Several Nebraska laws in effect as of Saturday, including permitless concealed carry

In addition to a major gun law, legislative packages take effect including criminal justice reform, dyslexia reporting and clarified domestic abuse protection orders

By: - September 1, 2023 5:45 am

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signs State Sen. Tom Brewer’s proposal to allow concealed carry of handguns without a permit or training on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Brewer, at left, and nearly half of Nebraska’s state senators joined the signing. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comments from Lincoln city officials.

LINCOLN — A state lawmaker’s multi-year effort to allow the concealed carry of handguns without a permit or training takes effect Saturday, with Nebraska’s largest cities issuing guidance just before the law is enacted.

State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service)

State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon advocated for years for a proposal such as Legislative Bill 77, which supporters describe as a “constitutional carry” measure after the Second Amendment. Under the law, persons over 21 can carry concealed firearms without a state permit or state-mandated gun safety training, joining 26 other states in doing so.

During the bill’s April 25 signing ceremony, Brewer thanked his colleagues for having his back during his seven years in office.

“They knew what right was and they knew that we had to get the Constitution back to where it should be and give the rights back that should have never been taken away in the first place,” Brewer said.

Beginning Saturday, firearm dealers will also be required to distribute information on suicide prevention, including evidence-based best practices in prevention and the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or other similar resources. The change comes through a bill by State Sen. John Fredrickson of Omaha that was amended into LB 50.

Omaha, Lincoln prohibit firearms on city property

Signs such as these are planned to be posted in Omaha in response to LB 77 taking effect Saturday. (Courtesy of Omaha Mayor’s Office)

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert signed an executive order Wednesday prohibiting firearms at all City of Omaha owned or leased and managed buildings, facilities, parks and public spaces. This includes community and recreation centers, pools, libraries, parks, fire stations and Public Works and Parks Department maintenance yards.

The city will post a sign at each location prohibiting possession of firearms beginning Saturday, following a provision in LB 77 allowing Omaha to ban firearms.

“Our citizens and employees should feel safe when at work, visiting a city facility for business or enjoying our parks,” Stothert said in a statement. “We will be in compliance with state law.”

The Omaha order does not apply to federal, state, county or city law enforcement; trained security personnel with a government agency; the Harry A. Koch Trap & Skeet facility in Seymour Smith Park; or anyone with prior approval from the Omaha chief of police.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird signed a similar executive order Friday stating firearms remain prohibited on city property, including buildings, libraries and parks. The order mirrors resolutions recently passed by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Public Building Commission and the West Haymarket JPA.

While LB 77 waives state-mandated safety training, the Lincoln Police Department is recommending those who plan to carry a concealed handgun to take a safety course anyway.

“An understanding of how various firearms operate and how to safely handle them is critical to safe operation and may reduce the risk of a mishap,” a Friday news release states.

Other laws take effect Saturday

State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service)

LB 77 is one of a dozen laws taking effect this weekend. Laws passed by the Legislature that do not have an effective date automatically become law three calendar months and one day after the Legislature adjourns or, in this case, Sept. 2.

Several laws taking effect Saturday were included in legislative “packages” or “Christmas tree” bundles of multiple stand-alone bills. They include:

  • Criminal justice reform — LB 50, a series of reforms led by Omaha State Sen. Justin Wayne, the Judiciary Committee chair, includes provisions aimed at reducing the number of inmates who “jam out” of prison without some rehabilitation programming. One provision, offered by Brewer, requires the state to provide each correctional officer a protective vest to protect against edged weapons and stabbings.
  • Domestic abuse protection orders — LB 157, through a provision by State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, explicitly includes household pets in domestic abuse protection orders.
  • Dyslexia reporting — LB 298, introduced by State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, mandates the reporting of information relating to dyslexia. School districts must report certain information to the State Department of Education annually before July 1, and a department report will be sent to the Legislature on or before Sept. 1 each year.
  • Killing of wildlife predators — LB 565, introduced by State Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, includes a provision allowing some landowners to kill damage-causing predators without a permit in select circumstances. Included are badgers, bobcats, coyotes, red or gray foxes, long-tailed weasels, minks, opossums, raccoons and skunks. The law also extends to landowners or tenants who encounter a mountain lion in the process of stalking, killing or consuming livestock, but additional requirements apply, such as notifying Game and Parks to arrange a transfer of the animal.
  • Prohibiting the suspension of students in pre-K through second grade — LB 705, through a provision from State Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha, prohibits suspensions for children in these grades unless the student brings a weapon to school.

More laws take effect later

A handful of laws won’t take effect until later this year or sometime in 2024. A couple will not be enacted until 2025.

Three major laws or provisions still to come include LB 574, introduced by State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, related to gender-affirming care for minors; LB 138, with a provision by State Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair related to the state’s helmet law; and LB 753, the Opportunity Scholarships Act led by Linehan.

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LB 574 — The gender care provisions take effect Oct. 1, initially banning transition surgeries for minors. The law authorizes the state chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, to regulate puberty blockers and hormones, but if there are no rules in place by that time medications will be banned for new patients until new rules are approved. Because the process requires a 30-day notice for a public hearing, the time has already passed to allow rules to be finalized by Oct. 1.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the law primarily regarding the state’s single subject requirement after lawmakers adopted an amendment to also restrict abortion access. A district court judge sided with the state; opponents are appealing the decision.

LB 138 — Beginning Jan. 1, Nebraska motorcyclists older than 21 who have completed the basic motorcycle safety course offered by the state can ride without a helmet on highways. Non-Nebraskans must complete an equivalent or substantially similar course and be able to show proof to law enforcement upon request. The Department of Motor Vehicles is authorized to modify its system to show course completion on a person’s record by Jan. 1.

State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LB 753 — Scholarship tax credits will begin to be available for students on or after Jan. 1, initially capped annually at $25 million. Scholarship-granting organizations certified by the Nebraska Department of Revenue are authorized to assist eligible students attend a qualified nonpublic school.

Opponents appear to have qualified for the November 2024 ballot in efforts to repeal the measure.


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Zach Wendling
Zach Wendling

Zach Wendling is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, double-majoring in journalism and political science. He has interned for The Hill and The News Station in Washington, D.C., and has reported for the Nebraska News Service and The Daily Nebraskan.