The Nebraska Unicameral will have to wait an extra week for its session to close. Although the final date had originally been set
for Thursday, April 12,th it has been postponed until April 18th. The delay is in response to a promised veto by Governor Heineman of least one bill considered on Wednesday and a bill considered last week and that has already been vetoed. It will take at least 30 votes votes to override a Governor’s veto. Those are bills are:
- L.B. 599 to provide prenatal care benefits to unborn children of undocumented mothers or illegal aliens was discussed last week. These babies, when born will be United States citizen, entitled to all health care benefits of other citizens of this country. I have supported this bill because I believe it will save lives and the state money in the final analysis. On Wednesday, the bill passed on final reading with 31 ayes and 15 nays.
- The second bill that the Governor vetoed on Wednesday was L.B. 956, which authorizes a municipality, in limited situations, to increase the local sales tax by an additional one half to a two percent maximum. The additional tax may be used only to fund infrastructure. It only can be placed on the ballot after the affirmative vote of 2/3 of the city council and then it will require approval by a majority of the voters in the municipality. I have supported this bill because I believe the elected officials and citizens of a municipality should have the control and power to develop necessary improvements to the infrastructure of their community. The bill passed on final reading with 30 ayes and 15 nays and faces a very close vote on a veto override.
Another bill that is of interest to me is L.B. 14, primarily since I have introduced a similar bill twice previously only to see it fail to be advanced out of committee in one year and fail to be advanced to select file in another year. This bill increases the cost of filing documents with the Office of Register of Deeds. The charge was last increased in 1984, more than a quarter of a century ago. While some argue that this constitutes a tax increase, it is my view that it is a user fee for services provided by the county. If these fees are never increased to keep up with inflation the only way to continue to provide such services is to increase property taxes on everyone in the county whether they use the service or not. L.B. 14 passed on final reading on a vote of 39 ayes, 9 nays.
Also the Governor has signed into law L.B. 996, which closes an exception to our compulsory education age of 18. As discussed in more detail previously, instead of the parent simply signing a form for allowing his or her child to drop out of school at the age of sixteen an exit conference is required. The person with actual or legal control of the child must convene an exit conference where:
- The adverse impact on the child’s future earning capacity is discussed,
- Alternative educational programs, including vocational educations programs that are available for the child at the public school, are offered; and,
- The person in legal or actual control must document that the child needs to drop out of school to support his or her family, or dependents or that an illness makes attendance impossible or impracticable.
At the conclusion of the conference, if the person in control of the child decides to go ahead, and if the school superintendent or his or her designee finds that sufficient evidence has been presented under law to allow the child to drop out, the child will be able to drop out. Then the person in legal or actual control and the child must sign the application documenting the withdrawal from high school.
The goals of this conference is to provide one last chance for the parent or guardian to consider the adverse impact on the child if he or she drops out of school and also to increase the graduation rate from K-12 schools. A high school diploma has become a necessity in our increasingly high technology world for a child to earn a living wage.
I look forward to receiving your input and the voicing of your concerns as we address the final day of the Legislature and possible overrides of the Governor’s vetoes. Please contact me at my Lincoln office in the State Capital, District 36, Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. My phone number is (402) 471-2642. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.