Vol. XXXIII, No. 5
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
THE NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE’S
Stories published daily at
Bill would Motorcycle helmet
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
“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.
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
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-
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
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
Wightman spoke in support of the
motion to reconsider. He said it would
or drive through Ne-
helmet law states.” to the hel-
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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Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
Aerial pesticide business
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
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-
state Department of Agriculture, will owners involved.”
of the presence of
be $100 to $150. Proceeds of the fee LB667 was advanced from general
will be remitted to the Pesticide Ad- file 37-0.
ministrative Cash Fund.
Those with a commercial applica-
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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Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 5
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
Page 6 • Unicameral UPdate • 101st legislatUre
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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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Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 9
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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,
101st legislatUre • Unicameral UPdate • Page 11
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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
Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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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Feb. 1 - 5, 2010
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.
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
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
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
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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