DACA provision removed from law enforcement measure, bill advanced

A proposal requiring county sheriff candidates to be certified law enforcement officers upon filing for office was narrowed and given second-round approval March 18.

Sen. Teresa Ibach
Sen. Teresa Ibach

LB894, introduced by Sumner Sen. Teresa Ibach, would require county sheriff candidates to possess a diploma issued by the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice before running for office. Additionally, upon filing to run for county sheriff, candidates would need to submit a standardized letter from the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center director certifying the issuance of their certificate or diploma.

The measure also would require that newly elected and appointed county sheriffs attend and complete a sheriff’s certification course and obtain certification within eight months of taking office. County sheriffs elected to office before July 19, 1980, would be exempt.

LB894 was amended on general file to add provisions of Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne’s LB918. Those provisions would permit individuals who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status to receive law enforcement training and certification.

Ibach offered an amendment on select file to remove those provisions. She said more information had come to light between the two rounds of debate that raised questions about the provisions — including constitutional concerns related to federal prohibitions on DACA recipients possessing firearms.

In addition, she said, the provisions would apply to DACA recipients only and not to other immigrants who are in the U.S. legally.

“I do not believe that this is fair to allow one group of individuals without citizenship [to receive law enforcement training] while continuing to exclude another group,” Ibach said, adding that she would “welcome” development of a more comprehensive piece of legislation over the interim.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha opposed Ibach’s amendment. While other populations of non-citizens could be included in a future proposal, she said, lawmakers should not strip DACA recipients’ eligibility for law enforcement training from LB894.

“We have to start somewhere — and DACA individuals seem like a great place to start,” Cavanaugh said.

Omaha Sen. John Fredrickson also opposed the amendment. He said other states, including California and Colorado, have passed legislation that allows DACA recipients to be employed in law enforcement.

“It does look like there is a way to do this that is sound and within a legal framework,” Fredrickson said.

Sen. Robert Dover of Norfolk supported the Ibach amendment, saying he had heard from many constituents opposed to the Wayne amendment since it was adopted on general file, including a sheriff who was concerned that the DACA provisions would expose counties to lawsuits.

Wayne said that because LB894 was designated as a speaker priority bill, an amendment should not be added to the measure unless the introducer agrees to it. Since Ibach changed her mind, Wayne said, he would not attempt to keep his amendment attached to the bill.

“I’m not fighting it in that regard … if [she] doesn’t want the amendment on there, take it out,” Wayne said.

The Ibach amendment was adopted 25-11. Twenty-five votes were needed. Lawmakers then advanced LB894 to final reading by voice vote.

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