Nebraska lawmakers voted last week to advance several bills relating to gay rights, firearms, health care and business, among other things.LB 173, a bill sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld, would prohibit employers, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) applicants. Under LB 173, all companies with 15 or more employees would have to comply.
The bill was opposed by Kearney Sen. John Lowe and Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist, who said the government shouldn't be dictating who businesses hire. Sens. Ernie Chambers of Omaha and Carol Blood of Bellevue spoke in favor of the bill.
The legislature adjourned before taking action on the bill.
Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers sponsors LB 68, which would allow Nebraska to regulate registration, possession, transportation, transfer and storage of firearms and ammunition. Cities and villages would be able to maintain any prohibitions they’ve placed on firearm discharge.
Hilgers introduced the bill because gun laws vary from city to city and town to town. The lack of a statewide policy creates the possibility of unknowingly breaking the law if one drives to another town with a firearm.
Several lawmakers discussed the bill, but the body has not taken final action.
Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas sponsors LB 427, which would require school policies to accommodate pregnant and parenting students.
The minimum standards -- allow absences and participation in extracurricular activities after pregnancy -- would be developed by the state Department of Education.
The schools would also provide alternatives that would let the parents do class work online or through tutoring, so they could continue to complete their coursework.
The provision would cover mothers who attend public, private, denominational or parochial day schools.
The bill advanced to select file (second round) in a 29-3 vote.
Sales tax free
LB 291, sponsored by O'Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, advanced to select file in a 29-0 vote. Under the bill, certain businesses could exclude paying taxes from within a special economic impact zone.
More specifically, it would also allow qualified businesses to exclude from state sales and use taxes the first $10 million in purchases of goods or services for use within the zone each year.
The bill is intended to encourage the formation and expansion of businesses on Native American reservations in Nebraska.