Handguns, hunting, K2 and the state plane, among other topics, were on the legislative agenda the last week of February.It was also the last week of committee hearings, meaning senators will soon be going to twice daily sessions on the floor.
The Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Legislative bill 1035, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska State Patrol to give the Legislature a list of people who are unable to obtain a handgun because of disabilities and disqualification.
The agencies would also have to report the list on their respective websites.
Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln, the bill's sponsor, said the state agencies aren't accurately reporting people from purchasing handguns, and this bill would require them to do so. McGill said the bill is about safety. A background check won't help if the lists aren't updated, she said. The committee took no immediate action on the bill.
LB 811 was also before the Judiciary Committee this week. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, would update current law relating to "K2" or synthetic marijuana. Producers of the substance are known for changing its chemical makeup to work around the laws, Schilz said.
The bill would amend one class of substance currently banned and would add another class to the list of banned substances. Also, first-time offenders would be charged with a Class I misdemeanor. Offenses after that would be Class IV felonies punishable by five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. No action was taken on the bill.
LB 699, introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill, which would allow developmentally disabled people to hunt, advanced to select file this week. Larson said it wasn't right that disabled people should be excluded from one of Nebraska's favorite pastimes.
"There are people who want to participate, but because of their disabilities are unable to meet the qualifications to obtain a permit," Larson said. "[With this bill] we will give kids and adults with special needs the ability to participate in a sport that is important to many Nebraskans."
A bill that would authorize the purchase of a plane for state use also advanced to select file. LB1016, introduced by Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, comes after an independent study that recommended the state buy a plane instead of leasing or chartering one.
The plane, King Air C90GTx, costs about $3.85 million.
An amendment by Sen. Jeremy Norquist of Omaha stipulated that the plane could only be used for conducting state business and not for campaigning.
Paid caregiving leave
The Business and Labor Committee heard two bills on paid time off this week. LB955 by Sen. Annette Dubas would give employees paid leave from work to take care of a family member or a new baby. Employees could take six consecutive weeks off or 42 days used intermittently.
"If families are required to use up all of their vacation, personal and sick days to stay at home with their newborns," Dubas said, "what happens if they need that time later?"
Similarly, LB 1090 by Sen. Danielle Conrad would require employers to give employees paid sick leave. For every 30 hours worked, one hour of paid sick leave would be given, up to 40 hours in a year.
"Providing a basic level of paid sick leave is a critical work support for Nebraska working families," Conrad said.
The committee took no immediate action on either bill.