Emergency act changes advanced

A bill to limit the governor’s authority during a state of emergency advanced from general file April 1.

LB390, introduced by Imperial Sen. Mark Christensen, would amend the Emergency Management Act by removing the governor’s power to limit or suspend the sale, dispensing or transportation of firearms.

As introduced, the bill would have prohibited the state or anyone acting on behalf of the state or a political subdivision from:
• prohibiting or restricting the lawful possession, use, transfer or transportation of a firearm or ammunition;
• seizing or confiscating a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition unless the firearm is seized to defend oneself or another, during the arrest of a person or as evidence in a crime; and
• requiring that firearms be registered during an emergency unless registration was required before the emergency declaration.

A Judiciary Committee amendment, adopted 30-0, narrowed the scope of the bill and would remove only the governor’s authority to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of firearms during a state of emergency.

Christensen said that in the unlikely event of an emergency in which law enforcement could not adequately protect people, Nebraska citizens should be able to access firearms.

“During a declared state of emergency it is more likely—not less likely—that a law-abiding Nebraska resident may need to use a firearm to protect themselves, their family or property from potential mobs, looting and other types of violent civil unrest,” Christensen said.

An amendment to the committee amendment by Hastings Sen. Les Seiler was adopted 37-0. It added provisions of his LB694, which would allow firearms on school campuses for use in historical reenactments, hunter education programs or as part of an honor guard.

Senators also approved an amendment brought by Hyannis Sen. Al Davis on a 36-0 vote. It added provisions of his LB772, which would allow the adjutant general to spend up to $25,000 per event on aerial fire suppression or hazardous material response without a state of emergency proclamation issued by the governor.

Senators advanced the amended bill on a 39-0 vote.

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