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LB 72 is designed to enhance access to capital markets for governmental entities by providing that general obligation bonds, notes, and other financing obligations of governmental entities have a statutory lien on bond pledged revenue sources. More simply put this would create a statutory lien on government issued bonds to ensure that bondholders are paid first if the issuing government entity goes bankrupt. LB 72 was introduced because current state law is ambiguous because it was unclear which of a city’s creditors would receive payment first in the event of a bankruptcy, a problem illustrated in 2013 by the bankruptcy of Detroit. Following a bankruptcy, the federal courts will often look toward state law to determine which of a city’s debtors are paid first. With LB 72 it would ensure that the bondholders have priority.
During floor debate it was explained that bondholders are providing a service to cities and other political subdivisions by loaning them money, in exchange for interest in order to build infrastructure projects. LB 72 would guarantee that government-issued bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing entity. This bill was filibustered during first round debate and thus required 33 votes to end debate and ultimately passed on a 29-14 vote to advance from General File to Select File.
Another controversial bill we heard this past week was LB 68 which would erase the authority of Lincoln and other Nebraska communities to enact gun regulation laws, with a few exceptions for Omaha. During debate it was stressed that this bill protects “the fundamental right to keep and bear arms” by centering authority for gun regulation in the Legislature. This would end the patchwork of local laws that have been putting law-abiding gun owners in jeopardy of violating local regulations as they travel in the state. This bill was also filibustered during the first round of debate and did achieve the 33 vote’s necessary to invoke cloture and ultimately advanced to Select File on a 32-12 vote. On both of these bills, I did support the cloture vote and ultimately voted to advance both bills to the next round of debate.
This week you will probably have heard our discussions are about property taxes, income taxes and the way we fund schools in the State of Nebraska meaning the TEEOSA formula. As of the writing of this article, I am seeing no consensus by the Legislature on any of these issues. I am hopeful during debate on these topics we can come to an agreement that will eventually bring relief to all tax payers in the State of Nebraska.
Although, it may appear not much progress has been made during floor debate in the mornings, notable progress is being made during the committee hearings in the afternoons. Some of the important bills that I have heard in my committees are LB 404, LB 368, LB 275, LB 55, LB 584, and LB 566.
LB 404 which would require a crew of at least two people for a train or light engine, was heard on January 31st and the following week was indefinitely postponed by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. Although this bill was effectively killed in committee, I was a dissenting vote for killing LB 404 and believe this is a public safety issue.
Senator Lowe introduced LB 368 which would change helmet provisions for motorcycle riders, removing the requirement for riders 21 and older from wearing a helmet. LB 368 was heard in front of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee and was voted out of committee to general file with a 6-2 vote. Because of my belief in personal freedom, I voted in favor of moving this bill to the full legislature.
I introduced LB 275 in front of the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee which allows law enforcement or a private property owner to have an abandoned vehicle towed from private property by a towing company. The towing company then handles the vehicle, in accordance with existing Nebraska law for vehicles abandoned on public property. LB 275 expands this application accorded public property to include private property as well.
Two additional bills that were heard in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee were LB 55 and LB 584. Both bills seek to change laws related to roadside mowing. LB 55 would require Law Enforcement officials to report dangerous conditions arising from vegetation and weeds along roadsides that are not being mowed frequently enough under the existing law and would increase the number of times landowners are required to mow. LB 584 would not require counties or land owners to mow ditches prior to July 1st thus encouraging habit for wildlife and helping reduce soil erosion. LB 584 would also require mowing roadside vegetation sometime after September 1st for traffic safety interests and possible drifting snow concerns. Some counties require landowners to mow and other counties do not, mowing ditches themselves.
In the Natural Resources Committee, we heard LB 566 which would make Nebraska a part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Of the 50 states, 44 have already adopted the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. The compact is an agreement through which states assist one another by participating in a database of game law violators to prevent them from obtaining hunting and fishing permits in another member’s state.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR MORE INFORMATION:
April 21, 2015 Ami Johnson
Unicameral Information Office
Sen. Hughes invites students to youth legislature
High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 7-10. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.
The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.
Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Speaker Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other $100 scholarships are also available.
The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.
To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-0764. The deadline for registration is May 15.
The 104th Legislature, First Session, convened on Wednesday, January 7th. This is the “long session,” which is set by the Nebraska Constitution. The Constitution requires sixty day sessions in even-numbered years and ninety day sessions in odd-numbered years. Legislative days are working days and not calendar days. We are scheduled to adjourn on June 5th.
I was elected to the Executive Board and my committee assignments are Natural Resources, General Affairs and Urban Affairs. I am committed to working with my colleagues to find common sense solutions to the issues that we face here in Nebraska.
I look forward to the challenges ahead. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.
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