New laws in effect, more on the way as lawmakers meet

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nebraska’s unique one-house Legislature is back in session today, with dealing with a projected $173 million deficit the top order of business.

Budgetary issues were the major topic at last year’s session, but lawmakers did pass some bills that went into effect Monday.

* LB18 created a license for dental assistant and expanded the functions that dental assistants and hygienists can do under state law.

* LB20 allows veterans totally disabled by a nonservice-connected accident or illness to forgo a yearly certification process for a homestead certification.

* LB45 creates Nebraska license plates for military reservists, for $5 plus the renewal fee. Proceeds will go to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund.

* LB172 simplifies language in the Employment Security Law.

* LB481 allows pharmacists to dispense drugs that are not identical to what’s prescribed but have been deemed interchangeable by the Food and Drug Administration. They must notify the patient, and, within three business days, the prescriber electronically.

* LB624 will allow county assessors and register of deeds to withhold the home address of law enforcement officers who apply from the public.

Related to the revenue shortfall, which Ricketts and supporters hope to resolve without raising taxes, a new tax proposal from the governor is something to watch this year.

Observers warn that more gridlock is in the offing since a 33-vote supermajority is needed to pass disputed bills, making filibusters more effective.

That’s what sank income and property tax cut legislation, as well as an effort to drop the state’s motorcycle requirement and a gun-rights proposal last session.

While we’re flooded with multiple sources of news, we also have unprecedented access to the goings-on in our state capital.

It’s important that we use that access to perform our duty as responsible citizens.

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