Lathrop introduces bill to legalize hemp in Nebraska

» Industrial hemp. Industrial hemp would be legalized in Nebraska under Legislative Bill 457, introduced by State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha.

The proposal would define industrial hemp the same way it is defined under the newly passed federal farm bill — as strains of the cannabis plant that are less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol. That chemical, commonly known as THC, produces marijuana’s high.

The farm bill gives a green light for hemp sales and production in states that allow it. Under LB 457, Nebraska farmers would be able to grow hemp, and entrepreneurs could process and sell products made with the low-THC plants.

That would include the cannabidiol, or CBD, products that have been popping up in stores across Nebraska. The current situation has landed some store owners in legal trouble, while others argue that the products are now legal. Prosecutors in Sarpy and Scotts Bluff Counties have said lawmakers should clarify the law.

Under LB 457, marijuana would remain illegal for medical and all other uses.

» Tax sale safeguards. Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg and nine colleagues introduced a bill aimed at better ensuring that people at risk of losing their homes, farms and businesses over delinquent property taxes receive advance notification.

LB 463 seeks to correct a situation that has allowed investors buying treasurer’s tax deeds to take properties from elderly Nebraskans without proof that the owners received advance notification. One case involved an investor getting a $1.1 million farm near North Platte for about $50,000 in taxes and interest.

The proposal would require that those seeking to buy tax deeds deliver notice to the property owner in person or to the person’s home, with certain exceptions for out-of-state owners and cases in which personal or residence delivery cannot be made.

» Gage County judgment. Sen. Myron Dorn of Adams, a former Gage County Board chairman, offered three proposals for helping the county pay a $28.1 million judgment to six people wrongly convicted of a 1985 homicide. The so-called Beatrice Six collectively spent more than 70 years in prison before DNA testing identified another person as the killer.

Under LB 472, counties facing a federal court judgment could impose a half-cent sales tax on purchases in the county. The tax would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the county board. LB 473 would allow counties and other local governments facing court judgments too large to pay off at one time to get a loan from the state at 0.5 percent annual interest. Under LB 474, local governments facing court judgments for wrongful conviction or incarceration could file a claim with the state for money to pay off the judgment.

Last year, Gage County raised its property tax levy to the maximum allowed under the State Constitution to start paying the judgment. The 11.76-cent increase will raise about $3.8 million this year.

» Eyeball tattoos. Tattooing an eyeball or marking it by creating scars would be banned under LB 449, introduced by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont. The practice is banned in Oklahoma.

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