March has come and gone and the Legislature has finished 56 days of the 90-day session.
Since my last letter the Legislature had an extended eight-hour debate on LB 84, which addresses the expected revenue shortfall to meet Nebraska's needs for road maintenance and construction in the future by using a half percent of the current 5.5 percent state sales tax and provisions to allow for bonding.. I would like to discuss the status of LB 84 and a couple of my bills, LB 512 and LB 648.
First, LB 84, introduced by Sen. Fischer from Valentine, advanced to the second round of debate with a vote of 32-8, with my support, after a cloture motion to cease all debate prevailed 36-12 to break a filibuster lead by Sen. Conrad from Lincoln.
The bill advanced basically in its original form due to procedural priority motions by opponents. The failed motions were to postpone the bill to the end of session (bracket), reconsider the previous vote, and recommit the bill back to the Revenue Committee. Because of this filibuster, pending amendments were not considered during the two day, eight hour debate, except for the Revenue Committee amendment, which was adopted, to clarify that federally designated corridors are included with the funds designated for expressways.
Sen. Fischer recently filed amendment AM1025 for Select File to remove the provisions allowing for bonding in the bill. If adopted it would replace the bill. Another potential amendment would reduce the $125 million dollar cap in AM1025 on funds transferred from the state sales tax to $75 million.
I support Sen. Fischer's AM1025. We cannot afford to kick this can down the road and ignore a major priority of state government to provide safe and appropriate road infrastructure to maintain and grow Nebraska's economy into the future.
LB 512, which I introduced for the Nebraska State Patrol, advanced to Select File last Tuesday with a vote of 38 to 0. This bill would help close some of the potential information gaps regarding the checking of mental health records for the purchase, possession, transportation, and transfer of firearms.
After the Virginia Tech tragedy, the federal government passed legislation to encourage states to improve the sharing of mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). LB 512 would remove some of the statutory obstacles.
In addition, the federal law encourages states put in place a process by which individuals that have been formally disqualified to own or possess a firearm, due solely to a mental health issue, can ask for a hearing from the Mental Health Board for a determination and a due process right of appeal to the District Court for a de novo review. If the board determines they are no longer suffering from the mental illness that prohibited them from owning or possessing a firearm, it would allow for the reinstatement of their Second Amendment rights.
Finally, LB 648, which I introduced to address notification issues amongst interested parties of a foster child in Nebraska's foster care system, is on the afternoon agenda for Tuesday April 5. I believe this bill will help improve communication between the parties regarding court reviews and hearings improving due process rights for all involved.
If you have comments, concerns, or questions about this bill 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/.