Local interest bills introduced to committees

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last week, I was grateful to have the 44th Legislative District represented by the Chaplain of the day, Preacher Wayne Vogel from McCook. I am honored to have members of the clergy be willing to make the trip all the way to Lincoln to give the opening prayer before the start of the legislative day. I frequently attend town hall meetings where I give legislative updates and take questions. If an organization in your area would be interested in hosting a meeting please contact my office to schedule an event for a day I am back in the district. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.

On Friday, March 17 I introduced LB 183 to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. LB 183 would allow counties with 15,000 residents or fewer to remove the party affiliation label from the ballot in county primary races. Which would then allow the top two candidates for office, regardless of party affiliation, to advance to the general election, where they would be elected on a partisan ballot. In order to change from a partisan to nonpartisan primary election, counties with a population of 15,000 or less can adopt a resolution or the residents can file a petition to place the question on the ballot to change to nonpartisan primary elections. If the people want to enact a petition to remove the party affiliation label from the ballot 5% of the regular voters in the county at the preceding statewide general election must sign the petition. The question must then be submitted at the first statewide general election which will be held at least sixty days after the adoption of a resolution or verification of signatures and can only be introduced every three years. If the county ends up exceeding a population of 15,000 the non-partisan county primary will continue until a vote is taken to change it back.

Also coming up, on Wednesday, March 22nd I will be introducing LB 593. The idea for this bill was brought to me by McCook Chief of Police, Ike Brown. LB 593 which will be heard by the Judiciary Committee, creates a crime of criminal trespassing to a vehicle if he or she enters or remains in any vehicle if they know they are not licensed or privileged to do so. It would become a Class III misdemeanor for a first or second conviction and a Class I misdemeanor for a third or subsequent conviction. Vehicle would include any vehicle, aircraft, watercraft or farm implement. Under current statutes, officers cannot intervene to protect the property of our citizen until they observe a theft because there is no criminal violation. Even if an officer observes items in the possession of persons going through vehicles, the items have not yet been reported stolen or discovered as missing so therefore, cannot be identified as stolen items or seizes as evidence by officers. As a result of the current statutes, this ultimately allows criminals the freedom to rifle through vehicles, steal personal property and damage vehicles with impunity.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

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