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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Recapping the legislative session

Monday, May 3, 2010

This will be my last Letter Back Home for a while. I would like to recap a few things from this session.

The 101st Legislature 2nd Regular Session ended having passed 196 bills. An additional 55 bills were amended into the 196 bills. All, but five of the 101 priority bills advanced out of their committees and were debated on the floor. Many priorities did not make it to Final Reading.

This short, 60-day session, I was fortunate to pass four bills and help iron out a Judiciary Committee amendment to help continue to support the Work Ethic Camp in McCook.

Legislative Bill 650, which I introduced during the 2009 session, carried over to this session and was signed into law on March 3. It will allow minitrucks on all roads except four-lane, high-speed roads such as the interstate, expressways, and freeways. All minitrucks will be treated like any other vehicle and need to be titled, registered, licensed, and the operator must carry insurance.

I believe this will help many small business owners, farmers and ranchers, and anyone who wants to save on fuel to have more freedom and flexibility.

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee also amended LB 650. They created a new category for side-by-side off-road vehicles called Utility-Type Vehicles. These Utility Type Vehicles will be operated under similar rules as ATV's.

Another bill of mine that passed was LB 862, which changed language to use the Integrated Management Plans (IMPs) of Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) as the qualifying factor for eligibility for NRDs to have the current bonding and revenue authority for riverflow enhancement projects.

To receive this bonding and revenue authority, an NRD would need to create or change their IMP to reference and explicitly state their intention to use the four tools listed in section 2-3226.04. The four tools available to NRDs are vegetation management and removal, retirement of irrigation rights, augmentation of the river flows, and the purchase or lease of ground and surface water.

In addition, LB 862 gets rid of the requirement to finance these projects by bonding, and the bill clarifies that NRDs with multiple basins can only raise revenue for these projects from the relevant basin, which IMP gave them the authority.

LB 1051 was a bill I introduced for the Abstracters Board of Examiners that harmonizes the Abstracters Act, changing the renewals of an abstractor's Certificate of Authority to a biannual schedule. The bill also allows the Abstracters Board of Examiners to print the roster of abstracters on a biannual basis. These changes should create administrative cost savings into the future.

My last bill that passed is LB 1033. This bill was amended into LB 817 late in the session after my request for an Attorney General opinion on Omaha's handgun registration ordinance and a provision in my LB 430, which passed last session, said that Omaha was not following state law that allows a concealed handgun permitholder to be exempt from Omaha's local ordinance. LB 1033 makes it clear that the City of Omaha cannot enforce their registration ordinance against concealed handgun permit holders. I was very pleased we were able to fix this problem so concealed handgun permit holders can travel throughout the state.

I introduced two interim studies to be done between now and next session. LR 430 is a study to examine my LB 889 and Nebraska's Self-defense laws and the Castle Doctrine. The second study is LR 478. It will look at Nebraska creating a Statewide Water Planning Commission. Both studies have received committee priority and will have a hearing either late summer or fall of this year.

I would like to end with a few other issues you may have been following this session. LR 539, introduced by Sen. Fulton, was adopted and sent to our congressional delegation. It was a resolution asking them to stick too the ideals of federalism in the 9th and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution that protect our individual and state rights. I was a strong supporter of this resolution. I also believe more may need to be done by the states bring back an appropriate balance of power between Washington D.C. and the states.

LB 1048 was landmark legislation for Nebraska. It allows for private wind generation for export. This was a difficult process, but we were able to accomplish legislation that should bring opportunities for wind development across the state, helping our rural economy.

Other Major issues the Legislature addressed were LB 1072, laying the ground work for reorganizing the Community College Association and the Funding formula; LB 800 with several changes to Juvenile Justice, that will also be studied this interim; LB 420, which would have given sales tax exemption to certain Health Clinics in 2013 was vetoed by the Governor over budget issues; and none of the bills regarding gambling advanced.

Thank you for your trust as I represent you in Lincoln, I hope to run into many of you as I travel through District 44.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding these bills, or any other issue, please call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative website at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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