Legislative Bill 791 originated as a response to problems which rocked the Nebraska State Patrol, leading Gov. Pete Ricketts to fire Superintendent Brad Rice and order an investigation of NSP.
Its provisions extend beyond the patrol.
LB 791 also seeks to prevent law enforcement officers disciplined or even criminally charged from resigning their position in an effort to hide the infraction from future employers.
Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston says the state must no longer allow officers to jump from department to department without disclosing past problems.
“It prevents bad actor cops from jumping from jurisdiction to jurisdiction if they’re engaged in misconduct,” Albrecht tells colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Provisions to change collective bargaining sparked criticism from some legislators.
Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha claims there’s just something a little bit off about the legislation.
“I don’t disagree with what’s in the bill,” McDonnell says. “I disagree on the process.”
Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln says some of the problems with the Nebraska State Patrol arose when Gov. Ricketts appointed Rice as NSP Superintendent even though red flags were raised. Hansen suggests the administration now wants to blame the collective bargaining process, rather than poor leadership.
The bill would give the Nebraska Crime Commission more power to track officers who have been disciplined, including subpoena power.
A provision added in the later stages of the bill’s development protects state employees who report workplace sexual harassment. Employees can bypass their own departments and file harassment complaints with the State Department of Administrative Services.
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha endorses the provision.
“Our state patrol has become a place where women are not valued, and their contributions don’t seem to matter,” according to Howard.
Howard says women testified in a committee hearing that reports of sexual harassment were ignored by patrol leaders.
“I can’t imagine going to work here every day with the level of chauvinism and hostility that these women experience in our very own state patrol,” Howard tells colleagues.
Albrecht says negotiations are underway to amend the bill to move it into a position to be passed in these last days of the legislative session.