New bills in Nebraska Legislature include youth wage, LGBTQ protections

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Tuesday was day four of introducing bills in the Nebraska Legislature.

Among bills introduced this week is LB 15, sponsored by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion. The legislation would establish a youth and training wage across the state of Nebraska. 

This bill comes after voters approved a ballot initiative to raise minimum wage in the state.

“The ballot language is really going to create some hardship for small businesses, especially in rural Nebraska where I’m from,” Briese said. 

Briese said the requirement will apply to people 14 to 17 years old.  

He said this will soften the blow of the minimum wage hike to smaller businesses who want to hire young people. 

“This bill really is about preserving the economic viability of small businesses — our groceries, our restaurants, folks that typically hire young workers,” Briese said. 

Other bills introduced this week intend to ensure the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Legislative Bill 169, introduced by Sens. Megan Hunt and John Fredrickson of Omaha, would update the state’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LBGTQ Nebraskans from employment discrimination.  

“This makes it crystal clear that we are protecting Nebraskans based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their employment settings, and really, frankly, all Nebraskans are going to benefit from this,” Fredrickson said. 

The senator said adoption of such legislation is important also to Nebraska’s workforce development and talent attraction. 

Fredrickson also introduced a bill that would prohibit “conversion therapy” on minors.

The therapy is defined as practice or treatment that seeks to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“As a mental health provider myself, I have seen firsthand the impact that this has, the harm that this does to individuals,” Fredrickson said.

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