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On Monday we debated and passed onto select file a very important omnibus bill dealing with opiate prescriptions. Opiate addiction has become an epidemic situation across our great nation. I am proud to say that your Nebraska Legislature is taking a proactive approach in handling this serious issue. LB931 which would provide requirements for opiate and controlled substance prescriptions was originally introduced by Senator Howard from Omaha. This bill, through the committee process, was combined with similar legislation introduced by Senators Kuehn and Linstrom. This new version of the bill is truly a bipartisan effort.
LB931 would essentially prohibit healthcare practitioners prescribing more than a “seven-day supply” of opioid pain relievers to a patient younger than nineteen. A practitioner desiring to prescribe opioids to such a patient for the first time would also be required to discuss the reason for the prescription, and the risks associated with opioid use to the patient’s parent or guardian. The bill includes an exception from the seven-day supply limitation for patients suffering from chronic pain, a cancer diagnosis, or palliative care. Additionally, any healthcare practitioner would be required to discuss the following topics: risks of addiction and overdose, reasons why the practitioner deems the prescription necessary, and alternative treatments that may be available. Finally, the bill would require that persons receiving dispensed opiates would need to provide photographic identification. An exception is provided for patients, residents, and employees of licensed healthcare facilities so long as there are related identification procedures in place at the facility. I feel so strongly about what this bill will accomplish that I have signed on as a co-sponsor of bill.
The combining of bills is not an uncommon process. Often times Senators, working on their own during the interim session, will create very similar bills or have content that fits in with the themes of other bills. By combining these bills we can save a substantial amount of time on the floor by debating one bill rather than several individual bills. Often times these omnibus bills become committee priority bills. Which is a good thing because many of these necessary bills would not be debated on the floor of legislature because Senator’s have selected another bill as their one personal priority bill.
This is exactly what happened to one of my bills – LB366. LB366 would change and eliminate provisions relating to parole administration. The bill was a collaborative effort between my office and the Office of Parole Administration. The bill would allow the Office of Parole Administration to make the needed changes so they can operate more efficiently and effectively as an office. Not too glamourous of a bill, but a much needed one for the Office of Parole Administration. Now instead of this bill languishing in committee and most likely not seeing the light of day, LB366 was added to several bills addressing corrections and it will be brought to the floor and debated by the full legislature. A real win-win.
I have made LB1058 – Adopt the Faithful Delegate to Federal Article V Convention Act my priority bill for this session. The bill provides the Legislature with the rules and procedures necessary for the creation of a delegation and the guidelines for them to follow during any Article V convention called by Congress. With the Balanced Budget Amendment to United Stated Constitution having 28 states of the 34 required to call a Convention of States, 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 as a state to effectively participate in any Convention of States Convention.
With the recent terrible events that have taken place at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, we in Nebraska need to address how we as State are going to better protect our most value resource, our children. I have charged my staff with researching options for making our schools a safer and more secure place of learning. One option, I am considering as possible legislation for the next biennium session is to allow teachers and administrators, with the approval of the school board, to carry concealed weapons on school grounds. The bill would require teachers and administrators to take special training by the State Patrol or other certified training groups before they could conceal carry weapons in a school. I would leave it up to the discretion of the local school boards to decide whether or not to allow vetted volunteer staff to be professionally trained to conceal carry to protect students and fellow staff members. I don’t expect any single piece of legislation will solve this complex issue of school shootings but I do believe that we should provide local school boards with options. Currently, Nebraska law only allows on-duty, uniformed law enforcement officers to carry firearms on school property and any concealed weapons are prohibited. In addition, law enforcement response time to a school shooting, no matter how fast they can arrive, it leaves precious minutes in which the active shooter can inflict bodily harm. A well trained conceal carry staff member can immediately engage someone intent on harming students and staff.
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of hosting the members of Leadership Hastings group which is sponsored by the Hastings Chamber of Commerce. The Leadership Hastings is a vibrant group of young leaders from our community. I appreciated their visit to the Capitol. As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office. My staff, or I, can be reached at the office in Lincoln 402-471-2712 an visit my Facebook page – Senator Steve Halloran. Thank you for listening…..Have a Great Day in Nebraska!