Legislative Update #50
A look ahead at the 2024 Legislative session
The sound of Christmas bells will barely have died away when the 108th session of the Nebraska legislature gavels into session on Wednesday, Jan. 3. (Each session begins the first Wednesday following the first Monday in January.)
In addition to preparing for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my fellow senators and I have been getting ready to make the trek to Lincoln and thinking about what our legislative priorities are going to be for the year.
With 2024 being an even-numbered year, this session will be 60 days long as compared with last year’s (odd numbered year) 90-day session. Following the short 60 day session we have state and national elections. The even numbered legislative districts, like ours which is the 34th, are up for election when Nebraska elects our governor. The odd numbered districts, like the 35th, where Grand Island is located, elect their state senators during the U.S. presidential election years, such as 2024.
This week I will discuss some new bills I will be carrying into this session. They are so new they don’t have bill numbers assigned to them yet. Next week we’ll look at some carry over bills from last session.
In this year’s session I plan to sponsor or support bills that will:
*Give law enforcement the ability to pull over anyone using a mobile device, such as those observed texting while driving. Currently officers cannot use this as probable cause to make a traffic stop. The use
of “hands free” devices is permitted, however.
*Give military veterans the ability to hunt for free on Veterans Day.
*Give the Department of Corrections the option of using nitrogen asphyxiation as a method of execution. This has shown to be a humane and effective means of carrying out capital punishment in other states.
*Permit the option of having a chaplain on school campuses. States that have done this have seen a marked positive result, including a decrease in suicides!
*Authorize local school boards to allow release time for student participation in religious instruction in an elective course for purposes of satisfying certain curriculum requirements in public schools.
*Reform the Pharmacy Benefit Manager which is making business difficult for small town independently-owned and operated pharmacies.
*Research the removal of tenure for college professors.
*Change the rules for driver’s license renewals for Nebraska veterans so they would only need to renew every 20 years. This would only apply to veterans younger than 60 or whose license has been revoked.
The legislation would be modeled after a law in effect in Georgia.
*Resurrect the Rural Workforce Housing bill that passed last session but was vetoed without a successful legislative override. Funds for that program are now depleted and this program has greatly helped rural Nebraska in the past. We have a serious rural housing shortage.
As noted above, next week we will take a look at some of the bills that are being carried over from the 2023 session. In the meantime, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year and a blessed and peaceful 2024!