- Associated Press - Sunday, May 14, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - As Nebraska lawmakers complete the final weeks of the legislative session, many of the most high-profile bills have fallen by the wayside but are likely to emerge again next year.

Lawmakers whose bills stalled say they plan to work on their proposals after the session in hopes of resurrecting the legislation in the future.

Here are some of the measures that could return:



A bill designed to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and online retailers stalled without a vote, but its sponsor says lawmakers will likely debate it again in 2018.

The bill would have required online retailers with at least 200 transactions or $100,000 in revenue in Nebraska to collect sales taxes or send detailed records to customers and the state to ensure customers pay the tax.

“To me, it’s not only a matter of fairness to the brick-and-mortar stores,” said Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, the bill’s sponsor. “It’s just the right thing to do. You owe that tax.”

Nebraska already requires residents to report and pay the tax on their income tax returns, but few people comply. Gov. Pete Ricketts objected to the measure, saying it’s unconstitutional. Watermeier said he doesn’t have a clear path forward to pass the bill but plans to keep discussing it with Ricketts and other senators.



A bill that would have allowed Nebraska teachers to physically restrain disruptive students also failed without a vote in the face of stiff opposition from school administrators, disability rights advocates and others.

Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte said he plans to talk with the Nebraska State Board of Education to build support for the measure next year. Groene said he introduced it after talking to friends who had quit teaching because they felt they couldn’t control their classrooms. He also voiced concerns about Nathan Hale Middle School in Omaha, where teachers have complained about students throwing things, running in halls and disrupting class.

“You hear it all the time - people saying we don’t have discipline in schools anymore,” he said.



A proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to show a government-issued identification at the polls is done for the session, but the senator who introduced it plans to keep the issue alive this year.

Sen. John Murante of Gretna said he’ll lead a legislative investigation to look into voter fraud in Nebraska. He said he’ll also work on recommendations to strengthen the integrity of the state’s election systems in hopes of bringing a package of bills next year.

Opponents say voter identification requirements are a solution in search of a problem, and that fraud is virtually nonexistent.

Murante, who is considering a run for secretary of state, said he plans to travel around Nebraska this summer to meet with county election commissioners. Requiring a voter ID would “improve the public’s confidence in the security of our elections,” he said.



Nebraska won’t join other states that are formally calling for a constitutional convention, at least not this year. The resolution isn’t expected to pass this session, but Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete said it’s only about two votes shy of having enough support to overcome a filibuster.

Ebke said she plans to work on possible compromises to assure senators who are on the fence. The resolution would request a convention to propose constitutional amendments on fiscal restraint, the size and scope of the federal government and congressional term limits. Critics argue it could lead to a runaway convention. Ebke said she expects it to come up again next year.

“I think we’ve got a chance,” she said. “There are a couple of senators who are kind of teetering. Some people said they weren’t certain about it but would give us a cloture vote (to force an up-or-down vote).”


Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide