Designer drug ban advances to final vote in Legislature

By: Lauren Fabrizi

A legislative bill that aims to ban the newest generation of substances used to make designer drugs like K2, advanced through its second round of debate on the legislative floor Wednesday.

“We had two or three bills and laws to cover those but they just keep making formulations, and this bill would be the next step in stopping those newest formulations that would come about,” Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala said.

But with time running out in the legislative session, senators are scrambling to address as many bills as possible, so certain bills are being added as amendments to other bills.

That was the case Wednesday with LB 811, the designer drugs bill. Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha made clear he doesn't agree with that tactic.

“But if that's what they want to do, I'm going to take as much time on this bill as I can,” Chambers said.

That's exactly what he did.

One of the amendments to LB 811 was a bill put forth by Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha that would stiffen punishment for those who commit criminal offenses against first responders.

It was faced with great objection from Sen. Chambers, creating a long–winded debate into the late hours of the night.

“I think there's a good reason to take care of our first responders, they run towards circumstances where they are vulnerable,” Lathrop said. “And providing them with additional protection is altogether appropriate.”

“I didn't think any group should be given that special status, and be considered worthy of more protection by the state,” Chambers argued.

As of about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Lathrop's amendment ended up being adopted.

Some senators who are in favor of LB 811 said they were worried it might end up being filibustered if time ran out.

But it did advance before midnight. It will go through a final vote next Thursday, which is the last day of the legislative session.