LINCOLN--With more than two-thirds of the 90-day legislative session behind them, lawmakers took action on a number of bills last week, advancing some and sidelining others.Firearms
Debate continued on a bill that would make most firearms regulations consistent across the state, overriding individual local municipal ordinances. The bill, LB68, is sponsored by Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln.
Attorneys for juveniles
Debate stalled on a bill that would require legal representation for all youth appearing in juvenile court. Juveniles in counties with more than 150,000 people are already guaranteed access to lawyers, but in some counties, juvenile offenders have no access to counsel. The bill, LB158, is sponsored by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln.
A bill updating the definition of hybrid seed corn got second-round approval last week. The bill also would allow a restraining order or injunction to be imposed on people who sell or represent corn seed as a hybrid variety that does not meet required identity standards. The bill, LB276, is sponsored by Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston.
Native American plates
The Department of Motor Vehicles could create "Native American Cultural Awareness and History" license plates under an amendment to a transportation bill sponsored by Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln. Proceeds from the $5 license plate fee would go to a Native American scholarship fund. Bolz' amendment was attached to a bill that would enable car dealers to provide electronic titling and registration services. The bill, LB263, was introduced by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
Online sales taxes
Online retailers without a physical presence in the state but with more than $100,000 annually in gross sales or 200 transactions in Nebraska would have to collect state sales taxes under a bill lawmakers advanced last week. Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, sponsor of LB44, estimated the state could collect up to $40 million annually from online retailers, a figure opponents dispute. Current state law requires online shoppers to pay state sales tax, but few do so because there's no easy way to make such payments.
First responders injured in the line of duty could retain their health insurance coverage under a bill advanced to final reading. LB444, sponsored by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, would apply to any law enforcement officer, and includes sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, firefighters and mental health care providers.
High risk work comp
An amendment to the bill would extend workers' compensation benefits to state correctional services employees and Department of Health and Human Services workers who regularly come in contact with high-risk individuals. The amendment incorporates provisions of LB 244, sponsored by Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln. It was approved by a vote of 26-3.