In floor debate this week we advanced a number of legislative proposals to the next stages of debate. Those bills include:
LB 261, introduced by Tekamah Senator Kent Rogert. This bill pertains to the compilation, storing, preserving, trading, selling or sharing of encoded information from a person’s driver’s license or state ID card, by a retailer. It would convict retailers or programmers of a Class IV felony for certain violations in the collection, maintenance or use of information from driver’s licenses or ID cards.
LB 650, introduced by Imperial Senator Mark Christensen.
This bill authorizes the operation of two off-road vehicles in some capacity: a minitruck and a utility-type vehicle.
LB 235, introduced by York Senator Greg Adams. This bill allows the Board of Educational Lands and Funds to issue leases for the production of solar or wind energy on school lands for such durations and under such conditions as the board deems appropriate. The initial term for any wind energy lease is not to exceed forty years.
LB 552, introduced by Omaha Senator Tom White. The bill is aimed at out-of- state contractors who use Nebraska craftsmen as a bank, putting off paying them well beyond the normal 30-day tradition. This bill requires owners to pay contractors within 30 days. It applies to everyone except the University of Nebraska and state colleges who will have 45 days to pay for work.
LB 190, introduced by Lincoln Senator Bill Avery. The bill would require the collection of DNA for all persons convicted of any felony.
Bills heard in public hearing this week include:
LB 776, a bill that I introduced to increase funding for the Nebraska Respite Network and Nebraska Respite Subsidy who have not had any increases since 2001. These programs serve 6 areas of the state and provide training of caregivers and spreading awareness of available training for family caregivers who choose to keep their loved ones at home.
LB 741, introduced by Lincoln Senator Bill Avery would prohibit schools from spending state tax dollars on lobbyists.
LB 689, introduced by Schuyler Senator Chris Langemeier would eliminate the requirement that the corn and grain sorghum excise tax be credited to the Water Resources Cash Fund. The excise tax is currently credited to the Ethanol Production Incentive Cash (EPIC) Fund and is scheduled to end on December 31, 2012.
A motorcycle helmet repeal bill, introduced last year by Fremont Senator Charlie Janssen, faced a 4-4 deadlocked vote in the Transportation Committee. But this session, another vote was taken and LB 200 got the 5 needed votes to advance to General File allowing it to be debated by the full body.
Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege has introduced three irrigation-related bills: LB 1054 would require that in regions where there are water shortages, irrigators be given the same water allocations. LB 1056 would cut in half the amount of water irrigators could use when groundwater aquifers had been depleted by more than 20 percent compared to pre-irrigation levels. When depletion was more than 30 percent, irrigation would have to stop. And finally, LB 1057 would set up a task force to study ways to solve water problems in the Republican River Basin. LB 1057 is scheduled for public hearing before the Natural Resources Committee on Friday, February 5th.
LB 1021, introduced by Lincoln Senator Bill Avery is a complete rewrite of the Nebraska School Activities Association law. Among the changes, the bill requires the Association to abide by open-meetings and public-records laws. LB 1021 is scheduled for a public hearing before the Education Committee on Tuesday, February 9th.
Appropriations Committee members met earlier this session to make budget recommendations for state agencies. Recommendations made for the Department of Economic Development included taking $3.6 million out of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and transfering it to make up for Homestead Exemption shortfalls. The Housing Trust Fund currently has $12 million.
In our budget hearings this week the Department of Economic Development addressed the recommended transfer. We learned that current and ongoing projects will not be affected by this transfer. I was contacted by several interested constituents asking that we consider leaving this fund intact so it can continue to be used to serve people with additional affordable housing opportunities. Deliberations will continue next week.