Capitol Digest reporters photo xcapitoldigest capitoldigest

From left, World-Herald legislative reporters Martha Stoddard, Paul Hammel and Aaron Hegarty.

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.

New crime commission chief. Gov. Pete Ricketts’ nominee to direct the Nebraska Crime Commission, Don Arp Jr., ran into a wave of questions Wednesday about his lack of criminal justice experience.

In a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee, State Sens. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln and Steve Lathrop of Omaha told Arp it wasn’t personal but that state law requires the director to have “appropriate training and experience in the field of criminal law and justice.” They said they’ve fielded concerns about his qualifications for the $95,000-a-year post, which has, in recent years, been held by retired law enforcement officers.

Arp, who has worked in the governor’s Office of Operational Excellence and for the State Department of Health and Human Services, said he grew up in a law enforcement family and took a college class in “forensic facial reconstruction.” He added that maybe it’s “time for something different” at the top of the commission, which oversees state law enforcement standards and administers grants.

Tobacco and vaping age. The legal age to buy and use cigarettes, vaping products and “alternative nicotine products” could be increased to 19.

LB 149, introduced by State Sen. Dan Quick, advanced from the General Affairs Committee with an amendment that raised the vaping age from 18 to 19 instead of 21. The amendment also adds the change in the age for tobacco products to the bill.

Mobile massage therapy. Jean Thunker of Ogallala has wanted to make her massage therapy clinic mobile for more than two years but hasn’t been able to. Her clients drive as much as two hours in rural Nebraska one direction. If she can’t go mobile, she might close her doors, she said Wednesday.

LB 244, introduced by Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman, would allow for mobile massage therapy clinics.

— Aaron Hegarty and Paul Hammel

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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