NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Roy Baker

Sen. Roy Baker

District 30

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Jan 29 Update

January 29th, 2018

Legislative Update – January 29, 2018

Senator Roy Baker – District 30

On Friday, January 26th, Speaker Jim Scheer laid out the road map for the remainder of the session.  The legislature has sixty days to complete its work in even numbered years; and as of Friday we had completed over 25% of this session.  A tool used in the Unicameral is the system of designating priority bills. Each senator is allowed one priority bill, Standing Committees each select two and the Speaker can pick an additional 25 bills.  This means there are 102 priority bills designated but depending on time constrains, controversial nature of some bills, and the budget bills to create a balanced budget (which is constitutionally required) not all priority bills may see debate.  The Speaker does his best to schedule every priority bill but his ‘pep’ talk on Friday was a cautionary note to all the senators to be ready on their bills and attempt to work through issues on any bill prior to its debate.  This sends a clear message to senators and committees to have as clean a bill as possible when it comes to the floor.  Not all controversy can be eliminated and there are always issues where no matter the compromise, people will be opposed to the change.  Those bills will see hours of debate and run until a cloture motion.

My seven bills are all set for hearing.  After the hearing, the committee chair schedules those bills for discussion during an Executive Session of the Committee.  This is only for committee members, committee staff and the press.  No one else is allowed to attend. At the exec session, the committee discusses the bills heard so far and decides to either advance a bill, with or without amendments, hold the bill (which in a short session means it is finished for this year) or indefinitely postpone the bill, effectively killing it.

Two of my bills have already had their hearing.  LB 710 which changes provisions relating to civil claims of four thousand dollar or less was heard by the Judiciary on January 19. On Friday, the Judiciary Committee voted to advance the bill with amendments to General File.  I hope to see this bill successfully through the process.

LB 711 which would require all passengers in a vehicle to wear seatbelts, was heard by the Transportation Committee January 23rd.  The committee has not held an Executive Session yet so the bill remains in committee.

On February 1, I have two bills up for hearing.  LB 907 would place a sales tax exemption on agricultural machinery and equipment and will be heard by the Revenue Committee.  This bill was introduced at the request of a business owner in the district and garnered support from a number of ag interests.  The obstacle for this bill will be the fiscal impact (lost revenue) which would have significant impact on the state’s General Fund.

Also on February 1, LB 1037 will go before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee.  Under current law, a person holding an elective office on a city, village or school board, must declare any conflicts of interest and then abstain from participating or voting on the matter.  LB 1037 would allowed elected representative to vote or make decisions relating to the board on which he or she serves.  These boards have a limited number of representatives and if one or two may have to abstain, it could be difficult to the get the necessary number of votes.

Last week the Judiciary committee heard testimony on Senator Adam Morfeld’s bill in response to confidential data breeches similar to the Equifax breech over the summer.  LB 757 would prohibit a credit-monitoring agency from charging fees to place, temporarily lift or remove a security freeze.  The Equifax breech impacted 145 million Americans, 700,000 of which were Nebraskans, to potential identity theft.  LB 757 would prevent a company whose data was stolen, to then turn around and charge the consumer fees to monitor their credit history and prevent potential identity theft. The committee has not taken action on the bill as of yet.

The Judiciary Committee also heard a number of bills relating to the Opioid epidemic.  Senator Sara Howard’s LB 931 creates a 7 day duration cap on a prescription for an opiate issued to a person under the age of 19 years of age. LB 933 by Senator Brett Lindstrom would require medical practitioners to notify patients, or a parent or guardian of a patient under 18, of the risk of addiction and overdose when prescribing opiates and other Schedule II prescription medications. Other bills relating to opiates were LB 934 and 906.  More information can be found on these and all bills at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Your communication is always welcome. Contact me at 402-471-2620 or rbaker@leg.ne.gov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 25th, 2018

GAGE COUNTY
Beatrice City Auditorium, built 1939-40
This Art Deco-style auditorium is part of Nebraska’s architectural legacy of New Deal-era public works. Local voters approved municipal bonds, and the Public Works Administration provided federal funding. The project provided jobs for local unemployed men. It also gave the community a public building still in use today. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To read this article and listen to the audio, click here:  http://kwbe.com/local-news/committee-hears-passenger-seat-belt-bill/#comments_head

Committee Hears Passenger Seat Belt Bill

Committee Hears Passenger Seat Belt Bill

BEATRICE – Seat belt legislation was before the Nebraska Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday.

A bill introduced by Senator Roy Baker of Lincoln would require that all occupants of a vehicle use seat belts.  Under current Nebraska law, only the driver and front seat passenger are required to use them.

 Nebraska has had a secondary offense seatbelt law since 1993.  You cannot be cited for not using a seatbelt, unless you’re stopped for some other violation.  Fifteen states have secondary offense seatbelt laws, while 34 states and the District of Columbia have stronger, primary offense laws. Only New Hampshire, has no occupant protection law.
Safety experts say an unbelted person can become, in effect, a missile who injures themselves or others, in a crash. Coleen Nielsen with State Farm Insurance Companies says an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study indicates that rear seat passengers often believe they are safer, simply because of their position in the vehicle.
 Senator Baker, who represents the 30th District of Gage County and part of Lancaster County, says there are compliance differences between states that have primary seatbelt laws, and those like Nebraska…where it’s a secondary offense. He said in states where it is a secondary law, an average of 80-to-83% of people use seatbelts.  In states with primary offense laws, it’s about 89%.

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.

December in District 30

December 19th, 2017

Standing on the 7th floor outdoor workspace with Hudl CEO David Graff and Gov. Ricketts today after the ribbon cutting.

 

 

Mayor Beutler and Governor Ricketts among those at the ribbon cutting for the new Hudl headquarters in downtown Lincoln today.

 

Annual banquet of NSEA in December. Front row: Ed Ankram, Sen. Baker, Jolene Walker. Back row:
Fran Martin, Gene Martin, Kathryn Glenn, Mary Schlieder.

CSG 2017

December 15th, 2017

 

 

From the Council of State Governments convention in Las Vegas: break out session,”Steps to Success with Every Student Succeeds Act” and a session on states’ budgets.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval addressed the legislators at the CSG convention last week.

December Newsletter

December 12th, 2017

Legislative Update

Senator Roy Baker – December 12, 2017

 

 

2017 is winding down, and 2018 will be upon us in a matter of days.  The second session of the 105th Nebraska Unicameral Legislature will begin on Wednesday, January 3. This is a 60-day session which will end in mid-April.

The Speaker of the Legislature has notified us that any proposals for changes in rules under which the Legislature operates must be submitted before the session starts.  The Rules Committee will consider and vote on any proposals by the second day.  During the 2017 session, many days were taken up discussing rules changes.  There was no resolution, and finally we continued under temporary rules, those under which we had operated in 2016.

A coalition of Senators who sought to control the Legislature had argued for the extended debate, aka filibuster, rules to change.  Current rules require 33 of the 49 votes to end extended debate. The coalition sought to lower the number of votes required to end debate and bring their agenda items to a vote.  As I am not part of the “gang of 27”, I am not inclined to vote for changing the rules. Committee chairs and committee assignments remain the same in this second year of the 2017-18 biennium.

Nebraska’s revenue shortfall has been well publicized.  Normally the biennial budget adopted in the 2017 session would not need to be revisited in 2018.  However, the current 2018 revenue estimate is projected to be around $175 million short, so steps must be taken.  We will receive updated revenue forecasts before the sixty day session comes to an end.

Other important areas will continue to be part of the focus for 2018: tax reform/tax relief; public school funding; overcrowded prisons and other correction system issues; physical and mental health care; and school choice, to name a few.

This will be my final year as a Nebraska State Senator.  It has been an honor to serve District 30, and I plan to make the most out of my remaining time.  Thank you.

To contact Senator Baker:  Phone:  402-471-2620   E-mail:  rbaker@leg.ne.gov                                                                                                             Webpage: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist30/

I spoke to the Nebraska Council of School Administrators meeting in Lincoln on December 6th.  Sens. Kolterman, Bolz, and Schumacher also addressed the group.  Here is “Professor” Schumacher.

 

Maria Talero, president of the Norris FFA chapter, addressed the Farm City Breakfast of the Kiwanis Club on November 21.

 

State senators were together at the annual Legislative Council on November 16-17, held this year on UNL East Campus; learning more about issues we will face in the upcoming session.

 

On November 8th, my staff attended the IANR Fall Summit which focused on building partnerships to find sustainable and creative solutions to critical issues in Nebraska.

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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