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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Concealed weapons, closing highways

Monday, May 2, 2011

This week the state policy for how local communities handle the temporary use or closure of state highways for local parades, celebrations and other community events may change with the advancement of LB589 to the second round of debate. This week I Also received good news for concealed handgun permit holders from the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP).

First, I would like to discuss LB 589 introduced by Sen. Jim Smith from Papillion. His bill seeks to resolve an issue that has arose between the Nebraska Department of Roads (DOR) and communities throughout the state that have local parades, celebrations, and events that encroach or temporarily use, close, or redirect traffic on a state highway going through their community.

Currently, local governments have to apply for a permit from DOR to use a highway during one of these local events, many of which have been going on for many years.

Within the last couple of years, DOR changed its internal policy regarding encroachment on state highways for these local events, primarily due to liability issues, resulting in many permits being denied. With these new policies under DOR many communities feel that they have not been applied consistently from one area of Nebraska to another, causing some communities to be denied a permit while others are issued a permit.

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee advanced Sen. Smith's bill out of committed with an amendment, which was adopted and became the bill.

The amendment provides that local communities would no longer be required to apply for a permit from DOR. As the bill currently stands, counties, cities, and villages would be allowed to temporarily use a state highway for a special events under certain conditions.

The first condition is that the portion of highway used for the special event is within the corporate limits or zoning district of the county, city, or village. Second, the county, city, or village assumes the duty to protect the highway and the public and all liability for any damage or injury that may arise from the temporary use of the highway. Third, the local government is required by official action to accept these duties and responsibilities. And, finally, the local government has to provide a 30-day advance written notice of the special event to the DOR.

I believe this was a reasonable resolution to the problem while giving local communities more control of their local affairs.

LB 589 advanced to Select File with a 41-0 vote.

On an important side note, all of you with a Nebraska Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) will very soon be able to use your CHP as a permit to purchase a handgun. A year after the Legislature passed LB 817; the Nebraska State Patrol finally received a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives recognizing Nebraska's CHP as an alternative permit to purchase. I do not know when those with Federal Firearms Licenses will be officially notified, but it will be soon.

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/.

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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