New bills would dump motorcycle helmet rule, require voter IDs -
Published Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:05 am
New bills would dump motorcycle helmet rule, require voter IDs

Lawmakers introduced 61 bills in the Nebraska Legislature on Friday, the eighth day of the session. They include:

Voter ID returns. Legislative Bill 381, introduced by Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, would require voters to show photo identification at the polls, to protect against voter fraud. The bill, which Janssen has introduced in the past, would provide a free state ID card to anyone who doesn’t have a driver’s license and can’t afford an ID. Free ID is an element of a similar Indiana law that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. A coalition of 30 groups announced they will oppose the bill, arguing it would create barriers to students, low-income voters and those who can’t easily get to an office to obtain the ID card.

Winner take all in presidential elections. LB 382, also sponsored by Janssen, would end Nebraska’s system of splitting its three electoral votes in presidential races. Under the bill, whichever candidate wins the state’s popular vote would take the state’s electoral votes. Nebraska and Maine are the only states that don’t use a winner-take-all system.

Restrict prison furloughs. LB 379 by Sen. John Nelson of Omaha would prohibit furloughs for most prisoners convicted of gun crimes or being habitual criminals. The bill, endorsed by Omaha’s mayor and police chief, is in response to last year’s fatal shooting of an Omaha man by police after the man reached for a gun outside a nightclub. Despite a history that included gang involvement and gun offenses, the man was on his 11th furlough when he was shot.

Off with motorcycle helmets. LB 393 by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins would allow motorcyclists 21 and older to ride without helmets. The bill would, however, require eye protection.

End state park permits for residents. LB 362 by Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln would abolish state park permits for residents and fund parks with a $7 fee charged on most vehicles and trailers when they register. Vehicles with Nebraska plates could then enter parks without a permit. Nonresidents still would be required to buy permits.

Mandatory CPR training in school. LB 365, also introduced by Avery, would require Nebraska high school students to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other first aid skills before they graduate.

State aid to cities and counties. LB 370 by Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha would restore state aid programs for cities and counties based on their populations. Local governments that accept the state money would be required to reduce their property tax collections by a corresponding amount. The bill does not designate how much money would be directed to the local governments.

— Joe Duggan

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