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The Legislature has adjourned for the session after meeting last week to address four bills, which were vetoed by Governor Heineman. LB1020, which would create a grant program for school health centers, did not garner enough votes to override the veto. Unfortunately, such was also the case for LB806, my priority bill which would have allowed wagering on historic horseraces. I am disappointed that LB806 was one vote short of becoming law over the Governor’s objections, and I will continue to work to save the horseracing industry in Nebraska.
Two major bills, LB357 and LB599, both received enough votes to become law. LB599 provides prenatal care to expectant mothers who are not currently eligible for Medicaid, specifically women who do not have legal status in the United States and women who are confined in the state’s prison system. In considering how to vote on LB599, I viewed this as a pro-life issue versus an illegal immigration issue. My record on both of these issues has been well documented. The past two years on the Judiciary committee and on the floor of the Legislature, I have been one of the most pro-life members of the Legislature. I have also made it clear that Nebraska cannot become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants. I heard from many constituents who regarded each of these issues as the more important issue in this legislation. This was a very difficult vote for me, and in the end, I decided to vote against overriding the Governor’s veto because I felt that the state simply should not be providing taxpayer funded benefits to persons who are not legally present in the United States. I understand the benefits of providing prenatal care, but felt that taxpayer dollars should not be used to do so in this instance. Nebraska cannot afford to become a sanctuary state, especially with our neighboring states deciding not to provide similar services.
LB357 allows an increase of 0.5% in the local option sales tax following a vote of the people, which means that the local sales tax could not exceed 2% in addition to the state sales tax. I voted for this legislation, both when originally passed by the Legislature, and also on the motion to override Governor Heineman’s veto. This bill will give cities and small towns more funding options, especially for larger projects, and yet, most importantly, reserves the decision on the increase to the people. The people of the municipality make the ultimate determination, and this allows for greater local control of funding mechanisms.
The Legislature accomplished many important goals this session, and I appreciate the opportunity to represent the residents of District 40 in Lincoln. I will be spending time during the interim working on legislation for next session. If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Tyson Larson