Nebraska's 101st Legislature has convened for 2010 and we are approaching the third week of the second session. Up to now I have had six new bills introduced and ten bills that have carried over from the first session.
A few of the bills that I have introduced to date are first, LB753, a bill that several people approached me on. Currently the qualifications for an individual to be appointed a Superintendent of Law Enforcement and Safety Patrol for the State Patrol are a minimum four years of experience, which is less than the rank of Sergeant. This bill will increase the recommended qualifications in an individual to be eligible for appointment to this position and increase the quality of Superintendents of Law Enforcement and Safety Patrol for the State Patrol in the future. Additionally, this bill will be heard by the Government Affairs Committee on January 20 and is open to the public.
Another bill that I introduced is LB889, which is what I refer to as the "Castle Doctrine" bill. This bill changes provisions relating to the justification for the use of force. Simply, the heart of the bill creates a presumption that an individual who uses deadly force to defend themselves or others in their home, place of work, or vehicle was reasonable in their belief that immediate use of deadly force was necessary. This puts the burden on a prosecutor to prove that the evidence is nonexistent and the belief that deadly force was necessary was not reasonable. This strengthens the protections of the defender if he or she should be taken to court.
The bill would also abolish any civil remedy for anyone that broke into a home and was shot, and the homeowner was justified or presumed reasonable in his or her conduct. Currently, even if you were found justified in your self-defense, the criminal could still bring a civil suit if, for example, he were paralyzed by your shooting him.
In addition, LB 889 removes out of the current law the requirement to retreat in certain situations and other impractical requirements. Our current law is very complex and hard for most residents to understand what exactly their rights are when defending themselves. I hope my bill can bring some clarity to our self-defense laws, while giving our homeowners and business owners the benefit of the doubt when, God forbid, they have to use deadly force to defend themselves. I look forward to the outcome of this bill that has already generated a significant amount of support and little backlash.
Lastly, LB 896 is a bill that provides a permit for vehicles that exceed the weight limit when transporting livestock; it would allow, when transporting livestock, to exceed a maximum weight by two percent and cannot exceed twenty thousand pounds on any single axle. It is difficult for a farmer or rancher that does not own/have scales to guess an accurate weight of their livestock when they have sold them and are loading them for transportation to market, thus resulting in multiple fines and frustration. I also know that the Department of Transportation is merely following the laws. I am looking forward to what the committee brings to this bill and the response it gets.
Lastly, some of my carry over bills to look for during the session include;
LB6 authorizes school permit holders to drive to work,
LB19 changes marriage license fee provisions and provides for marriage education,
LB443 provides for the regulation of adult and sexually oriented businesses,
LB444 adopts the Escort Services Accountability and licensing Act,
LB646 adopts the Livestock Growth Act
LB648 states an intent relating to finding for a highway-related study
LB650 authorizes the operation of minitrucks on public highways
LB652 changes the Enhanced Wireless 911 Act.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding these bills or any issue please call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative Web site at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.