LINCOLN, Neb. — New Nebraska laws to accommodate breastfeeding students, nuns, telehealth services and the Libertarian Party will take hold on Thursday along with more than 100 other statutes approved this year.

The 116 laws will go into effect three months after the end of this year’s legislative session, the normal grace period for measures approved by lawmakers.

Here’s a look at some of the more high-profile measures:

— BREASTFEEDING STUDENTS: Nebraska schools will have to give students a place to express and store breast milk and adopt written policies for how to handle absences and classwork for pregnant students. Supporters say the requirements are necessary to ensure teen parents have the flexibility they need to raise children and finish high school.

The Nebraska Department of Education is working on a model policy for pregnant and breastfeeding students that school districts can use at their discretion, said David Jespersen, a department spokesman. Jespersen said the Nebraska State Board of Education may review the proposal at its September meeting, but probably won’t vote on it until later.

Many districts already have such policies in place. Westside Community Schools in Omaha works with students individually to find them a private space during the day to express breastmilk, said district spokeswoman Brandi Petersen.

“We really try to personalize it to whatever the student needs,” Petersen said.

The law is LB427.

— HABITS IN CLASSROOMS: Public school teachers in Nebraska can now wear habits, hijabs and other religious clothing in their classrooms.

The new law ends a 98-year-old ban on religious garb, enacted under pressure from the Ku Klux Klan during a time of intense anti-Catholic sentiment. The ban came to lawmakers’ attention after a nun in Norfolk was rejected for a substitute teaching job because her faith calls on her to wear a habit. The law is LB62.

— TELEHEALTH SERVICES: Health insurance companies must now offer doctors the same reimbursement for telehealth services that they would for an identical service provided in-person. Many doctors have already embraced telehealth services as a way to reach far-off patients, but some have been reluctant because it wasn’t clear whether insurers would pay them at the same rate.

Telehealth services allow doctors and patients to connect by phone or the internet. The law is LB92.

— PARTY BALLOT ACCESS: Third-party political candidates could have an easier time getting on the Nebraska ballot. A new law allows parties to automatically appear on the ballot if they register at least 10,000 eligible voters in Nebraska. The Libertarian Party of Nebraska crossed that threshold last year.

Supporters of the law say it creates a new way for parties to maintain ballot access, allowing them to divert more of their limited resources into local races and fundraising. The law’s Republican-turned-Libertarian sponsor, Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, has said it will promote competition and force parties to hone their messages. The bill is LB34.

— HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Human traffickers will face harsher penalties in Nebraska under a law backed by victim advocates and the Nebraska attorney general’s office. So will johns who solicit prostitutes. The law applies to both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery. The law is LB289.

— NEW LICENSE PLATES: Nebraska will come one step closer to creating two new license plates: a “Choose Life” plate endorsed by groups that oppose abortion and a “Native American Cultural Awareness and History” plate.

The law that authorizes the plates goes into effect Thursday, but the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles won’t start offering them until around mid-December, said Betty Johnson, a department administrator.

Johnson said the department still needs to design the plates. Under the new law, the department must make them available by Jan. 1, 2018.

Lawmakers have traditionally resisted efforts to create new license plates, but more have won approval in recent years as groups lobbied for them. A mountain lion conservation plate created in 2016 proved popular with motorists; at least 5,000 were sold during the first four months they were available.

The “Choose Life” license plate law is LB46. The Native American cultural awareness license plates law is LB263 (originally LB355).

— UNPAID FINES FOR CANDIDATES: Political candidates can no longer run for office or get appointed if they owe fines for violating Nebraska’s accountability and disclosure laws.

The law was introduced after Bellevue businessman Pat Shannon won an at-large seat on the Bellevue City Council, despite owing $16,000 plus interest for a campaign-disclosure violation from his previous campaign for the Legislature in 2004. Shannon has refused to pay the fine. Candidates can still file for election if they’re appealing their fines in court. The law is LB85.

— FAMILY VISITS: Family members can sue for the right to visit a relative in a nursing home, mental health center and other facilities if their loved one’s caregiver denies their request. The new law is designed to prevent caregivers from isolating and exploiting vulnerable people they’re supposed to help. The law is LB122.


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