Senators raised the state’s smoking age and changed the regulation of party buses, among other actions during the recently completed session.

and special designated licenses this session.

LB 1064, introduced by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, raises the legal age to use and purchase tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, electronic nicotine delivery systems or alternative nicotine products in Nebraska from 19 to 21, matching the national requirements.

The bill also raises the minimum age to enter a tobacco specialty store from 19 to 21 but allows employees who are 19 or 20 to work in tobacco specialty shops until Jan. 1, 2022.

In addition, the bill allows individuals ages 15-20 to help law enforcement in compliance checks of tobacco vendors with written consent of a parent or legal guardian.

The bill passed 48-0.


Party buses

Lawmakers approved a bill 42-0 that requires licenses for charter buses that allow consumption of alcohol under the state’s Liquor Control Act.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt’s LB 734 requires companies that operate special party buses to obtain an annual license from the state Liquor Control Commission. The one-year, $75 license may be suspended, revoked or canceled by the commission.

Enforcement inspections of special party buses are limited to times when patrons are entering or exiting the stopped vehicle.


Outdoor drinking

Senators also approved a bill that allows certain alcohol vendors to expand their operations temporarily without obtaining a special designated license.

LB 1056, introduced by Kearney Sen. John Lowe, allows farm wineries, craft breweries, micro-distilleries, bottle clubs or entities with a retail liquor license to expand their licensed premises temporarily to a street, parking lot or alley that is immediately adjacent to their licensed location upon approval by the appropriate local governing body.

A temporary area must be enclosed by a fence or other means, have easily identifiable entrances and exits and meet all sanitation requirements for a premise with a liquor license.

Temporary expansion cannot exceed 50 days in 2020 and 15 days per year starting in 2021.


Extended raffles

LB 1056, passed 47-0, also extends a special permit to conduct a lottery or raffle under the Nebraska Lottery and Raffle Act from three months to one year. The bill also allows raffle tickets to be sold online and to be purchased with a debit card.