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The past two weeks have been very for me and my staff. Each week a bill I introduced had its hearing. Last week was LB718 – Adopt the Higher Education Free Speech Accountability Act, and this week was the hearing for LB1058 – Adopt the Faithful Delegate to Federal Article V Convention Act. Both of these bills have received an immense about media coverage. Yes, they are controversial bills, most bills that are important are controversial.
I am very passionate about both of these bills. I believe that we must defend and protect the First Amendment right to free-speech. We may not like, agree with, or even feel disgusted by what a person says but we must defend their right to say what they think. For if we shut down their rights, we may find someday that someone will want take away our rights to voice our opinions. I have been working closely with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, otherwise known as (FIRE) to amend the bill to give institutions of higher learning the ability to create and enforce their own policies regarding free expression on campus while still holding their actions accountable. The amendment has taken a bit a longer that I would like, but I am very pleased with what we have created. The amendment was completed on Friday. As promised, I have sent a copy of the new amendment to those media outlets that requested a copy. You can read the new amendment for yourself by going to the Legislative website and search for LB718.
LB1058 – the faithful delegate act, was heard this Wednesday. The bill provides the Legislature with the rules and procedures necessary to create and guide a Nebraska delegation to any Article V convention called by Congress. The rationale for creating this bill came out of the debate last session on LR6 and the fact that we currently have a Convention of States call for a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment to United Stated Constitution. 28 states of the 34 required to call for a balanced budget amendment convention has been obtained. We could see a Convention of States within the next few years. As a state we must be prepared to act when called. LB1058 would provide the framework for us to effectively participate in any convention of states convention.
I want to thank everyone who came out in person to testify or sent in written testimony on LB718 and LB1058. I know traveling from District 33 to Lincoln during the work day can be a challenge. So, many choose to send it written testimony to be read into the official record. Please be aware that written testimony on any bill must be submitted to the Chair of the committee in which the bill is being heard by 5:00pm the previous day.
There has some been criticism that the Legislature has become too polarized and that we only vote along party lines. While it is true that there are clearly differences of opinion on how we as state should address taxes and entitlements, we can agree on a variety of other important issues. One bill I strongly support is LB1132 brought by Senator Patty Pansing-Brooks. LB1132 provides a procedure to set aside convictions of victims of sex trafficking and to expunge related records. I believe that victims of sex traffickers should not be further penalized by the justice system. In simple terms, the bill would make it possible to essentially remove any record of a conviction the victim of sex trafficking was found guilty of committing. For example, many victims are convicted of prostitution.
Often times I will post articles on my Facebook page without comments. Some have criticized me for not posting any comments. I do not comment this for a very specific reason. I want see what people, mostly from the district, have to say on a topic without being biased by my comments. This along with phone calls, emails, and town hall meetings aid me knowing the heartbeat of district 33 which that I have honor of serving.
Speaking of town hall meetings, the next Coffee with Senator is scheduled for 9:00am, March 3rd, at Kitty’s Roadhouse in Hastings.