The World-Herald’s Statehouse reporters round up news highlights from the Legislature and state government into the Capitol Digest — a daily briefing for the political newshound with a busy schedule.
White supremacy. State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha on Monday called on her legislative colleagues to take action against white supremacy and white nationalism in the wake of the shooting at a California synagogue.
Hunt pointed to several mass killings in the last year that involved people identifying as white supremacists and white nationalists. They included attacks on Jewish, Muslim and black Christian houses of worship.
“Legislators have got to stop seeing ourselves as separate from the problem,” she said. “We are witnesses, but we cannot also be bystanders.”
Hunt said she plans to introduce an anti-hate resolution similar to resolutions passed by the U.S. House and Senate last month.
Home-baked goods. Homemade food could be sold outside of farmers markets under Legislative Bill 304, which passed 40-0 on Monday.
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue introduced the bill, which would expand the sales options for people making non-potentially hazardous foods at home. Current state law restricts sales of such food to farmers markets or charitable bake sales.
Under LB 304, home cooks would have to get food safety training, have private well water tested and register with the State Department of Agriculture. The goods would require a disclaimer that they were prepared in a noncommercial, unregulated kitchen.
Occupation tax reports. Nebraska towns and cities that impose occupation taxes would have to provide an annual report to the public under LB 445, which passed 42-0 on Monday.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha, would require the reports to list all occupational taxes, the amount of money they generate, what the money is used for and whether they have expiration dates.
Occupation taxes are levied on various types of businesses. The most common ones in Nebraska are on hotel operators, car rental companies, telecommunications providers, restaurants and bars.
Cash reserve. Nebraska could build up its cash reserve a little more quickly under LB 638, which passed on a 45-0 vote Monday. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the Appropriations Committee chairman.
It would increase the number of years in which a portion of tax revenues would be transferred automatically to the cash reserve, also known as the state’s “rainy day fund.” The bill would reduce transfers if the reserve reaches 16% of annual state spending. The fund is currently at about 7% of annual state spending.
Missing Native American women. The documentary film “Highway of Tears” will be shown Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Omaha’s Film Streams Theater at 1340 Mike Fahey St. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the problem of slain and missing Native American women and girls.
The intent of the showing is to raise awareness and promote services available to Native American survivors of violence. The Urban Indian Health Institute has found 506 unique cases in the U.S. and ranks Nebraska seventh-highest among the states in the number of cases.
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill introduced by State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon to require the Nebraska State Patrol and the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs to conduct a study on how many Native American women have gone missing. The study would also look at the law enforcement resources available to investigate those cases and protect women.
— Martha Stoddard and Paul Hammel