|Legislature heading into the final stretch|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Wednesday, 13 May 2015 20:35|
By Dan Hughes
Nebraska State Senator - 44th District
The Nebraska Legislature has entered the final stretch of the session. We still have quite a few bills that we would like to get through.
The budget passed the second round of debate. There will be one more round of debate and then it will go to the governor.
The Legislature is trying something new. Last week we started session at 9 a.m. and had floor debate until noon, followed by a 20 minute break, and then floor debate resumed. We usually adjourn around 7 p.m.
Before, we would take an hour and half break for lunch but then work until 9 or 10 p.m. I prefer taking a shorter lunch break and getting back to debate.
A bill we recently debated was LB329, introduced by Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala. It creates the Nebraska Agritourism Promotion Act.
It is intended to promote tourism and rural economic development. It limits a landowner’s civil liability when they allow public access to their property, so they can participate in agritourism activities.
Agritourism activities are hunting, fishing, bird watching, hiking, etc. The visitors must be warned of potential dangers. An amendment offered, AM1580, defines inherent risk as any condition, danger or hazard that is an integral part of land or water used for agritourism.
These include: the risk of animals and land and water conditions, the ordinary dangers of structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming or ranching operations, and the potential for you or another participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to your own injury or death.
An individual assumes some risk when they participate in agritourism activities.
Motion to suspend the rules
On Thursday, May 7, Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha made a motion to suspend the rules to permit introduction of a bill. The motion prevailed with 37 ayes and 6 nays.
It is a bill relating to the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. It amends sections 57-903 and 57-905, Reissue Revised Statutes of Nebraska to provide duties for the commission regarding the disposal of wastewater, to define a term, to repeal the original sections, and to declare an emergency.
With any bill being introduced this late in the session, I doubt if it will see floor debate. It will have to have a committee hearing first and our current schedule does not allow much time to fit another hearing in.
This is something the Natural Resources Committee will take a look at over the summer and come back with a recommendation for the next Legislative session beginning in January 2016.
I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.
For more about the bills or to watch live streaming video of the Legislature’s floor debate, visit nebraskalegislature.gov.
During his weekly tele-conference call Tuesday morning, Hughes said he’s struggled with the medical marijuana bill debated last week. It’s on the agenda again this week.
He conceded it’s an emotional issue, especially for parents of children with who may be able to benefit.
However, he said he’s still leaning against the bill until the University can do more study. A bill to just that is likely to come up for consideration.
Bills passed last week included a Medicaid reimbursement to allow the state to recoup costs if an estate was put into a trust within five years of the person’s death.
The bill to increase the gas tax by six cents passed and was immediately vetoed by the governor. Hughes said the bill’s sponsor will likely seek an override vote and feels the votes are there for an override.
The Brand Inspection Act was modified to allow the commission to charge up to $1.10 per head. Originally, the fee was set at $1.25 per head.
On Tuesday, the Legislature was scheduled to hear three different prison bills. That comes on the heels of a riot at the Tecumseh prison and disturbances at the Lincoln penitentiary.
Big issues remain
Hughes said some big issues still remain. Once the final vote is taken on the budget, the focus will turn to these big issues. “The small issues have fallen by the wayside,” Hughes said.
The last working day for the Legislature will be Friday, May 29. The senators will return Friday, June 5 to act on any possible overrides.