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Dear Residents of the 40th District,
As the legislative session nears its halfway point, Senators and the standing committees have designated their priority bills to ensure that they are debated on the floor. The Agriculture Committee has selected LB305, my bill which begins the process of implementing a state meat inspection agency, as one of its priorities. I have selected LB229, introduced by Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, as my priority bill for this session. LB229 transfers $7 million per year until 2021 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to the Water Resources Cash Fund for administration of water projects and studies. By transferring funds pursuant to LB229, we are focusing on meeting our State’s obligations under various water agreements and still addressing the purpose of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, including ground and surface water conservation and protection of wildlife habitat.
This week, the Legislature passed LB284, introduced by Senator Bob Krist of Omaha. LB284 changes Neb.Rev.Stat. § 28-1320.02, prohibiting picketing of a funeral or memorial service within three hundred feet of a cemetery, mortuary, church, or other place of worship at the time of a funeral or memorial service, to extend the prohibition to five hundred feet. This legislation is significant in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Snyder v. Phelps et. al., 562 U. S. ____ (2011), in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of persons to picket at funerals under the First Amendment. In that decision, however, the Supreme Court recognized that picketing can be subjected to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, and LB284 puts appropriate restrictions in place for these types of situations.
The Legislature also spent considerable time debating LB421, introduced by Senator Dave Pankonin of Louisville, which increases the fees for entry into Nebraska State Parks. LB421 authorizes an increase of $1 in the fee for a temporary permit and $5 for an annual permit. The Legislature recognizes that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has faced high maintenance costs for the numerous parks that they manage, and as a result, the Legislature also advanced three bills to convey property owned by Nebraska Game and Parks to a nearby local government to handle future administration and maintenance of such land. LB421 is a positive step in ensuring that our state parks will be adequately supported and that all Nebraskans will have access to affordable recreational activities at our state parks.
Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Tyson Larson