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State senators introduce 812 bills

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Nebraska lawmakers introduced 812 bills during the first 10 days of the legislative session, the window for legislation to be filed for consideration.

Sarpy County's delegation -- made up of state Sens. John Arch of La Vista, Carol Blood of Bellevue, Jen Day of Chalco, Rick Holdcroft of Bellevue and Rita Sanders of Bellevue -- introduced 54 bills as well as four resolutions.

Legislative Bill 769, filed on the final day for introductions, Wednesday, Jan. 18, would make $60 million from the state's cash reserves available to help Sarpy County develop a new sewer system.

The Unified Southern Sarpy Wastewater System is expected to cost $250 million and generate more than $37 billion in new net spending over 30 years, according to a recent study.

Holdcroft was the primary sponsor of the bill, and Day and Sanders joined as co-sponsors.

Other highlights from Sarpy County senators include:

• Sanders' LB 71, which would require that public schools disclose instructional materials to parents and allow parents to request that their child be excused from certain lessons or activities.

Sanders introduced the bill alongside other Republican Sens. Joni Albrecht, Tom Briese, Lou Ann Linehan and newly elected Education Committee Chair Dave Murman.

• Day's LB 127, which would end life without parole sentences for minors in Nebraska. She said Nebraska’s neighbors all have moved away from the practice. The bill would not require that youths be given parole but would allow them the chance to have a parole hearing, during which they could make a case for having turned their lives around.

Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas do not allow a life sentence option for minors. Minnesota and Missouri have no juveniles currently serving life without parole sentences, according to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.

Under the bill, juveniles convicted of a Class 1A felony could get a maximum sentence of up to 80 years and a minimum sentence of no more than 40 years. That would make them eligible to be considered for parole in 20 years. Current law provides for a maximum of life in prison and a minimum of at least 40 years.

“Sentencing youth to life without the possibility of parole is a closed door on the future, when we know how much young people are capable of change,” said Anahí Salazar, policy coordinator at Voices for Children.

Nebraska lawmakers passed the current sentencing law in 2013, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that barred states from requiring life sentences for juveniles. Lawmakers at the time rejected efforts to set the minimum at 30 years, with some arguing that would not be enough for the seriousness of the crimes involved.

• Blood's LB 211, which would create a “circuit breaker” program to help property taxpayers with limited incomes. It would provide refundable income tax credits for homeowners or renters with federal adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or less for married couples or $50,000 for individuals. The income limit for farm and ranch land owners would be $350,000 or less.

• Holdcroft's LB 274, which would allow disabled military veterans with disabled veteran license plates on their vehicles to park in spots designated for handicapped or disabled people. Such spots currently are reserved for people with limited mobility.

• Day's LB 391, which would provide criminal and civil immunity for individuals who end their pregnancy either intentionally or unintentionally. Day has opposed previous attempts to restrict abortion access in Nebraska.

• Blood's LB 413, which would adopt an interstate compact that would help teachers maintain their licenses through multiple states.

• Holdcroft's LB 457, which would require Nebraska ballots to have serial numbers and at least three anti-counterfeiting features, such as watermarks, holographs and taggants, which are chemical or physical markers used to track and identify items.

The bill also would require video surveillance of polling places to track ballots from the time they are handed to voters until they are sealed in boxes to be taken to the local election office for counting.

• Day's LB 558, which would require that all public school employees be paid at least 70% of the statewide average hourly wage.

• Day's LB 675, which would allow Nebraskans to present a wide variety of identification documents to vote.

Along with state, federal and tribal IDs, the bill would allow IDs issued by high schools and colleges, IDs issued by counties and other local governments, Social Security and Medicare cards, birth certificates, adoption certificates, naturalization certificates and records issued by hospitals or nursing homes. The bill would not require people voting by mail to present ID.

Find a list of bills brought by Sarpy County senators at omaha.com/community/sarpy. Find a complete list of bill introductions at nnebraskalegislature.gov.

Martha Stoddard and Erin Bamer of the Omaha World-Herald contributed to this report.

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