Gov. Pete Ricketts issued his first veto of the session Wednesday, rejecting a bill (LB350) that would allow a person convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, with a sentence other than probation or a fine, to petition the court to set aside their conviction once their sentence is completed.
Ricketts said the bill weakened confidence in the criminal justice system with its dramatic expansion of the ability of serious felonies such as murder, arson, human trafficking, armed robbery, drug manufacturing or distribution, and assault on a police officer to be set aside.
While it does not have the same effect as a pardon, it removes consequences that follow a conviction and weakens the impact of serious criminal sentences, he said.
“This bill sends the wrong message to victims of crime and to society. It represents poor public policy,” Ricketts said.
Omaha Sen. John McCollister, the bill's sponsor, said he was disappointed by the veto.
"The bill rightly did not make this remedy available to anyone who is a sex offender or who had any pending criminal cases and struck the right balance between punishment and providing former offenders with a second chance," he said.
He said he will consider Thursday whether to attempt an override of the veto.
Trafficking victims bill advances
Senators advanced a bill (LB1132) from first reading that would allow a victim of human trafficking to petition a district or county court to set aside a conviction of prostitution or other crime related to that trafficking.
The bill would direct the courts to consider a broad array of evidence in determining whether the petitioner is indeed a victim of sex trafficking.