round of debate.
Our community and state have experienced an increasing plague of gang and gun violence committed by our youth. Street and gun violence has increased or not been reduced despite significant efforts by law enforcement. It is evident to me and the Judiciary Committee that in addition to traditional methods new approaches are necessary to reduce violence.
Last session, the Judiciary introduced LR 390 to examine firearm-related crime in Nebraska. The committee researched programs from other cities, formed a working group of citizens and held a public hearing on September 12.
Violence intervention and reduction programs have been implemented in Chicago, Cincinnati, Boston, Milwaukee, Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City, and other communities. Each program implements an intervention model with the goal to stop the violence before it occurs. All of these programs rely on broad community support, cooperation from law enforcement, and a willingness to adopt new strategies. In no case do these programs claim or are they a substitute for tough punishment of offenders who violate the law.
It is recognized that there must be consequences for bad acts and so the Attorney General’s Office, Senator Friend and I have worked together on a legislative package that will provide both stronger criminal penalties for those individuals who continue to commit violent crimes, as well as mechanism to support the reduction of violent crime through the creation of the Office of Violence Prevention. This joint proposal is reflected in amendment 212 to LB 63 which is included in this packet.
The cycle of violence will not ameliorate without significant public involvement and the willingness to explore new strategies that recognize the realities of street and gang violence. What is certain is that no one strategy will win this battle. We must be willing to commit to a sustainable effort to stop violence and thereby reduce the horrific human and economic costs associated with such crimes.
Also, I am looking forward to meeting with the Civics students of Westside High School next Monday morning!
This week I will be introducing one bill to the Education Committee (LB 597) and three bills to the Judiciary Committee (LB 253, LB 414, and LB 596).
- LB 597 is legislation that will change provisions relating to collaborative focus schools and programs and magnet school. It will be introduced to the Education Committee Tuesday, February 24.
- LB 253 is legislation that will adopt a new Nebraska Juvenile Code and change child abuse reporting and registry, child relinquishment, and Foster Care Review Act provisions. It will be introduced to the Judiciary Committee Wednesday, February 25.
- LB 414 is legislation that will change the salary of Supreme Court judges. It will be introduced to the Judiciary Committee Wednesday, February 25.
- LB 596 is legislation that change a legal service fee. It was also be introduced to the Judiciary Committee Wednesday, February 25.
This week I will be introducing two bills to the Judiciary Committee, LB 63 and LB 34.
LB 63 is legislation regarding the ongoing acts of street violence that are continuing to effect our communities. Please read the brief summary below regarding the legislation.
Summary of Amendment to LB 63
LB63 increases penalties for various weapons related felony charges and for assault on a police officer. It removes existing statutory requirement that handgun permit applicants supply social security number because such a mandatory disclosure violates federal privacy laws. It allows judges to consider an offender’s dangerousness when setting bail as opposed to the current bail statute which only allows judges to consider whether an offender is a flight risk. LB63 abolishes the jailhouse informer statute, and abolishes the statute prohibiting law enforcement from using confidential informants who are inmates, probationers or parolees. It allows prosecutors and judges to consider a juvenile offender’s gang affiliation when deciding whether to transfer their case to juvenile court or maintain jurisdiction in adult court. It creates the offense of unlawful membership recruitment and makes it a Class IV felony to recruit members into joining a gang or for preventing a gang member from quitting the gang. LB63 creates the offense of unauthorized application of graffiti and makes it a Class I misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class IV felony for a second and subsequent offenses. It prohibits persons currently under a valid protection order and persons who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from possessing a firearm, knife, or brass or iron knuckles as opposed to the current statute which only prohibits felons and fugitives from possessing such weapons.
Amends the process when a juvenile is taken into custody pursuant to a warrant. LB 63 would provide that a juvenile taken into custody on a warrant, shall be delivered to a probation officer who will make a decision as to whether or not the juvenile should be detained. In making their determination, the probation officer shall decide whether release of the juvenile without bond is in the “best interest” of the juvenile, the safety of the community will not be jeopardized, and the court issuing the warrant has been notified that the juvenile has been taken into custody.
Would create the Office of Violence Prevention under the Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. The Office would be charged with developing, fostering, promoting, and assessing violence prevention programs for implementation in the state of Nebraska. The Office of Violence Prevention shall have a director and advisory council, the counsel shall have six members and it’s suggested that the members’ qualifications be as follows: two members representing local government, two members representing law enforcement, one member representing community advocacy and one member representing education with some expertise in law enforcement and juvenile crime. The Director of the Office of Violence Prevention and the Advisory Counsel to the Office shall both be appointed by the governor and will be tasked with raising funds for the program, assess applications for grants from the Office, and make recommendations to the Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice for grants to be awarded.
With the addition of the Office of Violence Prevention, the state of Nebraska joins other cities and states across the country in adding violent crime prevention as an essential element of its crime prevention package. Combined with tougher penalties and tougher enforcement, we can stop the shooting and stop the violence. However, without any element of the total package of crime prevention we will never break the cycle of violent crime, and be forever mired in redundant outcomes.
On Wednesday, February 4 I will be introducing LB 273 in front of Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. This bill will increase sheriff’s fees for both civil and criminal actions. These fees have not been increased since 1987 and, in fact, a good number of the criminal fees have not changed since 1965.
In coming weeks I will be taking LB 34 in front of the Judiciary Committee. LB 34 is the legislation I have put forth after holding several meetings across the state of Nebraska during the interim with the hard work and assistance of legal counsel, Stacey Trout. The report of our findings can be found at the following link: