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The Legislature spent considerable time on final reading and took votes on the passage of many bills that I support. The following bills all passed. LB670 bans the compounds used to make bath salts, which result in effects similar to methamphetamines, LSD, and PCP when taken. LB933 changes some provisions related to truancy in schools by allowing the school to evaluate whether further action is needed before a case of a student who misses more than 20 days of school is referred to the county attorney. LB845 strengthens the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act by adding provisions relating to seeding and requiring the reclamation activities be completed within 30 days of backfill. LB209 allows for a delay and a repayment plan for local government entities for large tax credits to businesses authorized by state law. LB804 provides a justification for the use of force defense in certain civil actions for assault or wrongful death. LB970 reduces the tax burden for middle class voters. LB721, my bill changing the definition of police animal, and LB806, my priority bill allowing for historic horseracing through instant racing terminals, both passed as well.
Another significant bill that passed this week was LB825, which proposes changes to the ACCESS Nebraska system. The Legislature debated this bill significantly prior to its passage on Thursday, April 5. LB825 requires existing offices of the Department of Health and Human Services throughout the state to provide in person services to individuals receiving public benefits. LB825 also allows individual caseworkers to be assigned to certain cases and allows DHHS to contract with community based organizations with trained staff people to assist individuals with questions regarding public benefits. For quite some time now, I have had constituents regularly contacting my office to discuss frustrations with the ACCESS system and the lack of any personal service to address concerns or questions about filing or benefits. LB825 is a step towards improving the ACCESS system, which is much needed throughout the state.
LB996, which changes the rules relating to compulsory attendance for students under the age of 18, also passed. However, I voted against this bill because I felt the changes were unjustified and believe that the process for allowing a student to withdraw did not need to be more complicated.
The Legislature will soon adjourn for the session. At this point, there are only three days remaining, and those days will likely be occupied with final votes on a few remaining bills and addressing any potential vetoes by Governor Heineman.
Senator Tyson Larson