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Opinion - Opinion
Groene at the Legislature: Classroom restraint, felons with bow and arrows, property tax reliefTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Nebraska Unicameral
Mike Groene

We named LB 595 as our priority bill, authorizing teachers and administrators to use physical force or restraint on violent students. It gives limited immunity to those employees from legal and administrative discipline.

It also gives teachers the authority to have repeatedly disruptive students removed from the classroom and sets up a process involving the teacher and parents as to when the principal can return the student to the classroom. 

The Education Committee has advanced the bill out of committee, meaning it will be debated on the floor of the Legislature.

Felons, archery

Also, LB 478 allows productive citizens who have been convicted of a felony in their past to possess archery equipment.
The Game and Parks Department policy is to issue archery hunting permits to individuals who have a past felony conviction.

A recent Nebraska Supreme Court case cast doubts on the legality of felons owning bows and arrows, and using a knife with a blade longer than 3.5” to process game. 

LB 478 also allows felons to own hunting knives if they possess a hunting license. The bill came out of committee and was selected to be one of the speaker’s 25 priority bills.

Property tax relief

LB 640, our property tax relief bill, was picked up by Sen. Curt Friesen as his priority bill. The bill would set 60% as the maximum amount that property taxes could generate for a local public school’s budget. The remainder would come from increased state aid, along with federal, state, and miscellaneous local funding (speeding tickets, etc.)

The bill would also lower the maximum property tax rate that schools can levy from $1.05 to 1.00. We would designate appropriated funds currently in the Property Tax Relief Fund to pay for the resulting shift of school funding to the state.

The bill is still in Revenue Committee and may be used as the base for the property tax relief portion of a comprehensive income tax bill. Either way, I believe Sen. Friesen and I have the votes to get the bill on the floor for debate.

Open record

LB 594 requires a limited liability company (LLC) seeking a tax benefit to file an amended certificate of organization with the Secretary of State, disclosing the members of the LLC.

It has been the policy of our democracy that when you receive the direct benefits of tax dollars you lose your right to privacy -- no one should be able to hide behind a front company. The hearing was March 13.

The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee has not acted on the bill yet. Since no one testified against the bill, it should have a good chance to make it to the floor.

Onerous regulations

Sometimes government can over-regulate to the point that it denies consumers access to services they wish to use.
An example of this was equine (horse) massage therapy. The Department of Health and Human Services regulates animal health issues, including issuing licenses for veterinary medicine.

We were approached by Karen Hough of Arnold about the issue. She wished to practice equine massage therapy as a sideline business.

Although she had taken training and had practical experience, she was denied a license due to requirements set by the state. We discovered that in the world of horse enthusiasts, horse massage is a common practice to keep competitive livestock at the top of their game -- no different than a professional athlete.

Texas, Montana, South Dakota, and many other western states do not require a license to be a horse massage therapist. I was informed that horse massage is practiced in Nebraska, but is done illegally without a license. We found because of the onerous requirements Nebraska has set, there is not one single licensed equine therapist in Nebraska.

We introduced LB 596 to exempt equine massage therapy from the list of animal therapies that must be licensed under the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act.

We had the hearing last week in the Health and Human Services Committee. I think it has a good chance to be voted out of committee. I have found no better example than this issue to show the publics sometimes frustration of government becoming a “nanny state.”

Please do not hesitate to contact my office mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729 with any comments, questions, or concerns.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/26/2017
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