LB 348 (1993)
April 14, 1993
SPEAKER BAACK: LB 533A advances. We will go to LB 348.
CLERK: LB 348, introduced by Senator Withem. (Read title.) The bill was introduced on January 13, referred %to the Education Committee for public hearing, advanced to General File. I have committee amendments pending, Mr. President. (See AM0098 on page 796 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: On the committee amendments?
SPEAKER BAACK: On the committee amendments.
SENATOR WITHEM: I think the ... the Clerk's reading of the one-liner is probably going to be a lot more exciting than the explanation of the bill. It sounded like a pretty good bill the way he was describing it, but it goes all downhill from there. This is the annual Department of Education's clean-up bill. Those of you that have been around a while know that, well most departments of state government do this. The Department of Education does it, you know, very well each year. They keep track of items that come up where the statutes may, in fact; be in conflict with what is common practice, or they may not allow procedures to take place as easily as they could be. This bill, as it is introduced, particularly with the committee amendments, is a wide ranging examination of the education statutes, making a multitude of changes. The committee amendments do two things. They clean up some drafting errors in the bill itself. So I'm going to take advantage, during the discussion of the committee amendments, to explain what the bill does, and then I will give an... an explanation of another thing that the committee
amendments do that is slightly more substantive to... then... 'Chen most of the committee amendments. But this bill ... I'll read through, fairly quickly, some of the changes that it makes. it adds two new handicapping conditions that are now in federal law, autism and traumatic brain injury into our special education statutes. Center now provides printed materials. Because it's the Technology Center, they ought to be able to provide things more than printed materials. it allowed...this bill will allow them to provide videodisks, videotapes, et cetera. This hill will allow the electronic transmission of authorized school district representatives' signatures on required documents. The option enrollment of the ... yeah, the option program, the enrollment option program was fully implemented in 1993, so we're going to delete all of the transitional phase-in language that had been guiding us before that. We passed, two or three years ago, an early childhood education program. This includes... this amendment will include a definition of the term prekindergarten. It also deletes some archaic language, changes the dates for evaluating and reporting projects. The reason for this is because we passed the bill one year, did not fund it. The funding came the next year, so the pilot projects had not begun as quickly. Makes some operational changes, very technical changes in the computation of state aid. These are not substantive that will cause any school district to lose or gain money, it's just quirks that we're still finding in 1059. And also affiliation was a bill we passed a few years ago, making some changes in terms like substituting affiliated high school district for affiliated high school system. Affiliated school system is not an entity which can incur expense and pay bills, so it's a definitional sort of issue, and a number of other changes. Perhaps a couple of the more substantive ones, back in... two or three years ago there was a Nebraska Supreme Court decision dealing with the in lieu of school land tax formula. It was at 143 percent reimbursement; Supreme Court basically said they could not...could not be at 143 percent because that was more .than school districts were losing. The practice has been for the department to distribute at a 100 percent level. This puts 100 percent in statute. I may alert you that this particular provision of the bill may still undergo some more scrutiny, because there is pending a request for an Attorney General's Opinion that: may further clarify this. And there were some problems with an amendment, last year, dealing with bonding... obtaining bonds in affiliated school systems. It was an amendment that Senator Schellpeper offered, as I recall, and
there have been some problems with the administration of that, and this amendment will...will clear that up. That's what the bill does. The amendments by and large are clarification amendments. One critical thing -chat the committee amendments do, you may, in fact, have heard about this bill from some people in..."-hat are home schooling. As this bill was drafted, through an error in the Bill Drafters office, the contents of a bill dealing with home schooling were inadvertently placed within the contents of LB 348. It was not intended to do that, it was supposed to have been a separate bill. When we discovered the error, we did introduce it as a separate bill, we had a hearing an that bill, have resolved that issue to the satisfaction of the committee, for this year, by killing that -ill. These committee amendments remove that... strike Section 10 of the bill which is a provision that dealt with home schooling. That's what the bill does, that's what the committee amendments do. I may also alert you that historically departmental clean-up bills tend to gather amendments, because they do open large numbers of statutes and can become a home for other bills, largely noncontroversial bills. In the past I've kind of resisted that, but it's happened anyway. This year I've kind of taken the lead in trying to put some of these amendments together into a package, get it done earlier in the session so we're not confronted at the very tail end of the session with everybody running forward trying to find a home for their bill on another bill. So I will be offering a series of amendments to this bill. If there are any questions I can answer, I'd be happy to respond.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Mr. Clerk, amendments to the committee amendments.
CLERK: Mr. President, I have a series of amendments to the committee amendments. Senator Withem, as introducer, has priority status. Senator, your first amendment, AM1292.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Could....could I... defer on that one second. I think Senator Hartnett did have a question about the committee amendments. Could I pull this amendment momentarily, have some discussion on the committee amendment- so that I could respond to whatever question may be current on the basis of the committee amendments at, this point?
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Hartnett.
SENATOR HARTNETT: (Inaudible) ... second page of your handout dealing with the in lieu of tax formula and so forth. It was at 144... 143 percent, and it's re ... this is replacing 100 percent. Have they been paying, the state department been paying at 143 percent'?
SENATOR WITHEM: Since... since the Supreme Court ruling, of two or three years ago, the department has been paying at 100 percent, as opposed to 143.
SENATOR HARTNETT: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hartnett. Seeing no other discussion, let's go to the committee... to the amendments to the committee amendments. (AM1292 appears on page 1457 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR WITHEM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for allowing us to clarify that as it was current-. The first amendment is LB... is AM1292, it"s in the Journal on page 1450... or referenced in 1457. 1 think it's printed separately along with this bill in the bill book. In essence, what this is, is taking the contents of LB 99, that was a bill that came before the Education Committee dealing with the Professional Practices Commission. Two or three years ago we had an issue involving the Professional Practices Commission, Senator Barrett's priority bill, changed the manner in which charges against professional. teachers are investigated. Professional Practices Commission exists to... to investigate and, when needed, discipline teachers guilty of... suspected of and guilty of unprofessional practices. The most commonly referenced, I think, deals with sexual abuse, but there are a number of other sorts of things that. the commission gets involved with. I t lined to be that the commission investigated all of these charges themselves, then prosecuted them, and there was a lot of work that needed to be done by the commission. A few years ago the bill Senator Barrett sponsored took the investigation responsibility away from the commission, put it into the Department of Education. We passed an A bill, increased the appropriation to the Department of Education and didn't do anything with the Professional Practices Commission. We have found that the work load of the Professional Practices Commission, that used to investigate and some... and ... over 200
cases and prosecute a-certain number of those, is now down to the point where they really only have hearings, and the hearings are few and far between, yet they still employ a full-time executive director. LB 99 would change their method of operation, make it consistent with some other boards that exist that do not have the need for a full-time professional, and will indicate that. they will not have a full-time professional. They will hire a...probably the equivalent of an administrative judge type of individual to help them on a case-by-case basis when they have cases come forward. It's estimated that this will probably save about $42,000 in the operation of this commission. It's one where I think a few years ago we saw a convergence of this program that is funded by teacher certificates not raising enough money at the current level of payment into teacher certificates, so we either would have to raise that certification requirement, or do something to cut back on the work requirements of this commission. So that's what this bill does. It is...it is not without some opposition, I would point out. The Professional Practices Commission thinks that they have a _-ontirtuing need to have a. full-time director. They argue that since they have lost this investigation responsibility they have been able to branch out into the area of educating teachers and the public as to what the Professional Practices Commission does. The problem with that argument is that was never anything directed by the Legislature, or even authorized by the Legislature. It is, in my opinion, an attempt for them to, you know, justify their continued existence, where their work load does not...does not justify that. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to respond.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Any discussion on the amendment: by Senator Withem? Seeing none, do you wish to close, Senator Withem? Waives closing. We will now vote on the amendment by Senator Withem. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 17 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Withem's amendment :o the committee amendments.
SPEAKER BAACK: The Withem amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Withem would move to amend the committee amendments. I now have, Senator, AM1294. (AM1294 appears on page 1457 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Amendment 1294 is, again, noncontroversial bills coming through the Education Committee. One we have found is ... is critical to get passed this session. One is an issue that was controversial, but our ultimate solution to it seems to have most people relatively supportive. Let me go through the three different things that are done. First of all, 1294 amends the contents of LB 96. That was a bill dealing with the caucus system of nominating and electing school board members. There is one school district in the state, District 66, Westside in Omaha, that chooses its school board members in a fashion different from all others ... all other Class III school districts in the state. As opposed to a primary election nominating and a... and a general election electing, what they do is they have a caucus, to which all residents of the school district may attend. They nominate candidates at... at that caucus, and then they elect candidate ... they elect their members at the primary election there has been criticism from some members of District 66 objecting to this system, wanting us to change it, do away with their specific authorization to conduct elections in this fashion. There are people in District 66 that like it. LB 96, as it came out of committee, is what you have before us now in this amendment, and that simply says that... that the people in... that the residents of District 66 will be given the right to petition, and if a significant number of them, similar to the number of people required to sign other signatures (sic), sign this petition, then it will be put to a vote as to whether ,they want to keep their caucus system or move to the more traditional system. And I believe that this may not meet the needs of all the critics of the caucus system entirely, but it does give them an option that they don't have now. And the school district of District 66, to my knowledge, is not objecting to this change. Second change was LB 349, originally introduced, this is a bill introduced by the private postsecondary career schools to provide a system whereby students could recover their tuition if a school, one of the private postsecondary career schools closed midway through. Doesn't happen very often, but occasionally it does, and when it does students are out the tuition and they don't have an ability then to get educated. What this would do, it would put a fee on those schools, that fee would go into a fund until it reached about $150,000. There is a cap, and I'm not sure exactly what the cap of the fund is, but that money would be used to pay back the tuition of students that... that ware attending the school
that closed part way through. Interestingly enough, this is a pretty important measure to pass. Wasn't all that important when it was introduced, otherwise they probably wouldn't have had me introduce it. But is was... it is important now because the federal government has come up with what they call a teach-out provision. Now this is not a teach-in, some of you may remember from the 1960's, it's a teach-out provision that requires all private postsecondary institutions, and by private postsecondary institutions we're talking about essentially career schools, trade schools, requires them to have some provision in place, in case they do close, to make sure their students do get either their tuition back or get back their... find a way where they can get instructions that they paid for. So it's essential that something like this pass. The third item is an item that, I believe it was Senator Hartnett's bill, that moves the Fire Service and Safety Training Program, from the Department of Education, where it has been housed, over to the State Fire Marshal's Office. Both departments are in support of that, as are all volunteer fire departments in the state and I don't think there's anybody out there that has ... I guess the only ... one person did testify at the hearing indicating that they thought instead of just making this change we ought to make larger changes. But he didn't think that this was necessarily a bad change. That's what that amendment does. I'd be happy to respond to questions.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank. you, Senator Withem. Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Senator Withem, may I ask you a question, please.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: You may, yes.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Senator Withem, can I ask, does the wording of this particular amendment, regarding the caucus system for board of education, does that apply to all boards of education?
SENATOR WITHEM: It is ... it is my understanding that it does riot. LB 96 originally did allow any school board, any residents of any school board, anyplace in the state to move to a different system of election of their school board members. We did have one member of our committee who was rather tenacious, not liking the caucus system, not wanting to see it expanded.
So when the bill came out of committee, it was ... was changed so that it only applies to District 66, and it would only move in... in that one direction. This does not expand it for... for other school districts in the state.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Thank you. Could you tell me, what kind of a turnout does District 66 usually have at their caucus?
SENATOR WITHEM: They had about 1,200 people at the last caucus. That was abnormal because they... there were a lot of controversial issues, I think anywhere from 300 to 600 people.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: I would just like to suggest that, you know, maybe ... maybe some other school. districts would like to be included in this. I'm being a little bit facetious here now. But in the last election, primary election, Lincoln had a 9 percent voter turnout. And I think maybe I'd like to take a look at that caucus system, we might get a little bit more involvement in the citizenry. So 1 ... I'm fully supportive of this provision of the bill, and just like to keep it in mind for the future. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schimek. Senator Vrtiska. Senator Vrtiska, you're next.
SENATOR VRTISKA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the body. Senator Withem, could I bother you for a question?
SENATOR WITHEM: You bet, you bet.
SENATOR VRTISKA: As you know, I was signed on to the bill that removed the fire mar...the training program from the Department of Education to the Fire Marshal's office, then I removed my name because there was some opposition. You indicated that none of the fire departments opposed it. There was some opposition, in fact I got roundly scolded for having my name on that bill. I guess my question to you is,, and ... and maybe it's to Senator Hartnett, but either one of you that care to respond. When they make this change, I ... in looking at the fiscal note, the money that was going to the Department: of Education will now go to the Fire Marshal's Office, is that correct?
SENATOR WITHEM: That is correct.
SENATOR VRTISKA: And what about: the people who do the training,
where do they come from? Are they reeducated, or do they... are they just moved over from the education to the Fire Marshal's Office?
SENATOR WITHEM: May... I think Senator Hartnett was principal introducer of the bill, so why don't we let him go ahead and respond, if you don't mind.
SENATOR VRTISKA: All right, thank you.
SENATOR HARTNETT: Mr. Speaker, I believe that they... it's just a transfer, the services and everything else, the personnel transfer to...
SENATOR VRTISKA: (Microphone not activated.) ... would then become a part of the Fire Marshal's Office rather than from the Department of Education? Well, I don't really... I'm not going to stand up and oppose this ... this bill. I was kind of surprised it came up, because I thought,... I guess you learn after while that you do all kinds of things around here you're not aware of until they happen, and so it kind of caught me by surprise. And I was trying to think up a couple of questions that were being posed to me by some of the people that apparently thought they were going to be involved in this. But I can't think what they are right now. But maybe before we get done here I'll be able to and I'll be back up here and speak again. But thank you anyway.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Vrtiska. Senator Janssen.
SENATOR JANSSEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I.... I support this amendment on the Fire Marshal ... the training area coming from the Department of Education over to the State Fire Marshal's Office. This is where most of the instructors came out of, was out of the State Fire Marshal's Office, and they do a tremendous job of training within :he state through the ... to the volunteer fire departments. This is the place where it should be. And as far as I'm concerned it should have always been there. So I am very supportive of this amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Janssen. Any other discussion on the amendment by Senator Withem? Senator Withem, you wish to close?
SENATOR WITHEM: I would briefly. The Fire Marshal change, the
fire safety training change to the Fire Marshal's Office seems to have gotten the most discussion. Obviously, as this bill goes forward we're open for continued discussion on it. Senator Vrtiska, there was one individual who testified on behalf of himself, who is a volunteer fireman, whose concern was that we ought to be making bigger changes in the way in which we train volunteer fire people. And he was afraid if we simply made this switch, from one department over to another, nothing would change, and the program wouldn't improve, and he wanted to see some improvements in the program. The rationale for it, to a large extent, is because this was education it got dumped in the Department of Education. Department of Education's primary role and mission is elementary-secondary education, with a little bit of vocational rehabilitation, little bit with the postsecondary career schools. But the program really did not get a very high priority over at the Department of Education, and to his credit Commissioner Lutjeharms is fairly, fairly open about that. By the same token, fighting of fires and prevention of fires is the main responsibility of the ... fire safety anyway is the main responsibility of the Fire Marshal's Office. I guess they aren't involved in fighting fires, but fire prevention and those sort of things is their main responsibility. So it was felt by the introducers of the bill and by both department heads that this would be a more appropriate location for it. If there are serious problems with it, we can certainly address those again on Select File. So, even though Senator Janssen doesn't want to, but we'll still answer some questions if they do come up. So thank you for your attention. I would urge the adoption of this amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the amendment to the committee amendments by Senator Withem. We'll now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 16 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the amendment to the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Senator Withem would move to amend the committee amendments with AM1427, Mr. President. (AM1427 appears on pages 1527-28 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: AM1427, I wish Senator Landis were here because he gives a great explanation of this type of an amendment. It's referred to as a bond counsel amendment. The current word... there's a current reference to a clock beginning to run and things beginning to happen when bonded indebtedness is incurred. Bond counsels have looked at this, and the intent of it is that the clock begins to run as soon as the voters have voted to. approve bonds. Their argument is that bonds, the debt is not incurred until such time as the bonds are sold, which may be weeks, months, and in some cases years, in some cases maybe never, after the approval of the voters. So what 1427 does is it simply strikes the word incurred and inserts the word approved by voters. It was suggested to us by individual working for a bond counseling firm to make the statutes read more properly with how things actually happen now.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Any discussion on the amendment by Senator Withem to the committee amendments? Seeing none, do you wish to close, Senator Withem? He waives closing. We will now vote on the amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 15 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the amendment to the committee amendments.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment to the committee amendments is adopted.
CLERK: Senator Bernard-Stevens would* move to amend the committee amendments with AM670. (AM670 appears on page 908 ox the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem doesn't have any more amendments? Okay. Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: This is one that Senator Withem wanted to offer, but he felt he was offering too many, so I went ahead and did so. And I say that in jest. This is my amendment that's printed in the Journal, page 908, for the members of the body that wish to look at it. It simply is a situation that occurred in the option student program, on the choice bill, that the more we thought about it, the more we felt that there could be a clarification of a situation. Let me briefly explain that. If a student, for example, is an option student and they opt to
go out of their resident school district into another school district, one of the things that we had said is, you know, they must do so, if I remember right, for one year. But once they go back to the resident school district, that is it, their option... they cannot be an option student again. And that makes sense and I don't want to change that portion of it. We had a circumstance where a family opted to go from once their residence school district to an option school district, were an option student. The student then, for various reasons, and the family decided that the ... it would best be served if that student go to a parochial or private school, and they did so. What happened was the student finished that entire curriculum, the entire program. They went ... it was a K-8 program, they finished that, there simply was no where else to go at that school system. Under the current law they lost their option, they lost all their option rights since they went to the parochial or private school, therefore they had to go back to the resident school district. They didn't, want to do that. They wanted to go to the option school district that they originally went to. What this bill does is simply do the following, any parent that chooses to have their child enroll into another program, at another school district, as an option student, and then they subsequently choose to attend a private or parochial school, they can, if they complete the entire program, if it's a K-12 it's out of the question. If it's a K-8 or K-6 they can, if they complete the entire program, choose then to either go back to the resident district or to their original home dis ... original option school district that they originally chose to do so. That's the nature of the amendment. One of the things that I wanted to avoid, when we discussed the option program a few years ago with Senator Baack's priority bill. we wanted to make sure that students did not jump around. This still does not allow that to take place, and I urge the body's adoption of the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bernard- Stevens. Discussion. Senator Hartnett.
SENATOR HARTNETT: Mr. Speaker, members, Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Bernard-Stevens, would you respond, please.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Yes.
SENATOR HARTNETT: A question. I understand and I support the amendment. My question is this, looking at Senator Bohlke, do you have a... you know, if you have a grade school...say a student goes to kindergarten in a town and then they elect to go to a parochial school in the...and it's a, say it's a parish school, it ends at the eighth grade, and then there's a high school in the same community, do they lose, do they have to go... and that's a different school, I mean just more for clarification is all.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Right, and I appreciate that. The wording actually says, upon the completion of the grade levels offered at the private or parochial school. So the school, the entire district, if they have, for example, at North Platte they... they went to Nor... they optioned from one of the communities into the North Platte public schools, then said, no, I want to go into St. Pat's, that would be it for them because even though if they went into the elementary, the school offers grade levels past the eighth grade into high school. So they have to stay there,...
SENATOR HARTNETT: Okay.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ... unless they choose, as we could on any choice bill, go back to the home district, the resident district, if they wanted to do so. It would only be in a case if St. Patrick's did not have a high school, but they just had a K-8, no high school, there's no where else for the child to go, we wanted to be able to still have them be able to choose to go back to the resident and/or the original option district that they chose to do. So I appreciate that clarification.
SENATOR HARTNETT: Yeah, thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hartnett. Senator Bohlke.
SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. President, members, Senator Bernard-Stevens, one question for clarification.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR BOHLKE: Does home school, are they included tinder
private school, or is that a separate category, and then should this also apply to those?
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: My... my understanding is that would be a separate category, a topic if somebody wants to bring up at some other point on some other bill I think it would be a good one, but simply not here. :Laughter.)
SENATOR BOHLKE: But actually there wouldn't be a difference. I mean. you could have that same situation where some people had opted, used their option choice, gone to the option school, decided that isn't what they wanted to do and decided to home school up until completion of the elementary grades, and then wanted to go back to the...
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: I don't think it applies here, and I may be wrong and I'll say so. My understanding is if I'm... if I'm in a school district- and I decide that I'm going to home school, I have that option anyway, that'. does not count within the option program, it's going to another school district. And, again, Senator Withem or somebody may clarify that and say that I'm not correct, but I believe that would be the case, it would not apply in this case.
SENATOR BOHLKE: Okay, thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Any other discussion on the amendment by Senator Bernard-Stevens? Seeing none, do you wish to close, Senator Bernard-Stevens? He waives closing. We will now vote on the amendment to the committee amendments. All those in favor vote aye opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 18 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Bernard-Stevens' amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to amend with AM1446, Mr. President. (AM1446 appears on page 1528 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: This is 0098, or excuse me, which amendment is this one?
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: That says on line 4, an option student who subsequently chooses?
CLERK: Well, I've got on page 2, line 23, and then that language that you read.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Yeah, on line 4 of that amendment it says, an option student who subsequently chooses to attend...
CLERK: Oh, yes, right, right.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Okay, thank you. Members of the body, my apologies, that's my mistake. The amendment that you have before you changes the amendment we agreed to by one word. And I thought I had a note on, and it slipped my mind, so I apologize. I wanted to withdraw the first amendment and take up this amendment. It's ... my apologies. I would like to have this amendment agreed to. What it does now, it just... it takes the same amendment we just agreed to and adds the word, after the word who, it says, an option student who subsequently chooses. And in talking with Jim Cunningham and those in the private schools, they felt more comfortable with that. Senator Withem's legal counsel felt comfortable with that, and I thought that's what the amendment was we had. It's the same amendment we just agreed to, but adds the word subsequently chooses, and I respectfully apologize to the body and ask that this amendment be adopted and to leave it at that.
SPEAKER BAACK: Discussion. Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Mr. President, members, I'd like to ask Senator Ashford... I mean Senator Bernard-Stevens a question, if he would yield please. (Laughter.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: That was well deserved, but I appreciate the subtleties.
SENATOR HALL: That's all.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hall. (Laughter.) Any other
discussion on the Bernard-Stevens amendment? Seeing none, hopefully you don't wish to close.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Well, actually I'm debating whether I want to vote yes or no on it, but I would hope the body would vote yes, and I'll make up my mind at the end. I would urge the adoption of the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bernard- Stevens. We'll now vote on the amendment to the committee amendments. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 17 ayes.. 0 nays, Mr. President, on the adoption of the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Senator Hall would move to amend the committee amendments. (Hall amendment appears on page 1528 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Thank you, Mr. President, members. In all due respect, Senator Bernard- Stevens, I've always had better luck getting adopted those amendments that I really didn't want instead of the ones that I've actually needed. So I can, I guess, identify a little bit with his last position- This amendment is one that is not printed in your Journal, it was just handed out to yon. It's AM1444, it's a simple one-liner. And it amends ... you really can't tell from the ... the way it amends the committee amendments, what it does. If you would turn to page 13 of the bill, it's line 24, it deals with Section 12 of the bill, line 24, the way the section reads it says that, beginning in 1993-94 school year, except as otherwise provided in this section, the school board of any school district may authorize the use of buses belonging to such district for the transportation of public school children residing outside such district. All the amendment does is strike public, the word public in line 24. The same section goes on to say, a fee sufficient to pay all costs of such transportation shall be charged to each person so transported. The school board shall prepare a schedule of additional fees charged and a copy of such schedule shall be filed in the office, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What... the purpose of the
amendment is simply this, to allow that nonpublic school kids, if ... if a district has a bus that they choose to send outside the district to pick up children that they charge for, would also allow for private school children to pay that same fee and ride the bus. They would only be able to ride it, of course, on whatever the route would be that the public school designated, so they could at least core in, take that bus, and pay that fee and get into town if they were going to, for example, West Point Central Catholic, out in that part of the state, where they would choose to ride the bus, the public school district had that option of allowing for their own buses to go out, pick up students at a designated fee. This would again only allow for the addition of private school students to do the same thing. The rationale behind it is that it would be, in essence, a convenience, I think, in both cases, very likely it's one for the private school. Parents who would then be able to pay the fee for their kids to ride into town, go to the private school, hop back on- the bus at the end of the day, get back home. The other thing is that it would help reduce the costs that the public schools incur. I don't think there's any problem with the issue. Again, it's not an entitlement issue, it's an optional program. one that is permissive, the school districts have to decide that, A, they're going to provide the service. If they do provide the service to other students outside the district, this amendment allows it to be provided to private students as well. I would urge that the amendment be adopted.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hall. Discussion. Senator Withem
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, I would just indicate that I visited with Senator Hall and also visited with Jim Cunningham regarding this amendment. I know any time you bring up the mixture of private students and public students, lots of red flags go up. I'm convinced that this is one that there is no need for that. This does not require a school district, it's my understanding anyway, Senator Hall, and you might clarify that, if for some reason a school district chose not to allow the private students to ride at a fee, it wouldn't be forced to become involved in that program. It does not provide for free transportation, and it is not an entitlement by any stretch of the imagination. But it might be an added convenience for some of our citizens where a bus is a! l ready running, rather than the private schools have to create their own transportation network, ',to be able to, through some sort of payment system, be able to use the public
school that's going through. So I think it's a good amendment, I plan on supporting it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Any other discussion on the amendment by Senator Hall? Seeing none, Senator Hall, do you wish to close? He waives closing.. We will now vote on the amendment by Senator Hall. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 18 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Hall's amendment to the committee amendments.
SENATOR HALL: The amendment by Senator Hall is adopted. We are now on the committee amendments as they have been amended. Any discussion on the committee amendments, Seeing none, Senator Withem, do you wish to close on the committee amendments?
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, I would. Senator Robinson did have an amendment. Is that filed as an amendment to the bill, or I was ... I believe I ... I'll handle that one when it comes up. Have no closing on the committee amendments then.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the committee amendments. We will now vote on the committee amendments. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the committee amendments.
SPEAKER BAACK: The committee amendments are adopted.
CLERK: Senator Robinson would move -to amend the bill, Mr. President. (Robinson amendment may be found on page 1223 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes. Senator Robinson asked me if I'd carry this amendment. One more, hopefully this is the final one, bill came through Education Committee with no controversy to it. This was LB 445. Historically, Department of Education has been providing sponsorship for a number of student vocational organizations, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Vocational-Industrial Clubs, DECA, Health Occupation Student
Association, Young Farmers and Ranchers, Educational Association, Technology Student Association, Tri Beta Lamda. They've been doing this with their general responsibility of helping set the education policy for the state. Attorneys question as to whether they have statutory authority to do this. What Senator Robinson's bill, 445, would do would be ... would place into statute this is one of the functions of the State Board of Education. And so I would urge you to support it. it simply gives them the authority to sponsor these organizations that they are already doing and thought that they had the authority to do. It clarifies statute, to make sure that they do have that authority.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Any discussion on the Robinson amendment as offered by Senator Withem? Seeing none, do you wish to close, Senator Withem? He waives closing. We will now vote on the amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk. Excuse me, no. I'm sorry, I thought we were still on amendments to the amendment. We are voting on the Robinson amendment. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Robinson's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: I have nothing further on the bill, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Any discussion on LB 348? Senator Withem, I guess, would you like to open an the bill?
SENATOR WITHEM: I'd really rather not, thank you. Seriously, the committee amendments became the bill. We've discussed lots of amendments. I have nothing to add by way of explanation. If questions have occurred, as we have gone through this discussion, that haven't been answered adequately, I would respond to those at this time. Otherwise I would urge you to advance the bill.
SPEAKER BAACK: Any discussion on the advancement of LB 348? Seeing none, we will now vote on the advancement of LB 348. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement of
SPEAKER BAACK: LB 348 advances. Do you have items for the record, Mr. Clerk?