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Opinion - Opinion
 
Over at Legislature:Tell North Platte what you think
 
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Photo by George Lauby
Sen. Tom Hansen

Every year near the end of the session, the Speaker of the Legislature schedules several nights late work in order to finish our work. This year, our late nights began at least a month earlier than in previous years. It makes for very long days.

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The following are pertinent bills that I feel would have the most interest to those who live in District 42.


Final stage of debate:

• LB 79 changes political accountability and disclosure provisions and repeals campaign finance laws. This bill was introduced due to a Supreme Court ruling.

• LB 153 expands the Civic and Community Center Financing Act by adding projects that would qualify for funding under the act.

• LB 158 requires those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicle for a minimum of one year.

• LB 203 changes provisions relating to solid waste under the Environment Protection Act.

• LB 263 changes provisions relating to government retirement systems.

• LB 265 intends to remove obstacles to foster care placement, facilitating placement in homes where at least one caretaker is known to the foster child.

• LB 271 changes the time period from 35 days to 30 days before an election, for in-person early voting.

• LB 299 changes elections of first-class cities when voting on a question to nominate and elect some of the city council members by ward and some at large.

• LB 388 changes provisions relating to public power and provides for construction of certain transmission lines by an incumbent power district.

• LB 423 changes seizure provisions of the Livestock Animal Welfare Act.

• LB 429 requires disclosure of state contracts. Under current law, the State

Treasurer is required under the Taxpayer Transparency Act to develop and maintain a website providing information to document the sources of all tax receipts and expenditures by state agencies. LB 429 requires this website to include a link to the website of the Dept. of Administrative Services, where there will be a published copy of each contract for an expenditure of state funds.

• LB 528 provides for partner treatment relating to sexually transmitted diseases.

• LB 530 overhauls the foster care reimbursement rate system.

• LB 629 requires an inclusion of a summary report regarding forgone revenue due

to tax incentives and expenditures, within the Governor's biennial budget submission.


Second stage of debate:

• LB 44 establishes a new minimum sentencing option for a juvenile convicted of a Class 1A felony (first-degree murder). The only sentencing option currently available for juveniles convicted of such offense is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

An amendment was adopted that changed the sentence for the crime from 30 years to life, to 40 years to life, with eligibility for parole after 20 years.

• LB 57 changes provisions relating to grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

• LB 97 adopts the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act and authorizes land banks

to acquire tax-delinquent properties.

• LB 216 would allow certain state wards who have aged out of the foster care system to enter into a voluntary foster care agreement with the state Dept. of Health and Human Services for extended services.

• LB 232 increases judges’ salaries by five percent this year and five percent next year.

• LB 269 was introduced in response to reports and studies completed as a result of legislation passed last session. Among other provisions, it would move the Children's Commission to the Foster Care Review Office; hire a child welfare policy researcher to support the commission's work; and add the director of the Foster Care Review Office and the inspector General of Child Welfare as voting members of the commission. It would also help Nebraska qualify for more federal foster care money.

• LB 306 changes judges' contribution for retirement.

• LB 423 changes seizure provisions of the Livestock Animal Welfare Act.

• LB 497 changes distribution and provides for a study of the Education Innovation

Fund - an early childhood program for children from birth to age three.

• LB 585 provides, changes, and eliminates provisions relating to learning councils.

• LB 589 clarifies notification provisions for natural gas utility operators under the One-Call Notification System Act.

• LB 595 provides for a Public Service Commission study of next-generation 911.

• LB 634A appropriates $1,725,000 for 2013-14 and $1,725,000 for 2014-15 to

fund the Wildfire Control Act.

• LB 646 changes election provisions for public power districts.


$7 vehicle parks tax

A bill that generated a lot of debate but did not produce a vote was LB 362. The

bill, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery would replace the $25 yearly park fee with a $7 car registration fee that would allow any vehicle with Nebraska license plates to enter state parks or recreation areas without permits.

Non-Nebraska residents would continue to pay the $25 yearly fee or $5 daily fee. Sen. Avery says that daily maintenance and operational needs along with $30 million in backlogged maintenance raised the possibility of some parks having to close. The revenue from this bill would generate about $12 million a year.


Medicaid

On Tuesday next week, discussion will begin on LB 577, introduced by Lincoln

Sen. Kathy Campbell. This bill will require Nebraska Medicaid to add the newly eligible adult population under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the Nebraska Medicaid state plan; and outlines the health coverage provided under the program. I expect a lot of debate on this issue.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/12/2013
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