Our eighth week of session – Days 30 through 33 of our 60-day session – adjourned on Thursday.
LR35 – debated on Monday of last week – was a Legislative Resolution that called for Nebraska to add its name to the requisite 34 states needed in order to call a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution, the authority for which is granted to the State Legislatures under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
To date, only five states have passed the resolution. The language of the resolution stated that the amendments proposed be limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.
However, as opponents we believed the outcome of such a convention is uncertain and there may be unintended consequences that result from having a convention and proposing amendments. The resolution failed to pass. I voted against the resolution.
LB188 was debated for over four hours. This bill defined who would be considered an innocent third party in vehicular pursuits by law enforcement. LB188 sought to place a definition in statute and narrowly define who would be considered an “innocent third party”.
As a compromise, the introducer of the bill removed portions that would have disqualified a person from being considered an innocent third party if they entered a vehicle without coercion and with a reasonable belief that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or drugs.
Also removed was if a person failed to take reasonable steps to persuade the driver to stop the vehicle, they would not be considered an innocent third party. As part of the compromise, the word “immediately” was added to describe the time frame for which a person who engaged in criminal activity in the past may or may not be considered an innocent third party in the vehicular pursuit. For example, if someone did not file their income taxes three years prior to the pursuit, but are in the vehicle being chased by the police, but not for anything they have done – they simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time – then they can still be considered an innocent third party.
However, the opponents wanted another provision in the bill that would have been difficult for law enforcement to engage in future pursuits. And that is, prior to the chase, the law enforcement officer must identify the suspect they are pursuing. The opponents were successful in defeating the bill as it fell two votes short of a cloture vote. I was for this bill.
On Friday I attended a meeting of the Supreme Court Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorships. The Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court appointed me to the commission in 2015.
The Legislature created the Office of Public Guardian in 2014, which serves as guardians and/or conservators to Nebraskans who are unable to make decisions on their own, and have no private individual or organization to support their decision-making needs. The purpose of the commission is to propose solutions or improvements to help meet the challenges of caring for vulnerable adults and children that can be placed in statute, added to the court rules, and court procedures.
The Office of Public Guardian can be appointed by a court when it is determined that guardianship and/or conservatorship is the least restrictive way to meet an individual’s decision-making needs, and there is no one else to serve.
Please contact me; my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann; or my legislative aide, Brett Waite, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or stop by Room 1016 if you are in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online you can visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government. Live broadcasting is also available on NET2.