Creeping Prohibition?

Or just another tool in the arsenal of the control freaks?

LB605 has some disturbing implications for those who value property rights. According to the Statement of Intent, it “would allow for additional weight to be given to support or opposition of businesses and residents within 500 feet and neighborhood associations within 100 feet of a liquor license application. The Liquor Control Commission may use this opposition as the sole reason for denial of a license” [emphasis added]. Aside from the fact that the mere existence of a “Liquor Control Commission”  with all it’s attendant encumbrances and opportunities for cronyism is an affront to liberty, this bill removes even the pretence of a fair and objective consideration of an applicant’s ability to be a “responsible” vendor of alcohol.

This bill, introduced by Sen. Gwen Howard of District 9 (Omaha), is being considered by the General Affairs Committee this Monday, Feb 23rd, at 1:30pm in room 1510.

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Learning Community Hearings on Monday

Monday is a big day for those concerned about the tax issues raised by the Learning Community law that took effect this year. Three bills being considered by the Education Committee (Room 1525, 1:30pm) appear to address some of these issues.

LB22, introduced by Sen. Mike Friend of District 10 (Omaha),  is a bill “to eliminate the double-taxation of school districts in a learning community by removing the taxing authority of Educational Service Units that are comprised of those districts”, according to his Statement of Intent.

LB387 eliminates the ability the of a learning community to levy taxes for the general fund budgets and special building funds of the member districts and lets them levy their own taxes for these purposes just like all the other school districts. It also changes the law regarding calculation of distribution of state aid to school districts so that so that all districts are  treated the same regardless of their membership in a learning community. This bill was introduced by Tim Gay of District 14 (Papillion).

And last but not least is LB391, the main thrust of which takes the responsibility for distributing the collected learning community tax revenues to the school districts away from the learning community and gives it to the county treasurers. There is also an adjustment to the formula used to calculate the distribution. This bill was introduced by Sen. Greg Adams of District 24 (York). There’s a better summary of this bill in the Fiscal Note.

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Yet another victimless crime…

The prohibition of Salvia passed by a 44-0 vote. One thing our legislators all seem to agree on is that we need to be told what we can and cannot ingest. Being a Jeffersonian I subscribe to the idea, as expressed in our Declaration of Independence, that government exists to guarantee our rights. Somehow I don’t think our state legislators had our rights in mind when they passed this… http://unicameralupdate.blogspot.com/2009/02/salvia-ban-passes.html

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Redundancy Department

I’m a firm believer that our ancestors already passed most of the laws we need a long time ago and that most new legislation is redundant or unnecessary. Once you’ve covered coercion and fraud you’re basically just repeating yourself to keep on passing new laws against them in their various forms. Three bills scheduled to be heard by the Judiciary Committee this Friday seem to fit this bill. They are LB35, LB63, and LB508 – “gang” laws that, as far as I can tell, outlaw things that are already illegal and create some more bureaucracy to study the gang problem and recommend solutions.

Take LB508, for example. This bill is to outlaw gang initiation activities. Section 2 states “It shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly endanger the physical or mental health or safety of another person for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, promotion within, or continued membership with any criminal gang…” Isn’t endangering someone already illegal? What does specifying the purpose for committing the act add to the law? Does specifying the gang element add any deterrence here? Is a gang member going to read a law like this and say “Gee, I guess they’re really serious about this gang stuff, I better give it up”?

The list of “new” crimes in these bills goes on an on. LB63 contains this prohibition of grafitti: “Any person who knowingly and intentionally applies graffiti of any type on any building, public or private, or any other tangible property owned by any person, firm, or corporation or any public entity or instrumentality, without the express permission of the owner or operator of the property, commits the offense of unauthorized application of graffiti”. Isn’t making graffiti on someone else’s property already illegal in any jurisdiction where it’s a problem? Doesn’t vandalism cover it in places where “grafitti” isn’t specifically banned? Why do we need to (further?) codify this in state law?

I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure many of the things that these gangs are doing are already illegal, so what’s the point of cluttering up the legal code with these redundant laws?

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LB260 – Nebraska Claims for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act

This bill provides for compensation and aid to people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for a crime. Some highlights are $50,000 per year incarcerated plus $50,000 per year on death row, compensation for lost wages and costs associated with criminal defense, compensation for medical expenses, five years of health insurance, and tuition reimbursement.

Given that wrongful convictions do occurr, I believe that the government does have a duty to try and make restitution to those it has victimized, however “honest” the mistake may have been. While lost years are impossible to replace, this bill goes a long way towards making things right again for someone who was wronged.

This bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Judiciary Committee in room 1113 on Thursday Feb. 19th at 1:30pm.

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LB503 Nebraska Shooting Range Protection Act

This bill is to protect Nebraska shooting ranges from harrassment and closing by local zoning and other ordinances. It also prohibits their being seized by eminent domain for use as government shooting facilities. It was introduced by Sen. Chris Langemeier of District 23 (Schuyler) and is worthy of support by all who value liberty. It will be considered at a hearing before the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Comittee in room 1507 on Friday, Feb 20 at 1:30pm.

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LB106 – Another reason to pull you over

Currently, not wearing your seatbelt (or requiring your passengers to do likewise)  is a “secondary enforcement”  violation.  You must be cited for a primary violation before you can also be cited for a secondary violation. So you would have to be pulled over and cited for something else first.

LB106, introduced by Sen. John Harms of District 48 (Scottsbluff) , would change the seatbelt requirement  to a primary offense, meaning that you could be pulled over and cited just for not wearing a seatbelt.

Personally, I think law enforcement officers (when did we stop calling them peace officers?)  already have enough excuses to pull people over. Not to mention the fact that seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws are just nanny-state interference with personal liberties to begin with.

There is a committee hearing for this bill in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, Room 1113, on Tuesday, Feb 17th at 1:30pm.

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