General Affairs

Senators raised the state’s smoking age and changed the regulation of party busses and special designated licenses this session.

LB1064, 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 from 19 to 21.

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, LB1064 allows individuals ages 15 to 20 to assist law enforcement in compliance checks of tobacco vendors with written consent of a parent or legal guardian.

The bill passed 48-0.

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 LB734 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.

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

LB1056, 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 premises with a liquor license.

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

LB1056, 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.

Two measures introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha that would have impacted gaming in Nebraska failed to advance from committee.

Under current law, games of chance other than the state lottery and certain charitable enterprises are illegal and the Nebraska Constitution prohibits the Legislature from authorizing additional games of chance.

LR295CA would have allowed voters to change the state’s constitution to enable the Legislature to authorize, regulate and tax such games. If passed, the resolution would have added the question to the 2020 general election ballot.

LB971 would have revised the state’s definition of a lottery to include wagers on sports contests, excluding high school and youth games.

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