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Senator Joni Albrecht’s Weekly Update

Senator Joni Albrecht’s Weekly Update

Your Legislature was gaveled in for the opening session of 2020 on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.  Two hundred and fifteen (215) bills were introduced in the first three days.  As a reminder, bills can be introduced by Senators for the first ten (10) days of session, which is January 23, 2020.

NEXT STEPS:  After bills are introduced, they are assigned to Committees for hearing.  Except for a few technical bills, every bill must receive a public hearing.  Hearings on bills for the 2020 Session will begin on Tuesday, January 21. They generally begin around 1:30 p.m.   If you have an interest in the hearing on a particular bill, or want to follow the schedule of bill hearings, you can access the Legislature’s schedule of Committee hearings at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/calendar/hearings_range.php.  On that page you can find information on testifying at a hearing or submitting a written letter in place of live testimony on a bill.

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR DEBATE BEGINS:  Meanwhile, on Monday, January 13, 2020, debate begins, with two carryover bills from 2019 leading the way.

The first to be heard will be LB 147, which was introduced in 2019 by Senator Groene.  LB 147 allows teachers and school administrators to physically intervene in a reasonable manner in order to maintain order in the classroom should a student become violent and present a threat of harm to himself, herself, or others.   Physical restraint is restricted to holding the hands, wrists or torso of a student to control the student’s movements. It does not include the use of any mechanical device or binding a student to any object.  Senators have heard from parents, teachers, and many others about this bill, which should be reflected in the debate.

The second carryover bill for debate is LB 153, which was introduced in 2019 by Senator Brewer and named by Senator Lowe as a priority bill.  The intent of LB153 is to exempt 50% of military retirement benefits from individual Nebraska income tax.  We have also received numerous letters and calls in support of this bill.  Veterans and active military members and their families are an important part of the fabric of Nebraska.  They deserve our honor and thanks.  Many feel strongly that LB153 is one way to show that honor and respect to veterans who have served and that it is one way to keep and attract these treasured individuals in Nebraska.

MY ACTIVITY:  In addition to what is happening on the floor of the Legislature, my office is receiving calls and visits from constituents, other Senators, and those representing individuals, companies, and ideas across Nebraska.  We are listening to clarification of bills, concerns, suggestions, and new ideas from all angles.  We are also organizing and attending meetings about issues facing our state and how to craft productive solutions.

On the first day of the Session, I introduced a bill on behalf of the Nebraska State Patrol to harmonize Nebraska Statute with federal regulations to avoid incompatibility.  The   bill adopts the Federal Motor Carrier Safety and Hazardous Material Regulations current as of January 1, 2019.  The adoption of these regulations is required on an annual basis to incorporate new or revised federal regulations into State Statute.  The State Statutes must remain current with the federal regulations to avoid jeopardizing Nebraska’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP), which is funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

I also signed on as a co-sponsor to LB 814 introduced by Senator Suzanne Geist, and LR288 .  LB841, introduced by Senator Geist, makes it unlawful for anyone “to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child” absent an emergency.

Senator Slama introduced Legislative Resolution 288 (LR288) in large part because of damages caused by this past year’s flooding in Nebraska.  LR288 urges Congress and the United States Corps of Engineers to re-prioritize flood control and repair as a top priority for the management of water systems under their authority in the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System Water Control Manual.  With reports of likely flooding again this spring, it is felt that moving flood control to the top of the priority list and updating 20 to 40 year old levy standards will enable the Corps to make needed levy and other repairs along the river that it feels are precluded by current priority designations

There will be many other Legislative Bills (LB) and Legislative Resolutions (LR) that we Senators will be looking over in the days and months ahead.  I may sign onto a bill if I look at it and feel strongly in favor of that particular bill.  In some instances, I may initially view a bill favorably or unfavorably knowing that there may be amendments, expected or unforeseen, that can certainly change my opinion, the opinions of my constituents, and my level of support or opposition for the bill.  Just as I’ve done in past years, as the Legislative Session goes forward, I strive to keep an open mind until seeing and considering the bill’s final contents when it finds its way to the floor of the Legislature for a vote.

Please keep in mind that 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 by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov

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