On May 31, the Legislature adjourned sine die, which means that we have concluded the first session of the 106th Legislature and will reconvene next January for the second session.
This session, your 49 state senators were able to come together and enact important legislation related to regulating the hemp industry, medication abortion notification, and telephone “spoofing” investigations. We also passed a budget which includes more property tax relief funding. Although we were unable to advance substantive property tax relief, I am optimistic that my colleagues on the Revenue Committee will continue to work over the interim to find the best path forward that represents true tax relief and not a tax shift.
My personal priority bill, LB149, passed 45-0 and was approved by Gov. Pete Ricketts on May 30. LB149 raises the legal age from 18 to 19 for purchasing and possessing tobacco products and vapor products, such as JUUL devices or other e-cigarettes. It also requires retailers that sell vapor products to be licensed.
As you may know, the idea for LB149 was brought to me by a Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education member due to the dramatic increase in youth usage of vapor products, and I have worked closely with GIPS to get this bill passed. It is a major win for our schools and, more importantly, for our children’s health. Vapor products can be extremely addictive, and the chemicals are harmful for developing brains. They are also a nuisance in school settings.
Raising the age will ensure more separation between those in high school and those who can purchase these products legally, which will help reduce their use by young people, and licensing will help us keep better track of who is purchasing these products.
I have also introduced four resolutions to conduct interim studies over the coming months. LR173 will study health concerns related to public use of and secondhand exposure to electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other products.
LR184 will examine how to provide a sustainable and adequate stream of state funds to local public health departments to ensure they are able to meet their core responsibilities.
LR190 is an interim study to look into Nebraska’s history of involvement in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.
And, LR200 will study programming provided at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Geneva and Kearney and the need for additional programming.
I look forward to staying busy over the interim conducting these studies and preparing legislation for the next session, as well as interacting with all of you in Grand Island. If you have any comments, concerns or questions, please call my office at (402) 471-2617 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to reach out to me over the past several months, and I look forward to continue working with you and for you.