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It has been a busy few weeks in Lincoln. We’ve been using our past few days of the legislative session to hold hearings in both the morning and the afternoon to minimize the potential disruption the legislative process would have if the Legislature had to temporarily suspend session due to a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unusual, given that we would typically have session in the morning and hearings in the afternoon, but it’s the best tool we have for making sure that all bills have their required public hearing and get adequate time to be considered on the legislative floor.
Co-sponsoring a bill is one of the best tools we have in the Legislature to offer support and legitimacy to other pieces of legislation. I consider each offer to co-sponsor carefully, and exercise my right to decline more than I agree to sign. So far, I’ve co-sponsored 15 bills in the 107th Legislature, and I’d like to highlight a few that you may find interesting.
LB241, introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, would create a set of COVID-19 standards for meatpacking plants in Nebraska to implement, including social distancing, screenings and cleaning. We’ve seen our meatpacking plants make significant strides to protect their workers since the pandemic began, but I believe it’s important that we standardize what those precautionary measures are and how they are implemented. We must be mindful that the well-being of our local meatpackers is in the interest of our whole community.
LB4, introduced by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, increases the tuition credit provided to enlisted members of the Selected Reserves and partially removes stipulations restricting when an enlisted member may utilize the credit. Our troops in the Selected Reserves deserve our support when it comes to education, much in the same way we support education in the National Guard.
LB283, also introduced by Sen. Briese, would shift Nebraska to year-round daylight saving time, should we be joined in an agreement by enough neighboring states. The time changes we currently experience were predicated by a wartime need to save fuel and written into the law later for the sake of standardizing the time for the transportation industry. The benefits of the time changes are no longer obvious or relevant, and I believe LB283 is an effective way for Nebraska to stop the time changes without significant economic consequence.
LB417, introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, would permit off-duty police officers to carry a firearm on school property. We put our police officers through a rigorous firearm training process and that training doesn’t disappear when they go off-duty. By allowing our off-duty officers to carry their firearms on school properties, we create one more potential barrier for those seeking to harm to our children and our community.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight my ability to introduce commemorative resolutions as a form of recognition for major accomplishments and achievements. Should you be aware of anything you believe would be worthy of recognition in the Grand Island area, please reach out to my office and let my staff or me know. These typically commemorate sports championships, major scholarships, major anniversaries, fellowship acceptances or other significant accomplishments. It’s an honor to be able to recognize Grand Islanders before the entirety of the Legislature, and I would appreciate any recommendations you are able to provide.
As always, contact me with your support, opposition or questions on any legislative bill or issue. My legislative aide, Gerald Fraas, and administrative assistant, Amanda Johnson, are also available to assist you with matters related to the state of Nebraska and the Legislature. You can follow along with the Nebraska Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
Published in the Grand Island Independent, 2/18/2021