Hunting, schools, livestock, topics of debate
LINCOLN--Disabled hunters, priority schools and changes in livestockbrand inspections were among topics of conversation among lawmakers at the capitol last week. First-round approval was given March 6 to a bill relating to brand inspection regulations. Legislative Bill 768, introduced by Sen. KenSchilz of Ogallala, would have allowed the Nebraska Brand Committee to charge and collect a fee to cover the expenses for livestock brand inspections occurring outside of the brand inspection area. But an amendment drafted by the Agriculture Committee replaced the original version after a 29-0 vote. As amended, the bill would revise the method of calculating inspection fees for feedlots and dairies. The bill is a response to a report by the state auditor that found inconsistencies between statute and current practices,Schilz said. "[This bill would] bring certain fee provisions in linewith legislative intent and current practice," he said. "It would insertexpress statutory authority for the fee processes that have been followed by the brand committee."On March 5, senators advanced a bill that would provide special assistance to the state's three lowest performing schools. LB438, introduced by Sen. Greg Adams of York, would allow the State Board of Education to appoint an intervention team to assist the school district and school staff in diagnosing issues and implementing strategies to address them. School would hold this priority designation untilthe State Board of Education determined it is no longer needed. School staff and the intervention team would be required todevelop a progress plan, including specific actions needed to remove the school from priority designation. Any priority school would be required to comply with the progress plan to maintain accreditation. Progress plans would be reviewed annually by the State Boardof Education, and if the district was still struggling after five consecutive years, the board would be required to reevaluate the progress plan. During debate, Adams introduced an amendment that wouldauthorize the state board to implement an alternative administrative structure if a school district consistently failed to meet its plan. The amendment would give the board more authority to respond in crisis situations, he said. "[During earlier debate] I heard more than one senator say we need to do more," he said. "I'm trying to strike what I perceive to be a very delicate balance between giving the state board the authority and flexibility to go into schools and get them turned around, yet not going at it with a chain saw." Lawmakers advanced LB438 to final reading by voice vote. LB699, sponsored by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill also advanced March 6. The bill would allow a developmentally disabled person to purchase a hunting permit via a license-purchase exemption certificate issued by the state Game and Parks Commission. Another licensed hunter must accompany the disabled hunter. An applicant for the certificate would be required to provide a written note from a physician, saying that the person is at all times capable of understanding and following directions given by another person and that he or she is not a danger to themselves or others. Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln filed a motion to suspend thegermaneness rule to allow consideration of an amendment that would addprovisions of her bill, LB1035. The motion passed 30-0. The amendment would require the Nebraska State Patrol and state Department of Health and Human Services to provide the Legislature a record of people who are authorized to purchase handguns due to either disqualification or disability. The list would also be published on the websites of both state organizations. The amendment was adopted 29-0 and the bill was advanced to final reading on a voice vote.