Concealed carry regulation and open meetings law were among the issues addressed by lawmakers this session.
LB236, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, updated several concealed carry provisions and the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act. As introduced, the bill would have allowed certain Nebraska counties to allow residents to carry a concealed weapon without a state-issued permit. Amendments removed those provisions and added provisions of:
• LB85, introduced by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, which requires the Nebraska State Patrol to notify the holder of a concealed carry permit four months prior to the permit’s expiration;
• LB173, introduced by Blair Sen. Ben Hansen, which exempts from concealed carry prohibitions the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle for lawful purposes or carrying a concealed weapon directly to or from a vehicle if the firearm is unloaded, stored in a case and kept separate from ammunition;
• LB244, introduced by Elmwood Sen. Robert Clements, which allows a 30-day grace period to renew a concealed carry permit; and
• LB301, also introduced by Hansen, which removes CBD contained in a product approved by the FDA from the definition of hashish or concentrated cannabis and updates Nebraska drug schedules and penalties to conform to federal law.
Senators passed LB236 on a 45-0 vote.
LB188, introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, would prohibit any state or political subdivision employee from enforcing any federal law regulating a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition unless the measure also is codified in state law. The proposal remains in committee.
Local political subdivisions have greater flexibility to meet virtually under LB83, introduced by Norfolk Sen. Michael Flood. The bill allows authorized political subdivisions to hold meetings virtually during a declared emergency. The bill defines virtual conferencing as a meeting conducted electronically or by phone.
Under LB83, political subdivisions subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act and currently allowed to conduct one half of their annual meetings by video conferencing and teleconferencing can hold virtual meetings and discuss regular business during a governor-declared emergency.
Current requirements regarding advanced public notice and at least one physical site available for public participation still will apply. An official participating in such a virtual meeting may do so from any location.
The bill also reaffirms the validity of any actions taken by a public body between March 17, 2020, and April 30, 2021, in reliance on an executive order from the governor that waived open meeting requirements during the pandemic.
LB83 passed 43-0 and took effect immediately.
Government entities that fail to file required reports with the state auditor of public accounts may be fined $20 a day — up to $2,000 total per filing — under LB368, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders.
Lawmakers passed the bill on a 46-0 vote.
More Nebraska service members are eligible to receive a military grave marker under LB261, introduced by Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan. A Nebraska National Guard member who served on or after July 1, 1973, or served in active duty federal service is eligible.
The bill, which passed 41-0, also removes a requirement that a member of the armed forces have served during wartime to receive a marker. Markers will be available to all members of the armed forces in active duty or the U.S. reserve forces.
LR14, introduced by Halloran, would be Nebraska’s application for a convention of the states authorized under the U.S. Constitution. If two-thirds of the states commit to a convention, states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would limit the size and authority of the federal government, consider fiscal restraints and consider term limits for members of Congress.
The proposal advanced from committee and remains on general file.
Three other bills also advanced from committee but were not scheduled for debate this session.
LB442, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would create a 14-member Commission on Asian American Affairs. Members would be of Asian ancestry and appointed by the governor. The commission would promote beneficial state and federal legislation, enhance the cause of Asian American rights and develop solutions to problems common to all Asian Americans in Nebraska.
LB557, also sponsored by Hansen, would add police body camera recordings that involve the death of an individual being apprehended or in law enforcement custody to the list of records subject to public records requests following conclusion of a grand jury inquiry.
LB631, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar, would prohibit counties from banning property owners from renting their property through Airbnb and other short-term rental companies.
All three bills remain on general file.