Senator Tom Carlson-District 38
April 9, 2010
On these final days of the session, we are finishing up debate and doing final reading on legislation for the One Hundred First Legislature, Second Session.
A bill that caught the interest of many in the state is LB 945. The new law prohibits drivers from using handheld wireless communication devices to read, type, or send written communications while operating a motor vehicle. In other words, no texting while driving.
The bill makes texting a secondary offense, which means drivers have to commit a primary traffic violation before they can be cited for texting. The fines will be $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second, and $500 for a third and others. Drivers will also be assessed three points on their license.
I am pleased to report that the Governor signed LB 1057, my priority legislation, creating the Republican River Basin Water Sustainability Task Force. I am now in the process of creating a list of those interested in serving to forward to the Governor. The bill sets out the specific groups that will have an appointed representative. They include two from each NRD in the basin, four total from irrigation districts, one each from a school district, a city, a county, a public power district, and two members from agriculture related businesses in the district. Any person living in the basin may contact my office or the offices of Senator Christensen or Langemeier. We will make recommendations to the Governor, and he will make the final appointments.
Task force members will be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred in carrying out their duties. That generally includes mileage and necessary meals away from home. The members will be appointed for two years and the task force will meet no less than quarterly. I look forward to the task force getting into its important work.
A select file discussion on the floor last week concerned LB 594, introduced by Senator Cap Dierks. His bill would require women seeking abortions to be screened to determine whether they are at risk of having mental or physical problems after the procedure. The bill advanced to final reading on a vote of 36-7.
A long awaited bill also discussed last week was LB 999, introduced by Senator Cathy Campbell of Lincoln. I received many letters and emails concerning this bill, which originally put a two year moratorium on new hospital construction. The amended bill would exempt all hospitals which began construction prior to May 1, 2010. The bill is an example of parties sitting down together and coming to an acceptable solution to a challenge that had strong objections on either side.