Legislative Bill 898, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard, would require public universities and colleges in the state to administer a sexual assault climate survey. Students might be asked about how well they think the school educates, prevents and investigates sexual assaults. The findings of the survey as well as information about the number of sexual assault complaints made to the school would be reported to the Legislature. The results would also be made available on a campus’ website. The report would not include students’ personal information but would include the types of sexual misconduct reported, the outcome of each investigation into sexual misconduct and the disciplinary actions taken by the institution. Tami Strickman, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Title IX coordinator, testified in opposition to the bill. She said the university supported the underlying concept of the bill and already did some surveys but was opposed to the bill because of constitutional questions it raised about the Legislature’s authority to direct the Board of Regents to adopt a policy. Strickman said the university is working with Howard on amendments to the bill that would alleviate some of its concerns. The committee took no action on the bill on Tuesday.
Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln introduced Legislative Resolution 293CA on Thursday, saying Nebraskans who find that cannabis eases their pain and suffering should not be forced across state lines or be treated like criminals. A bill introduced by Wishart last year that would have legalized medical cannabis drew opposition from the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol, among others. It takes 30 votes from lawmakers to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Last year Wishart introduced LB622, the Medical Cannabis Act, which would have authorized a limited number of growers, processors and distribution centers to provide medical cannabis for people suffering from 19 different medical conditions. That bill is currently on general file. When the bill went before a committee last year, the Attorney General’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol and other high-ranking law enforcement authorities, and the state’s top medical doctor were all opposed to the bill. Opponents argued that the federal Food and Drug Administration should be the one making the decision about medical marijuana, not the Nebraska Legislature. They also argued that more research needs to be done on medical marijuana. Others argue that many activists see medical marijuana as the first step toward broader legalization. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states allow broad access to medical marijuana and 17 allow limited uses.