Lawmakers will wait until at by fjhuangjun

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									 UNICAMERAL
                                                                                                            Vol. XXXIII, No. 5
                                                                                                               Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




                                     U PDATE
  THE NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE’S
  WEEKLY PUBLICATION
  Stories published daily at
  www.NebraskaLegislature.gov.



Bill would                                Motorcycle helmet
expand self-
defense laws                              law debate delayed
   The Judiciary Committee heard
testimony Feb. 4 on a bill that would
expand when deadly force is deemed
justified for self-protection.
   Imperial Sen. Mark Christens-
en said he introduced LB889 to
strengthen Nebraska’s laws relating
to self-defense.
   “Many Nebraska residents are
unclear as to their right to use force
or deadly force in self-defense,” he
said. “They believe our statutes are
complex, weak or lack clarity.”
   Under the bill, a person would be
presumed to have reasonably believed
deadly force was necessary if someone
unlawfully entered his or her home,
workplace or occupied vehicle. This
presumption would apply in cases of
forcible felonies, such as kidnapping,    Sens. Charlie Janssen (left) and Tom White converse during floor debate of LB200.



                                          L
homicide or robbery.                             awmakers will wait until at               Janssen offered an amendment
   Christensen said a presumption                least Feb. 9 before further de-        Feb. 1 that would strike the safety
should be included because it is dif-            bating a proposal to repeal the        course provisions, which he said
ficult for victims to know the intent     state’s motorcycle helmet law.                would eliminate the bill’s impact on
of an intruder.                              LB200, introduced by Fremont               state cash funds.
   “There’s so many things that can       Sen. Charlie Janssen, would repeal               LB200 is about freedom, choice
happen there,” he said. “I just think     the mandatory helmet law for motor-           and tourism, Janssen said, adding
you should be able to stand up and        cyclists 21 years of age and older and        that 30 other states — including Iowa,
defend yourself.”                         require that all motorcyclists and their      South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming
   LB889 also would repeal the duty       passengers wear eye protection.               — do not require motorcyclists to wear
to retreat, which provides that a per-       As introduced, the bill would re-          a helmet. Consequently, motorcyclists
son is not justified in using deadly      quire that motorcycle operators older         are avoiding Nebraska when traveling
force if he or she could have retreated   than 15 but younger than 21 wear a            to biking events, he said.
or given up possessions instead. The      helmet unless they complete a motor-             “A large portion of these tourists do
duty to retreat currently does not ap-    cycle safety course under the Motor-          not plan their route through manda-
ply inside the home or workplace.         cycle Safety Education Act. Those not         tory helmet law states,” Janssen said.
   Further, the bill would prohibit       required to wear a helmet would have          “Tourists vote with their dollars and
civil action against those who use        “helmet not required” printed on their        they are saying ‘no’ to Nebraska.”
                    continued on page 3   motorcycle operator’s license.                                  continued on page 2

INSIDE:      DNA collection required for felons • Learning community adjustment considered • Hearing Schedule
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




   A CLOSER                                  LOOK
Motorcycle helmet law debate delayed
continued from front page
    Tekamah Sen. Kent Rogert spoke            insurance with medical coverage of             “Once the million dollars is gone
in favor of the bill. He said his business    at least $1 million. The amendment          and your life is changed forever, you
travels in western Iowa have dem-             also would discontinue the bill’s           need care,” Coash said. “And if you
onstrated the need for repealing the          provisions in five years, after which,      don’t have long-term care insurance,
helmet law. While small towns in Iowa         Janssen said, the Legislature could         the Nebraska taxpayers pick up the
enjoy the patronage of cyclists, he           review the effect of the bill and decide    cost.”
said, Nebraska towns are neglected.           whether or not to renew it.                    Lincoln Sen. Tony Fulton said the
    Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop spoke               Several senators expressed con-          Coash amendment would restrict one
in opposition to the bill. He said 500        cerns regarding the availability of         freedom to promote another.
to 600 motorcycle accidents occur             the insurance coverage mandated                “The bitter irony is that we would
annually in Nebraska. Reports indi-           in Janssen’s amendment. Lexington           be repealing [the helmet law] in the
cate that a repeal of the helmet law          Sen. John Wightman said most auto           interest of personal freedom, but
would decrease helmet usage by half,          insurance policies offer only $10,000       to get there we restricted personal
he said, which would add 250 to 300           to $20,000 in medical coverage.             freedom,” Fulton said.
accidents in which the motorcyclist is           Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell ad-             The following day, Janssen said
not protected by a helmet. These cy-          dressed the sunset provisions of the        long-term care insurance was not an
clists are 40 percent                                                       amend-        immediate concern related to LB200.
more likely to die
and three times as
                          “A large portion of                               ment. She
                                                                            said the
                                                                                          He offered a motion, adopted 42-2, to
                                                                                          reconsider Coash’s amendment.
likely to have a brain
injury, he said.
                          these tourists do                                 state’s mo-
                                                                            torcycle
                                                                                             Lathrop said the cost of the measure
                                                                                          made the bill unrealistic, as the average
    “If we pass LB200,
we are essentially
                          not plan their route                              fatalities
                                                                            averaged
                                                                                          annual premium for a long-term care
                                                                                          insurance policy is $3,000.
saying that having a
few more people buy
                          through mandatory                                 24.8 per
                                                                            year prior
                                                                                             Wightman spoke in support of the
                                                                                          motion to reconsider. He said it would
lunches somewhere
or drive through Ne-
                          helmet law states.”                               to the hel-
                                                                            met re-
                                                                                          be burdensome for all motorcyclists
                                                                                          to procure mandated long-term care
braska and maybe
buy a little more gas
                                   - Sen.    Charlie Janssen quirement      and have
                                                                                          policies, so the requirement should be
                                                                                          removed from the bill.
is more important than the people             averaged 11.1 since the law went into          “We’re talking about placing
who will lose their lives,” he said.          effect.                                     tremendous requirements on these
    Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery said the             “We don’t need to wait five years        bikers who are willing to live with the
personal freedom of choosing not to           to know what the figures are,” Camp-        current law,” Wightman said.
wear a helmet must be balanced with           bell said, adding that the Legislature         After the body adopted the motion to
the public good. Motorists can’t drive        should leave the helmet requirement         reconsider Coash’s amendment, Omaha
at any speed they wish, for example,          in place.                                   Sen. Beau McCoy offered a motion to
because driving too fast threatens the           Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash offered         bracket LB200 until Feb. 9, which he
public interest, he said.                     an amendment to Janssen’s amend-            said would afford more time to work on
    “One’s right to exercise their per-       ment, adopted 30-11, that would re-         the insurance-related provisions.
sonal freedom ends when exercise of           quire motorcyclists to provide proof           “This bracket motion is not to kill
that personal freedom diminishes the          of long-term care insurance when            this legislation,” McCoy said. “It is to
public interest,” Avery said.                 registering their vehicles. Coash said      give us a better understanding of the
    On Feb. 2, Janssen withdrew his           the $1 million in medical coverage          dynamics behind this.”
amendment and offered a new one               stipulated in Janssen’s amendment              LB200 was bracketed until Feb.
that would require those register-            would not prove adequate for people         9 on a 34-0 vote. The bill could be
ing motorcycles to provide proof of           with brain injuries.                        scheduled for further debate after
                                                                                          that date. g
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  A CLOSER                                   LOOK
Bill would provide defense for shooting an intruder
continued from front page
deadly force in self-defense.
   Jordan Austin, representing the
National Rifle Association, testified
in support of the bill. He said the
presumption of justifiable use of force
enhances the rights of individuals
involved in self-defense cases.
   “It’s up to the individual to prove
they’re innocent,” he said. “This bill
changes that by putting the burden
back on the state.”
   Howard County Attorney Bob
Sivick, representing the Nebraska
County Attorneys Association, op-
posed the bill. He said the current
law is reasonable.
   “We have enough people in this
state who are killing each other,” he
said. “This bill will make it easier for
people to do that.”
   The committee also heard tes-             Imperial Sen. Mark Christensen introduced LB889, which would expand when deadly force
                                             is deemed justified for self-protection.
timony on two bills regarding fire-
arms.                                            of conceal and carry permit holders.     specify that handgun registration also
   LB1033, introduced by Christens-              The bill would nullify Omaha’s city      is prohibited.
en, would prohibit cities from regu-             ordinance requiring the registration         “It seems that’s being ignored,”
lating the registration of handguns              of handguns, he said.                    he said. “It goes in the exact opposite
                                                                       Cities and vil-    direction we were trying to go last
                                                                    lages already are     year.”
                                                                    prohibited from           Omaha Police Deputy Chief Todd
                                                                    regulating the        Schmaderer testified in opposition
                                                                    ownership, pos-       to the bill.
                                                                    session or trans-         “This extra layer of accountability
                                                                    portation of con-     is a valuable tool for us,” he said.
                                                                    cealed handguns.           The committee also heard testi-
                                                                       Austin testified   mony on LB905, introduced by Ful-
                                                                    in support of the     lerton Sen. Annette Dubas. Under
                                                                    bill, citing a law    the bill, any person who discharges
                                                                    passed last year      a firearm from a motor vehicle at a
                                                                    that nullified all    person, dwelling or other structure
                                                                    city and village      would be guilty of a Class IC felony.
                                                                    ordinances regu-      This felony currently applies only in
                                                                    lating handguns.      cities of the metropolitan or primary
                                                                    Omaha continues       class. The bill would expand the pro-
                                                                    to regulate regis-    vision to cities of the first class.
Jordan Austin, representing the NRA, testified in support of LB889, tration, he said,         The committee took no immediate
saying it would enhance people’s right to defend themselves.        so LB1033 would       action on the proposals. g

                                                                                  101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 3
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




 ISSUES
   UPFRONT

Agriculture
Aerial pesticide business
licenses required

    Crop dusting providers must ap-
ply for a new license under a bill ap-
proved by the Legislature Feb. 5.                                                    to all other areas of the state where
                                          ing landowners maintain and con-
    Introduced by Fullerton Sen. An-                                                 both of the adjoining lands are used as
                                          struct a “just proportion” of a division
nette Dubas, LB254 requires those                                                    agricultural or horticultural land.
                                          fence between them. If the division
applying pesti-                                                                          The lack of a definition for just pro-
                                          fence is used to confine livestock on
cides via aircraft                                                                   portion has caused confusion among
                                          their respective properties, landown-
or aerial spraying                                                                   landowners, Sullivan said, and LB667
                                          ers must construct and maintain the
to obtain an aer-                                                                    would eliminate some of the ambigui-
                                          fence in equal shares.
ial pesticide ap-                                                                    ties in current law.
                                              LB667, introduced by Cedar Rap-
plicator business                                                                        “This is not going to avoid disputes
                                          ids Sen. Kate Sullivan, would re-
license. The cost of                                                                 between landowners,” she said. “It
                                          quire landowners
the license, which Sen. Annette Dubas                                                clarifies how the judge can interpret
                                          to provide equal
is regulated by the                                                                  what needs to be done by the land-
                                          shares, regardless
state Department of Agriculture, will                                                owners involved.”
                                          of the presence of
be $100 to $150. Proceeds of the fee                                                     LB667 was advanced from general
                                          livestock.
will be remitted to the Pesticide Ad-                                                file 37-0.
                                              An Agriculture
ministrative Cash Fund.
                                          Committee amend-
    Those with a commercial applica-
                                                                                     Education
                                          ment, adopted 38-0, Sen. Kate Sullivan
tor license may apply pesticides via
                                          replaced the bill.
aircraft under the direct supervision
                                          It defines just proportion as an eq-
of a Nebraska aerial pesticide busi-                                                 Renewable energy leases for
                                          uitable allocation of the portion of
ness license holder. The bill holds                                                  school lands approved
                                          the fenceline that each landowner
licensees liable, however, for the ac-
                                          must construct and maintain, or
tions of persons applying pesticides                                                     The Board of Educational Lands
                                          an equitable financial contribution.
under their supervision.                                                             and Funds is authorized to lease
                                          The amendment also states that an
    LB254 passed 44-0.                                                               school lands for the production of
                                          equitable allocation shall result in
                                          an equal burden unless otherwise           wind or solar energy under a bill given
                                          specified in law or by an agreement        final approval Feb. 5.
Bill specifies fence maintenance          between landowners.                            LB235, intro-
duties                                        The committee amendment also           duced by York
                                          would remove the zoning restrictions       Sen. Greg Adams,
   Neighbors would contribute             of the division fence law. The division    permits the board
equally to the construction and main-     fence law applies to lands within an       to issue leases for
tenance of division fences under a bill   area zoned for agricultural or horti-      wind and solar
advanced by the Legislature Feb. 4.       cultural purposes that are used for        energy produc-
   Current law provides that adjoin-      such purposes. The law also applies        tion. The bill lim-
                                                                                                             Sen. Greg Adams


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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
its the initial term of wind energy            are divided pursuant to a declaratory      political subdivision encompassing
leases to no more than 40 years and            judgment.                                  all school districts in Douglas and
exempts wind and solar leases from                 Dierks said the bill would help        Sarpy counties. Among other duties,
the public bidding process required            school districts share resources, while    its 18-member coordinating council is
for agricultural leases.                       still maintaining local control.           charged with levying and distributing
   The bill passed on a vote of 45-0.              “There’s a need and an oppor-          a common property tax levy, develop-
                                               tunity for people to maintain their        ing a diversity plan and establishing
Senators advance bill to allow                 identity,” he said.                        elementary learning centers.
school unification                                 York Sen. Greg Adams spoke in              Under current law, the property
                                               support of the bill. In difficult eco-     tax levy may be used only for capital
   Senators advanced a bill from gen-          nomic times, some school districts         projects.
eral file Feb. 4 that would allow school       may not be able to fill teacher vacan-         “I think that the council can be
districts to unify through interlocal          cies, he said. Unification arrange-        trusted to use their discretion,” Av-
agreements.                                    ments can be helpful if, for example, a    ery said.
   Current law prohibits the approval          school district loses a band teacher.          Kermit Brashear, representing the
of new unifications, but LB711, in-                “Maybe there’s one just seven          learning community, testified in sup-
troduced by Ewing Sen. Cap Dierks,             miles down the road that can be            port of the bill, noting that a five-cent
would allow school                             used,” Adams said.                         levy is already authorized in statute.
districts to create                                Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan            Bob Twiss of Gretna, opposed
new unifications.                              said the unification in her district has   the bill. He said he was concerned it
The bill also would                            worked very well.                          would raise property taxes.
allow school dis-                                  “It helps [school districts] come          Regarding educational service
tricts to continue                             together and work out educational          units (ESUs), Omaha Sen. Steve Lath-
as a unification                               arrangements to the benefit of stu-        rop introduced LB1095, which would
even if another              Sen. Cap Dierks
                                               dents,” she said. “This allows them to     allow ESUs to retain all of their core
district withdraws                             start the conversation to realize some     services funds.
or a unification dissolves.                    possibilities that might exist between         Current law provides that the
   Unifications are local systems of           and among them.”                           learning community receive a student
school districts brought together                  LB711 was advanced on a 37-0           allocation in the ESU distribution for-
through an interlocal agreement. While         vote.                                      mula. The bill would shift aid funds
unifications are treated as single school                                                 from the learning community to ESUs
districts for most purposes, each school       Committee considers learning               #3 and #19, which are members of a
district still receives its own calculation    community, ESU proposals                   learning community, beginning in
for state aid and maintains the elec-                                                     2010-11. The bill would not change
tion of their school board members. A             The Education Committee heard           the amount of state aid allocated.
unification board, which determines            testimony Feb. 2 on proposals relat-           Created by the Legislature in 1965,
a general fund levy, is composed of            ing to educational service units and       ESUs provide staff development,
school board members from participat-          the learning community.                    technology and instructional materi-
ing districts, but building funds and             LB974, intro-                           als to member school districts.
bonding are the responsibility of the          duced by Lincoln                               Lathrop said ESU #3 and ESU #19
individual school districts.                   Sen. Bill Avery,                           have been using their cash reserves to
   Under LB711, districts would be             would allow the                            maintain services to their schools.
required to include a plan in the              learning commu-                                “Once these funds run out they
interlocal agreement regarding the             nity coordinating                          will have to make many difficult deci-
division of liabilities and assets upon        council to use dis-                        sions,” Lathrop said.
the partial or complete termination            cretion in allocat-                            Gil Kettelhut, administrator of
of a unification. Currently, when a            ing funds from the                         ESU #3, testified in support of the
                                                                     Sen. Bill Avery
district withdraws or a unification            property tax levy.                         bill, saying that his ESU lost ap-
dissolves, the assets and liabilities             The learning community is a             proximately $900,000 this year to

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   ISSUES                                   UPFRONT
the learning community. He said that       a reliable, high-speed telecommuni-       unnecessary legal
if the funds are not restored, services    cations network.                          action and cost to
will have to be cut.                           Finally, LB1069 would require         taxpayers,” he said.
    Rick Kolowski, chairperson of the      only school purchases of technological    “We are encourag-
learning community coordinating            hardware totaling more than $10,000       ing illegal behav-
council, testified in opposition. He       to go through an established approval     ior.”
said the current funding distribution      process with the Nebraska Informa-           Currently an
is necessary for the council to carry      tion and Technology Commission.           undocumented im- Sen. Charlie Janssen
out its duties, especially the creation    This commission was created to coor-      migrant student
of elementary learning centers, which      dinate state technological efforts.       is allowed to pay resident tuition at
are to be established by June 1.               Matt Blomstedt, director of the       the University of Nebraska and state
    Elementary learning centers are        ESU coordinating council, testified       colleges if he or she has a petition
resource centers focused on improv-        in support of the bill. He said LB1069    pending with the federal government
ing the academic success of students       would clarify several recurring issues    to attain lawful status or if he or she
challenged by poverty, limited Eng-        for the council.                          has lived in Nebraska with a parent
lish skills and mobility.                      “This opens up opportunities on       or guardian for at least three years,
    “We want to make an impact on          how we’re structured,” he said.           graduated from a Nebraska high
student achievement and, to do that,           Director of Distance Education        school and will be applying to become
the services provided by the elemen-       Gordon Roethemeyer also testified in      a permanent resident.
tary learning centers are important,”      support of the bill. He said requiring       Kris Kobach, a law professor at
Kolowski said.                             only purchases of $10,000 or more         the University of Missouri-Kansas
    Also relating to ESUs, the commit-     to go through the approval process        City, testified in support of the bill.
tee heard testimony on LB1069, a bill      would allow schools to keep up with       Federal law prohibits states from
sponsored by York Sen. Greg Adams          technological trends.                     giving benefits to illegal immigrants,
that would make changes to the ESU             University of Nebraska Chief In-      he said, and once the student turns 18
coordinating council.                      formation Officer Walter Weir testi-      they begin accruing federal violations
    The bill would define the council      fied in a neutral capacity. He raised a   under their own name. After one year
as a political subdivision, but would      few concerns with the bill, including     of illegal status, Koboch said, a stu-
not grant taxing authority. This would     that the university is required to par-   dent would face a 10-year ban from
make it clear that it is subject to open   ticipate in Network Nebraska, while       the United States.
meetings laws, Adams said.                 other schools are not.                       “There is no avenue to legalize,” Ko-
    The bill also would change the             There was no opposition testi-        bach said. “You’re hurting them more
funding formula for ESUs. The for-         mony on LB1069.                           than you’re helping them. You have
mula currently has two hold harm-              The committee took no immediate       lured them down a primrose path.”
less provisions based on aid received      action on the proposals.                     Garrett Roe, a staff attorney with
in prior years. Under the bill, the                                                  the Immigration Reform Law Insti-
hold harmless provisions would be          Repeal of immigrant in-state              tute, also testified in support of the
based on prior year needs instead of       student tuition considered                repeal. He said in-state tuition at the
aid, and the distance education and                                                  University of Nebraska is $187 per
telecommunications allowance would            The Education Committee heard          credit hour, while out-of-state tuition
be subtracted. Adams said this would       testimony Feb. 1 on a bill that would     is $555, estimating a difference of
help stabilize aid to ESUs.                repeal a law allowing Nebraska’s un-      $44,000 over four years.
    The bill would clarify that schools    documented immigrant students to             “This is a subsidy that the state
are not required to join Network           pay resident tuition at the University    of Nebraska can never recoup,” Roe
Nebraska. Coordinated by the chief         of Nebraska and state colleges.           said, noting that illegal immigrants
information officer for Nebraska state        Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen said      cannot work legally in the United
government, Network Nebraska is a          he introduced LB1001 because the          States even with a college degree.
series of service contracts providing      current policy is inappropriate.             University of Nebraska President
access for government and schools to          “Nebraska is opening itself up to      J.B. Milliken testified in opposition to

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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
the bill. Milliken said state funding for            and                                 law,” she said. “Yet it is ignored.”
the university does not change based              • LB906 would eliminate restric-           LB900 would create a new annual
on enrollment, so additional students                tions on alcohol sales near         liquor license fee structure based on
– documented or undocumented –                       churches, hospitals, homes          an establishment’s location.
will not affect taxpayer cost.                       for aged or indigent persons            Karpisek said the rationale for the
   “We are prepared to incur those                   and homes for veterans, their       change is that a liquor license issued
marginal costs of adding those stu-                  spouses or children.                in a larger city is worth more to a
dents to our enrollment because that’s           Karpisek said he introduced LB786       business owner than one issued in a
why we exist – to support higher edu-        because the restriction on combining        small rural town.
cation in Nebraska,” Milliken said.          beer and alcohol is outdated.                   Under the bill, fees for the various
   DiAnna Schimek, the former                    “The law stems from a bootleg-          classes of liquor license would be set
senator who sponsored the original           ging practice during prohibition,”          as follows:
legislation providing in-state tuition,      he said. “We are the only state with             • Class A and B: $300 in a met-
testified in opposition to the bill. She     this [law].”                                       ropolitan class city, $200 in a
said the legislation was not about               Hobert Rupe, executive director                primary class city and $100 in
immigration.                                 of the Nebraska Liquor Control Com-                any other location;
   “This is an education issue,” she         mission, testified in favor of the bill          • Class D and I: $750 in a met-
said. “You are effectively banning           and explained the origin of the law                ropolitan class city, $500 in a
these students from college if you do        that LB786 would strike down.                      primary class city and $250 in
not allow them to pay in-state tuition.          During the latter years of prohibi-            any other location; and
I think all immigrants have a right          tion, beer containing 3.2 percent al-            • Class C: $1,000 in a metro-
to be treated as human beings and I          cohol was allowed because it was not               politan class city, $500 in a
think that’s what this is all about.”        considered to be an intoxicant, he said.           primary class city and $300 in
   The committee took no immediate           Such beer was sold in bottles with a               any other location.
action on the bill.                          cork, Rupe said, and lawmakers hoped            Currently, Omaha is the state’s
                                             the restriction on adding alcohol would     only metropolitan class city and Lin-
                                             prevent the injection of liquor into the    coln is the only primary class city.
General Affairs                              beer through needles in the cork.               Tom Mumgaard, Omaha deputy
                                                 “I think the purpose that this law      attorney, supported the bill.
Liquor law changes proposed                  might have had is no longer relevant            Omaha’s administration and en-
                                             today,” Rupe said. “We have never           forcement costs for liquor licenses
   The General Affairs Committee             seen a law enforcement officer bring        have increased over the years without
heard testimony Feb. 1 on three bills        us a case involving [this statute].”        an increase in license fees to help
relating to the state’s liquor laws.             Diane Riibe of Project Extra Mile       offset those costs, he said. Cities may
   Introduced by Wilber Sen. Russ            testified against the bill, saying the      charge up to twice the amount of the
Karpisek, the bills                          statute is under examination as part        liquor license fee as an occupation tax
address various as-                          of a lawsuit regarding the classifica-      to help pay for alcohol related polic-
pects of the Nebras-                         tion of “alcopops” – malt beverages to      ing and administration, Mumgaard
ka Liquor Control                            which flavors have been added. The          said, and the only way to increase
Act:                                         lawsuit, brought against the state by       the occupation tax is to issue more
     • LB786 would                           a number of organizations, argues           licenses or increase fees.
       remove a                              that alcopops have been misclassified           Tim Keigher, executive director of
       prohibition                           and should not be sold in the state         the Nebraska Petroleum Marketers
                        Sen. Russ Karpisek
       on adding al-                         because of the prohibition on adding        and Convenience Store Association,
       cohol to beer or selling beer to      alcohol to beer, she said.                  questioned the logic of the bill’s fee
       which alcohol has been added;             Riibe encouraged the committee          structure.
     • LB900 would create new an-            not to make a decision until the court          Liquor license fees should be
       nual liquor license fees based        case is resolved.                           based on the cost of administering a
       on an establishment’s location;           “This law, archaic or not, is current   license, rather than on the value of the

                                                                                 101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 7
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   ISSUES                                     UPFRONT
business being licensed, he said. The        to think of ways to grow our city.”       amount of money,” he said.
fee to obtain a driver’s license is the         Margie Magnuson of the Alcohol             A General Affairs Committee
same regardless of one’s income or           Impact Coalition testified in opposi-     amendment, adopted 31-0, would
the worth of one’s car, Keigher said.        tion to the bill, saying a high concen-   clarify that fees collected be directed
   Jim Moylan of the Nebraska                tration of alcohol outlets can hamper     to the state’s general fund.
Liquor Retailers Association also            economic development by making an             “I don’t think this will hurt the
testified in opposition to LB900,            area less attractive to other types of    industry,” Karpisek said, “and it will
saying liquor industry fees already          retail industry.                          at least put a little more money into
are higher than those for most other            “There are very few places for resi-   the general fund.”
small businesses.                            dents to take a stand against alcohol         LB867 advanced to select file
   “The [new] fees in Omaha would            density,” Magnuson said. “We don’t        31-0.
probably put a lot of small, local bars      believe that certain liquor licenses
out of business,” he said.                   are really good for economic devel-
   Finally, LB906 would eliminate            opment.”                                  Government,
restrictions on alcohol sales near              Benjamin Rice of Partners for Otoe
churches, hospitals, homes for aged          County also opposed the bill, saying      Military &
or indigent persons and homes for            more churches are better for commu-
veterans, their spouses or children.         nities than more liquor outlets.          Veterans Affairs
   Karpisek said the bill proposes              “Why do we value our free en-
a needed adjustment, given the               terprise and dollar signs above our       Mexican-American Commission
increased number of storefront               morals?” he asked.                        receives new name
churches in Nebraska. The economic              The committee took no immediate
downturn has resulted in many empty          action on the bills.                          The state’s Mexican-American
businesses in downtown districts, he                                                   Commission will be known as the
said, creating opportunities for small       Alcohol shipping fee increase             Commission on Latino-Americans un-
churches to move in.                         advanced                                  der a bill given final approval Feb. 5.
   The proliferation of churches in                                                        Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, sponsor
Grand Island has created problems               The cost of obtaining an annual        of LB139, has said
for those seeking to open new busi-          shipping license from the Nebraska        the change will
nesses, Karpisek said. Current law           Liquor Control Commission would           better reflect the
prohibits issuing a liquor license to        increase from $200 to $1,000 under        diverse heritage
an establishment located within 150          a bill that received first-round ap-      of the individuals
feet of a church.                            proval Feb. 5.                            the commission
   “There is virtually no place in the          Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek, spon-       serves.
downtown district where a liquor             sor of LB867, said the state currently        The bill passed
                                                                                                                Sen. Bill Avery
license could be located,” Karpisek          collects $122,600 per year in fees        on a 38-5 vote.
said.                                        from 613 out-of-state wine, spirit and
   Rupe said churches often do not ob-       beer shippers. If the bill passes, that
ject to liquor license applicants locating   amount would increase to approxi-         Senators pass provisional ballot
within the 150 feet zone, but the Liquor     mately $613,000, he said.                 procedure
Control Commission has no latitude              Nebraska’s $200 fee is among the
under current law to issue a license.        lowest rates that any state charges for       Senators gave final approval to a
   Jay Vavricek, former Grand Island         a shipping license, Karpisek said.        bill Feb. 5 that makes changes to the
mayor, testified in support of the bill,        Sen. Kent Rogert of Tekamah said       election process.
saying it would promote economic             fees have not been raised in 40 years         Most significantly, LB325, intro-
development.                                 and noted that the increase will im-      duced by Omaha Sen. John Nelson,
   “The restriction has curtailed our        pact only out-of-state companies that     allows an election commissioner or
ability to develop a vibrant entertain-      ship alcohol into Nebraska.               county clerk to decide whether a voter
ment district,” he said. “We’re trying          “This is a great way to raise a fair   who is left off a precinct list will be is-

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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
sued a provisional                               As amended, the county comptrol-        Bill urges state role in Centennial
ballot or a regular                          ler position remains intact, but a county   Mall renovation
ballot. An election                          board in a county with a metropolitan
commissioner or                              class city must now appoint a separate          The state’s role in the renovation
county clerk also                            auditor to perform internal audits.         of Centennial Mall was the topic of a
is authorized to                                 LB475 was passed on a 45-0              Government, Military and Veterans
decide which bal-                            vote.                                       Affairs Committee hearing Feb. 3.
lot to issue a reg- Sen. John E. Nelson                                                      Under current law, the state is
istered voter who                            Military Department and National            authorized to participate in the plan-
moves within a county but fails to           Guard changes approved                      ning, construction and maintenance
update his or her voter registration.                                                    of projects in the Nebraska State
    Currently, the voter receives a regu-       Senators passed a bill Feb. 5 that       Capitol Environs District, the area
lar ballot after updating his or her voter   changes provisions relating to state        surrounding the Capitol Building.
registration at the polling place.           Military Department personnel and           LB715, introduced by Lincoln Sen.
    The bill requires election commis-       National Guard member peace officer         Bill Avery, would clarify that the Cen-
sioners or county clerks to implement        powers.                                     tennial Mall portion of the district is
a countywide policy with regards to             Under LB550, sponsored by Lin-           included in this area.
ballot designation.                          coln Sen. Bill Avery, the state Military        The bill also would permit Lincoln
    The bill stipulates that the pro-        Department will consist of:                 and Lancaster County to undertake —
visional ballot will be counted if it            • an adjutant general with a            either in conjunction with the state
contains errant or omitted infor-                   minimum grade of lieutenant          or independently — beautification
mation contained elsewhere on the                   colonel;                             projects in Centennial Mall.
registration or certification, or if the         • one deputy adjutant general,              Avery said the deteriorating state
information is not necessary to deter-              chief of state or deputy direc-      of the mall, which he called the “sce-
mine voter eligibility.                             tor with a minimum grade of          nic doorway to the Capitol,” warrants
    Senators passed LB325 on a 45-0                 colonel;                             action.
vote.                                            • one assistant director for Ne-            “[The poor condition of the mall]
                                                    braska Emergency Manage-             diminishes the grandeur of this mag-
Douglas County must appoint                         ment Agency affairs; and             nificent building,” he said. “Let’s not
auditor                                          • other officers and enlisted           let that mall detract from the building
                                                    personnel in the number and          we are in the midst of restoring.”
   Senators passed a bill Feb. 5 that               grade as prescribed by U.S.              Avery said the city of Lincoln is
requires county boards in counties                  Army and U.S. Air Force per-         preparing to finance improvements
with metropolitan class cities to ap-               sonnel documents.                    for the mall. The state also should
point an auditor for internal audits.           The bill also extends law enforce-       have a role in this process, he said.
   Only counties with a metropolitan         ment authority to Nebraska National             “We recognize that the mall is an
class city have a comptroller, who           Guard members serving federal Title         important part of the Capitol envi-
performs audit functions. Currently,         32 U.S. Code status and to National         rons, that the state of Nebraska is an
Douglas is the state’s only qualifying       Guard members from other states             important stakeholder and that we
county where the county clerk also           and territories while in active service     do have some responsibility to the
serves as the comptroller.                   to Nebraska.                                renovation and maintenance of it,”
   Originally,                                  Under the bill, the governor is re-      Avery said.
LB475, introduced                            quired to grant law enforcement au-             Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler testi-
by Sen. Arnie                                thority to Nebraska National Guard          fied in support of the bill. He said the
Stuthman of Platte                           members on state active duty orders         renovation of the mall would cost $9
Center, would have                           in a state status, and he or she can        million, of which $3 million would
eliminated the po-                           limit such authority as necessary.          be contributed by the city. Durable,
sition of county                                LB550 was passed on a vote of            accessible walkways, extended lawn
comptroller.          Sen. Arnie Stuthman    45-0.                                       and landscape areas and additional

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   ISSUES                                   UPFRONT
fountains are some of the improve-         mental Protection                                Examples listed in the bill in-
ments the city is planning, he said.       Agency and the U.S.                          clude:
    “This restoration has been on the      Department of En-                                 • pools of water in which mos-
back burner for too long now,” he          ergy. Under the bill,                                quitoes can breed;
said.                                      the requirement to                                • unburied animal carcasses not
    Beutler said the project must be a     purchase such ap-                                    disposed of within 24 hours
joint effort of the city, state, county,   pliances may be                                      after death;
federal government and private do-         waived if the cost                                • dense smoke, strong odors,
                                                                     Sen. Heath Mello
nors. He said an acceptable contribu-      of compliance is                                     noxious fumes, gases or soot;
tion level by the state would be a third   determined to exceed the projected                • trees damaged to the extent
of the project.                            energy cost savings.                                 that a limb, part of the tree or
    Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan            Purchasing energy star certified                 the entire tree may fall;
said she was concerned about the           appliances will mean fewer tax dol-               • weeds, grass or plants causing
availability of funds for the mall, giv-   lars spent on utilities and less need to             health problems or presenting
en current economic circumstances.         build new power plants, Mello said.                  conditions conducive to animal
    “I don’t know if we can guarantee          “It’s a responsible choice and al-               infestation or fire hazards;
that at this point,” Sullivan said.        lows the state of Nebraska to lead by             • unlicensed junkyards, salvage
    Lincoln attorney Patty Pansing         example,” he said.                                   yards or auto recycling centers;
Brooks also testified in support. She          Doug Clark of the Metropolitan                • accumulations of manure or
said the condition of the mall presents    Utilities District testified in support              trash that provide potential
liability and accessibility issues.        of the bill, saying it encourages energy             breeding sites for flies, mos-
    “The law sets forth that the state     efficiency while allowing flexibility.               quitoes or vermin; and
is not only a responsible party in the         “The bill provides a framework but            • unsanitary housing of an ani-
care and maintenance of the mall           doesn’t require use of a product if it               mal or bird.
and its environs, but the statute ar-      doesn’t fit a need,” he said. “Mandates          Property owners would be directed
guably characterizes the state as the      can often cost more money than they          to remove the public health threat. In
key participant in its preservation,”      save, so this is a good way to go.”          cases of noncompliance, a lien could
she said.                                      There was no opposition testi-           be acquired for the costs of abating
    Because the state and university       mony and the committee took no               the nuisance.
own nearly half the lineal feet front-     immediate action on the bill.                    Jeff Kuhr, representing an advo-
ing the mall, Pansing Brooks said,                                                      cacy group for Nebraska’s 20 local
the state should be a major funding        Bill targets public health                   public health departments, testified
partner in the project.                    nuisances                                    in support of the bill. Counties and
    No opponent testimony was pre-                                                      municipalities have the power to cre-
sented and the committee took no               Public health nuisances could            ate individual nuisance ordinances,
immediate action on the bill.              be abated under a bill heard by the          he said, but often they are reactionary
                                           Government, Military and Veterans            measures that are not in place when
Bill would require energy                  Affairs Committee Feb. 3.                    a specific nuisance arises.
efficient appliances                           LB1035, introduced by Omaha Sen.             Public health departments must
                                           Tanya Cook, would                            deal with myriad local ordinances,
   The Government, Military and            permit counties,                             Kuhr said, but LB1035 would offer a
Veterans Affairs Committee heard           cities and villages                          consistent tool for addressing public
testimony Feb. 4 on a bill that would      to declare public                            health concerns.
require the state to purchase energy       health nuisances                                 Robert Hallstrom, representing the
star certified appliances.                 that may generate                            Nebraska Bankers Association, testi-
   Sen. Heath Mello, sponsor of            or spread infec-                             fied in opposition, saying the bill could
LB978, said energy star certified ap-      tious diseases or     Sen. Tanya Cook        result in the creation of hidden liens.
pliances meet strict energy efficiency     hinder their pre-                                Craig Head of the Nebraska Farm
guidelines set by the U.S. Environ-        vention or suppression.                      Bureau also testified in opposition. He

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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
said the scope of the bill is very broad         • lieutenant governor, from             treasurer’s salary and benefits.
and could lead to problems for those               $75,000 to $60,000.                      Utter said the proposal is meant
trying to build livestock facilities.           The change would make consistent         purely as a cost saving measure.
   “It just puts more tools on the table     the way salaries for all state officers        “This is not in any way intended to
for those folks to use to try to hinder      are determined, Nordquist said, and         be a referendum on or indictment of
livestock development,” Head said.           would increase accountability.              our current state treasurer,” he said.
   The committee took no immediate              “The overarching goal of this               No additional testimony was given
action on the bill.                          constitutional amendment is to give         and the committee took no immedi-
                                             voters direct control,” he said.            ate action on the proposal.
Executive officer salary change                 No additional testimony was given
proposed                                     and the committee took no immedi-
                                             ate action on the proposal.                 Health & Human
    Nebraska executive officer salaries
would be restored to pre-2006 levels         Proposal would abolish state                Services
and set in the state constitution un-        treasurer’s office
der a proposal heard Feb. 5 by the                                                       Change to utility service
Government, Military and Veterans                The Government, Military and            termination proposed
Affairs Committee.                           Veterans Affairs Committee heard
    LR278CA, introduced by Omaha             testimony Feb. 5 on a measure that              A proposal to change the way wel-
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, would place           would abolish the Nebraska Office of        fare recipients receive notice prior to
a proposed consti-                           the State Treasurer.                        utility service termination was heard
tutional amend-                                  LR284CA, introduced by Hastings         by the Health and Human Services
ment on the No-                              Sen. Dennis Utter,                          Committee Feb. 4.
vember 2010 gen-                             would place a pro-                              LB734, introduced by Papillion
eral election ballot                         posed constitution-                         Sen. Tim Gay,
that would place                             al amendment on                             would eliminate a
executive officers’                          the November 2010                           requirement that
salaries in the con- Sen. Jeremy Nordquist   general election bal-                       municipal and pri-
stitution, as is the                         lot that would abol-                        vate utility compa-
case with state senator salaries. If the     ish the office effec- Sen. Dennis Utter     nies use certified
change were approved by Nebraska             tive Jan. 1, 2013.                          mail to give noti-
voters, executive officers’ salaries             The Legislature has a responsibility    fication of service
                                                                                                                    Sen. Tim Gay
could not be altered in the future           to streamline state government, Utter       termination to wel-
without amending the constitution.           said, and to look for every opportunity     fare recipients.
    The Legislature increased salaries       to make it more transparent, efficient          The requirement does not serve
for the state’s executive officers in        and effective.                              its intended purpose, Gay said, and
2006. The proposed amendment                     “We must look at ways to elimi-         switching to the standard procedure
would lower salaries to pre-2006             nate redundancy,” he said. “The state       that utilities follow for customers not
levels as follows:                           treasurer is an [office] that I think has   receiving welfare would be more ef-
     • governor, from $105,000 to            duplication and redundancy in it.”          fective and cost efficient.
       $85,000;                                  Most of the functions performed             “This bill does not absolve the
     • attorney general, from $95,000        by the treasurer’s office could be ab-      utilities from giving notification,”
       to $75,000;                           sorbed into other departments and           he said.
     • secretary of state, from $85,000      state agencies, Utter said, including           Tom Richards, Omaha Public
       to $65,000;                           the state Department of Revenue.            Power District manager, testified in
     • auditor, from $85,000 to              The office’s 55 employees might be          support of the bill, saying it would
       $60,000;                              transferred to other agencies, he said,     better serve welfare recipients.
     • state treasurer, from $85,000         but the state would be guaranteed a             An individual must be home dur-
       to $60,000; and                       savings of $117,000 by not paying the       ing the day to sign for certified mail,

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   ISSUES                                     UPFRONT
he said, or make a trip to the post          Association of Behavioral Health Orga-        a proposed amendment to the state
office to retrieve the certified letter.     nizations testified in support of the bill,   constitution that would prohibit
As a result, approximately 39 percent        saying better communication between           passage of any Nebraska law restrict-
of the certified mail notifications          the department and providers is key.          ing health care choices or requiring
sent out by OPPD are returned as                It is often difficult for providers to     health care coverage.
unclaimed or undeliverable.                  determine why a claim was denied,                 LR289CA would place the pro-
    Providing welfare recipients with        Hansen said, and the department               posed amendment on the November
letters via first-class mail would give      does not provide adequate training on         2010 general election ballot. The
faster notification of a potential ser-      changes to the billing process.               amendment would prohibit any state
vice termination, Richards said.                “We need to know how to submit             law that:
    “This requirement causes unin-           accurate, clean billing,” he said.                 • restricts an individual’s choice
tended hardship and inconvenience,”             Hasen described a situation in                    of health care systems;
he said.                                     which a client used initials rather                • interferes with an individual
    There was no opposition testi-           than a first name. The provider in-                  or entity’s direct payment for
mony and the committee took no               cluded periods in the client’s initials              medical services; or
immediate action on the bill.                on the claim form, he said, but the de-            • imposes a penalty or fine for
                                             partment did not. It took 10 months                  declining health care coverage
Bill would require prompt                    to resolve the situation, he said.                   or for declining to participate
payment of Medicaid claims                      “There is no organization that is                 in a particular health care sys-
                                             as inefficient in its payment system                 tem or plan.
    Prompt payment of some Medic-            as the Nebraska Medicaid system,”                 Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha said
aid claims would be required under           Hansen said.                                  he brought the
a bill heard Feb. 3 by the Health and           Scottsbluff psychologist Anne              measure to allow
Human Services Committee.                    Talbot also supported the bill, saying        Nebraska voters to
    LB921, sponsored by Lincoln Sen.         that approximately half of her office         choose the future of
Kathy Campbell,                              staff time is devoted to Medicaid             health care in the
would require the                            reimbursement issues. Her group               state.
state Department                             practice has at times waited a year               “This [amend-
of Health and Hu-                            for reimbursement for medically               ment] protects a
                                                                                                                   Sen. Beau McCoy
man Services to                              authorized and medically necessary            person’s freedom
pay, deny or settle                          treatment, she said.                          to choose a health plan or health care
clean claims for                                Campbell said the department               system that best serves their needs,”
Medicaid payment Sen. Kathy Campbell         believes 26 additional workers would          he said. “A one-size-fits-all plan or
within 45 days of                            need to be hired in order to meet the         system serves no one.”
receipt. The bill defines a clean claim as   requirements of the bill, resulting in            McCoy said lawmakers in 30 states
one submitted by a provider on a claim       a $1.3 million fiscal note. She said she      have filed similar legislation and that
form with all required fields completed      would not stop working on the issue           a measure will be on the ballot in
with information to adjudicate the           despite the cost.                             Arizona this year.
claim in accordance with any published          “I just refuse to do that,” she                “Now is the time for the state of
requirements of the department.              said.                                         Nebraska to act,” he said.
    Campbell said the lag between               No opposition testimony was                    Brad Stevens, state director of
claim submission and payment is              given and the committee took no im-           Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska,
hurting health care providers, who of-       mediate action on the bill.                   testified in support of the proposed
ten must wait months for payment.                                                          amendment, saying it would protect
    “In this economy that’s very dif-        Constitutional amendment on                   Nebraskans from “overzealous gov-
ficult to do,” she said. “They do not        health care proposed                          ernment.”
have the resources to wait and wait                                                            “State government should not
and wait.”                                     The Health and Human Services               require residents to purchase any
    Topher Hansen of the Nebraska            Committee took testimony Feb. 3 on            service in order to be a citizen,” he

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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
said.                                     the collection and testing of DNA for        Auto claims extended to family
   Karen Bowling of the Nebraska          all persons convicted of any felony for      members
Family Council also supported the         the state sample bank.
measure, saying it would protect free-        LB190, introduced by Lincoln                Family members injured in a car
dom of choice in health care.             Sen. Bill Avery, would apply retroac-        crash in which a relative was driving
   “We’re concerned about patients’       tively to those currently imprisoned         will be able to recoup their medical
rights,” she said. “When consumers        for felonies who do not have a DNA           expenses from the relative’s auto insur-
control the dollars, they make the        sample on file. The bill also requires       ance policy under a bill passed Feb. 5.
decisions.”                               the collection of samples from those            LB216, sponsored by Cortland
   John Bailey, director of research      convicted of certain misdemeanors            Sen. Norm Wall-
and analysis for the Center for Rural     such as stalking, sexual abuse of a          man, repeals the
Affairs, testified in opposition.         vulnerable person and violations of          “guest statute,”
   The proposed amendment would           the sex offender registry.                   under which mo-
limit lawmakers’ options for address-         Senators voted 43-0 to return the        tor vehicle and
ing the state’s uninsured population      bill from final reading to select file for   aircraft operators
should federal reform measures fail,      a specific amendment.                        are not liable for
he said.                                      Under the amendment, offered by          damages to pas-
   “This [amendment] applies only to      Avery and adopted 37-2, all costs asso-      sengers if they Sen. Norm Wallman
law passed in the state of Nebraska,”     ciated with collecting the DNA sample        are a spouse, parent, grandparent,
Bailey said. “This would tie your         would be paid by a convicted felon as a      child, grandchild or sibling riding as
hands.”                                   condition of release from probation.         a guest, unless the operator commit-
   Jennifer Carter of Nebraska Ap-            Avery said he offered the amend-         ted gross negligence or was under the
pleseed also testified in opposition.     ment to address continuing concerns          influence of alcohol.
   The amendment would not suc-           about the bill’s fiscal impact.                 Lawmakers passed the bill 36-8.
ceed in exempting Nebraska from               “This removes any and all future
federal health care reform, she said,     general fund responsibilities for the        Bill would expand role,
but likely would have costly unin-        program,” he said.                           membership of racial profiling
tended consequences.                          Omaha Sen. Brenda Council ex-            committee
   Nebraska already mandates vari-        pressed concern about some indi-
ous aspects of the state’s health care    viduals’ ability to pay the estimated           Senators advanced a bill from
system, she said, and passage of the      $30 for the DNA test. She said judges        general file Feb. 5 that would expand
proposed amendment likely would           often waive other fees associated with       the role and membership of the state’s
result in legal challenges to those       probation due to indigence.                  Racial Profiling Advisory Committee.
existing laws.                                “There are no provisions for in-            LB746, introduced by Sen. Rob-
   “We’re concerned about using           digence here,” Council said. “I have         ert Giese of South
taxpayer dollars for those [lawsuits],”   genuine concerns about the payment           Sioux City, would
Carter said. “A constitutional amend-     obligation and how lightly the ability       add representatives
ment is a very, very serious thing.”      of a convict to pay this fee is being        from the National
   The committee took no immediate        taken.”                                      Association for the
action on the measure.                        Avery said convicted felons may          Advancement of
                                          rely on their families for assistance or     Colored People,
                                          can earn money while in prison.              the Commission
Judiciary                                     “There is a way for them to earn         on Mexican-Amer- Sen. Robert Giese
                                          $30 over the course of their incar-          icans and the Commission on Indian
Senators amend, advance DNA               ceration,” he said. “This is not unduly      Affairs to the committee.
collection from felons                    burdensome.”                                    “As our communities become
                                              LB190 was returned to final read-        more diverse it is important that we
   Lawmakers amended and ad-              ing by voice vote.                           have an existing structure that mir-
vanced a bill Feb. 3 that would require                                                rors our diversity,” Giese said.

                                                                             101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 13
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   ISSUES                                  UPFRONT
    Under the bill, the committee         Committee considers change to             Committee considers changes to
would meet semiannually rather than       domestic abuse protection orders          judicial salaries, benefits
quarterly to analyze racial profiling
data and make policy recommenda-              The Judiciary Committee heard             The Judiciary Committee heard
tions to the Commission on Law En-        testimony Feb. 5 on a bill that would     testimony on two proposals Feb. 3
forcement and Criminal Justice.           change the definition of domestic         regarding salaries and caseloads.
    LB746 also would extend to Jan.       assault.                                      Norfolk Sen. Mike Flood intro-
1, 2014, the state’s requirement that         LB968, introduced by Lincoln Sen.     duced LB1104,
state and local law enforcement offi-     Amanda McGill,                            which could change
cers collect data on racial profiling.    would remove the                          the salaries for state
    The Judiciary Committee offered       word “imminent”                           Supreme Court
an amendment, adopted 26-0, which         from the defini-                          judges. Salaries for
would add to the committee a repre-       tion of domestic                          other judges also
sentative from the Minority Justice       assault in the third                      would be affected
Committee of the Supreme Court and        degree.                                   as they are statuto-
                                                                                                              Sen. Mike Flood
Nebraska State Bar Association.               “This restores Sen. Amanda McGill     rily tied to those of
    LB746 was advanced on a 29-0          the definition of                         Supreme Court judges. The bill would
vote.                                     domestic abuse to the original intent     remove the planned 2.5 percent pay
                                          of the Legislature,” McGill said.         increase and insert “XXX” in its place,
Bill would create infraction for              A recent state court of appeals de-   which Flood said would allow senators
minors in possession of tobacco           cision, Cloeter v. Cloeter, prevented     more flexibility in dealing with poten-
                                          the granting of a domestic abuse          tial revenue shortfalls this session.
    The Judiciary Committee heard         protection order because there had            Flood said he introduced the bill
testimony Feb. 5 on a bill that would     not been specific allegations of actual   to allow discussion about the pay
create an infraction for minors who       physical abuse, she said.                 increase. During the 2009 regular
use or possess tobacco.                       Six months after the decision, the    session, judges agreed to cover a
    Sen. Arnie Stuthman of Platte         number of applications for domestic       retirement fund deficit by paying an
Center introduced LB886, saying that      abuse protection orders was down by       additional 1 percent per month in
36 other states prohibit minors from      11 percent, McGill said.                  exchange for a 2.5 percent annual pay
possession of tobacco.                        Robert Sanford of the Nebraska        increase over the next two years.
    Mark Welsch, president of the         Sexual Assault and Domestic Vio-               “It is my hope that we do not
Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollu-         lence Coalition testified in support      have to take away the planned pay
tion, testified in a neutral capacity.    of the bill.                              increase,” he said. “But I understand
He said he supported the bill, but            “This bill will restore the confi-    the lay of the land and this is poten-
thought it didn’t go far enough. The      dence of victims seeking help through     tially an issue.”
bill should include a punishment for      the courts,” he said.                         John Lindsay, representing the Ne-
stores that sell tobacco to minors,           Patrick Range, an attorney from       braska County Judges Association, tes-
Welsch said, noting that a recent         Omaha, also supported the bill.           tified in opposition to the bill. He said a
study reported 5 percent of retailers     Since the court decision, successful      reduction in judges’ salaries would be
sell to minors.                           applicants must be subject to an im-      “unwinding part of that deal” struck
    “Store owners don’t train their       minent attack.                            last session. It also could be considered
employees to properly check IDs,” he          “That is clearly not the type of      unconstitutional to require employees
said. “Kids know where to find those      policy that was intended,” he said.       to pay more into benefits funds without
5 percent of retailers who will sell to       There was no opponent testimony       receiving additional benefits, he said.
them, because they do it over and         and the committee took no immedi-             There was no proponent testimony
over again.”                              ate action on the bill.                   on LB1104.
    There was no opposition testi-                                                      The committee also heard testi-
mony and the committee took no                                                      mony on LB727. Lincoln Sen. Colby
immediate action on the bill.                                                       Coash said he introduced the bill to

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   I S S U E S UPFRONT
address excessive caseloads for judg-            LB261, introduced by Tekamah               • trading or selling information
es. Under the bill, the state Supreme        Sen. Kent Rogert,                                to a third party;
Court could give to retired judges an        permits retailers                              • using information collected for
additional stipend who have agreed to        selling alcohol,                                 marketing or sales purposes; or
perform extended service. Currently,         tobacco or lottery                             • reporting to or sharing infor-
retired judges can be paid for each          tickets to collect                               mation with a third party, un-
day of service. Coash said the stipend       and store driver’s li-                           less under court order.
could be used to cover health insur-         cense numbers and                             LB261 passed on a 34-10 vote.
ance premiums.                               state identification Sen. Kent Rogert
   “This would be an additional in-          numbers by scan-                           Repeal of veterans license plate
centive,” he said.                           ning barcodes on the back of identifi-     limitation advanced
   Bill Mueller, representing the            cation cards. The information can be
Nebraska District Court Judges Asso-         used by law enforcement only for the           Lawmakers advanced a bill from
ciation, testified in support of the bill.   purpose of enforcing restrictions on       general file Feb. 3 that would remove
He said retired judge service makes          age-sensitive products such as alcohol,    a limitation on the number of spe-
a “significant and immediate impact”         tobacco and lottery tickets.               cialty license plates some veterans
on caseloads.                                    Software developed to scan infor-      are allowed to purchase.
   There was no opposition testi-            mation must be certified by program-           Introduced by Malcolm Sen.
mony on the proposal.                        mers as capable of storing only custom-    Ken Haar, LB705
   The committee took no immediate           ers’ ages and license and identifica-      would eliminate a
action on the bills.                         tion numbers. Intentional or grossly       restriction prohib-
                                             negligent programming permitting           iting applicants for
                                             the storage of more than the age and       Disabled Ameri-
Revenue                                      identification number is a Class IV        can Veteran license
                                             felony. Retailers who knowingly store      plates from regis-
NRD funding formula changed                  more than the approved information         tering more than
                                                                                                                 Sen. Ken Haar
                                             also are guilty of a Class IV felony.      one motor vehicle,
   The funding formula for calculat-             The bill prohibits the storage of      trailer, semitrailer or cabin trailer.
ing state aid to natural resources           information for a period longer than           Haar said the bill would make the
districts will be modified under a bill      18 months, unless required by state or     guidelines for Disabled American
approved Feb. 5.                             federal law. It also prohibits retailers   Veteran license plates consistent with
   LB210, introduced by Schuyler             from sharing scanned information.          those regulating Purple Heart plates.
Sen. Chris Langemeier, excludes              The bill allows those persons approv-          Omaha Sen. Pete Pirsch offered an
property taxes levied for bonds when         ing a negotiable instrument, such as       amendment, adopted 36-0, that also
calculating NRD state aid.                   a check, an electronic funds transfer      would remove the one-plate restric-
   Passed 44-0, the bill has an opera-       or similar payment method, to store,       tion for Pearl Harbor survivor and
tive date of July 1, 2010.                   compile and preserve information to:       Prisoner of War specialty plates.
                                                  • provide information to a check          The cost for the license plates is
                                                    services company to adminis-        $5 more per vehicle than the regular
Transportation &                                    ter and enforce a transaction       license plate fee. The $5 fee is deposit-
Telecommunications                                  requested by the card holder or
                                                    protect against fraud or other
                                                                                        ed in the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery
                                                                                        System Operation Fund.
                                                    criminal activity;                      LB705 advanced to select file
Driver’s license scanning
                                                  • prevent fraud and other unau-       38-0.
approved
                                                    thorized claims; and
                                                  • resolve a dispute or inquiry by     Cell phones could help locate
   Retailers can scan driver’s licenses
                                                    the license holder.                 missing persons
to validate a customer’s age for age-
                                                 The bill also implements Class IV
sensitive products or to approve a
                                             felony charges for those engaged in:          Cell phone companies would help
check under a bill passed Feb. 5.

                                                                               101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 15
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




   ISSUES                                  UPFRONT
law enforcement locate customers          testified in support of the bill. He said        • fines of $1,000 per day for im-
in danger under a bill heard by the       it would alleviate wireless carrier con-            properly closed lanes.
Transportation and Telecommunica-         cerns regarding liability and privacy           The bill also would require that
tions Committee Feb. 1.                   issues and provide an avenue for the        general contractors post signs dis-
    LB735, introduced by Papillion        delivery of prompt information to law       playing their names and telephone
Sen. Tim Gay, would create the Kelsey     enforcement.                                numbers at intervals of at least one
Smith Act, named after an 18-year-            “In situations where rapid emer-        sign per mile throughout construc-
old Kansas girl who was abducted          gency response is needed for missing        tion zones.
and murdered in 2007. The bill would      persons who are vulnerable or victims of        Lautenbaugh said he introduced
require that wireless carriers provide    abductions … the passage of time is one     LB838 to expedite completion of road
as soon as is practicable the best        of the greatest enemies,” Tuma said.        projects.
available call location information           John Lindsay, representing the              “I don’t think we pursue projects
of a wireless device upon the request     Nebraska Association of Trial Attor-        necessarily with a contempt for driv-
of a law enforcement agency. This         neys, opposed the section of the bill       ers, but I don’t think we pursue them
requirement would apply to situa-         preventing action against wireless          with … an aggressive concern for
tions in which there is risk or threat    carriers, saying it would give wireless     the convenience of motorists often
of death or serious physical harm.        carriers a “license to be careless.”        enough,” he said.
    Under the bill, no cause of action        The committee voted 8-0 to ad-              Department of Roads director
could be held against a wireless com-     vance the bill to general file.             Monty Fredrickson testified in op-
pany that provides call location infor-                                               position to the bill. He understands
mation while acting in good faith. The    Incentives and penalties                    the desire to accelerate projects, he
bill also would hold wireless carriers    proposed for road construction              said, but completion dates are just
harmless from claims, damages,                                                        one factor in road projects.
costs, expenses and attorney fees            Contracts for road construction              Fredrickson said the department
arising from or related to the release    projects would include incentives for       looks at projects on a case-by-case
of call location information.             early completion and penalties for          basis to facilitate their safe comple-
    Gay said cell phones could be-        tardiness under a bill heard by the         tion. During the past five years, 75 to
come a safety tool to enhance public      Transportation and Telecommunica-           80 percent of highway projects were
safety. He said his bill would provide    tion Committee Feb. 2.                      completed on time with minimal use
a means for cell phone companies to          LB838, introduced by Omaha               of incentives, he said. Adding unnec-
provide information to law enforce-       Sen. Scott Laut-                            essary incentives could increase the
ment without fear of liability.           enbaugh, would                              cost of projects, he added.
    Missey Smith, mother of the late      require cities,                                 Tim O’Brien, construction en-
Kelsey Smith, testified in support        counties and the                            gineer for the City of Omaha, also
of the bill. After her daughter was       Department of                               spoke in opposition. Localities
taken from a Kansas parking lot,          Roads to include                            should be able to decide whether or
law enforcement requested location        in their contracts                          not to use incentives or disincen-
information regarding her cell phone      for construction,                           tives, he said, adding that incentives
from their wireless carrier.              repair, improve- Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh     usually are reserved for high-volume
    “This seemed simple enough,”          ment or maintenance of roads and            roads or projects with significant
Smith said. “Little did we know.”         bridges:                                    detours.
    Instead of receiving a prompt re-         • incentives for early comple-              The committee took no immediate
sponse, the carrier withheld informa-           tion;                                 action on the bill.
tion for four days. Once the company          • disincentives for late comple-
did release the phone’s location, au-           tion;                             Proposal would protect highway
thorities were able to locate Kelsey’s        • requirements to minimize lane funds in construction
body within 45 minutes, she said.               closures within municipalities
    Colonel Brian Tuma, superinten-             so lanes can be used while not      A proposed constitutional amend-
dent of the Nebraska State Patrol,              under active construction; and ment heard by the Transportation

Page 16 • Unicameral UPdate • 101st legislatUre
                                                                                                                Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




   I S S U E S UPFRONT
and Telecommunications Commit-             of transfers in the past and protection    long term.”
tee Feb. 2 would place the Highway         is needed to ensure a revenue stream           Chad Johansen, volunteer ad-
Trust Fund into the Nebraska Con-          is retained for the eventual comple-       vocate for the United States Green
stitution. The fund receives revenues      tion of expressways.                       Building Council, testified in support
from motor fuel taxes, sales tax on            The committee took no immediate        of the bill, saying it could serve as a
motor vehicles and motor vehicle           action on the bill.                        catalyst for change in the state.
registration fees to be used for road                                                     The University of Nebraska has
construction.                                                                         made sustainability part of the master
    LR286CA, introduced by Valentine       Urban Affairs                              plan for the new Innovation Campus,
Sen. Deb Fischer,                                                                     he said, and LB977 would build on
would constitution-                        Greater energy efficiency sought           that commitment.
ally restrict uses                         for state buildings                            “This bill will help our state pre-
for the fund. The                                                                     pare for the future,” Johansen said.
proposed amend-                                The Urban Affairs Committee                April Miller, a LEED-accredited
ment proposes that                         heard testimony Feb. 2 on a bill that      design professional, also supported
the Highway Trust                          would require certain new and reno-        the bill.
Fund be used ex-                           vated state buildings to meet various          There are ways to reduce the initial
                        Sen. Deb Fischer
clusively for:                             energy efficiency standards.               construction costs to achieve LEED
     • maintenance and expansion of            Under LB977, introduced by             certification, she said, including al-
       state roads;                        Omaha Sen. Heath Mello, two types          lowing university students to earn
     • expenses for collecting taxes       of state buildings                         credit for completing the necessary
       and fees; and                       would be required                          paperwork.
     • any other use authorized by law     to receive certifi-                            “Nebraska is behind other states
       as of Jan. 1, 2011.                 cation at the sil-                         in requiring LEED or other certifica-
    Fischer said the economic down-        ver level through                          tion,” Miller said.
turn could encourage some to view          the United States                              Rebecca Koller, director of facili-
the Highway Trust Fund as a source         Green Building                             ties, planning and management for
for funds to fill budget gaps. The         Council’s Leader- Sen. Heath Mello         the University of Nebraska testified
proposed amendment would give              ship in Energy and                         in a neutral capacity.
voters an opportunity to protect the       Environmental Design (LEED):                   While strongly supporting the
fund, she said.                                 • new state buildings larger than     bill’s intent regarding energy ef-
    “The citizens of Nebraska will be              5,000 square feet; and             ficiency and accountability, Koller
stating that highways are important             • renovations of state buildings      said cost is an issue. Certification is
to this state,” Fischer said.                      larger than 5,000 square feet      approximately 1 percent of a building
    Jessica Kolterman of the Nebraska              for which the cost of the reno-    project’s cost, she said, so the univer-
Farm Bureau testified in support of                vations exceeds 50 percent of      sity’s current policy requires meeting
the proposed amendment. She said                   the building’s value.              some LEED standards, but does not
roads are important to farmers, who            Mello said third-party certification   require certification.
need adequate infrastructure to keep       ensures that specified buildings meet          Mello said any discussion of cost
down the cost of shipping commodi-         the goals of reduced carbon emissions      must take long-term savings into
ties. She said the proposed amend-         and improved energy efficiency and         account.
ment would offer a “strong firewall”       indoor environmental quality.                  “Certification is a smart invest-
and prevent any divergence of the              Energy costs for all state agencies    ment in energy efficiency,” he said.
fund’s revenues.                           during the 2008-09 fiscal year were            There was no opposition testi-
    Representing the Nebraska Ex-          over $70 million, Mello said.              mony and the committee took no
pressways for Economic Develop-                “This bill represents an opportuni-    immediate action on the bill. g
ment, Walter Radcliffe spoke in favor      ty to reduce what we spend on utilities
of the proposed amendment. He said         over time,” he said. “The Legislature
the declining fund has been the target     needs to be in the business of thinking

                                                                             101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 17
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




  COMMITTEE HEARINGS
Monday, February 8                         Performance Pay Fund and provide for          Banking, Commerce & Insurance
                                           additional public teacher pay                Room 1507 - 1:30 p.m.
Banking, Commerce & Insurance              LB1087 (Adams) Change provisions re-         LB818 (Sullivan) Change the Real
Room 1507 - 1:30 p.m.                      lating to payment for educational services   Property Appraiser Act
LB759 (Wightman) Provide for the dis-      LB1071 (Adams) Change provisions             LB931 (Langemeier) Change the Real
solution, winding up, and liquidation of   relating to schools                          Property Appraiser Act
certain professional corporations                                                       LB1051 (Christensen) Change provi-
LB760 (Wightman) Change provisions         General Affairs                              sions relating to certificate terms, fees,
relating to total return trusts            Room 1510 - 1:30 p.m.                        and rosters of abstracters
LB1068 (Hansen) Adopt the Rural            LB834 (Howard) Change provisions             LB959 (Lathrop) Prohibit certain dis-
Tourism Development Act                    and penalties relating to liquor licenses    criminatory acts or practices related to
LB1074 (Mello) Provide for job train-      LB854 (Howard) Change require-               the business of insurance
ing grants to film production companies    ments for licensure under the Nebraska
                                           Liquor Control Act                           Education
Business & Labor                           LB883 (Coash) Provide for offsite stor-      Room 1525 - 1:30 p.m.
Room 2102 - 1:30 p.m.                      age facilities and change reporting and      LB1021 (Avery) Adopt the High
LB780 (Lathrop) Change Nebraska            payment requirements for farm wineries       School Activities Association Act
Workers’ Compensation Act provisions       LB1000 (Karpisek) Change eligibility         LB962 (Council) Require blood lead
relating to personal injuries              for licensure for managers and limited       testing prior to school enrollment
LB829 (Rogert) Change certain notice       liability companies under the Nebraska       LB1006 (Adams) Change provisions
requirements under the Nebraska Work-      Liquor Control Act                           relating to kindergarten entrance age
ers’ Compensation Act                      LB942 (Gay) Provide for a special ship-
LB833 (Fulton) Provide for confidenti-     ping permit for alcohol manufacturers        Nebraska Retirement Systems
ality of Nebraska Workers’ Compensa-       LB1013 (Rogert) Provide for extended         Room 1525 - 12:10 p.m.
tion Court records                         closing time for alcoholic liquor retail     LB979 (Nebraska Retirement
LB846 (Schilz) Change interest rate        licensees as prescribed                      Systems) Provide for the transition of
provisions for certain Nebraska Work-                                                   certain employees to the State Employ-
ers’ Compensation Court awards             Transportation & Telecommunications          ees Retirement System
LB872 (Lathrop) Change applicability       Room 1113 - 1:30 p.m.
of a medical fee schedule relating to      LB761 (Fischer) Change employment            Transportation & Telecommunica-
workers’ compensation                      driving permit provisions                    tions
LB908 (Conrad) Change workers’ com-        LB772 (Coash) Change and provide             Room 1113 - 1:30 p.m.
pensation provisions relating to claims    penalties for driving on a revoked           LB697 (Pahls) Prohibit use of wireless
for legal services or disbursements        license as prescribed                        devices by school bus drivers
LB963 (Carlson) Change Nebraska            LB810 (Rogert) Change provisions             LB945 (Harms) Prohibit use of hand-
Workers’ Compensation Act provisions       relating to undercover license plates        held wireless communication devices
governing disability compensation after    and drivers’ licenses                        while driving
retirement                                 LB841 (Lautenbaugh) Amend the                LB926 (Rogert) Change provisions for
LB994 (Lathrop) Change a provision         Motor Vehicle Operator’s License Act         information signs along highways
relating to workers’ compensation hear-    to allow release of digital images or        LB982 (Campbell) Adopt the Build
ing locations                              signatures to local law enforcement          Nebraska Act and authorize issuance of
LB1044 (Lautenbaugh) Change em-            LB924 (Fischer) Change provisions            highway bonds
ployer liability provisions under the      relating to ignition interlock orders
Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act                                                       Urban Affairs
LB961 (Council) Provide for economic       Tuesday, February 9                          Room 1510 - 1:30 p.m.
development job training grants                                                         LB997 (Mello) Require cities’ com-
                                           Agriculture                                  prehensive plans to include an energy
Education                                  Room 2102 - 1:30 p.m.                        element
Room 1525 - 1:30 p.m.                      LB910 (Carlson) Change the Commer-           LB1098 (Mello) Authorize creation of
LB1014 (Haar) Create the Teacher           cial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act     sustainable energy financing districts

Page 18 • Unicameral UPdate • 101st legislatUre
                                                                                                                          Feb. 1 - 5, 2010




 COMMITTEE HEARINGS
by municipalities                             LB874 (Giese) Change provisions               relating to sexually transmitted diseases
LB1099 (Mello) Authorize the estab-           relating to probation office expenses         as prescribed
lishment of a recycling program in                                                          LB940 (Janssen) Amend the Welfare
cities of the metropolitan class              Natural Resources                             Reform Act to require drug screening
                                              Room 1525 - 1:30 p.m.                         for cash assistance benefits
Wednesday, February 10                        LB993 (Carlson) Change permissible
                                              uses of the Water Resources Cash Fund         Judiciary
Government, Military & Veterans               LB1054 (Carlson) Adopt the correlative        Room 1113 - 1:30 p.m.
Affairs                                       rights doctrine relating to the use of        LB1094 (Lathrop) Adopt the Nonre-
Room 1507 - 1:30 p.m.                         ground water as prescribed                    course Civil Litigation Act
LB1015 (Haar) Adopt the Interstate            LB1056 (Carlson) Provide for measure-         LB901 (Wightman) Change child cus-
Compact on the Agreement Among                ment of aquifer depletion and limita-         tody determination provisions
the States to Elect the President by          tions on irrigation as prescribed             LB936 (Flood) Authorize court-ordered
National Popular Vote                                                                       conditions for juvenile court dispositions
LB718 (Avery) Change requirements             Revenue                                       LB876 (Howard) Change recovery
for petitions and petition signatures         Room 1524 - 1:30 p.m.                         amounts under the Nebraska Hospital-
LB1059 (Avery) Provide for digital and        LB704 (Haar) Change a renewable               Medical Liability Act
electronic signatures on initiative and       energy tax credit                             LB835 (Howard) Change reporting
referendum petitions                          LB774 (Haar) Change provisions relat-         provisions of the Nebraska Hospital-
                                              ing to sales tax treatment of net metering    Medical Liability Act
Health and Human Services                     LB1049 (Langemeier) Change provi-
Room 1510 - 1:30 p.m.                         sions relating to community-based             Natural Resources
LB858 (Sullivan) Change provisions            energy projects                               Room 1525 - 1:30 p.m.
relating to service animals and mobility-     LB1080 (Cornett) Provide tax incen-           LB1010 (Pankonin) Provide procedures
impaired or otherwise disabled persons        tives for wind energy projects                and limitations on the use of eminent
LB1036 (Council) Adopt the Revised                                                          domain by natural resources districts
Uniform Anatomical Gift Act                   Thursday, February 11                         for recreational trails
LB1022 (Rogert) Provide for alkaline hy-                                                    LB1011 (Pankonin) Limit the eminent
drolysis disposition of dead human bodies     Government, Military & Veterans               domain power of natural resources dis-
LB1067 (Rogert) Require pulse oxim-           Affairs                                       tricts to exclude certain recreational trails
etry screening for newborns                   Room 1507 - 1:30 p.m.                         LB1019 (Haar) Provide for trails dis-
                                              LB1009 (Janssen) Change provisions            pute boards to decide disputes between
Judiciary                                     relating to the date for fixing salaries of   county boards and natural resources
Room 1113 - 1:30 p.m.                         certain county officers                       districts concerning recreational trails
LB795 (Council) Authorize employ-             LB970 (Campbell) Change provisions
ment of law enforcement officers by           relating to appeals from county plan-         Revenue
natural resources districts as prescribed     ning commission decisions                     Room 1524 - 1:30 p.m.
LB880 (Rogert) Change provisions              LB1039 (Fulton) Adopt the Fire Extin-         LB952 (White) Exempt certain public
relating to fireworks                         guishing Certification Act                    utility income for infrastructure re-
LB881 (Rogert) Change and eliminate           LB767 (Price) Change county ordinance         placement and sewer programs from
provisions relating to fireworks              provisions to provide for notice to be        sales tax
LB868 (Flood) Change probation admin-         given for abandoned motor vehicles            LB975 (Nordquist) Change the
istrative sanctions, community service sen-   LB947 (Avery) Eliminate the Commu-            Convention Center Facility Financing
tencing, and minors with alcohol-related      nity Development Block Grant Pro-             Assistance Act relating to projects un-
criminal provisions and exempt communi-       gram Advisory Committee                       dertaken in areas with a high concentra-
ty service offenders and probationers from                                                  tion of poverty
workers’ compensation coverage                Health and Human Services                     LB1018 (Cornett) Adopt the Nebraska
LB1102 (Giese) License and regulate           Room 1510 - 1:30 p.m.                         Advantage Transformational Tourism
wagering on historic horseraces               LB992 (McGill) Provide for treatment          and Redevelopment Act

                                                                                   101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 19
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