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Thursday, January 13,2000 dailyneb.com Vol 99, Issue 80 sports, page 16 m
Johanns pushes variety of crime bills *
By Michelle Starr
Gov. Mike Johanns wants to beef up
Nebraska’s crime prevention methods
with four legislative bills this session
and two budget adjustments for the
2000-01 fiscal year.
“In this coming legislative session,
we will propose a combination of
changes to criminal law and enhanced
resources to step up Nebraska’s criminal
justice effort,” Johanns said.
Among the efforts listed include
four legislative bills: switching the
state’s execution method from the elec
tric chair to lethal injection, reforming
the appeals process, changing the offi
cer training program and revamping the
officer carrier program.
The two funding adjustments
include adding 12 new state troopers
and updating the law enforcement offi
cers’ information computer systems.
The most controversial bills con
cern modifying Nebraska’s death penal
ty to lethal injection and reforming post
Johanns has pushed for the bill to be
debated this session because of a
Florida case in front of the U.S.
Supreme Court, said Phil Weitl,
Johanns’ assistant press secretary.
The court could rule that electrocu
tion, Florida’s method of capital punish
ment, is cruel and unusual punishment,
thereby unconstitutional, which Weitl
said might affect Nebraska’s method of
Johanns wants to avoid the time and
money it would take to call special leg
islation to correct or clarify the death
penalty if the court rules against Florida,
Nelson Potter, co-chairman of
Nebraskans Against die Death Penalty,
disagrees with the rush for a change and
thinks the bill could wait until next
Potter believes the court could allow
Florida to keep using electrocution, but
he said even if the court did not rule in
favor of Florida, nobody on Nebraska’s
death row is close to an execution. ,
His opinion is based in light of
Friday’s Nebraska Supreme Court deci
sion to re-sentence Randy Reeves.
Reeves was most likely the next person
to receive the death penalty, Potter said.
Potter was also concerned with
Johanns’ bill LB 186, which would limit
a convicted person’s appeals to one
within three years of conviction for all
The bill, introduced last session,
would increase the chances of imposing
the death penalty on an innocent person,
Weitl disagreed, saying though the
convicts would be allowed only one
appeal, they would have the chance to
present their cases to the pardons board.
Potter said the governor’s history of
not granting pardon board hearings
wouldn’t give inmates the option.
Bov. Mike Johanns gives his State of the State address In the Norris Legislative Chamber of the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
Senators react to Johanns’ speech
Gov. Mike Johanns’ State of the
State address on Wednesday is receiv
ing a mixed response from state sena
Johanns spoke about crime, taxes,
agriculture, the economy and chil
He spoke briefly about education
but did not mention his proposed bud
get adjustments concerning the
University of Nebraska system.
According to the Johanns’ initia
tives and budget adjustments report,
the NU Board of Regents requested
$8.5 million for employee health care
costs, and the governor recommended
giving $4 million.
Omaha Sen. Deborah Suttle, vice
chairwoman of the Education
Committee, said Johanns’ decision
concerned her, but she could not com
ment further until the Appropriations
Committee approves Johanns’ recom
Speech focuses on economy, taxes I
^ The health,
children is a high
governor erf Nebraska
Gov. Mike Johanns focused on
five main issues in a 25-minute State
of the State address on Wednesday at
Johanns mentioned priorities
such as lower taxes, less government,
building Nebraska’s economy, pro
tecting families and the health, safety
and success ofNebraska’s children.
The governor referred to the pri
orities m a number of proposals made
in his speech.
Johanns emphasized his commit
ment to lower taxes, saying that more
than $105 million would be provid
ed in tax relief over the next three
He stressed his priority of less
government by recommendingthe
merger of Natural Resources and
Water Resources for a more efficient
and responsive state government.
The merger would create a new
agency, which would be called the
Nebraska Department of Natural
Johanns said the overall econo
my of Nebraska was strong, but the
rural areas of the state had been hit
Please see SPEECH on 7
Johanns’ initiatives sparked “nor
mal disagreements” that can be recon
ciled with the Legislature, said
Plattsmouth Sen. Roger Wehrbein,
Appropriations Committee chairman.
Wshrbein said the Appropriations
Committee will decide on the final
amount NU will receive in two to four
weeks, but Johanns’ suggested
amount “certainly is plausible.”
Please see REACTION on .7
“If that means the governor has
changed his mind and would vote for a
hearing, then that’s good news,” Potter
said. “I’m surprised that the governor’s
office is saying that we should take the
board of pardons more seriously.”
With the current system of numer
ous appeals, Weitl said, the prisoner usu
ally exhausts almost all of his or her
Weitl also said limiting appeals
would limit the amount spent by taxpay
ers for the appeals process.
The governor also wants to cut
money spent training officers with
LB994 by changing the procedure for
training and hiring law-enforcement
Please see CRIME on 7
— ASUN —
■ After debate, majority
of senators decide to keep
party affiliations on paper.
At Wednesday’s meeting, ASUN
voted 14-8 to keep candidates’ party
names on electoral ballots. One sena
Last semester, the electoral com
mittee decided to keep the party names
on the ballots by approving the elec
tion rules presented by the Electoral
Commission. This semester, the issue
was raised again.
According to ASUN bylaws, the
rules must be approved in both fall and
While the rules had already been
approved last semester, President
Andy Schuerman expected a debate
about taking the names off die ballots.
Several senators were against
keeping the names on the ballots. Arts
and Sciences Sen. Natalie Hoover was
one of them.
She said keeping the names off die
ballots gave the candidates more flexi
bility, allowing them to not always be
forced to stand for all of their parties’
Arts and Sciences Sen. Beth
Augustine said that keeping the
names off the ballots would make the
candidates more responsible for get
ting their names out.
Schuerman, who took a neutral
stance, said that in his experience, how
hard an individual worked depended
on the individual, not whether a party
name appeared on the ballot.
Arts and Sciences Sen. Jason
Mashek and Engineering and
Technology Sen. Cody Northrop were
in favor of keeping the names on die
They talked to people who said
having die party names on the ballots
made voting easier.
hi other business, ASUN appoint
ed Christy Hamilton as senator few the
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