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Groene at Legislature: Felons and archery, school funding, horse massage, classroom disciplineTell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by Nebraska Unicameral
Mike Groene

LB 478, advanced to Select File (second round debate), is our bill that allows productive citizens who have been convicted of a felony in the past to possess archery equipment.

The Game and Parks Commission has had a policy of issuing archery hunting permits to individuals who have a past felony conviction.

A recent Nebraska Supreme Court case cast doubt on the legality of felons owning bows and arrows and using a knife with a blade over 3 ½” long to process game.

LB 478 also allows felons to own hunting knives if they possess a hunting license. The bill was advanced unanimously on a 25-0 vote. 

It is a Speaker Priority Bill and will have a great chance at passage this session. 

Horse massage

Our horse massage bill, LB 596, was voted out of committee and onto General File last Thursday. 

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.

We found that because of the onerous requirements Nebraska has set, there is not one single licensed equine massage 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.

The bill advanced from the committee with a 4-0 vote, with 3 not voting. 

Next week will be tremendously busy for our office.

Tax equity for schools

Tentatively, the speaker has let us know that we will start Tuesday morning with LB 640. This is our property tax relief proposal that Sen. Curt Friesen selected as his priority bill. The goal of LB 640 is to put tax equity back into the “Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act” (TEEOSA).

The final amended version of the bill will cap local property tax support of school districts at 55% and lower the maximum school general fund levy from 1.05 to .987.

It shifts back to the state its constitutional responsibility to financially support public schools. Because LB 640 caps the local property tax effort at 55% of revenues, it will take away the negative effect property valuation increases have had on your property taxes due to the injustice in the present TEEOSA formula.

State aid

On Wednesday, we may start the day with LB 409; this is legislation that has to pass for schools to receive the State Aid to Education formula (TEEOSA) that matches the Appropriations Committee’s proposed $1 billion state aid to public schools.
Although it is an increase of $20 million over last year, it is below the formula’s expected $67 million increase.

It is not a simple task to fairly adjust a flawed TEEOSA formula. Although some want to hold the bill hostage in order to fund schools with an even larger increase, when others are taking a cut, this bill, as it has been amended, is the prudent thing to do. 

Classroom discipline

LB 595, will also be on General File (first round) debate within the next few weeks. LB 595 has been amended after prolonged conversations with all parties involved. The bill was amended from its original form to clarify that the teacher or administrator is only protected from legal action or administrative discipline if their conduct is reasonable, and that penalties still exist for those who abuse their authority.

It provides a common sense approach to address student behavior that is violent to himself, herself or to others. It also provides a process for the return to the classroom for the student. It makes sure that the student is allowed to be returned to the teacher's classroom without the teacher's consent if required pursuant to the Special Education Act or the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

Students can also be returned after a conference between parents or legal guardians, the principal and teacher to address the student’s behavior. LB 595 enforces learning in a classroom. Not only does it allow learning to happen, it allows teachers to instruct students that there are behavior boundaries that all citizens should follow. 

It’s a common-sense approach. We’re working with all parties to make this work for everyone involved.

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


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/17/2017
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