2018 State of the State address

State Sen. John Murante, right, listens ad Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at the State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Lincoln during his State of the State address. 

LINCOLN — True to his word, a Gretna state senator is not giving up on bringing voter identification to Nebraska.

Sen. John Murante introduced a trio of bills relating to voter identification on Wednesday. The senator had said in December that he would introduce legislation with more than one option for enacting voter ID in the state.

Under Legislative Bill 1066, people would be required to provide photo ID in order to vote. Accepted forms of ID would include a driver’s license, a state-, college- or university-issued ID, a passport or a military ID.

The bill would also require the secretary of state to provide IDs, with the cost covered by the state.

LB 1065 would permit the use of electronic poll books at precincts. A person’s photo, registration information and signature could be checked before the person votes.

A person whose identity is questioned could vote on a provisional ballot, but the voter would have to appear before the election commissioner or county clerk within seven days of Election Day and his or her identity confirmed to have the vote count.

And LB 1064 would require the secretary of state to check the citizenship status of registered voters and those applying to become registered voters in the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program.

If a check of the system finds that the person has registered to vote but is ineligible, the person would be removed from the voter registration record. If the person is deemed to be ineligible to vote and has attempted to register to vote or has voted, the information would be turned over to the attorney general.

Several groups condemned the bills, saying they would put costly and unnecessary barriers in the way of people’s right to vote.

“Voter impersonation, which these bills purport to stop, has never been shown to be a problem in Nebraska,” said Rebecca Gonzales, Immigrants and Communities program coordinator at Nebraska Appleseed. “All they will do is make it more difficult, expensive and time-consuming for Nebraskans to participate in elections that affect their day-to-day lives.”

Among other bills introduced Wednesday:

» Foster children. Several bills took aim at sexual abuse of foster children, prompted by an Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare report showing that at least 50 children, some as young as age 4, were abused in state care or after being placed in an adoptive or guardianship home from July 2013 through October 2016.

LB 1046, introduced by Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, would require the state to declare an emergency and take corrective action when child welfare worker caseloads exceed state standards for six months or more.

Bolz also offered Legislative Resolution 288, which would create a Child Welfare Death and Abuse Special Oversight Committee. And LB 1041, introduced by Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, would require training of foster parents about sexual abuse.

» Pet deposit. Landlords would be able to charge larger deposits for tenants with pets under LB 1039, introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha. Current law limits pet deposits to 25 percent of a month’s rent. The bill would allow deposits equal to one month’s rent.

» Miscarriages. Women who miscarry before the 20th week of pregnancy could get a special certificate of nonviable birth from the state under LB 1040, introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston. She said the certificates would be a way to commemorate a family’s loss.

» Wildlife plates. Nebraska drivers could get wildlife conservation license plates under LB 1080, introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango. The plates would be available for an additional $5 fee, which would go to the Game and Parks Commission Educational Fund. The same fund benefits from the popular mountain lion conservation plates.

» Lead tests. Houses and apartments built before 1978 would have to be tested for lead-based paint hazards before they are sold or rented under LB 1060, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha. The bill also would require the Department of Health and Human Services to maintain a safe housing registry.

» Teaching reading. Nebraska public schools would have to provide specialized reading instruction to students with dyslexia under LB 1052, introduced by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln. The bill also would require teacher education programs in the state to include instruction about dyslexia and techniques for addressing it.

» Americanism. State laws regarding the teaching of Americanism and civics would be updated under LB 1069, introduced by Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft. Among its provisions, the bill would require eighth-grade and 11th-grade students to take the 100-question civics examination given to immigrants seeking citizenship in the United States.

emily.nitcher@owh.com, 402-444-1192

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