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Committee hearings are officially over for this biennium, and we will now move to full-day debate for the rest of the session. Thank you, once again, to everyone who took the time to testify in committee hearings this session. Your voices are always appreciated in the important debates we undertake at the Capitol. This week’s column features some exciting news from the floor of the Legislature. LR 288, my priority resolution for this session demanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make flood control their top priority in their management of the Missouri River, passed 43-1 and will be delivered to our federal delegation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in the Pentagon.
LR 288 calls on Congress and the Corps to make flood control the top priority for the management of water systems under their authority in the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System Water Control Manual. Last year, a majority of flooding after the bomb cyclone did not come from local rainfall or snowmelt, but instead from water being released from dams upstream, such as Gavins Point. While releases from the dam are necessary to maintain water flow and dam integrity, the Corps of Engineers needs to be proactive in gradually releasing water flow early to lower impacts on residential areas and agricultural lands downstream. Infrastructure damages from the 2019 flooding are estimated into the billions, and while state and federal funds will help to offset this cost, the time it will take to fully repair our roads, bridges, and dams will continue to disrupt traffic and shipping, and the flooding damages to agricultural lands and equipment will have long-ranging economic impacts on the state of Nebraska.
We have a duty as members of the Legislature to not only assist in repairing the damages from last year, but also seek measures to prevent flooding on this scale from becoming a yearly occurrence. Stories of struggle, hardship, and heroism were abundant during the aftermath of last year’s flooding, and we owe it to those who advocated for themselves and in support of long-term changes within the Corps for LR 288’s clear message that enough is enough. It’s my honor to stand with every person who has suffered as a result of the major flooding of the last decade to demand that the Corps prioritize flood control and update their levee standards for the first time in decades. My introduction for LR 288, which summarizes the experiences of those in our region during the floods, can be found on my Facebook page. The passage of LR 288 is a victory for all Nebraskans and is the first step towards a better approach for regulating flood waters on the Missouri River. To everyone who has reached out to my office in support of this change, please know that I hear you loud and clear; rest assured, the entire Nebraska Legislature hears you now, as well.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled "Senator Julie Slama" for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604; telephone 402-471-2733; email: email@example.com