Hughes views: Schedule busy with committee hearings

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The third week of session is coming to a close. The new Natural Resources committee members are quickly picking up on the subject material and are engaged with our committee’s bills. 

This week, LB302 and LB307 were introduced to the committee. 

I introduced LB302 at the request of Gov. Ricketts. It combines the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Nebraska Energy Office (NEO) into one state agency. 

Multiple states organize agencies in a variety of ways, and several have agencies which combine the functions of DEQ and NEO. 

The bill had many proponents, including but not limited to representatives from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the former director of the Nebraska Energy Office, and Nebraska Public Power District. 

The committee has already voted LB 302 out and it is now being scheduled to the floor for debate sometime soon.

LB126 and LB127, my deer bills, are still in committee. There have been some additional meetings with Game and Parks and some of the Natural Resource Committee members about these bills. 

I am still hopeful we can come to some sort of agreement on how to move forward.

I have received numerous emails about both of these bills, mostly from deer hunters who are wanting to make sure their hobby is not affected in any way. 

There seems to be little regard for the damage caused to landowners by the state’s deer population and by deer hunters themselves. 

We will hear LB319 and LB155 in Natural Resources this week. 

Senator Brewer introduced LB155 to prevent private persons, intending to privately develop renewable energy facilities, from using the eminent domain power of government against their neighbors to engage in this private activity. 

Most of the other committees are holding hearings on the bills assigned to them. 

An interesting bill was passed out of the Revenue Committee last Friday. It is Senator Briese’s bill, LB183, that would only allow 30 percent of ag land valuation to be included when paying for a school bond issue. 

The original bill exempted all of ag land valuation from being taxed for school bonds, but the committee thought 30 percent was a more acceptable number. 

I think this bill is a good first step and will make those who vote to approve all those bond issues more accountable, like those who will actually have to pay for them.

If you would like to speak directly to me about legislative issues, join the Great Plains conference call Tuesdays at 7 a.m. MT or the McCook Chamber Conference call Thursday at 8 a.m. CST.


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