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Nebraska Legislature passes natural hair discrimination ban, bill to allow more fireworks
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Nebraska Legislature passes natural hair discrimination ban, bill to allow more fireworks

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Nebraska lawmakers once again passed a bill aimed at preventing job discrimination against African Americans who wear their hair in natural or protective styles.

LB451, introduced by Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha, would expand existing laws banning racial discrimination in employment. The measure passed on a 40-4 vote. It would define race to include hair texture and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks and twists.

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Supporters of LB451 told of being forced by employers to straighten their hair, cut it short or cut off braids and dreadlocks to keep their jobs. They argued that treatments used to straighten African Americans’ hair are costly, potentially cancer-causing and can damage the hair.

Court fees. A fee charged to support the Nebraska judges’ retirement plan would double over four years under LB17, passed 33-13. Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, the chairman of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee, introduced the bill to shore up the retirement plan.

The bill would increase the judges’ retirement fee from $6 to $12 by July 1, 2025, and direct a larger portion of other court fees into the plan. It would also require the state to start putting tax dollars equal to 5% of judges’ compensation into the plan.

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Fireworks. State law would allow Nebraskans to buy a wider variety of fireworks under LB152, introduced by Sen. Julie Slama of Peru and passed on a 42-3 vote.

If signed into law by the governor, the bill would go into effect in time for Nebraskans to enjoy bigger booms and flashier displays on Independence Day. But the bill would not supersede local ordinances, so cities and villages could still limit the types of fireworks sold in their communities.

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Broadband. Broadband expansion projects in Nebraska would have to meet higher speed standards under LB338, passed 46-0. The bill, introduced by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, would require that any new project funded in part by the state’s Universal Service Fund must provide speeds of 100/100 (100 megabits per second download and 100 Mbps upload).

Rentals. Landlords would have to give 24-hour written notice before entering a tenant’s home or apartment under LB320, passed 43-3. The bill, introduced by Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha, would make several other changes in landlord-tenant laws. Among them would be a provision allowing victims of domestic violence to get out of a lease under certain conditions.

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Ethanol. Using pesticide-treated seed to make ethanol would be prohibited under LB507, passed 48-0. The bill, introduced by Bostelman, addresses a practice used at the troubled AltEn ethanol plant near Mead. The plant is being sued by the state over allegations of contamination and violation of environmental laws.

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