2018 End of Session Update
The 105th Legislative 2nd session ended Wednesday April 18th. Some would call it a good session, as we were successful in getting a few good bills got passed and we killed the really bad bills. But, I'm not calling it good. We have put considerable time and effort into State Preemption of Firearms Laws. LB68, the current iteration of State Preemption narrowly passed first round debate last year and was poised to be heard on the floor for 2nd round debate this year. We worked hard to get that bill to the floor, yet it never came up on the agenda.
What happened to LB68? Behind the scenes a lot of work was taking place to salvage the bill. Our obstacle last year was the Omaha Police Officers Association. Senator McDonnell took the initiative to set up a meeting with OPOA representatives and the NRA. Neither Senator Hilgers, who introduced the bill, nor the NFOA, who has been the major driver behind preemption were included in those talks. The results were an amendment that OPOA said if adopted they would drop their opposition to LB68. That amendment was the key to getting support of a few Omaha area senators. Those votes were crucial to getting the 33 votes necessary to invoke cloture and keep the bill alive. And that is exactly what happened. We got exactly 33 votes for cloture and then 32 votes to advance in April 2017.
Just before session began this year in January we became aware of some shifty work by OPOA. The Omaha Police Officers Association suddenly realized that they didn't like the deal they agreed to. Suddenly they were opposed to the bill with the language they supported already attached to it. They refused to respond to requests by several individuals to meet with NFOA board members and discuss Preemption. We worked hard to try and salvage the votes necessary to invoke cloture.
The other issues with LB68 was the rules of the Speaker of the Legislature. Speaker Scheer had set a rule that requires a senator of any bill that would take a lot of time in debate to show they had the 33 votes for cloture. We were close, sometimes 30 and sometimes 32. Senator Hilgers was not able to show a solid 33 votes. Sometimes you can sway senators during floor debate, so had it gone to the floor maybe we could have gotten the 33 votes necessary. But, with OPOA changing positions however, that became unlikely.
It is sad to see the fine men and women of the Omaha Police Department having union representation by individuals that are unwilling to honor their word. So much for integrity. We now know who we cannot trust.
Our greatest successes this year were keeping infringing bills from getting out of committee. The big anti gun bills this year were killed in committee, so our rights are secure for another year. But we will be facing the same atmosphere during our next session of the Unicameral. Unfortunately, the introducer of LB780 is running unopposed this year. So she will have 4 more years to introduce bad bills. So will two other Lincoln area anti gun senators that are also running unopposed.
Our wins also include getting some good bills passed this session. We are happy to see Senator Lowe and his staff guide LB321 through the process, which now allows on college campus "firearms which may lawfully be possessed by a member of a college or university firearm rifle team, to include rifle, pistol, and shotgun disciplines, within the scope of such person's duties as a member of the team".
We also secured much needed Privacy protection. We have all heard the how loud and hate filled some of the radical anti gun community can be. It was important to place protections into law that prevent the release of personal identifying information from firearms permits to entities that would exploit that information and potentially cause harm to law abiding citizens. LB902 was signed by the Governor on April 17, 2018.
After several prior attempts Senator Stinner pushed through LB100 which requires "clear and convincing standards of proof when determining the removal of disqualifications on a petitioner from the possession of firearms and when applying for a permit to carry a concealed firearm." This creates a common standard across the state for all Mental Health Boards.
We have listened to you all years and know we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us. We need more senators that will respect the Constitution. We need more senators that will support Liberty. Active members, making your voices heard, in the voting booth and during the legislative session will continue to be critical.
It will be interesting to see what the 2018 election cycle brings. What will the legislature look like next year?