2016 was the short 60 day session of the 104th Legislature. This session I really looked for laws on the books that were outdated or nor longer applied. I also focused on civil liberties issues and economic liberty. I had two legislative efforts dealing with the federal Constitution.
LR35 was my priority bill for the year. Legislative Resolution 35 was Nebraska's application for a limited Article V convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. LR35 was part of a national effort of matching Article V resolutions know as the "Convention of States".
Article V of the Constitution provides two methods to amend the Constitution of the United States. Only one mode of proposals has been used - congress releasing an amendment proposal to the states for ratification. The second mode in Article V allows for the states to convene to propose amendments that would go back to the states in the same ratification process as the congressional method. These matching resolutions call for proposals dealing with three subject areas: consider term limits for congress and other members of the federal government; impose fiscal restraints on the federal government; and address the size, scope, and jursidiction of the federal government. Senators Groene, Kolterman, Friesen, Watermeier, Lindstrom, Larson, Fox, Schnoor, Garrett, and Johnson joined me as co sponsors for the resolution. We were unable to pass the resolution in 2016 but I remain supportive and will introduce it again in 2017. Senators Friesen and Lindstrom joined me in September of 2016 at the Convention of States Simulation in Williamsburg, Viriginia. The three day event was a demonstration of how an Article V convention would function. We all left the simulation feeling this is a reasonable and responsible way to address issues our country is facing. I'm all for having a discussion and brining people together for solutions. That is what the Article V process represents and I remain hopeful a convention will take place and Nebraska will play a leading role in that action.
- LR381 was another federal Constitution issue. Legislative Resolution 381 served as Nebraska's ratification of the 27th Amendment. This was a ceremonial action as the 27th Amendment to the Consitution was ratified nationally in 1992. The 27th amendment states that congress cannot vote themselves a raise in which they would immediately recieve. The raise does not go into effect until after the next election. The 27th Amendment proposal was part of the original Bill of Rights proposals. It was one of two amendment proposals that was not ratified with the Bill of Rights. A number of states have ratified the 27th post-enactment. Only four states remain: Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, and Pennsylvania. LR381 was passed and therefore ratified by Nebraska officially on April 1st, 2016. I feel the 27th Amendment is a good amendment and that it was important Nebraska not be the last state to ratify the amendment. I also believed this was a good exercise to see federalism in action between our state and the federal government.
- LB1046 I consider a good achievement. This bill was amended into the General Affairs omnibus bill. LB1046 made it possible for business owners who are going through the citizenship process able to get a liqour license for their operation. This was an issue brought to us by a constituent who had a successful dining establishment and wished to expand by serving liquor. That business owner is now able to provide more service due to LB1046.
- LB992 addressed an unfair application of installment contracts with Certification of Participation Bonds. This is an issue about transparency and fairness with bonding authority with local levels of government. LB992 places a cap of twenty-five million onto the amount of outstanding future payment obligations on contracts political subdivisions can enter with installment contracts. This bill was unable to make it out of the committee but will continue to be an issue I bring up.
- LB936 would have elminated the inheritance tax. I knew this bill likely would not pass. However, I feel we need to keep talking about this unfair tax. I believe the inheritance tax is an immoral tax. I do recognize how much our local governments depend on the tax. LB936 did not advance from committee. I would like to find a way to adequately fund our county governments without dependance on the inheritance tax.
- LB738 addressed the use of "stingray" devices. Stingrays are electronic devices that can be used to collect data on individuals. They are sometimes used by investigators. These devices act as cell phone towers and trick nearby devices into working off the stingray instead of an actual cellular tower. The extent of their use in Nebraska is unknown. However, multiple law enforcement agencies opposed the bill. Stingrays present a number of questions concerning civil liberties and information gathering. This is another issue I will continue working on.
Here's other legislation I introduced in 2016.
- LB791 Eliminated charge against use of profanity in funeral homes
- LB855 Dealt with employment security law
- LB905 Created a Commission on Fathers, Men, and Boys
- LB937 Eliminated the requirement that anyone with a veneral disease cannot obtain a marriage license
- LB1001 Dealt with compensation for disability injuries
- LB1023 Addressed treatment protocol assessments in correctional facilities
- LB1044 Would eliminate the Commission of Industrial Relations
- LB1045 Addressed issues concerning independent contractor operations. (Supported by ride sharing operators like Uber and Lyft.)