Bill returns right of teachers to wear religious clothing
In the last week of legislative hearings, several more bills were heard by committees and legislators established new laws.
Lawmakers passed a bill that would protect the right of a public school teacher to wear religious clothing in the classroom. LB 62, sponsored by Norfolk Sen. Jim Scheer, repeals a law that prohibited public school teachers from wearing religious garments in school.
It required school boards to suspend teachers who violated the law for one year and terminate them after a second violation. It passed 39-5.
In a unanimous vote, lawmakers removed the requirement for people to receive a letter of referral from a doctor before being treated by a licensed acupuncturist. LB 19 instead requires an acupuncturist to refer a patient to an appropriate practitioner if his or her symptoms are not treatable by acupuncture.
The Government, Military, and Veteran Affairs Committee heard LB 485, which would replace Columbus Day with a holiday that would honor indigenous people. It is sponsored by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln.The day instead would be called Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders’ Day.
Standing Bear, chief of the Ponca Tribe, successfully argued in federal District Court in 1879 that Native Americans are persons under law.
Proponents of the bill included Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, and Judi Gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
George Matuella, a representative of the Nebraska chapter of the Sons of Italy in America, testified against the bill.
LB 650 would make several changes to the procedures used by the state Department of Correctional Services for inmates in solitary confinement.
Sponsored by Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus, the bill would not allow the department to place a member of a vulnerable population in restrictive housing. This includes any inmate who is 18 or younger, pregnant or mentally ill. The bill suggests placing the inmates in immediate segregation to protect the staff.
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