107TH LEGISLATURE, 1ST SESSION – DAY 34
It has been an especially productive week at the Legislature this week. We were able to go into Executive Sessions this week in Committees, which means the process is progressing and decisions are being made to see what LBs will be going to the Floor this Session. With just one week left to complete all Committee hearings, we will have our first Floor debate on Tuesday morning, March 2nd.
1. LB111- First Responders and Public Protection Bill- Beginning in late May of 2020 and stretching throughout this past summer, I was disturbed by peaceful protests turned into violent riots, by vandalism and property damage, and by injuries sustained by men and women serving to protect our communities. I started discussions toward this LB in South Sioux City last Fall with State Patrol, Police Departments, representatives from the County Attorney’s office and a judge from District 17. There I met and visited with not only local law enforcement, but also with members of law enforcement that were called in to help protect the good people of Lincoln on May 30, 2020. I cannot state strongly enough the respect and admiration I hold for those who serve us in this capacity. I’ve felt heart sick, hearing stories about liquid gasoline and fireworks being thrown at first responders, blinding laser lights directed in their eyes and shots being fired at them and into public buildings they are called to protect. Also disturbing are reports that people from other states have incited violence and riots in Nebraska and outside groups have offered to post bail for those put in jail for their actions against our cities and the police. This is simply not acceptable and we must make this type of behavior as unattractive as possible to people from other states.
Under this LB111, rioting is defined. Inciting, recruiting for, or participating in a riot is a punishable offense. Interrupting services, meetings, blocking public roads or destroying government property are likewise addressed. Graffiti of government buildings is discouraged through higher penalties than other graffiti crimes, and most importantly, assault on our first responders, whether with fists, with harmful liquids, or with laser pointers rightfully triggers stiffer penalties. ’Read the Lincoln Journal Stars article on LB111 <https://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/senators-consider-bill-strengthening-penalties-for-rioters/article_a64f350c-4b82-5471-9904-d1550acc9fa4.html>.
2. LB281- Erin’s Law- I was asked by someone in District 17 to carry this Bill. It will require public schools to provide four hours of body awareness training to students in K-12, and teacher training as a preventative method for helping reduce incidents of child sexual abuse. The State Department of Education will provide a framework for policies which will train teachers, inform and involve parents and teach children through age-appropriate, evidence based curriculum. The goal is that children who are being abused will find a voice, a place where they could safely learn what to do if they need help. I greatly appreciated the participation of the testifiers, one driving seven hours and several taking personal time off of work to help protect our children in this way. Channel 7 in Omaha covered Erin’s Law.
3. LB282- Repeal Obscenity Exemption- Currently it is against the law for anyone in Nebraska to present materials to children considered obscene or harmful … except in schools or libraries. This bill simply continues to close the loophole prosecuting any adult in a K-12 or library setting who seeks to groom a child through the use of obscenity. LB 282 just says the same obscenity standard applies to everyone in Nebraska – no exceptions.
4. LB523- School Bonding Authority- We continue to be “inundated” as elected officials by citizens concerned over high property taxes. One way this body can assist taxpayers is to assure, when possible, they are directly included in decisions of major spending decisions when tax increases are necessary. Historically in Nebraska, when a necessity was deemed by a local school board to build new school structures or expand existing structures, we have held elections to fund those projects. When I vote for a local school board member, I have always believed I was giving that person the authority to make policy, hire staff, purchase supplies, pay utilities through the general fund, and maintain the existing school structure through use of depreciation funds included in their reserves. I have never believed that I was giving that individual the authority to build new school structures without my approval through an election. The intent in bringing this LB523 was simple. I wanted to give the citizens a vote on major local tax decisions.
5. LB595- Ethanol Sales and Uses Tax Exempt- Because of the large numbers of people who are involved in the agriculture industry in our District, I make every effort to advance the causes that further agri-business in Nebraska. LB595 provides a sales and use tax exemption for certain products used in the process of manufacturing ethanol, to harmonize provisions with other states and industries. As it is, ethanol producers are paying an input tax that is not consistent with other industries and state regulations.
DISTRICT 17 COVID-19
The number of positive tests reported for the periods February 19, 2021, and February 26, 2021 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +26 (3867)
Thurston County: +9 (1099)
Wayne County: +18 (1049) As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or email@example.com.