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Legislature: Week in Review

LINCOLN— The Revenue Committee heard a bill on March 15 that would require gender equity on the company boards receiving tax incentives. That was just one of the bills debated last week in the Nebraska Legislature. LB 724, introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, would not allow the board of directors to qualify for incentives unless at least 50 percent of the directors were female. Vargas said this bill would “provide more leadership roles for women.” The committee took no action.

On March 13, the Education Committee heard a bill that would require community and state colleges to adopt policies for domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. LB 702, introduced by Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha, would provide a plan to anonymously report these incidents and resolve allegations. Although some of the colleges already meet the bill’s requirements, Cavanaugh said this bill would increase consistency in how these incidents are handled. Anna Marie Stenka, who reported being sexually assaulted by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, and Marcee Metzger, executive director at Voices of Hope, testified in support, stating the requirements would improve campus safety. The committee took no action.

The Judiciary Committee heard a bill on March 13 that would increase sexual assault protections. LB 478, introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, would not allow consent by a minor under 18 to be used as a defense when a sexual assault was perpetrated by an adult.

“We have a duty as elected officials to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Vargas said.

John Lindsay, representative for the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys, spoke in favor of the bill and said that “if a minor cannot legally consent it would be absurd to hold them partially at fault in a sexual assault case.”

A proposed amendment that would increase funding for pancreatic cancer research was heard by the Appropriations Committee on March 12. LB 669, introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, would use $15 million from the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund to establish a pancreatic cancer research center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Kolterman, whose wife died of pancreatic cancer 18 months ago, said his goal is to have this center become a leader in research and develop a “screening that could prepare families for what is a devastating diagnosis.”

“This is important research and it needs to be funded,” Kolterman said. “My wife taught me a lot of things, one thing was to dream big.”

On March 14, the Health and Human Services Committee heard a bill that would require hospitals to provide more information to sexual assault survivors. LB 555, introduced by Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, would require hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception and dispense a complete course of the contraception to the patient. The committee took no action.

 

 

 

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