NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Roy Baker

Sen. Roy Baker

District 30

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January 19 Update

January 19th, 2018

Legislative Update – January 19, 2018                                                                                              Senator Roy Baker – District 30

At of the close of session on Thursday, January 18, which was the last day for bill introduction, senators had introduced 468 new bills. After a bill is introduced, the Reference Committee (basically the Executive Board of the Legislature) meets and decides which committee will hear each bill based on the most appropriate area of jurisdiction. On January 16th, hearings began. During a public hearing, some bills are short and simple and can take minutes, other bills that are more complex or controversial can take hours. But every bill receives a public hearing – a feature unique to our Nebraska Unicameral and just a half dozen other states.

Each senator is assigned a full five day schedule of hearings.  I currently serve on the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee which meets on Monday and Tuesday and will hear 33 bills.   I am also on the Judiciary Committee which meets on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  This year, a record number of bills, 143, or 30% of all bills introduced, have been referred to this one committee. This means the Judiciary Committee will need to hear eight or nine bills each day the committee meets.

If a recess day falls on Monday or Friday, the committee does not meet on those days. So Chairwoman Ebke has taken the unusual step of scheduling hearings on a recess day in order to accommodate the large number of bills before the Judiciary Committee.

This session, I introduced seven bills, four requested by constituents, one by the Lancaster Public Defender, another by an association and one I felt was good public policy.  I will address each in future updates, as they come up for hearings.

During floor debate this past week we discussed LB 469 brought by Senator Tyson Larsen last year which requires fantasy contest operators to be licensed.  Senator Larson presented this bill as a consumer protection bill, however many senators saw this a form of expanded gambling. The bill was discussed for three hours and I doubt Senator Larsen has 33 votes to force the end of debate, so I believe the bill should be done for this session.

Another bill by Senator Larsen debated later in the week was LR18CA.  This is a constitutional amendment to allow those who meet the federal voting age, currently set at 18, to be eligible to run for, or be appointed to, elected office.  Under the existing law, a person must be 21 years old to be eligible for the legislature, age 30 for Governor or Lieutenant Governor, Supreme Court Justice or Judge on the Supreme Court.  Senator Chambers, along with others, opposed the idea stating that this age group does not have the experience and knowledge to appropriately serve in these offices.  In addition, if we tie the voting age to the federal level, and by chance the federal government lowers the age or raises it, our constitution would be tied to that age. No vote has been taken yet on this issue.

Now that hearings have begun, committees will start advancing new bills to the floor and the Speaker will then set the agenda for floor debate of these new bills, beginning about January 29th.  Senators will also begin to prioritize their issues which will take precedence for scheduling floor debate.

A good source for all things pertaining to the legislature is the website: www.nebraskalegislature.gov. Posted on this site will be the daily agendas, hearing schedules, information on bills, and a link to the Unicameral Update publication which reports on many of the bills being discussed.  From this site, you can also connect directly to my official web page.  I also post news on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to receive this update via email, contact my office to be added to the list. Constituents are always welcome to call, write or email my office. My email is rbaker@leg.ne.gov and the office number is 402-471-2620.

 

 

January activities in Dist 30

January 12th, 2018

The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs recently displayed a replica of the new Standing Bear sculpture at the Capitol. Sen. Baker is a member of the State-Tribal Relations Committee of the Legislature.

 

Norris Superintendent John Skretta and I are enjoying a Norris victory over Ralston on Jan 12th.

Legislative Update – January 12, 2018

Senator Roy Baker – District 30

The second session of the 105th Legislature started smoothly.  The first three days of session only had bill introduction, which continues for the first ten days. On January 8th, the Speaker scheduled floor debate on bills held over from last year.  I have introduced six new bills to date, and will have no more.  In this 60-day session, any bill that does not receive a Senator’s or Committee’s priority designation likely will not make it to the floor. The other possibility is if a bill is noncontroversial and unopposed, it may be passed on the consent agenda.

My bills are:

LB709 to change archaic provisions relating to plumbing boards – their terms of office, meetings, penalties, etc.  This bill was introduced at the request of the City of Beatrice and supported by other cities and villages.

LB710 is an act relating to civil lawsuits, changing provisions relating to costs, interest, and attorney fees, when the civil claim is $4,000 or less.  This was introduced upon request by a District 30 business owner.

LB711 would change requirements for use of occupant protection systems.  Currently, proper seat belt use is required only for front seat passengers.  LB711 would require each occupant in the motor vehicle to wear occupant protection systems, with the exceptions already in statute including taxi cabs, emergency vehicles, parade vehicles, and rural letter carriers. Child passenger restraint requirements remain as they are.   Seat belt use would continue to be a secondary offense which carries a $25 fine.

LB907 clarifies sales tax exemptions for agriculture machinery and equipment, specifically equipment used for the health and welfare of cattle, swine, and poultry.  This bill was also introduced at the request of a business in the district.

LB908 would provide a tire disposal exemption for use in a building system.  A constituent requested this legislation.

LB 981 is a juvenile justice bill and allows a Juvenile Court to retain jurisdiction of a juvenile until the age of 21 for purposes of enforcing the court order, if the juvenile and their legal counsel consent.

In addition to these bills, I am considering signing on as a co-sponsor to a couple of other issues. I will outline those in future updates.

Key votes to date in this session first occurred on January 8 with the adoption of the permanent rules. Last session we spent over thirty days debating the rules.  The timeliness in which the rules were adopted this year is more reminiscent of past Legislatures with the acceptance of legislative rules.

The next key vote occurred on debate of a bill. Senator Bob Krist declared his priority bill early this year, LB 368 which was introduced last year by Senator John Lowe. The bill would have repealed the motorcycle helmet law. After at least six hours of debate, a cloture motion to cease any further debate may be offered.  In 2017, a cloture vote on the bill failed by one vote.  On January 10, the cloture motion to end debate and go to a vote on the bill failed by three votes.  The matter will not come up again this session.  I voted against cloture.  I have heard passionate pleas from constituents both for and against repeal.  It was a matter of considering civil liberties vis a vis safety and people’s lives, and ultimately the latter prevailed.  This outcome was a bit of a surprise, as proponents of LB 368 thought they had the 33 votes necessary.

Public hearings for new bills begin on Tuesday, January 16th.  Contact my office with any questions or comments you may have. I welcome your communication as we work through the issues.  rbaker@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2620.

Sen. Roy Baker

District 30
Room #1208
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2620
Email: rbaker@leg.ne.gov
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