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'Trigger bill' would ban all abortions in Nebraska if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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LINCOLN — All abortions would be banned in Nebraska if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade under a bill introduced Monday in the Legislature.

Legislative Bill 933, introduced by State Sens. Joni Albrecht of Thurston and Mike Flood of Norfolk, is a “trigger bill.”

Like similar laws passed in a dozen other states, it would take effect only if a ruling by the nation’s high court, adoption of a U.S. constitutional amendment or passage of a federal law gives states full power to regulate abortions.

States’ authority is currently limited by past court rulings that declared abortion to be a constitutional right.

If triggered, LB 933 would make it a felony for anyone to provide any medication or undertake any procedure with the intent of ending the life of an unborn child, defined as an “individual living member of the species homo sapiens ... from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth.”

The woman undergoing an abortion would not be considered in violation of the law.

The bill would not provide exemptions but would allow licensed physicians charged under the law to use as a defense that the abortion was necessary to prevent the woman’s death or serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ.

The measure is the second proposal aimed at ending or sharply curtailing abortions in Nebraska. LB 781, introduced by Sen. Julie Slama of Sterling, would ban abortions after a so-called fetal heartbeat can be detected. That usually occurs at about six weeks gestation, before most women are aware that they are pregnant.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce a ruling on abortion in June.

Among other legislation introduced Monday:

Criminal justice. Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, introduced LB 920. He said the bill includes both consensus and non-consensus proposals from a working group that has spent months digging into state criminal justice data.

The final report from that initiative, which is being facilitated by the nonprofit Crime and Justice Institute, has yet to be released. But Lathrop said he thinks that it’s important the bill be introduced and scheduled for a hearing early.

Lathrop’s bill proposes tweaks to expand problem-solving courts and incentivize mental health practitioners to stay in Nebraska, as well as changes to multiple other facets of the state’s criminal justice system, including sentencing, penalties, parole and more.

Taxes. Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, the Revenue Committee chairwoman, introduced a pair of bills that would cut the top income tax rates for both corporations and individuals. LB 938 would reduce the top rate on corporations from the current 7% down to 5.84% in four steps, ending in 2026. LB 939 would reduce the top individual rate from the current 6.84% down to 5.84% in three steps, ending in 2025.

World-Herald Staff Writer Sara Gentzler contributed to this report.

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-670-2402

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