Legislative week in review
By Krista Vogel
Nebraska News Service
Lawmakers advanced a bill to reform foster care April 7.
Legislative Bill 177, introduced by Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, would require adult relative notification within 30 days when a child is removed from his or her home.
The Department of Health and Human Services would also be required to take measures to keep siblings together or provide interaction for those in separate homes.
A change in the state aid formula for education would mean a cut in funding for Nebraska’s K-12 schools.
The state faces the absence of one-time federal stimulus funds that amount to $140 million this year, and Gov. Dave Heineman has stressed that he will not cut education funding.
LB 235, introduced by Sen. Greg Adams of York, would cut state aid to schools by $13 million if passed.
Senators threw out a bill April 7 to allow minors serving life sentences without parole to seek a re-sentencing hearing after serving at least 20 years in prison.
Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha introduced LB 251 to allow inmates who have matured the possibility of getting lesser sentences. The bill failed with a 18-24 vote.
Lawmakers passed the Concussion Awareness Act April 8.
LB 260 will make concussion awareness information available to school faculty, coaches, parents and children. It requires parental notification of suspected concussions that occur in sports practices or games and bans participation in such sports until the affected child obtains written permission from a medical professional.
A bill to eliminate state benefits to noncitizens passed April 8. Under current law, noncitizens qualify for federal aid after five years of permanent residency, but states can opt to supply additional aid before that.
Retailers will now track sales of methamphetamine precursor chemicals under a bill passed April 8.
Persons buying illegal amounts of pseudoephedrine, used in meth production, will prompt an alert for the seller to stop the sale.
The electronic tracking system will be required–and free. The bill goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Criminals under the influence of drugs or alcohol can no longer plead temporary insanity unless they can prove they involuntarily ingested the substance. LB 100 passed April 8.
A bill to protect public utilities infrastructure and design documents passed April 8.
LB 230, introduced by Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, brought forth a clash between the public’s right to public records and public safety.
The bill’s Jan. 26 hearing raised concerns that if utility infrastructure documents made it into the wrong hands, citizens may become vulnerable to terrorist attacks.