Hughes' Views: Hughes introduces nine bills this session

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The 106th Legislature’s second session kicked off last Wednesday.  This week we will begin floor debate on a few of the carryover bills from last year which range from abortion to property tax relief. 

Governor Ricketts’ State of the State Address will be held Wednesday.

As of Monday, Jan.  13, I have introduced nine bills. A few of the bills I have introduced include giving landowners ownership of groundwater and creating funds for pulse crop growers.

 I have also introduced legislation that will bring changes to provisions relating to the length of term and appointment of game and parks commission members. Another prohibits possession by minors of tobacco, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or alternative products. 

I would like to expand on a few bills I have introduced. LB802 was brought to me by the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Farm Bureau. 

In essence, the bill reaffirms the amount of groundwater one may pump is directly related to the amount of overlying land one owns. There have been a few Supreme Court rulings stating its justification. 

In the 2018 case Upper Republican Nat. Res. Dist. v. Dundy Cty. Bd. of Equalization, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled, “We find no reason to treat underground uses – in this case, the use of the aquifer, wells and pipeline system – differently from any other use of the property. 

As the NRD points out, use of the groundwater is a derivative right immediately dependent on ownership of the surface over it.” This bill simply reaffirms this ruling and ties land ownership to groundwater pumping rights.

Another bill, LB803, addresses pulse crop growers of the state who would like a checkoff program to generate funds for research and to market promotional efforts. Pulse crops include dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils just to name the more prominent ones. 

These crops have been grown in Nebraska for quite a few years now and are gaining popularity with farmers as an alternative crop. We have grown dry peas on our farm for the last four to five years and it looks like it is a crop that certainly has some promise throughout the state.

The last bill I will cover this week is LB858. This bill was brought to me by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, which is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy created in 1981. 

This bill does not make any significant changes to MEAN. Rather, it updates and streamlines some of the statutes that have not been changed in almost 40 years. In the 44th District, we have a number of communities that receive services from MEAN.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

Read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at Click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.


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