Telephone conference report on Tuesday, April 12
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Three of Senator Mark Christensen’s bills will be heard on second round debate this week, the senator said during his weekly tele-conference
He expected two of his bills, LB 512 and LB 648, to be debated Wednesday, followed by his ethanol labeling today (Thursday).
All three bills are on select file, or the second round of debate. If forwarded, they will go to final reading.
Restoring gun rights
LB 512 allows for the restoration of Second Amendment gun rights to persons who have been barred from buying or possessing a gun for mentalhealth reasons.
The law will provide an avenue of “relief from disabilities” if they no longer suffer from the condition that originally barred them.
It gives the person the opportunity to request a mental health board hearing for a determination and a due process right of appeal to the District Court for a new review of the person’s health status.
In Nebraska, this is estimated to be less than five people per year. From Oct. 1, 2009, to Dec.10, 2010, two persons out of 1,012 purchase permit requests were denied due to the mental disabilities component. Records indicate no carry conceal weapon requests were denied for this purpose.
Christensen, who is a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights, introduced the bill on behalf of the Nebraska State Patrol.
Foster Care Review
LB 646 would establish certain notification requirements for court reviews and hearings pertaining to a child in a foster care placement.
The bill also gives standing to the foster parent(s) in the context of a hearing regarding removal of a foster child from the foster parents’ home.
It would also require the court to inquire into the well-being of the foster child from any willing foster parent, pre-adoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child if
they are present at the hearing.
Christensen proposed this bill in an effort to bring some accountability to the process.
His daughter and son-in-law, who were foster parents, had little notice of the removal of several foster children and had virtually no standing in the subsequent hearings to determine the future of the foster children.
Christensen’s bill to change the labeling requirements for ethanol-based fuels at the gas pump has faced more opposition then he expected.
He wants to remove notices required at gas pumps that indicate fuel has 10 percent or less ethanol added.
In states where this has been done, the use of ethanol has increased.
A pending amendment would label fuels with 1 percent or less of ethanol with “this fuel does not contain ethanol, methanol, or ethanol and methanol.”
This addresses concerns for people who do not want any ethanol in their fuel at all for such things as small engines, boat motors, mower engines, etc.
Highway bill a super priority
Chistensen said Speaker Mike Flood will likely give super priority status to a bill to address the funding of highway improvements in the state.
LB 84 would create the State Highway Capital Improvement Fund and directs a half-cent of existing state sales tax into the fund to be used for construction of high-priority highway
It’s estimated a half-cent of sales tax generates approximately $125 million per year. This revenue would be split between the state (83 percent) and cities and counties (17 percent).
Local governments would allot their portion as provided through the current Highway Allocation formula and would be required to use the revenue for road and street purposes.
The diversion of the existing sales tax would begin in 2013 and continue for 20 years
The Department of Roads, in conjunction with the State Highway Commission, would be authorized to issue up to $500 million in highway bonds to accelerate construction of high-priority, high-dollar projects.
Any bonds would be required to be issued by 2018 and paid off within 20 years (2038).
The bill would require at least $15 million per year in the fund be used for the construction of the expressway system as determined by the department.
Senator MARK CHRISTENSEN holds weekly teleconferences at 7 a.m. MT/8 a.m. CT each Tuesday morning. The public is invited to attend the conference calls. Hosts of the conference calls are Southwest Public Power District in Palisade and Midwest Electric in Grant. Christensen can be reached at 402-471-2805, or by mail at P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or via e-mail at