Senator thinks District 44 may enlarge
Thursday, February 18, 2010
But in which direction the district grows depends on how the redistricting maps are drawn, he said, a process that would occur after the next election.
In responding to a question, Christensen confirmed that the majority of state senators come from Lancaster county in Lincoln, along with Douglas and Sarpy from the Omaha area, because of population density.
Christensen said 27th Street in Lincoln divides the state’s population between east and west.
Basing the number of senators on population leaves the western part of the state, where cattle outnumber people, without a lot or representation.
To counter that, he jokingly described how the Unicameral could be broken up into two houses, one based on population and another on the number of cattle. “It would be a good split,” he reasoned.
In other Legislative activity, lawmakers advanced to select file a bill that would tighten penalties for minors caught in the possession of alcohol.
The amended bill limits the penalties to those 18 years old and younger and reduces the length of the driver’s license impoundment to 30 days for the first offense, 90 days for the second and one year for all subsequent offenses.
The amended version also does not make the penalties mandatory but allows the judge to decide each case.
Christensen said having a judge decide the sentence could weed out instances where someone may be arrested but not necessarily drinking.
He told of an example when a girl was called at home by her boyfriend to pick him up at a party and while there, the party was busted by the police.
The bill was introduced by Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, who has made it his priority bill. This guarantees that the full floor will see the bill at some point this session.
As for his own priority bill, Sen. Christensen is waiting to see what happens with his bills before he commits.
Senators must name their priority bill by Friday, which doesn’t give him a lot of time.
Christensen said the Natural Resources Committee may make for its priority his bill LB 862, that amends language to allow NRDs to use an occupation tax.
Under the bill, Christensen said irrigators who do not have water would be exempt from paying the tax.
However, the amount of water each irrigator used would not be taken into account, either, so the tax would be equal but the amount of water pumped may not be.
The committee was not in favor of basing the tax on inches of water used, he said.
Christensen’s other bill about regulating sexually orientated businesses may be designated as a priority bill by another senator, especially if it’s stripped down to a zoning bill, he said.
Part of LB 443 restricts sexually orientated businesses to be located at least a quarter mile away from child care facilities, private or public school, public playground, public recreational facilities, a place or residence or churches.
As for the status of his “Castle Doctrine” bill, which would allow firearms to be used in protecting one’s home, the Judiciary Committee is still working on language, he said, although one senator has expressed interest in it if liability issues are clarified.