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We have 8 days left in this year’s session, it is a dangerous time of the year for freedom loving citizens. As Mark Twain has been credited as saying, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session”. As the clock ticks, senators become more willing to compromise to get their pet projects passed, more often than not creating bad results. Nebraskan’s rights and tax dollars hang in the balance.
What has happened since last week:
LB 1009; allow the Nebraska Department of Transportation to raise highway speed limits. Many citizens have contacted me over concerns of raising the interstate speed limit to 80 mph. I have the same concerns; presently, on-ramps and the presence of semi-trucks governed at 65 mph cause hazards that are not conducive to 80 mph. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Murante, agreed to remove the interstate speed limit increase from the bill, and I supported the remaining speed increases. There is no good reason why there are two or three different speed limits on state highways when traveling between North Platte, Imperial or Broken Bow. Kansas and Colorado, long ago went to a 65 mph limit on their rural highways. Also, in the bill is a new maximum 70 mph limit for newly created super-two highways. Major construction will occur on Highway 83 between North Platte and McCook turning it into one of Nebraska’s first super-two highways. That event, plus the ability to travel 70 mph will increase traffic through Lincoln County, it will naturally help economic activity. The bill passed General File with my support.
LB 909; change titling requirements for assembled and kit vehicles. I have been approached by citizens who have expressed frustration on getting titles and licenses for reproduction kit cars and vehicles that have had major repairs. Senator Bostleman’s bill makes changes to the law that will facilitate an easier licensure process for those vehicles. I supported its passage on General File.
LB 596; our equine massage practice bill. It has passed General File and will have friendly amendments added on Select File by Senator Kuehn (a licensed veterinarian) to eliminate government oversight on those practitioners, plus Senator Chambers is adding dogs and cats to the bill. LB 596 has become the poster child of government over-regulation and licensure of non-harmful business occupations. I have been interviewed on LB 596 by the Wall Street Journal and AP stories on our bill have run in the US News & World Report, Washington Post, London Daily Times and New York Times. This human-interest story points out government’s tendency to become overbearing in the lives of average citizens.
LB 944; mainline budget bill. This is being filibustered by some for political reasons—the accurate language authorizing the Health and Human Services Department’s granting of federal Title X tax-dollars to family health clinics (including North Platte’s Peoples Family Health Services). LB 944 accurately mirrors the federal statute’s prohibition of using Title X money for abortion as a family planning method. The fight is over a federal Health and Human Service’s bureaucratic Regulation 59.5 which directs clinics to provide information and counseling regarding abortion but cannot perform them to receive a Title X grant. Federal legislation has since overturned that federal regulation with the passage of the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits any federal agency from discriminating against those who do not wish to refer for abortion–whether or not those reasons are for religious, conscience, or any other reason. Federal HHS currently interprets the provisions in Regulation 59.5 to be in conflict with the Weldon Amendment, which is later in time and of higher authority as a statute rather than a rule. We need to pass changes to the $8.8 billion-dollar state budget and I will continue to support the present language and thus, guarantee our local health clinic’s access to federal funding.
LB 1069; an update of our American Civics’ guidelines for public school curriculum. If a bill that is held up in committee is deemed necessary by the majority of senators to be enacted, the sponsor, Senator Brasch, can ask the body to pull it from committee to the floor. That action is in process. Stay tuned.