State lawmakers Thursday tightened proposed conditions for preseason deer hunting permits on a landowner’s own land.

Legislative Bill 126, introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, won 25-6 second-round approval after senators voted 27-3 for further refinements.

In other Unicameral action, the Education Committee Wednesday advanced two bills on behavioral training for school employees meant to accompany North Platte Sen. Mike Groene’s pending student-discipline bill.

Also Wednesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts signed four measures by regional

senators, one of which mandates that local governments hold their annual budget hearings at special rather than regular meetings.

Hughes’ LB 126, one of several proposals he has offered to reduce statewide game populations, would let landowners obtain preseason deer permits for up to four family members.

Senators rewrote the bill during first-round debate Jan. 30 to adopt changes Hughes worked out with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Hughes, who promised then to consider further changes, also offered Thursday’s amendment.

With its adoption, LB 126 would:

» Allow landowners to obtain and use preseason deer permits on their own land from Saturday to Monday before the regular firearm hunting season. That season this year will start Nov. 14.

» Charge a $5 fee for each preseason permit rather than issue them for free. Only one permit per person would be allowed.

» Issue no more than two of the maximum four preseason deer permits to people younger than 19. The same limit would apply to people 19 or older.

» Require Nebraskans to own at least 80 acres and other landowners at least 320 acres to qualify for preseason permits.

Residents would have to own at least 160 acres to qualify for two permits, 240 for three and 320 for four.

Qualifying minimum acreages for nonresident owners would be 640 for two, 960 for three and 1,280 for four.

A companion Hughes bill (LB 127) enacted in 2019 defined “immediate family” as a landowner’s spouse; his or her child or stepchild and the child or stepchild’s spouse; a sibling sharing ownership in the property; and that sibling’s spouse.

Though Groene voted Thursday for Hughes’ latest amendment, the District 42 senator — who expressed skepticism about LB 126 during first-round debate — opposed sending it to final reading.

Groene told lawmakers the early deer hunting would coincide with pheasant hunting season, according to Unicameral Update, the Legislature’s in-house newsletter. That season starts Oct. 31.

“That’s a big weekend,” Groene said. “And now we’re going to have rifles out there — the two don’t mix.”

Sens. Tom Brewer of Gordon and Steve Erdman of Bayard voted to advance Hughes’ bill. Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams, who voted for first-round approval last month, did not vote on LB 126 Thursday.

Groene, the Education Committee chairman, previewed the school training bills during initial floor debate Jan. 13 on his discipline bill (LB 147).

LB 998, introduced by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil, would require “behavioral awareness and intervention training” for school administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses and counselors.

Training would be financed by a portion of state lottery profits long earmarked for education. Revised funding splits for education’s 44.5% share of lottery profits appear in LB 920, which Groene introduced.

LB 147 would allow “reasonable physical intervention to safely manage the behavior of a student” and enhance educators’ legal protections if an amendment backed by teachers and school boards is adopted.

Advocacy groups for children and disabled people oppose LB 147, which remains on the first round of floor consideration.

Groene said last month that he wouldn’t push it forward without LBs 920 and 998, which his committee advanced on separate 8-0 votes.

Among the bills by regional senators that Ricketts signed Wednesday:

» The budget-hearing bill (LB 148), introduced by Groene, requires special meetings for local governments’ budget hearings and mandates “a reasonable amount of time” for public comment.

It also applies state budget laws to “legal entities” formed by natural resources districts with integrated management plans, such as the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project.

» LB 582, introduced and made a 2020 priority bill by Brewer, expands the definition of felony possession of a stolen firearm beyond knowing it was stolen.

It says defendants now also can be convicted if they “should have known or had reasonable cause to believe” the firearm was stolen, unless they had “intent to restore it to the owner.”

» LB 76, introduced by Williams, says “nameplate capacity” taxes paid by renewable energy facilities must be based on their capacity to generate AC current.

» LB 880, offered by Groene, changes this year’s date to certify next year’s state school aid totals from June 10 to May 1.

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