The Nebraska Legislature continued committee hearings and floor debate on a wide range of issues, including insurance regulation, special education funding and the medical release of terminally ill prisoners.
The Judiciary Committee heard LB 852, introduced by Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, on Feb. 1. The bill would allow inmates who are terminally ill to be considered for medical release, which would help address the overcrowding issues the correctional system is currently experiencing.
No one testified against the bill. No immediate action was taken.
Lifting insurance cap on fees
LB 743, introduced by Sen. Brett Lindstorm of Omaha, was approved 36-0 on Feb. 1.
The bill would updates state laws regulating the insurance industry. Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward offered an amendment to the bill to remove a cap on the reasonable fee public adjusters can charge on insurance settlements. The amendment passed 36-0.
After a data breach
Lawmakers also voted on LB 757, introduced by Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln on Feb. 1. The bill proposes free credit monitoring for consumers after a data security breach. The bill passed unanimously and is advancing to select file.
LB 480, introduced by Sen. John McCollister of Omaha, would prevent insurance companies from dropping private health insurance policies on individuals solely because they were incarcerated.
The bill passed the legislature by a vote of 30-0 on Jan. 31.
The Education Committee listened to testimony for LB. 876, introduced by Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha, on Jan. 30. The bill would provide more state funding for special education programs. Kolowski said the state redirecting the funds would help at the local level and lower property taxes.
No action was taken on the bill.
Hay trucks on Interstate
On Jan. 30, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard a bill to allow hay bales up to 12 feet wide to be transported on Interstate highways during the day.
LB 980, introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, had no opposition. No immediate action was taken.
The Urban Affairs Committee heard a bill on Jan. 30 that would delete a provision that enables municipalities to develop vacant land on the outskirts of towns.
LB 967, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, maintains that redevelopment law is being abused to imply it is acceptable to expand Tax-Increment Financing’s use beyond its original intent, Wayne said.
The bill had multiple supporters and opponents. The committee took no immediate action.
Regs on wind energy
On Feb. 2 the Natural Resources Committee listened to testimony on LB 1054. The bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, would restore state requirements for wind energy facilities in Nebraska.
A law passed in 2016 exempted wind energy from regulation but Brewer said the current system isn’t working. The committee took no action.
Higher sales tax
LB 1108, introduced by Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha, would raise the state sales tax a half cent to pay for tax credits to improve the quality of the workforce.
The state sales tax would increase from 5.5 to 6% between 2019-23. There was no testimony in opposition, and no immediate action was taken.